Rapists free as 1,000s of rape kits gather dust
by SHARON COHEN
The evidence piled up for years, abandoned in police property rooms, warehouses and crime labs. Now, tens of thousands of sexual assault kits are giving up their secrets — and rapists who've long remained free may finally face justice.
A dramatic shift is taking hold across the country as police and prosecutors scramble to process these kits and use DNA matches to track down sexual predators, many of whom attacked more women while evidence of their crimes languished in storage. Lawmakers, meanwhile, are proposing reforms to ensure this doesn't happen again.
“There's definitely momentum,” says Sarah Haacke Byrd, managing director of the Joyful Heart Foundation, an advocacy group working on the issue. “In the last year, we really are seeing the tide turn where federal and state governments are offering critically needed leadership and critically needed resources to fix the problem.”
In Cleveland, the county prosecutor's office has indicted more than 300 rape suspects since 2013, based on newly tested DNA evidence from old kits. Authorities expect to eventually charge 1,000.
In Houston, authorities recently cleared a backlog of nearly 6,700 kits that included cases dating back to the 1980s. The project, which cost about $6 million, turned up 850 matches in a national DNA database.
In Detroit, the Wayne County prosecutor's office is seeking donations to help analyze, investigate and prosecute cases from the results of more than 11,000 kits that had been untested. Hamstrung by city and county money troubles, the prosecutor has formed an unusual partnership with two nonprofits to raise $10 million. So far, contributions have poured in from corporations and residents from all 50 states and eight foreign countries.
There's a new urgency, too, in statehouses from Alaska to Maryland, where legislators in more than 20 states are considering — and in some cases, passing — laws that include auditing all kits and deadlines for submitting and processing DNA evidence. Recent counts in Louisiana found nearly 1,100 unprocessed kits. Disturbingly, nearly 100 additional kits from two New Orleans children's hospitals also have been discovered.
The high-profile campaign also is getting a big financial boost: At least $76 million— more than half from the feds — will be available for testing, prosecution and reforms.
No one knows how much it will all cost in the end. And it won't be easy to make up for lost time.
In some cases, it's simply too late for justice because statutes of limitations have expired. In others, investigators may have to wade through old, often incomplete, police files, search for witnesses and suspects, confront fading memories and persuade survivors to reopen painful chapters of their lives. It will be a lot slower-going than it is on those prime-time police procedurals.
“It's great entertainment on television that in one hour's time, we have a crime, we take the sample, we get a ‘hit,' we arrest the suspect and then he's prosecuted and off to jail,” says Doug McGowen, coordinator of Memphis' Sexual Assault Kit Task Force. “That's just not the case, clearly.”
In Memphis, about half of more than 12,300 kits have been tested or are waiting to be analyzed. It will take at least 40 hours to follow up on each case and all will be investigated even if there is no DNA match, McGowen says. He estimates the police work and trials could continue until 2019.
But once all the kits are processed, the potential is enormous — both for communities and rape survivors.
As Vice President Joe Biden recently declared: “If we are able to test these rape kits, more crimes will be solved, more crimes will be prevented, and more women will be given back their lives.”
In resurrecting old crimes, investigators have detected an alarming pattern: Many rapists are repeat offenders.
In Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, about 30 percent of cases that have developed from testing so far are serial rape suspects. One of them, Robert Green, assaulted seven women over nearly a decade as evidence went unprocessed. He pleaded guilty last fall and was sentenced to up to 135 years in prison.
In Wayne County, home to Detroit, authorities say 288 potential serial rapists have been found among the kits tested. Among the cases to surface is Reginald Holland, who raped a woman in 2005. His identity wasn't known then. Three years later, Holland's DNA was entered in a national database on an unrelated case. By the time his first victim's sexual assault kit was tested in 2012, he'd assaulted four more women. In 2014, he was sentenced to life in prison.
“Yes, it is an embarrassment,” county prosecutor Kym Worthy says of these cases. “It shows that we, as this country, do not respect rape victims to the extent that we respect other victims.”
Her office is now working with the Michigan Women's Foundation and the Detroit Crime Commission to raise money to complete the testing and investigation of kits and bring suspects to trial.
“These results are coming very fast and furious,” she adds. “Because we don't have the staff of investigators and prosecutors ... in essence we're developing another backlog.”
Lisa Bloom, a lawyer, author and TV legal analyst, said while fundraising is a worthy pursuit, it reveals something about the priorities of a justice system where money is always found to prosecute prostitutes and drug crimes. “Women's lives are not worth a grand, apparently,” she wrote in an online commentary. “Want to lock up rapists? Hey, have a bake sale!”
Some major financial commitments, though, will ease that burden.
President Barack Obama's 2015 budget set aside $41 million to help test kits and prosecute perpetrators. This spring, Biden announced the 2016 fiscal year budget includes a proposal for another $41 million to chip away at the backlog, along with $20 million to develop reforms that will prevent a recurrence.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. also has pledged up to $35 million — money his office received from asset forfeiture cases — that he estimates will be enough to test 70,000 kits.
“We felt this was an essential investment,” Vance says. “Rapists are sex offenders who are moving from one location to another. There will be crimes that are going to be solved in other states that are linked to New York.”
That's already happened. DNA evidence from newly tested Detroit-area rape kits has been linked to crimes in 31 states — New York included — and the District of Columbia.
Vance's office says labs, police and prosecutors from 30 states have expressed interest in the funds, which will be distributed in late summer or early fall.
It took four years for New York City to eliminate its own backlog of 17,000 cases. In Manhattan, that led to 49 indictments, including some “John Doe” cases, which identify suspects by their genetic code and prevent them from avoiding prosecution by using the statute of limitations.
In late April, one of those “John Does” shed his anonymity.
That case dated back to January 1995, when a 25-year-old woman was raped and robbed at knifepoint. A sexual assault evidence kit was taken at a hospital. In 2001, it was entered into the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, a national DNA database.
It remained there 14 years. Then, this spring, a break. A DNA profile from Joseph Giardala was added to CODIS because of an unrelated case in Florida. It matched the one from the New York assault.
Giardala, 44, who was arrested in Los Angeles, returned to New York to face charges — more than 20 years later.
The new attention to sexual assault kits stems from a combination of factors: the persistence of advocacy groups such as the Joyful Heart Foundation, investigative media reports, the willingness of rape survivors to speak out and political support from statehouses up to the White House.
But the full scope of the problem is something of a mystery.
No federal agency tracks untested sexual assault kits, but Joyful Heart estimates it's in the hundreds of thousands. (Texas alone has more than 20,000, according to recent congressional testimony.) The group is getting help from two law firms, working without charge, who are using public record requests to gauge the extent of the backlog in about 25 police departments around the country.
Dallas; Salt Lake City; Portland, Oregon; and Kansas City, Missouri, have reported untested kits. The Las Vegas metro police department has one of the larger backlogs — more than 5,600 kits — and plans to test all of them.
San Francisco police announced last winter they'd sent out 753 rape kits for analysis and are consulting with other departments on the best way to handle those beyond the statute of limitations.
The question remains: How did this happen in the first place?
“There is no smoking gun that you can point to in any city in America to say this is the one reason why we have this accumulation of kits that have been untested,” says McGowen, the coordinator of the Memphis task force, who notes that DNA wasn't widely used until the late 1990s. “It's very hard to quantify the actions of people when the science was new ... or when the science wasn't available. We're looking at it through today's lens.”
Before DNA, rape kits could be tested for blood group typing, but that was nowhere as definitive and the evidence could broadly exclude or include a suspect — if one had been identified.
DNA proved to be a turning point, but Houston Assistant Police Chief Mary Lentschke notes that police still faced two big obstacles: a shortage of both money and crime lab staff. It has cost $500 to $1,500 to test and analyze each kit. And as DNA became more common in crime-solving, labs were overwhelmed with requests for testing, for homicides as well.
“When you don't have the funding and you don't have the staffing, you make decisions on a case-by-case basis,” she says.
Some police departments haven't tested kits if the woman knew the assailant, she didn't want to pursue charges or the attacker confessed.
Critics claim these policies reflect a more general attitude of law enforcement not placing a high priority on solving sexual assaults.
“You shouldn't have a kit sitting on a shelf somewhere for 20 years,” says Louisiana State Sen. J.P. Morrell, sponsor of a law that required police and sheriffs to report untested kits. “I think the message it sends to everyone is that law enforcement does not take sexual assault seriously. ... Some want to write it off as sloppiness. It's apathy.”
Rebecca Campbell, a Michigan State University professor who has consulted and trained police departments on trauma and sexual assault, says skepticism and, at times, hostility toward women who've been raped have added to the problem.
Police often “don't understand trauma,” she says. “They often expect a certain set of behaviors: crying and visible signs of distress. If a victim is very calm and quiet, they think there's no possible way she could have been raped.”
Campbell was chief author of a multi-year study that included interviews, data analysis and reviews of 1,595 untested sexual assault kits in Detroit. She concluded that understaffed crime labs and high turnover in police leadership contributed to the decades-old backlog.
But evidence also clearly showed “police treating victims in dehumanizing ways,” according to the study funded by the National Institute of Justice, released in April.
Women were often assumed to be prostitutes, the study found, and adolescents frequently perceived as concocting bogus narratives to avoid getting in trouble if, for example, they missed a curfew.
“Law enforcement, generally, they just do not believe victims,” Campbell says. “They believe that they're lying, that they're making a story up to cover up for bad behavior.”
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also notes that women whose kits aren't tested promptly may be less inclined to help police and prosecutors. “They may begin to question why they consented to an intrusive medical forensic examination that took hours,” she said in recent congressional testimony. “They may wonder why they bothered to report the incident in the first place.”
But some say progress is being made in Detroit and other cities with new police training and rules for handling kits, improved understanding of trauma and legal reforms that will prevent new backlogs.
“Police have come a long way,” says Sgt. Amy Mills, head of the Dallas police sex assault unit. “I cannot believe the reports I read that were made five years ago, compared to the way they are now. It's just 180 degrees.”
When law enforcement deals with rape survivors now, Mills says, “We always start with, ‘We believe you,' not ‘Convince us.”'
For the rape survivors themselves, the delays in testing rape kits have been infuriating, frustrating — and inexplicable.
Natasha Alexenko was a college student in New York in 1993 when she was raped and robbed at gunpoint while returning home from her job.
Alexenko says police told her a few years later that they'd pursued all leads and the case was closed.
“I just assumed they knew what they're doing,” she says. “Surely, they tested the kit. Surely, they followed up on everything. ... Why wouldn't someone want to apprehend a clearly violent criminal? ... I was very young and naive.”
Nearly a decade had passed when the prosecutor's office called to notify Alexenko her rape kit would be tested. “I waited nine-and-half years for someone to tell me I mattered and they were still thinking about me,” she says.
In 2007, Victor Rondon was found though a match to a DNA profile after he'd been arrested on a minor charge in Las Vegas. The next year, Alexenko testified against him in a New York court, and he was sentenced to up to 107 years.
“I felt that was the moment I took back the power from him,” Alexenko says of her testimony.
In Memphis, Meaghan Ybos had her own agonizing wait.
She was just 16 when she was raped in 2003 by a knife-wielding, masked man in her suburban Memphis home. She says a female Shelby County investigator told her, “‘You know you can go to jail for lying about this. You're not doing this for attention, are you?”'
Nine years later, Ybos says the reception was less hostile when she called Memphis police after hearing TV reports of a serial rapist in the community. She suspected it might be her attacker.
It was only then, in 2012, that she learned her sexual assault kit hadn't been sent out for processing, When it was, the results found a DNA link to Anthony Alliano, a serial rapist.
“Before he was caught, I told myself I had moved on and I had healed, which was the furthest thing from the truth,” Ybos now says. “I realize how the attack and the disregard of law enforcement just informed every second of my life. I was still suffering from PTSD. I had trouble concentrating, eating, sleeping. Random sights and sounds would send me into a panic attack. It was always with me in every second of those nine years.”
In 2013, Alliano pleaded guilty to raping seven women and girls, including Ybos and a 12 year-old who lived nearby and was attacked two days later.
On the day he was sentenced to up to 178 years in prison, Ybos read a statement in court calling him a “pathetic coward” and vowed to make it easier to prosecute rape in Tennessee.
She became a driving force in drafting and lobbying for a measure that eliminates the statute of limitation on rape cases reported within three years of the crime. In 2014, it was signed into law.
“She stepped forward and she became a spokesperson for survivors in ways many don't,” says Tennessee State Sen. Mark Norris, the bill's sponsor. “She did the right thing.”
Human trafficking victims caught in cycle of deceit, abuse
by Nicole Manna
For days, a 14-year-old girl walked around a Fayetteville motel on Skibo Road wearing nothing but a tight shirt and shorts that barely covered her bottom.
She didn't have shoes or any personal belongings. She didn't talk to anyone.
But she hoped a hotel employee or patron - anyone - would speak to her.
She walked around the hallways, up and down stairs and into common areas.
Her quiet pleas for help went unanswered.
When the person who had brought her there returned, she was in one of the motel's rooms, forced to have sex with dozens of men, some soldiers, for money she never kept.
After Fayetteville police rescued her, Kelly Twedell, director of the Fayetteville Dream Center, asked the girl why she didn't tell motel employees, or anyone else, she needed help.
"Because no one would have believed me," she said.
She didn't run because she didn't have shoes or proper clothes.
Her story isn't unique.
She was a victim of human sex trafficking, a $9.5 billion industry in the U.S. that awareness groups say is happening in more places than people realize - including Fayetteville.
Victims struggle to get out while law enforcement struggles to get in.
Awareness, law enforcement training and more effective legislation are increasing.
But while society struggles to keep up, this cottage industry churns on, with lives damaged, profits made and no sure decline in sight.
Demand fuels the cycle
In the destructive cycle of human trafficking, removing "normal" is the first step to understanding. Victims' backgrounds and subsequent police investigations do not follow conventional routes.
Traffickers groom their victims, advocates say. They buy them expensive gifts, take them on trips and tell them they're beautiful. Slowly, their victims find themselves in hotel rooms having sex with upward of as many as 50 men a weekend on "dates," say those who have helped victims following their escape.
Sex with strangers at the hands of a pimp becomes a way of survival, a way to keep their secret private and a way to keep themselves and their family safe, Twedell said.
Self-identification is lost. Most don't understand they're victims. It's an enslavement of the body and mind.
Sex trafficking is a revolving door where justice and freedom struggle to enter. The door has three parts keeping it moving: victims who are groomed, police training that hasn't caught up with the growing problem, and the overwhelming demand for people to provide sex in exchange for money.
"If you don't have a demand, then the whole process will decrease," said Dr. Sharon Cooper, a developmental and forensic pediatrician based in Fayetteville. She's considered an expert on human trafficking.
It's a dark topic that many avoid, but local advocates say it's important to understand human trafficking is happening in Fayetteville and the Cape Fear region. Many of the victims Twedell has worked with attended Fayetteville high schools.
"(Victims) are from your neighborhood, right next to you," said Fayetteville police Sgt. Carl Wile, supervisor of the department's human trafficking unit.
Advocates say it's also important to talk to young girls about the topic.
"This should be common dinner table talk," Twedell said. "By age 14, if we're not reaching out to girls and educating them, we're too late. Eighth grade is too late to talk to girls about human trafficking."
The Dream Center worked with 23 victims of sex trafficking in the last year. All were girls who grew up in Fayetteville, and they hit all socioeconomic levels: upper, middle and lower class homes.
It's also important to understand there's a difference between prostitution and trafficking, Cooper said.
"Prostitution is when you have the exchange of sex for money or drugs or something else involving two people: the person exchanging sex and the person who is buying it," she said. "Trafficking is when you have a third party involved."
In 2013 and 2014, the Fayetteville Police Department handled 37 cases of sex trafficking involving 39 victims and 49 suspects. This year, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office has already made nine human trafficking arrests, leading to 27 charges.
The number of victims still left in Fayetteville is unknown, and the number of cases could rise as area law enforcement agencies become more qualified to handle trafficking cases.
An estimated 300,000 children nationwide are at risk of being prostituted, according to the Polaris Project, an organization that runs the call centers for the National Human Trafficking hotline.
It's unknown exactly how many of those victims are in North Carolina, but the project estimates North Carolina to be the fifth-worst state for trafficking based on the number of calls it's received to the hotline originating in the state. In 2014, there were 563 calls, 21 emails and 19 online tips made to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center from North Carolina.
Investigators say sex trafficking is an easier business to run than drug dealing because its product can be sold over and over. Pimps even tag their victims like an item on a store shelf, often by tattooing a barcode on the body.
Victims are normally targeted between ages 12 and 16, according to a February study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics authored by Dr. Jordan Greenbaum and Dr. James E. Crawford-Jakubiak. The study says it is unknown exactly what percentage are girls, but higher proportions of females have been identified as victims.
"The average girl is 13 to 14 years old when she becomes a victim," Wile said.
In 2014, one in six endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was believed to be a sex trafficking victim.
"If you have runaways in your community, you have trafficking," Wile said. "I would say (one out of six) may even be too low."
Advocates say becoming a victim of sex trafficking is easy.
"(Traffickers) watch bus stops," Wile said. "They want to see who doesn't look like they want to go home. They're looking for the kid that stands alone. All it takes is for parents to not care or to not pay enough attention. Traffickers want to fulfill those needs the kids don't have. They give them a belonging. They pull them in nicely and give them a hook."
Most are fooled into thinking they're taking legitimate jobs.
In March, Robin Applewhite, 38, of Spring Lake was charged with human trafficking after a woman he held against her will in his basement managed to escape and run for help, according to court documents.
Spring Lake police Capt. Billy Tharpe said Applewhite and the woman met in Fayetteville but did not know each other. Tharpe wasn't sure how they arranged the meeting.
Tharpe said the woman willingly got into Applewhite's vehicle and went to his home. Applewhite told the woman he wanted her to work for him. At the house, an affidavit says, the woman was introduced to two other women who Applewhite said worked for him as prostitutes. The women's ages were not released.
Many of the young girls Twedell has helped met their future pimps at parties or at the mall with no supervision from adults and consider the man who's trafficking them their "boyfriend." For most, it's the first time someone with power has given them attention, she said.
"These are guys in their 20s or older who are with girls as young as 14," she said. "They buy young girls food and clothes and get their nails done. They build this boyfriend, girlfriend relationship."
Cooper said there are two types of traffickers: finesse pimps and guerilla pimps. Finesse pimps act like boyfriends and spend a lot of money on the victim initially.
"Then they finally say, 'I've run out of money and this is what I need you to do, and it won't make me love you any less,'" Cooper said. "They make a princess a worker, but the only person who gets the money is the offender."
A guerilla pimp, Cooper said, uses brute force to gain control. He may sexually assault his victim, then steal her wallet and cellphone and threaten her family's life if the victim doesn't cooperate.
"The whole point is that both of these types of offenders have power and control through physical violence," Cooper said. "They manage to keep people afraid. This is an entire subculture and many normal people don't understand this."
The grooming of victims makes it difficult for police to bring charges against pimps, because victims are unwilling to talk to investigators either out of fear of their guerilla pimp or the feeling of love for their finesse pimp.
Glimmer of kindness
Pam Strickland of Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking, an organization that provides training to spot trafficking victims, including to hotel employees, said awareness and understanding by the public is key in ending sex trafficking.
"It's really going to take a change of attitude with the public in general," she said. "Some law enforcement jurisdictions have pretty much stopped arresting women for the crime of prostitution, understanding that regardless of what they say, at some point they were probably manipulated into it."
But it's hard to help someone who doesn't always want to be helped, Strickland said.
"It's a lot like domestic violence in that the perpetrator is abusive and treats them horribly, but every once in a while shows them a glimmer of kindness and love," Strickland said. "Then the victim goes, 'Oh he really does love me.' So she stays there."
One girl Twedell helped talked happily about a time her trafficker took her to a hotel near the beach. The girl, Twedell said, was excited she got to spend a weekend on the coast for the first time in her life, even though at night, she was sold for sex.
Some pimps will sexually assault victims to blackmail them into staying.
"They take pictures of the assault and use that as blackmail," Cooper said. "Then (the victim) agrees to exchange sex."
On May 14, two teenagers were charged with trafficking a student from a Hoke County high school. Deandre Spivey-McLean threatened to post sexually explicit pictures of a girl on social media if she didn't perform sexual acts on him and several others, the Hoke County Sheriff's Office said. JeSean McPhaul provided transportation for the girl between the school and the locations where the acts took place, the Sheriff's Office said.
"Traffickers will look for the girl's weaknesses and use that against them," Wile said.
Other victims begin using drugs to get through the long nights and become addicted, staying for their next fix, Twedell said.
For nearly three weeks in 2014, a 20-year-old trafficking victim had been threatened, forced to take cocaine and an ecstasy-like drug called "Molly," which causes psychedelic effects. The woman told The Fayetteville Observer in 2014 that she began taking the drugs "just to take my mind off stuff."
A 2014 study done by the Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy said out of 102 trafficking survivors who were surveyed, 84 percent of them developed some form of substance abuse.
Of those victims, 95 percent of them received some form of physical abuse from their pimp.
"(Victims) are typically told how much money they have to make a night and if they don't come back with that much money, they'll be beaten," Cooper said. "It's a life of oppression."
Another tactic used by traffickers to keep girls is to create a need for themselves.
"We've seen cases where (the trafficker) will get her robbed or beat up," Wile said. "They show the girls they need (their pimp) for protection."
'Something's not right'
Those planned robberies can sometimes lead investigators to the trafficking ring.
"We've had (trafficking) cases that start as shootings or robberies," Wile said. "But then you look at them closer and you see something's not right."
It could be how a girl is dressed, her health or how she responds to police.
"Some investigators will see those human trafficking clues and a case begins to develop," Wile said. "Then we need to break down the idea to (victims) that they need (the pimp)."
An understanding of sex trafficking is relatively new and has developed over the last few years, Twedell said, which is why many law enforcement agencies aren't properly trained to handle cases.
"It was easier to look at the surface of a case and call it drug possession and prostitution," Twedell said. "But what (investigators) realize now, is that if they dig deeper, it's trafficking."
In 2000, the first federal law regarding trafficking passed in the U.S., which provided funding for trafficking victims, Cooper said.
"Another big change is that we, as a country, decided it was wrong to arrest juveniles for what we would call prostitution," Cooper said. "... We didn't recognize that juveniles weren't selling themselves."
For two years, Cooper said Dr. Richard Estes, a sex trafficking expert, traveled across the country to interview minors who had been charged with prostitution.
"The overwhelming majority were sold by someone else," Cooper said.
The difference between prosecuting cases of adult victims is that investigators have to prove that either force, fraud or coercion took place.
Much of that falls upon what the victim says and the investigator's training.
"Cops don't know how to spot a trafficking victim," Wile said. "And if they do, they don't know how to interview them. Typical interview procedures won't work in these cases. These girls are brainwashed to protect their pimps. You have to show them their victimization.
"Cops don't know how to dig it out of people. They don't know how to spot (a victim). There needs to be more training for officers."
Police aren't alone. Most research indicates doctors, teachers, youth leaders and coaches also do not recognize signs of possible trafficking.
In 2012, North Carolina made strides to help law enforcement better handle trafficking cases.
"Human trafficking finally became a piece of the basic law enforcement training," Strickland said. "It's a two-hour block of training . it's not enough, but it's better than nothing."
The BLET course is divided into 36 blocks totaling 620 hours. It takes 16 weeks to complete.
Officers trained before 2012 who haven't taken trafficking classes have the option to take them during their yearly continuing education hours.
"The problem is that if you have the chief or the sheriff of these communities who themselves don't really know what human trafficking is, then they're not having their staff go to that training," Strickland said. "That's been an issue across the state."
The Fayetteville Police Department has a dedicated team to work trafficking cases, which includes two detectives, a sergeant and one analyst. The department started training officers on human trafficking about a year ago, Wile said.
He and Twedell also applied recently for a grant that would create a human trafficking task force using multiple jurisdictions in North Carolina, including Cumberland County, Raleigh and Wilmington. The task force would help jurisdictions work together to catch traffickers who sell in multiple areas of the state.
Cumberland County Sheriff Moose Butler implemented an undercover operation called Operation Save Our Children 2015 to combat trafficking in the county.
"In light of the larger anti-human trafficking campaign, I wanted to make sure we conducted a specific type of operation, which was undercover and which would net arrests of those who are prone to engage and want to engage in human trafficking to take advantage of minors," Butler said.
The operation has run once and six men were charged.
"Given its success, I intend for it to continue," Butler said.
Next year, human trafficking training will be mandatory for all law enforcement officers, new and old, in the state.
Congresswoman Renee Ellmers also is taking steps to help find trafficking victims.
Ellmers' Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act, which will be an amendment to the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act, will focus on helping those in the medical community learn to spot victims. The bill will begin by adding trafficking training to medical and nursing schools.
The Beazley Institute study says 87 percent of 107 trafficking survivors who were surveyed had been in contact with a health-care provider while they were being trafficked. Of those, 63 percent went to a hospital or emergency room and 30 percent were seen by medical professionals at Planned Parenthood.
"This is important because the majority of those being trafficked are going to our hospitals, the same hospitals where you and I go," Ellmers said. "Those traffickers want them to be treated and back out on the street."
Ellmers said she did a lot of research on domestic trafficking and learned the medical community doesn't receive training on how to address victims or spot the signs of trafficking. Getting professionals trained will help victims get onto the path of recovery more quickly, she said.
"I think as this plays out, we'll see a significant difference," she said. "The medical community may be the only contact those individuals have."
The legislation is heading to President Barack Obama's desk now, Ellmers said.
"This has had overwhelming bipartisan support," she said. "It's very important to so many. (Trafficking) is very prevalent in our own community and it's something we all need to be aware of . I think this (legislation) is just the starting point. There are many other sides to this issue I think we can all work on."
Help in the end
New laws and more training will only do so much if the victims can't be kept safe after their rescue.
There's a great need for better resources to keep the girls from being trafficked again, Twedell said.
"It's all in the follow-up," she said, explaining one girl she rescued was contacted by her pimp through Facebook after being saved. He offered her more clothes, shoes and money if she worked for him again.
She didn't accept.
"It's easy to fall back into the trap when someone starts paying attention to them again," Twedell said. "So we need to be giving them positive attention."
Agencies like the Dream Center compete with traffickers to keep girls safe. The revolving door struggles to stop.
"(Survivors) are always being offered something new," Twedell said. "(Advocates) need to provide them services that are better. There's a lack of self-esteem and it's not easy to go forward with work or school. I'll show them the used clothes closet and they're like 'Spsh, you should see the new clothes he bought me.' They're not impressed."
Twedell also faces setbacks when she tries to find the girls places to live.
"A lot of these girls don't want to go to safe houses because you have to give up your cellphone and they don't want to stop talking to their friends," she said, explaining many girls still have the mentality of someone much younger.
Girls who are able to breach the line between seeing trafficking as a way of life and seeing themselves as victims, have an easier time being introduced back into normal life.
"We have girls that come through and are very successful in their detox or counseling and they have jobs and are working hard to rebuild their lives," Twedell said.
But too many, she said, remain in the revolving door.
Josh Duggar Molestation Scandal: Desirae Brown Points Out Red Flags On '19 Kids And Counting'
Josh Duggar recently confessed to molesting five young girls, including his own sisters, after keeping his atrocious actions a secret for over a decade. His shocking revelation has inspired victims of sexual abuse to speak out, and one such survivor thinks that there were warning signs that something sinister was taking place in the Duggar home.
People recently asked Deondra and Desirae Brown to share their thoughts about what Josh Duggar did, and Desirae claimed that the warning signs were plain as day on 19 Kids and Counting . Desirae and Deondra previously made headlines by performing with The 5 Browns, their family's classical piano ensemble. In 2011, the girls revealed that their father had sexually molested them when they were children. Desirae Brown has watched 19 Kids and Counting , and she revealed that the show set off warning bells for her.
“I remember watching the show and mentioning to friends and family that I feel something is off and something will come out,” Desirae told People .
A few of the “red flags” she noticed were “controlling parents, very submissive children and an isolated environment.”
Desirae pointed out that Josh Duggar's parents created the perfect environment for a sexual predator by isolating their children from other adults who could have helped them. The Duggars are homeschooled, so they don't have any teachers or school counselors to confide in if something is amiss at home. The 5 Browns were also homeschooled and isolated, and they were brought up in a religious household (the family is Mormon). The Brown siblings' mother is still married to their father.
During an interview with the Daily Beast , Desirae Brown talked about how difficult it is to speak out about being sexually abused by a family member. It's likely that Josh Duggar's victims endured a very similar struggle.
“I was worried our family would get torn apart… I didn't want to be taken away from my siblings. It all seems so scary, and so it paralyzes you. It is a part of you that becomes damaged—you just shove it away into some back closet somewhere and you try to move on with your life.”
The Brown daughters also know what it's like to see family members defend their abuser.
“It almost broke us to know that we didn't get the support from people we had loved and respected our whole lives,” Desirae revealed.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, both of Jessa Duggar's in-laws, Michael Seewald and Guinn Seewald, have defended Josh Duggar.
“Abusers are just selfish. In the end, they only want what they want,” Desirae Brown said.
Josh's selfishness shines through in the molestation confession that was shared on the Duggar Family Facebook page — he muses about how his actions could ruin his life, but he expresses no concern about the futures of his victims.
Unlike Josh Duggar, the Brown sisters' father was actually prosecuted for what he did, and he's currently serving 10 years-to-life in prison. There was no statute of limitations in Utah, so the girls were able to come forward long after their father committed his crimes. Now the Brown sisters are working to get all states to remove their statute of limitations laws — if there had been no such law in place at the time Josh Duggar's crimes finally came to light, he could have been prosecuted for molesting his sisters.
The Brown girls aren't the only survivors speaking out about the Josh Duggar molestation scandal. Erin Merryn, the founder of Erin's Law, recently chatted to CNN's Don Lemon about the Duggars. According to the Huffington Post , Merryn was sexually abused by a family member when she was a child, and her horrific experience led her to push for the passing of a law that “demands sexual abuse education for children.” According to Merryn, Erin's Law has been passed in 23 states.
Erin Merryn actually went to the Duggar's house to talk to the family about sexual abuse a year ago, but the family didn't say anything to her about the molestation that had taken place under their own roof. The Duggars invited Erin to talk to their children after meeting her at a child abuse conference, and she commended them for asking her to encourage their kids to speak up if they're ever abused. She told Don Lemon that she didn't sense that anything was wrong during her visit.
“I didn't have the slightest suspicion that anything – no weird feelings or anything when I went into their home.”
Erin says that she doesn't “hold onto anger” about what Josh Duggar did, and she believes that his victims are being re-victimized because the media keeps focusing on the scandal.
“This is bringing it all up into their face again,” Erin said. “The best thing we can do is give them their privacy and allow them to heal.”
However, if 19 Kids and Counting doesn't get canceled, Erin Merryn hopes that the Duggars don't simply try to sweep Josh Duggar's sexual molestation scandal under the rug — she'd like to see the family use their show to raise awareness about sexual abuse.
Deandra and Desirae Brown also appeared on Don Lemon's show to talk about the Josh Duggar molestation scandal, and you can check out their interview below. They offer more insight into the victims' point of view and the shame and humiliation that they feel, and they share their hopes for the girls who were abused by Josh Duggar.
Program Working To Stop Child Abuse
by Scott Smith
It's a statistic that is every bit as shocking as it is heartbreaking: One in eight children falls victim to sexual abuse before the age of 18.
That statistic comes from Jackie Hamilton, executive director for the Hamilton House Child and Family Safety Center, who said that the topic of sexual abuse of children is “a significant social issue” in virtually all communities. Hamilton's facility helped 816 area children in 2014, with an average of 79 children per month.
“The good thing is, the Step Up, Speak Out initiative is creating awareness of the issue of child abuse, and people now are watching for it in our community,” Hamilton said. “Step Up, Speak Out is making folks in Sebastian and Crawford counties, as well as some counties in Oklahoma, aware of the issues.”
A United Way partnership that was formed in Fort Smith in 2012, the Step Up, Speak Out initiative was created by Sam Sicard, president and chief executive officer of First National Bank of Fort Smith, and other community leaders and volunteers as a response to news of the Penn State scandal, which involved the molestation of numerous young boys by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky over several years.
Step Up, Speak Out hosts block-party gatherings at area schools, churches and other locations to encourage children to report abuse. The events also encourage all school employees, those who work or volunteer at Boys & Girls Clubs and others who interact with children to be watchful for signs of child abuse and, when those signs are apparent, report those signs.
“We have trained, highly skilled speakers who go to the schools the week of or the week before the block party to talk to the students at a Rise-and-Shine event,” said Sicard, committee chairman for Step Up, Speak Out. “The speakers talk to them about what is in appropriate touching, and they talk about who is someone you can trust to tell.”
Boasting a carnival-style theme and including prizes such as bikes and skateboards, the block parties also provide educational information on child abuse prevention and awarness. Children are given Step Up, Speak Out T-shirts, wristbands and other items that contain the Step Up, Speak Out Hotline, which is (800) 482-5964.
“It's difficult to measure outcomes, but we have confirmation from school principals of either kids who have reported abuse, or kids who have been identified as being abused,” Sicard said. “For emergencies, people can always call their local sheriff or police department if they can't remeber the hot line number.”
During one recent Step Up, Speak Out event, the students were asked to point to a trusted adult. One child wouldn't raise a hand or make eye contact, which caused alarm for the adults, Sicard said.
“You hope that it can be prevented from happening in the first place, and we hope that adults are better equipped to look out and shelter their children from potential abuse,” he said.
In addition to a lack of eye contact, warning signs of a child being abused include behavior that drastically changes from previous behavior, Hamilton said. Students who begin to “act out” or begin demonstrating knowledge about adult-only topics should be monitored closely, she said.
“A child behaving in a sexual or seductive manner, or it's apparent the child has a heightened knowledge of sexual things, those are warning signs,” Hamilton said. “You pay attention to their language and behavior, to see if there's cause for concern.”
These warning signs are things that Peggy Walter, principal for Fairview Elementary School, watch for during each school day.
“Step Up, Speak Out is making a huge impact on students because Fort Smith has seen parents who have stepped up to identify and report potential abuse,” said Walter, whose school recently hosted a Step Up, Speak Out block party. “Every staff member — teachers, custodians, bus drivers, the cooks, everyone — is watching the children for possible warning signs.”
Arkansas law now states that all employees of nonprofit organizations, including churches, are mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse in Arkansas. Those who have a moral and legal obligation to help ensure children are safe and report suspected abuse include church pastors, youth pastors, neighbors, coaches, mentors and relatives, among other adults, Sicard said.
“Principals and teachers are keeping an eye on students,” he said. “We also work closely with the Boys and Girls Clubs, which is good, but I do worry about the kids who don't go there during summer.”
Schools like Fairview Elementary School offer free and reduced breakfasts and lunches during the summer months, which helps trusted adults keep an eye on children, he said. This program and the block parties are helping keep children safe, said Walter.
“The speakers with Step Up, Speak Out stress the need for trusted adults,” she said. “It is so important we build those relationships with the kids, because we all play a part in those children's everyday lives. We want them to know that everyone is here for these kids.”
For Hamilton, the number of cases of sexual abuse involving children is staggering. The Hamilton House sees children ages birth to 18, with most of the victims being 8 or younger.
“Most offenders don't intend to harm or hurt their victims, even though that is what they're doing; of course, it's harmful to children,” Hamilton said. “Ninety-two percent of the offenders know that child and they care about that child, but they use children inappropriately for their sexual gratification.
“And if you look at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more children died from child abuse than the total combined numbers of military deaths over a three-year period,” she added. “Currently, seven children die each day as a result from abuse. It's astonishing.”
Most of the local child-abuse cases don't involve drugs, Hamilton said.
“With the offender, there was just — there was just evil in that person,” she said. “There's really no other words for it.”
Sicard said he is confident Step Up, Speak Out will continue to grow and prevent cases of child abuse in the area.
"With Step Up, Speak Out, it's educational,” he said. “We believe strongly that more prevention will happen, the more everyone knows that people are being educated, trained and made aware of this.
“Kids are more likely to be victims if the perpetrator feels like they can get away with it, so I say that ignorance isn't bliss for a kid,” Sicard added. “Ignorance would make us more susceptible — would make more kids at risk. But perpetrators now know we are doing everything we can to protect our children. Perpetrators now know that we with Step Up, Speak Out will do something about it.”
For information, visit Step Up, Speak Out's Facebook page or www.hhsafetycenter.org. - See more at: http://swtimes.com/features/program-working-stop-child-abuse#sthash.NlzqSyvE.dpuf
Video reportedly shows child abuse, Sanford woman charged
by Zach Potter
SANFORD — A Sanford woman has been charged with child abuse after a video taken by an observer last week reportedly showed the woman striking an infant multiple times at a Kangaroo gas station on Carthage Street.
Capt. Harold Layton, of the Sanford Police Department, said police responded to a call of a baby left on the sidewalk outside the store on May 22.
“A caller called us and said there was a baby crawling up and down the sidewalk in front of the Pantry (the company that operates Kangaroo's convenience stores) without the mother present,” Layton said. “When officers got there, they spoke to the witness, and the child and mother were already in the car seat ready to leave.”
The video, posted to the Herald's Facebook page, appears to show a small child crawling along the sidewalk near the Kangaroo's parking lot for about 30 seconds, at which point a woman, who police confirmed was Ford, walks over to the child, picks him up and spanks him four times before carrying him to the stretch of sidewalk in front of the door and putting him down again.
“The citation was actually issued later,” Layton said. “We were not aware of the video until later that night. Later that night, we found that (a witness) had a video, and at that time, we were able to issue a citation.”
Ford is scheduled to appear in court on July 30, and Layton encouraged residents to call police when they witnessed similar situations. He noted also that video evidence helped tremendously, as there was only so much police could do if incidents did not happen in the presence of an officer.
“They should show officers,” Layton said. “If they notify officers that they've got it, we can get it on record. Most of time, by the time an officer gets there, things have changed. The situation has already ended, which is what happened in this case.”
Brenda Potts, director of the Lee County Department of Social Services, agreed that the witness did the right thing, but she added that even if the situation has already ended, residents can always call DSS if they believe abuse is occurring.
“If you have reason to think there is abuse of a child in the county, then all anyone would need to do is make a call to our office,” Potts said. “There's an intake specialist that actually takes the report. ... I think we've had something like 26 referrals accepted this week.”
Potts said not all of those referrals involved abuse, and that DSS deals with neglect and other issues as well.
“Things kind of run in cycles,” Potts said. “You go for a period of time where the large majority of reports are abuse, then you go through another spell. Right now, the biggest issue we're having falls under what we call neglect.”
Potts said neglect refers to a parent's inability or failure to provide needed care to a child, and that from her perspective, drugs are often to blame.
“This is where the availability of drugs in the county has resulted in young parents becoming substance abusers,” Potts said. “And it affects parents' abilities to care for the children. If I were to say the big issue in (Lee County) right now, it would fall under neglect.”
Anyone with concerns regarding child abuse or neglect can call the Department of Social Services at (919) 718-4690.
Prosecutor: Neglect was 'purposeful, systematic'
by Liz Shepard
While the life of a 5-year-old girl was lost Tuesday night, Port Huron Public Safety Chief Michael Reaves said another was saved.
"I'm a firm believer we had one tragic homicide and we prevented another," Reaves said. He said it is one of the worst cases he'd seen in his 37 years in law enforcement.
A 3-year-old Port Huron girl remains in a Detroit hospital after being discovered in her Port Huron home with her deceased 5-year-old sister and two other children.
Officials said the girl weighed just 17 pounds. On average, a 3-year-old girl weighs 32 pounds or more.
Her father, Andrew Maison, and stepmother, Hilery Maison, are facing charges of open murder, two counts of torture and two counts of first-degree child abuse.
The murder charge, and one count of torture and child abuse, are in relation to Mackenzie Maison. The 5-year-old girl could not be revived when rescue crews were called to their Oak Street home Tuesday night.
Mackenzie was found malnourished, weighing just 25 pounds, with bruises, a severe infection and pneumonia. On average, 5-year-old girls weigh 40 pounds or more.
Mackenzie was, "Severely malnourished, she suffered profound medical trauma as a result of neglect that showed weeks if not months of neglect and I'd would suggest purposeful withholding of nourishment as well as any medical attention she may have needed," said Senior Assistant Prosecutor Mona Armstrong.
She was rushed to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Armstrong said during the arraignment of Mackenzie's father and stepmother Friday that it is believed the little girl was dead before anyone called 911. Police said rescue crews were called to the home at 829 Oak St. to a report of an unresponsive child Tuesday night.
The second counts of torture and first-degree child abuse are for the alleged treatment of Mackenzie's younger sister.
Armstrong said the 3-year-old's conditions were life threatening when she was hospitalized, and the alleged neglect of both girls was done in a "purposeful, systematic manner."
Two other children found in the home Tuesday have been placed in foster care.
Armstrong said those children, who are Hilery's offspring, did not show the same neglect as Mackenzie and her sister, who are Andrew's biological daughters.
Bond was denied, so Hilery and Andrew Maison will remain in jail until their probable cause hearings June 9. The couple were arraigned separately Friday by video feed.
"I would like to fight with this, there is no truths in most of what was said," Hilery Maison, 27, told District Judge Michael Hulewicz. "I've given the detectives everything, every detail of what happened that day, there was no intention on any of this."
Andrew Maison, 25, remained mostly quiet during his arraignment.
Bond was denied for Andrew and Hilery Maison.
A handful of people seated in the courtroom declined to speak about the case.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services investigated 1,503 cases of suspected child abuse and neglect in St. Clair County in fiscal year 2014, which ended Sept. 30. Of those reported, abuse and or neglect was found in 304 cases, Bob Wheaton, DHHS spokesman said in an email.
This is not the first case where child abuse or neglect was believed to be a factor in a child's death in the Blue Water Area.
In 2010, 3-year-old Prhaze Galvan of Kimball Township died of blunt force head trauma.
Her father, Joe Galvan, and stepmother, Jennifer Galvan were found guilty of felony murder, first-degree child abuse and torture. Both are serving life sentences in prison.
In 2011, Scott Syzak was sentenced to life in prison in the 1995 murder of his infant daughter, Jessica Syzak. The child died of severe head trauma in their Port Huron home.
John William Gonzales was sent to life in 2008 after being convicted of felony murder and first-degree child abuse in the 2005 death of his 18-month-old son, Braylon. The boy died from severe head trauma.
Braylon's mother, Ashley Snowden, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, accessory after the fact and second-degree child abuse and was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison. She testified against Gonzales at his trial.
In 2000, Ariana Swinson, 2, was fatally beaten and drowned in Port Huron Township. Her parents, Edward Swinson and Linda Sue Paling, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse. Both were sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.
Bill toughens penalty for failure to report child abuse
by The Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Teachers, school administrators and other mandated reporters of child abuse could face a felony charge under certain circumstances for not reporting mistreatment, under a bill moving through the Connecticut General Assembly.
The legislation stems from an incident in Stamford where a high school principal and assistant principal were charged with failing to report a sexual relationship between a student and teacher. They received probation.
Under the bill, which cleared the House of Representatives 138-1 on Friday, people who've repeatedly failed to report abuse or intentionally interfered with a report being made could face Class E and D felonies, which include prison time and fines.
Stamford Rep. William Tong said lawmakers need to “make it very clear we mean what we say in our statutes.”
The bill awaits Senate action.
New federal law aids underage sex workers, targets traffickers
Sen. Amy Klobuchar's bill creates incentives for states that treat underage sex workers as victims.
by Shannon Prather
The average sex-trafficking victim is a 13-year-old girl, often forced into the illicit business against her will and fed illegal drugs to keep her tethered to her pimp. These children need housing, education, jobs and hope for a future — not a criminal rap sheet, says U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
On Friday, President Obama signed a law championed by Klobuchar that will help law enforcement further crack down on traffickers. It creates financial incentives for states to pass laws that ensure minors sold for sex aren't prosecuted, but are instead treated as victims,
Klobuchar said Saturday that the federal provision is modeled after Minnesota's “Safe Harbor” law. About 15 states have similar laws, Klobuchar said. The Minnesota Democrat co-sponsored the bill with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn.
“Some people used to refer to prostitution as a victimless crime. These girls are incredibly young and there has been an increase in these kinds of crimes with social media,” Klobuchar said. “Just as our country's attitudes have changed on child abuse and domestic violence … our attitudes now on prostitution and on sex-trafficking of young people are completely turning around.”
The law give states incentives through existing federal grant programs to pass safe harbor laws, which steer victims into child protection instead of the criminal justice system.
The Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Act also calls for the creation of a national strategy to combat human trafficking. The U.S. Department of Justice will largely oversee that piece, which will include goal-setting, information sharing between state and federal law enforcement and gathering of best practices to combat trafficking, Klobuchar said.
One of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch's top priorities is prosecuting human trafficking, she said. .
The new law calls for using fines and penalties against sex traffickers to improve the availability of victim services. Existing federal funds allocated for health care will also be tapped.
The law also helps victims pursue financial restitution against their traffickers, strengthens the National Human Trafficking Hotline and allows sex-trafficking victims to participate in the Job Corps, a no-cost education and vocational training program run by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Klobuchar said her previous work as a Hennepin County prosecutor gave her a sense of “how horrific these sex-trafficking rings are.”
Addressing her colleagues in the U.S. Senate, Klobuchar described a recent case. A 12-year-old Rochester girl received a text message about a party. She showed up and was abducted, raped and taken to the Twin Cities where her captors sold her for sex on Craigslist.
“It's not just something that is happening in faraway lands,” Klobuchar told senators. “It is happening in our back yard. It is happening to 12-year-olds in my own state.”
New home for sex traffic survivors opens in St. Louis
by Camille Phillips
A four-year-long project to open a residential program in St. Louis for women who have been victims of sex trafficking has come to fruition. Magdalene St. Louis held opening ceremonies for the newly renovated home in the city's Old North neighborhood Saturday.
The first seven women accepted into the two-year program move in on June 8. The house has the space for eleven, and according to Magdalene St. Louis Executive Director Tricia Roland-Hamilton, the program already has 25 women on a waiting list.
“These women have been marginalized for a long, long time,” Roland-Hamilton said. “On average our women were sexually abused by the time they were 7, 8, 9 years old. On average they've started using drugs to cope with it between the ages of 11 and 13. And on average they enter lives of prostitution and sex trafficking between the ages of 13 and 15.”
Women accepted into the program are given food, housing, health care, job training, education and life-skills training. The goal of Magdalene St. Louis is to give the women the support they need to become self-sufficient and stay sober.
“The odds have been stacked against them forever. They don't know a different life,” explained Roland-Hamilton. “So when I talk about life-skills training, typically what we see is that the age at which a woman goes into this lifestyle is the age at which their maturity level ends, and so there's a lot of work to be done. Certainly anytime you're talking about people with addictions that's a challenge in and of itself.”
Magdalene St. Louis is based off a program started in Nashville in 1997. Two graduates of the program spoke at the opening ceremony Saturday: Shelia McClain and Ty Johnson.
McClain enrolled in the Nashville program in 2004 and has visited St. Louis several times over the past four years to help get Magdalene St. Louis off the ground.
“I needed somebody to teach me how to live,” McClain said of Magdalene. “And eleven years later I've been to college, I'm a director at another organization. I'm a good wife. I'm raising my children.”
“I'm just (really) excited for the women who are going to come (to Magdalene St. Louis) because we are not our past. We cannot allow our past to define our future. We can be anything that we choose to be. We can do anything.” McClain added.
Ty Johnson graduated from Magdalene in Nashville on Friday. She describes herself as a survivor and said Magdalene gave her her life back.
“I was homeless for eight years, but I now have my own place. I'm raising my son,” Johnson said. “I'm so grateful for the (Magdalene) community. It's the community that healed me.”
Politicians, officials and Magdalene St. Louis board members also spoke during the ceremony.
Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr., whose ward includes part of Old North, spoke of the renovated Magdalene House as part of the neighborhood's revitalization.
“I remember when you used to come through here (and) by God we'd step on the gas and speed because it looked like you'd get hoodwinked and hijacked at every corner. But look at it now,” Bosley said, praising Mayor Francis Slay for signing bills that gave Old North block grant money.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson pledged his support to ending sex trafficking.
“We've dedicated officers and unfortunately have become experts in human trafficking to try and stop that cycle,” Dotson said. “You have my commitment that we're going to continue to interrupt the cycle of abuse that happens to women.”
Mike Kinman, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, is also the board president for Magdalene St. Louis. At the opening ceremony he noted the oft-repeated description of prostitution as the oldest profession before taking a step back and pointing out that something else had to come first: people willing to take advantage of others.
“This entire community has come together and said we are done being one of the top 20 cities for sex trafficking. We are done being a community where it's okay to buy and sell women,” Kinman said, calling the opening of the house in St. Louis both a long time coming and just the beginning of the program's efforts.
For more information on human trafficking, see the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
Ed Smart attends child sex trafficking screening, announces Elizabeth's new baby
by Nate Eaton
Rexburg, ID — Ed Smart, the father of a Utah teenager who was kidnapped and found nine months later, visited east Idaho Thursday to attend a screening of a documentary about child sex trafficking.
He also announced his daughter, Elizabeth, had a baby girl about three months ago.
Elizabeth Smart was forced from her Salt Lake City home on June 5, 2002. Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee are currently in prison for kidnapping the then 14-year-old child.
"When Elizabeth was abducted do we think of her being enslaved?" Ed Smart asked during a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com. "She absolutely was for nine months. She was assaulted once, twice a day for almost every day of the nine months she was gone."
Smart is now on a mission to rescue children from sex trafficking. He's working with Operation Underground Railroad, a nonprofit group traveling around the world to save kids forced into the sex trade.
"It is more common," Smart said. "Any time you have a resort area more than likely trafficking is going on there. Any time there's a big sporting event in the United States you can believe trafficking is going on."
Operation Underground Railroad has produced a new documentary called "The Abolitionists." It shows investigators rescuing endangered children and going after the adult perpetrators around the world.
"Usually when an operation starts we start working with the U.S. Embassy and we determine who are the vetted law enforcement agencies that we can trust," Smart said. "In a number of countries where they have laws that have never been implemented this will be the first time the prosecutions of those pimps has actually happened."
Authorities estimate 2 million children worldwide are being trafficked for sex.
Smart said it's happening here and the film gives parents a chance to speak with their own kids about the problem.
For Smart, this project is personal as he honors his own daughter who survived the unthinkable.
"Elizabeth is great," Smart said. "She just had a baby girl named Chloe about three months ago. We want all of those people that have been victimized out there to be survivors. We want them to find their dreams and find that new hope in life that helps them become the best and the most they can be."
Elizabeth Smart married Matthew Gilmour in 2012.
"The Abolitionists" will be shown at Fat Cats movie theater in Rexburg on Thursday, May 28 at 5:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 7:45 p.m., and 8.15 p.m.. Admission is free and a question and answer session will follow each screening.
Aboriginal residential schools report just the beginning: survivors
by Chinta Puxley
Mike Cachagee was just four-and-a-half when he was taken from his home and sent to a residential school in northern Ontario.
For the next 12 years, he never celebrated a birthday.
He was never hugged. He never heard “I love you.” He was never encouraged or praised.
He was beaten and sexually abused.
When he and his younger brother finally returned home, his mother had remarried and started a new family. She barely recognized her sons.
t took Cachagee two failed marriages, years of alcohol and drug abuse and therapy before he started to come to grips with what happened to him.
His brother never did. He descended into a life of addiction on Winnipeg's streets.
“He was only three years old when he went there,” Cachagee said. “He came out when he was 16 and the rest of his life was just a mess with alcoholism. Just horrid. He never had a chance — all because he was sent off to a residential school.”
The brothers rarely speak now.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission examining Canada's Indian residential schools is to release a summary of its final report Tuesday after hearing testimony from 7,000 survivors. The final report marks the end of a five-year exploration of one of the darkest chapters in Canada's history.
About 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were taken from their families and forced to attend government schools over much of the last century. The last school closed outside Regina in 1996.
For survivors such as Cachagee, the torment doesn't abate with the commission's report.
“We don't need to heal, we need to rebuild,” said Cachagee, who now counsels other survivors in Sault Ste Marie, Ont.
Ken Young remembers the day in the 1950s when he was taken from his home at age eight along with his brothers and sisters.
He remembers boarding a train with other aboriginal children and the laughter while on the novel journey.
Then they reached the Prince Albert Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.
“We were lonesome,” Young said. “I remember a lot of us crying a lot.”
There were public floggings in the dining hall.
Children had their heads shaved and their legs shackled in pyjamas because they had tried to go home.
The school was more like a prison, he said.
“I thought it was normal because I was just a young guy. Later, I realized how bad that was that adults would treat children like that,” said Young, a Winnipeg lawyer. “I was ashamed to be who I was because that's what we were taught.”
It took a long time to let go of his anger.
Young is hoping the commission will recommend a healing strategy developed by survivors that will address the aftermath of Canada's failed policy to “take the Indian out of the child.”
But he suspects the commission's report will go the way of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
“There'll be recommendations made and then it will go on a shelf like all the other reports that have been sanctioned by government.
“I'm not overly optimistic.”
David Harper is more interested in what happens after the final report.
Harper's mother was in a residential school, but the first time he heard details of her abuse was at her compensation hearing with adjudicators before she died.
“Every word that came out of her mouth, I kept thinking, ‘How dare you Canada, allowing this to happen to my mom.'”
Just recently, Harper, who is the grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak representing Manitoba's northern First Nations, learned one of his uncles was in a residential school and was whipped until he defecated.
Those stories are just starting to be told, Harper said.
Harper points to Israel where one of the Holocaust memorials includes an eternal flame.
“I would like to see something like that for our First Nations, where they could go and sit down and tell their stories to their children,” he said.
“We want to make sure we don't pass on this generational curse.”
Apologies are weak without change
Promises made must be fulfilled
by Betty Ann Adam
When my daughter and I travel to Ottawa this week, we will carry the memory of my mother, Mary Jane.
She was a residential school survivor, and I never got to meet her until I was an adult. She died in 2006, so when my daughter and I walk in the memorial march and watch the sun rise at a ceremony, we'll do it for her and I feel she will be there with us in spirit.
My mother didn't get to hear the prime minister's formal apology to her in 2008, or to make a statement at one of the national events where survivors recounted the history of life at the schools.
The truth telling at seven national and numerous regional hearings revealed the human experience that could not be conveyed through yellowed school documents and receipts kept by the schools and government officials.
Stories of loneliness and abuse, of punishment for speaking one's own language, of sexual assaults, starvation and torture finally came alive for millions of Canadians who were shocked and ashamed of government policies that had created the circumstances for such wrongs. Even those children who were spared the worst physical treatment were forced to live among adults who taught them they were inferior.
That lie pervaded the system and took root in the psyches of thousands of girls and boys, who grew into adults and became parents, who continued to receive that message from all quarters of Canadian society. Many of those parents wept as they told the commission they had failed their children.
The truth has been hard for many non-native Canadians to hear. Some protest it's not their fault; many weren't even born yet and they certainly didn't have any say in what went on in those schools.
Living through those experiences was even harder than listening to it. For many of us, who also weren't born then, the wretched legacy of residential schools has shaped the course of our lives.
So what about the reconciliation part of this exercise? How do we learn to coexist in harmony? Apologies help. I remember the surprise I felt in 1998, when Jane Stewart, then minister of Indian affairs, as part of the release of the action plan on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, expressed profound regret for the government's past actions, especially the residential schools, and promised to address the resulting negative effects with a headline-grabbing, $350-million healing fund.
In 2008, Stephen Harper formally apologized for forcibly removing children from their homes, acknowledged that it left a void in many lives, undermined the ability of many to adequately parent their own children and planted the seeds for generations to follow.
He said the assimilation policies of the past, which were based on assumptions that aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior, were wrong, had caused great harm and had no place in our country.
"The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long. The burden is properly ours as a government, and as a country. There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian Residential Schools system to ever prevail again. You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey," Harper said.
The words were a balm, soothing and comforting. I wanted to breathe and soak them in.
I could believe that the prime minister spoke on behalf of my fellow Canadians, my individual friends, my non-biological family members and my co-workers and acquaintances.
What was harder to believe was the sincerity of the most powerful man in the country who spoke the words.
"Show me," is what I thought as I listened.
Show me how Canada's policies toward First Nations, Metis and Inuit people have changed to help us carry the burden of the fallout from the residential school experience.
Show me policies that guarantee funding for onreserve schools that is equal with the funding for schools in Saskatoon or Regina. Show me head start programs and post-secondary funding that increases as the number of graduates grows.
Show me adequately funded and supervised child and family services and supports for parents caught in addictions and poverty.
Show me ongoing core funding for therapists and elders to help intergenerational survivors overcome the grief of stolen childhoods, family, language, culture and belonging. Show me decent housing, health-care services and clean drinking water in all communities and affordable, healthy food in northern stores.
Show me a government that respects the courts' rulings in favour of aboriginal claims, instead of spending millions on lawyers to fight them.
Show me a government that respects judges' discretion in sentencing instead of imposing mandatory minimums.
Show me fewer people in prisons and a quadrupling of rehabilitation programs.
Show laws that require sharing with first inhabitants the resource wealth taken from the land.
Show me commitment to honour the treaties.
Show me true consultation with aboriginals before imposing policy that affects us.
Show me policies that respect privacy, civil liberties and social action.
I really don't expect any government to make sweeping and fundamental changes spontaneously. Canadian governments have always created and maintained policies of inequality for indigenous people, and Canadians have let them.
Instead of always seeing Indians as an expensive problem, non-natives need to see how their own government's policies have created the expensive problems.
Instead of pity from average Canadians, we need them to be just as angry, indignant, skeptical and disappointed as we are. We need allies who realize that they are not superior to us and that their indifference maintains the status quo.
If non-native Canadians truly want reconciliation and a future in which native people are genuinely equal, they must stand beside us and demand better.
Local officials praise SAFE
by Frances Hayes
Programs offered by SAFE (Sheltered Aid to Families in Emergencies) provided services to 550 Wilkes people in 2014.
There were also between 200-250 sexual abuse cases involving children investigated by the Wilkes County Sheriff's Department in 2014. Many of them received services by SAFE and its child advocacy center SAFE Spot, said Wilkes County Sheriff Detective Nancy Graybeal.
Those services and domestic violence were explained during an hour-long breakfast event beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Stone Center for the Performing Arts.
SAFE, a nonprofit agency located on School Street, Wilkesboro, offers survivors of domestic and sexual violence options for safety, empowerment, healing and hope.
“About one in four women will experience severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner during their lifetimes. Among adult females, it's the most common cause of visits to the emergency room and the number one reason women become homeless,” said Tim Murphy, community educator.
SAFE offers an emergency shelter, which provided 157 people a place to stay in 2014. There were 1,276 incidences of advocacy including assistance in seeking protective orders, support during court hearings and referral to community resources in 2014.
Also SAFE Sport, a child advocacy center, provided therapy to 46 children. Community education, sexual assault services and Latino Outreach are also services provided by SAFE.
Murphy said there are two questions he frequently receives when he presents programs providing information on SAFE's programs.
They generally involve questions about the victim of abuse rather than the perpetrator, said Murphy.
“How did she get into this mess? And why won't she leave?
To me, a better question is, “Why does he do this?” But we'll leave that one for another time.
“That would be a powerful question,” said Murphy.
He said women who have been in abusive relationships say the perpetrator was initially very charming and engaging.
“It is almost like a Disney fairytale,” said Murphy. “But then he becomes possessive and needy and the violence begins.”
People also gravitate to abusive relationships because of exposure to violence when they were growing up. A little girl who grows up in a home with domestic violence comes to see it as normal.
Murphy said women in abusive relationships don't leave because they are afraid. “Three out of four domestic violence calls to the police are made after the woman leaves.”
He said the victims have been “psychologically beaten down similarly to the way prisoners of war are” made to feel.
“She's too emotionally beaten down to move out. After the Korean War, a psychologist studied the brainwashing techniques in Chinese prison camps. They were “brainwashed by being isolated, controlled and threatened. They were also threatened by being physical and mental exhaustion,” said Murphy.
“These techniques—isolation, threats, degradation and total control—are part and parcel of an abusive relationship. They won't break every abused partner, just like they don't break every POW. But they do work very effectively on many people, rendering once capable people insecure, indecisive and prone to depression and substance abuse,” said Murphy.
Domestic violence is a complex problem, and there are no simple solutions, said Murphy.
SAFE helps by offering free emergency shelter to domestic violence victims and their children. SAFE's court advocate, Rebecca Parker, helps victims get legal protection. The application for a restraining order is 18 pages long. She helps victims navigate this tangle of paperwork and accompanies victims when they must face their abusers in court. Protective orders do more than just separate people; they also temporarily resolve issues about who gets the house, the kids and the pets,” said Murphy.
Once physical safety is established, our shelter advocates and Lynn Durchman, our contracted counselor, help victims deal with the emotional issues that accompany abuse. We ask victims, “What do you want to see happen now?” and “How can we help you achieve your goals?”
SAFE also provides community education for ninth graders which is an evidence-based teen relationship violence prevention program. Students learn about the hallmarks of healthy relationships and the warning signs of unhealthy ones. The class talks frankly about battering, emotional abuse and sexual assault.
Det. Nancy Graybeal of the Wilkes Sheriff's Department also spoke at the hour-long breakfast. She praised SAFE for its work during the past 30 years, especially SAFE Spot, a child advocacy center.
In the past, children who had been sexually abused had to tell their story at least three times to local agencies for the criminal investigation. Now, because of SAFE Spot, they only tell the story once which is taped for other agencies.
North Wilkesboro Police Chief Joe Rankin also praised services provided by SAFE.
“When one of my officers gets a call at midnight to respond to a domestic incident, they go to the location not knowing what they will encounter or how they will handle it,” said Rankin.
“While the abuser may or may not be arrested, the victim likely needs to leave the home… but where can the victim go? Not everyone has family that can keep them from harm's way. That's where SAFE comes in. For over 30 years, SAFE has provided free, safe emergency shelter to victims of domestic violence regardless of their age or gender. It's a life-saving service, and one that many communities our size don't have,” said Rankin.
Also speaking were Julie Brooks, chairman of the SAFE board of directors and the Rev. Andrew Brown, minister of Wilkesboro United Methodist Church.
The breakfast was a fundraising event for SAFE. Food was provided by Sixth and Main.
Leaked Internal Documents Show U.N. Ignored Child Abuse
by Roger Hamilton-Martin
UNITED NATIONS, May 29 2015 (IPS) - Leaked United Nations documents show high-level staff knew of abuses by soldiers in the Central African Republic and failed to act, all while planning the removal of U.N. whistleblower Anders Kompass.
Twenty-three soldiers from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea are implicated in the abuse, according to one of the reports.
The documents, released Friday by the organisation AIDS-Free World as part of their Code Blue campaign, implicate the U.N. in making no attempt to stop the ongoing crimes or protect children, and then scrambling to cover up inaction.
“The documents indicate a total failure of the U.N. to act on claims of sexual abuse, even when they know that U.N. involvement might be the surest route to stopping crimes and ensuring justice,” said Paula Donovan, AIDS-Free World's co-director, in a statement.
Included in the leak is Anders Kompass' own account of the events, which shows his claim that he was asked to resign by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who was acting on a request from the head of U.N. Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous.
Another revelation is an email chain involving Joan Dubinsky, Director, U.N. Ethics Office; Susana Malcorra, Chef de Cabinet, Executive Office of the Secretary-General; Carman Lapointe, Under Secretary General for Office for Internal Oversight Services; and Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the subject “CONFIDENTIAL — Call from DPR Sweden regarding Anders Kompass”, dated Apr. 7-10, 2015, detailing discussions across U.N. departments about Kompass' case.
AIDS-Free World suggested that the latest documents bring into question the independence of the U.N.'s Office for Internal Oversight Services and Ethics Office, which is supposed to operate at arm's length from the rest of the U.N. system, to ensure accountability.
The documents show that the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) had evidence of abuse by the soldiers on May 19, 2014. Then, during a June 18 interview, a 13-year-old boy said he couldn't number all the times he'd been forced to perform oral sex on soldiers but the most recent had been between June 8 and 12, 2014 – several weeks after the first UNICEF interview.
“By agreeing to be interviewed by the UN, the children expected the abuse to stop and the perpetrators to be arrested. When children report sexual abuse, adults must report it to the authorities. A child needs protection and, by definition, does not have the agency to decide whether to press charges. They deserved the protection they assumed they would receive once the UN knew of their abuse,” AIDS-Free World said in a statement.
Child abuse may be found everywhere
by Nicole James
Recently in the news, we have seen increased coverage on allegations of child sexual abuse. Much of the reporting has focused on the abuser or the families involved, and the public's perception of the family.
As an advocate for child victims of abuse, I see firsthand that child abuse doesn't favor any specific kind of home or family. It occurs in homes of all races, all religions, and all socio-economic classes. It is imperative in times like this when child sexual abuse is in the public eye that we recognize the prevalence of this issue and address the ways we can protect our most vulnerable population.
It is estimated that one in 10 children will be abused before their 18th birthday. Ninety percent of child abuse is committed by someone that the families know and trust. In communities like Stillwater, it is easy to think child abuse is less frequent than in other parts of the country. However, the realization is that last year in Payne County there were a total of 243 confirmed cases of child abuse.
Research shows that up to 40 percent of the time child sexual abuse is committed by an older or more powerful youth. This is often a sibling. Child sexual abuse should always be reported to the authorities even when the alleged perpetrator is a minor. This not only helps to protect other children, but ensures that both the victim and alleged perpetrator receive the appropriate services they need.
It is critical that our community recognizes the importance of reporting allegations of child abuse. Child abuse has been linked to health risks such as heart disease, obesity and substance abuse later in life. The amount of support and services that a child receives after a disclosure is the number one predictor of their future resiliency.
Reporting allegations of child abuse will protect more than just the victim, it also increases the chance of preventing future victims. Fortunately, Oklahoma is a mandated reporting state, which means that any adult that knows of or suspects child abuse is required by law to report it to child protective services or law enforcement.
To report child abuse call the OKDHS Hotline at 1-800-522-3511 or The Saville Center for Child Advocacy at 405-377-5670 to speak with an advocate who can walk you through this process.
Nicole James is a victim and family advocate at The Saville Center.
Canadian police dog allowed into courtroom to comfort child sex abuse victim during testimony
by Rose Troup Buchanan
A Canadian police dog helped comfort a child sexual abuse victim during her testimony in the first instance of its kind in the country.
Caber, a seven-year-old yellow Labrador assigned to British Columbia's Delta Police Trauma unit, was allowed into the courtroom to comfort the girl, who reportedly held tightly to his leash throughout the testimony.
“While testifying, the child bent down several times to pet Caber, which appeared to refocus and calm her,” Caber's handler Kim Gramlich told reporters.
On occasion the child, who has not been named in order to protect her identify, lay down next to the yellow labrador and cuddled him.
Ms Gramlich added that Caber "allowed the witness to get through her highly traumatic and emotional testimony."
Previously, victims under 18 years old testifying have been allowed “support persons” in the courtroom, but it is believed this is the first such instance of a dog helping a child victim.
Surrey Crown Counsel Winston Sayson, who submitted the application to allow Caber into the courtroom, noted that he “provided the unique kind of support that helped the child witness give a full and candid account of what happened to her”.
Caber, who was trained by a specialist organisation as a canine assisted intervention dog, has been with the police unit since 2010.
Dogs are also used in some courtrooms in the United States, where they provide similar comfort to children testifying against abuse and sexual violence.
House Passes Amended Version of School Sex Abuse Bill
by Daniela Altimari
An amended version of a bill designed to strengthen state laws regarding reporting requirements for child sexual abuse cleared the House of Representatives Friday by an overwhelming margin.
The legislation was partly prompted by a case at Stamford High School last year. Two top administrators at the school were arrested for failing to report a sexual relationship between a teacher and a student.
The incident "unfortunately has brought a great black eye upon the city of Stamford," said Rep. William Tong, a Democrat who represents the city and is the chief sponsor of the bill. "We take very seriously the obligation of mandated reporters to report when they have reasonable suspicion of child abuse and sexual misconduct."
An earlier version of the proposal would have made failure to report cases of sexual abuse a felony charge, instead of a misdemeanor as it is now. But the measure was amended to keep the crime classified as a misdemeanor, except when it is a repeat offense or when the mandatory reporter has actual knowledge that a child is being abused.
"We're all very empathetic and sympathetic to what's gone on in Stamford,'' Rep. Vin Candelora, R-North Branford. "We certainly need to get our arms around this and make sure those atrocities don't occur again.
"At the same time,'' he added, the penalty should not be "too heavy handed on the individuals who are mandatory reporters that are faced with very difficult circumstances. Ninety-nine percent of our mandatory reporters have our children's best interest in mind. It's that 1 percent that we need to make sure we go after."
The bill also would bolster training requirements to teach educators how to spot sexual abuse. School principals would have to certify to district superintendents that each of the teachers and administrators in their school has completed such a training session. Refresher classes would have to be completed every three years.
The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration.
Billy Graham grandson: Churches must practice what they preach on sexual abuse
by Mike Tighe
Churches must practice what they preach regarding the scandal of child sexual abuse, according to a grandson of the famed evangelist known as America's Pastor.
“This is really fundamental,” says Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian, a grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham. “The gospel we preach is about a God who sacrificed himself for the individual.”
But religious leaders frequently renounce abuse victims to protect clerical and institutional reputations, Tchividjian said in a phone interview Friday.
The interview was in advance of his address at a Chaplains for Children conference that the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center is sponsoring June 8-10 at Viterbo University in La Crosse.
“If we are preaching that gospel, churches need to sacrifice the church and stop sacrificing the individuals,” said Tchividjian, the 46-year-old founder and executive director of GRACE, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.
Tchividjian plans to lead conference participants in an exercise, based on case studies, on how to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse.
Part of his expertise stems from his eight years as the chief prosecutor of child abuse cases in the 7th Judicial District in Florida.
“It was the first time I had come face-to-face with this offense, this crime,” he said.
In the process, he observed how sexual predators groom their victims and the effects on families, he said.
“With the families, the devastation suffered by victims created my desire to handle the cases,” said Tchividian, who now also is a law professor at Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Va.
When he went into private practice, he said, “I thought, ‘What do I do with all I have learned?'”
The answer was to help train church officials, staffers and congregations about how to understand, prevent and respond to the crime, he said.
GRACE started slowly in 2004, he said.
“When we first formed, it was the same time the Catholic abuse mess surfaced, particularly in Boston,” he said. “There wasn't the same type of focus in Protestant churches.
“A lot of Protestants pointed fingers and said, ‘I'm glad we're not like them,'” Tchividian said. “I said, based on my experiences, we are just like them. We're just more spread out.”
Initially, he said, GRACE encountered pushback from those denying the problem, but slowly gained credibility as the issue became more publicized.
Many pastors try to handle such situations in-house instead of reporting them to law enforcement, he said, adding that his advice to church leaders is, “When in doubt, always report.”
The law requires it, and pastors and staffs are trained “to be shepherds, to preach and share God's word” and not in the science of forensic interviews, he said.
“Know your boundaries — don't be so distrustful of authority, as some are in pockets of Protestantism,” he said.
Those who believe what they preach realize that God has ordained law enforcement authorities to handle such investigations, he said.
As an example, he said, “If I have a heart attack and go to the hospital, I don't care whether the doctor is Christian, or Muslim, or any other. I want the best surgeon in town.”
Everyone wants to protect children, but not enough efforts concentrate on the response, Tchividjian said he plans to tell conference participants.
“It's just as important to help them develop response protocols as child protection,” he said.
The conference should help participants learn that their response should not depend on whom is accused, such as sheltering notables, but on the welfare of the victim, he said.
While previous approaches often have been geared to silence victims, he said, “We need to transform cultures to make churches so children feel so much more free to report, to step forward.
“I've seen the damage to kids 10, 15 or even 20 years later, and it's tragic,” he said.
Tchividian has written a 30-page booklet titled “Protecting Children from Abuse at Church: Steps to Prevent and Respond.” He also writes the column “Rhymes with Religion,” focusing on abuse and faith communities, for Religion News Service. The title of the column refers to the pronunciation of his last name.
His nickname is the result of people also having trouble pronouncing his first name, Basyle (bah-ZEEL), so he became known as “Boz.”
Tchividian recently published the book “Thank You Billy Graham,” referring to his 96-year-old grandfather, whose health has been failing for two years.
“He is largely bedridden,” Tchividian said. “We enjoy each day we have with him.”
IF YOU GO
A conference entitled “Chaplains for Children: Recognizing and Responding to Abuse and Neglect Within Faith Communities,” will take place from June 8 to 10 at Viterbo University in Wisconsin.
Sponsored by the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, the conference is intended for clergy, chaplains, youth ministers, faith leaders, counselors and others who work with children or families impacted by child abuse.
Speakers and workshops are intended to prepare participants to recognize and respond to cases of sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect. They will explain the impact on a victim's sense of spirituality and offer suggestions for working with medical and mental health professionals to assist a child in coping with maltreatment.
Conference co-sponsors include Viterbo and the Matty Eappen Foundation.
The cost is $275, with a student fee of $99.
For more information about the conference, including the full schedule of speakers, go to http://www.gundersenhealth.org/ncptc/trainings-2015/chaplains-for-children.
To register online, go to https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ea4ex00590d1b870&oseq=&c=&ch= .
Methodist Church in Britain apologises
Methodist Church in Britain apologises for 'grief and shame' in failing to protect children and adults after 2,000 reports of abuse dating back decades
The Methodist Church yesterday made an ‘unreserved' public apology for failing to protect children and vulnerable adults after an investigation uncovered nearly 2,000 cases of abuse within the institution.
The independent inquiry revealed 1,885 cases of alleged abuse linked to the church in Britain, the largest proportion of which were of a sexual nature, dating back to the 1950s.
The 100-page report also disclosed that many serving church ministers and staff helped to protect colleagues who carried out abuse.
One case concerned the grooming of teenage girls on Facebook while another involved a minister allegedly making sexual advances to children. Methodist general secretary, the Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, said the cases of abuse would remain ‘a deep source of grief and shame to the church'.
He said: ‘On behalf of the Methodist Church in Britain I want to express an unreserved apology for the failure of its current and earlier processes fully to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by some ministers.'
He described as ‘deeply regrettable' the fact that the church had not always listened properly to abuse victims and had not always cared for them.
Report chairman Jane Stacey, former deputy chief executive of children's charity Barnardo's, called for a culture change in the church. Ministers of religion were in an almost unique position of trust at very vulnerable times in people's lives, she told Radio 4's Today programme.
The church commissioned the review, which took three years to complete, because it said it wanted to be open about the past and to have stronger safeguarding procedures in the future.
It received 2,556 responses and identified 1,885 cases, including alleged sexual, physical, emotional and domestic abuse, as well as cases of neglect.
Complaints of sexual abuse accounted for 914 cases and ministers or lay employees were involved in 26 per cent of the alleged cases.
In 61 of these cases there was contact with the police and there are six ongoing police investigations as a result. There were 200 Methodist ministers identified as perpetrators or alleged perpetrators within the report.
It also identified that there was a problem with those working in the Methodist Church being unable to believe or act on allegations against their colleagues. Worryingly, the report revealed that the number of perpetrators has remained consistent over the past 12 years and shows ‘no sign of decline'.
One abuse survivor said: ‘I have learnt that it is impossible to recover from sexual abuse when no one recognises the seriousness of it. My church did not want a scandal, my parents did not want a scandal.
‘I was left to feel worthless and devalued, while the man was left to get on with his life and for all I know repeat the crime with someone else. I was emotionally and physically devastated.'
A LIFETIME OF SUFFERING IN SILENCE
Stories of the suffering of victims made up a large section of the report into abuse.
One unnamed man attended a Methodist-founded school and was abused by a teacher who would take him into his private room.
He felt unable to speak about what had happened to him until the report gave him an opportunity to come forward.
‘I just hated every minute of it,' he told the BBC. ‘The teacher involved would come into my dormitory in his dressing gown and shout my name and I would be taken to his room where I was probably there for 15, 20, 25 minutes per time.
‘I tried to put everything in the back of my mind and disbelieve what happened.' Another victim, now in her 50s, told the review she had been groped by a Methodist minister's husband between the ages of 12 and 14. Despite reporting the incident, it seems no action was taken and the man went on to abuse again.
In another case, a Methodist minister who was jailed for sexually assaulting children was allowed to retire on compassionate grounds. The report said: ‘This has caused great offence to his victims.'
Many of the cases involved Methodist workers and ministers who were caught molesting young boys or having indecent images and returned to the church to continue the abuse.
Nichola Marshall, head of international abuse at law firm Leigh Day, said: 'It has taken my clients over 30 years to have the courage to come forward with their allegations of abuse against the Methodist Church.
'They welcome this public acknowledgment by the Methodist Church as they have faced criticism and disapproval from members of the community for speaking out in the past.
'It must never again be the case that the reputation of institutions take precedence over the welfare of society's most vulnerable.
'Faith-based organisations have a huge responsibility to ensure the trust they demand of followers is not misused by those who seek out positions of responsibility to prey on the vulnerable.'
Protestants can no longer dismiss abuse as a ‘Catholic problem'
by Symon Hill
Last month, I moved out of a residential Christian community attached to a Methodist church in London. I moved for several reasons. One was the way that the church had handled an allegation of sexual abuse. The victim in that case was interviewed as part of the Methodist church's Past Cases Review into abuse allegations. She had no advance notice of Thursday's announcement by the Methodist church, which has formally apologised for 1,885 cases of abuse over the past 60 years. Despite media references to “historical abuse”, some of the cases are very recent.
This should be a wake-up call for all Christians in Britain. It is time for Protestants who have complacently dismissed church abuse as a “Catholic problem” to face the reality that abuse is endemic across denominations. As a Christian, and as someone who writes and teaches about religion and sexuality, I have heard far more stories of sexual abuse than I can count – along with stories of cover-ups, sexist responses, victim-blaming and repeated failures to take allegations seriously.
In terms of abuse in British churches, the 1,885 cases announced by the Methodists are undoubtedly the tip of the iceberg.
Only a few years after the Catholic child abuse scandals, we are on the brink of a new scandal. This time it will be about abuse across churches, probably mostly of adults. It can no longer be blamed simply on Catholic doctrine or clerical celibacy.
Sexual abuse is about power. If the victim has the courage to complain, the abuser often uses their higher status to discredit the victim – perhaps because they are a respected individual who will be believed, or perhaps because the victim is vulnerable and will not be. Abusers can, implicitly or explicitly, appeal to the self-interest of church leaders not to cause trouble or bad PR by taking action to deal with allegations.
The Methodist church deserves credit for being the first British church to have the courage to conduct this sort of review and publish the findings. As Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them.” But the real test for the Methodist church is what happens now.
The report includes welcome recommendations for new procedures and training. It is more vague when it comes to challenging or removing ministers who have ignored abuse in the past. Some of the cases they investigated had been previously reported to Methodist ministers who are still in a post. Some such ministers ignored or dismissed them. A Methodist spokesperson tells me that victims have been encouraged to make complaints about ministers who behaved in this way. It seems to me unfair to expect abuse survivors, who have already been interviewed in the Past Cases Review, to initiate another procedure. One victim interviewed for the review tells me that she was not in fact advised to make such a complaint. I suspect that neither new procedures nor the removal of guilty parties is likely to achieve much without a change in church culture.
When it comes to issues of sex and violence, most churches are, to put it bluntly, messed up. There are churches that ignore sexual violence while refusing to marry loving couples who happen to be of the same gender. I know clergy who preach of God's love for the vulnerable, but dismiss the vulnerable when they make allegations of abuse. Biblical passages condemning men who abuse boys are routinely torn from their context and used to attack adult same-sex relationships.
No procedure in the world will change this if, as Christians, we do not change our attitudes. Jesus's message was a challenge to the powerful. Loyalty to God's kingdom, the kingdom of love, means we shouldn't allow churches or governments to demand our loyalty and suppress our consciences.
Christian communities need to be more questioning, less hierarchical and composed of people determined to treat all others as equals, not to be impressed by status. Otherwise, we'll be back here in another 10 years, with another church apology for thousands of new cases of abuse.
We need to do more to protect children from child abuse
The government must take decisive action to avoid a repeat of past failures.
by Javed Khan
Now the dust is beginning to settle on this year's general election the focus shifts from what was promised in manifestos, to what will be delivered in government.
Over the course of the last parliament we saw the scale of child sexual exploitation in this country laid bare. We all watched with revulsion as the scandals of Rotherham and Oxford played out in the court rooms and the media. The political fallout has been intense; something the new Government know all too well, as it was a Conservative minister who sent the commissioners into Rotherham Council.
There is a tendency in government is to consider a problem to be solved once a political decision has been made. But we cannot afford to be complacent in tackling child sexual exploitation. Just the other week a trial started at the Old Bailey of 11 men accused of grooming and exploiting girls in Aylesbury – this isn't a problem that is going to go away.
It seems to be an accepted conceit that child sexual exploitation occurs mainly against white girls, in northern towns. This, along with stereotyping perpetrators, is not only wrong but extremely dangerous; ignoring the complexity of this crime risks letting abusers slip through the net.
Barnardo's worked with more than 3,000 children across 47 locations in the UK last year, a rise of nearly 50 per cent on the year before. When we say that this is a crime that can affect any child, from any walk of life, from any part of the country, politicians should be listening and acting. Whenever and wherever we open a service we find children needing our help.
If we also accept that any child can fall victim to grooming then it follows that all children must be armed with an awareness of the risk. Much of the work done by our specialist services involves giving at-risk children the knowledge and tools to stay safe.
They need to be wise to the process an abuser goes through to manipulate a young person. This may involve giving gifts, alcohol, cigarettes, accommodation and providing emotional support, such as lavishing attention and making them feel special. Once that level of trust has been built up, it is then that the behaviour of the abuser changes.
It is abundantly clear to us that children simply aren't currently getting the necessary education they need in schools to identify what makes a healthy relationship. It is undoubtedly a hard thing to talk about and teach appropriately, but it is vital that it takes place if we are to prevent this abuse.
Therefore what we must have, absolutely and without question, is a political commitment for all children to receive age appropriate sex and relationship education in school. These lessons should focus on consent but also teach young people about the crime of child sexual exploitation, how to spot the risks and stay safe. Children are never to blame for their abuse but we can take steps to ensure they know how to keep themselves safe.
But it is not just children who need educating. There is still an alarming lack of awareness amongst professionals and the wider public about child sexual exploitation, how it is perpetrated and how it manifests itself. It shouldn't take a scandal on the scale of Rotherham to prompt action from the local authority and community.
With the right support children who have suffered this abuse can go on to lead happy and productive lives. The memory of the exploitation will never leave them of course, but Barnardo's services have had phenomenal success stories of young people who have thrived despite their terrible experiences. This work is vital, but we wish we didn't have to do it. It must be combined with stronger attempts at prevention so we can see an end to this horrific abuse
We can't continue to lurch from one scandal to another; acting only once the damage has been done. We can't think that this is something that happens in certain areas or to certain people. Sex and relationship education isn't a panacea and must be combined with the preventative measures, but if we do this we will enable more children to spot the tricks used by abusers and be wise to their attempts to manipulate them.
As the old saying goes: forearmed is forewarned.
Heinous Child Abuse Caught On Video: Dad Drags Son Through Street By Leash
(Video on site)
Child abuse is a depressing problem that targets far too many youngsters in far too many sadistic ways. One of the latest trends in this category is treating your children like dogs.
The Inquisitr previously reported on a woman who posted images of her baby on a leash eating dog food on Facebook, drawing outrage from many readers. Now a man in China has one-upped her.
The unnamed individual was reportedly angry with his 10-year-old son for playing outside when he should have been studying. To teach the boy a lesson, he fastened a leash around his neck and dragged the child through streets in the Zhejiang province.
In the 45-second video below — originally from the Daily Mail — the father can be seen pulling his son out of a vehicle with the leash already attached.
The boy appears to resist until finally his dad jerks on the leash causing the boy to almost go limp. From there, he drags him about 300 feet before the two disappear into a shop.
In a separate report on the child abuse from the Mirror U.K. , the man shouts “might as well raise you like a dog!”
He later admitted to losing his temper and saw where the action could be construed as child abuse, but his anger got the better of him.
None of the reports going around the internet at this time have been able to confirm whether the father will face charges for the public display.
In the Facebook “baby on a leash” case mentioned above, Filipino authorities were able to locate the mother, who has been described as “demented.”
The child in that case was 18-months-old and relocated to the country's Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The mom will be forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation before authorities hand the child back over to her.
As for the Chinese man in the video above, the Mirror reports that he used a rope as the leash, making the force with which he drags the young man especially painful.
Parents in Action: Working to prevent child abuse
by Angela Ardolino
With the recent deaths of Savannah Hardin in Alabama and Phoebe Jonchuck right here in Tampa Bay, child abuse has been in the news. However, according to ChildHelp.org, there are nearly three million reports of children who are abused every year, involving over six million kids that don't make the evening news.
Child abuse can involve everything from neglect to physical, mental, and emotional or psychological abuse. While you may not be an abuser, there are still kids you encounter every day that are in abusive situations. There are things to look for and ways to help families before they enter a crisis situation.
Remove the Stigma of Talking About Abuse and Who is Responsible
The Children's Board of Hillsborough County, along with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, sees children and families every day who are enduring abusive situations. Whether it is mental or emotional abuse, sexual abuse or physical abuse, children face abuse every day. Kelley Parris, executive director of the Children's Board has been working to spread the word of child abuse prevention, and says that the first step we need to take is to remove the stigma of talking about abuse and to take responsibility for every child we come into contact with.
Once we remove the taboo surrounding talking about abuse, and open up a dialogue, we can start to emotionally heal and we can start to put an end to child abuse. Everybody is responsible. We also need to start talking about discipline so that we all understand what is appropriate and what is crossing a line. Parents should not be afraid of being judged for needing guidance. If you feel that another parent is crossing a line with their discipline, talk with them about it. Don't be afraid to speak up if you feel that something is really wrong—this could help stop a future crisis situation.
Signs of Abuse
It is important to look for signs of abuse in all the children you come in contact with, including your children's friends and classmates, even kids you regularly encounter at the grocery store or the park. Sunny Hall, vice president of Client Services at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay advises that the more isolated a family is, the more at risk that family is for having some sort of abuse or neglect situation in their home, so try to get to know your neighbors and really try to talk to people.
Some of the signs that you can look for are children with low self-esteem who seem withdrawn, and kids with sexual knowledge beyond their age or bruises on softer parts of their bodies. You should also look for injuries that are inconsistent for the child's age—like a two year old with a broken arm.
Other red flags include a child who is chronically absent from school or other activities, seems malnourished and self-critical, or constantly disheveled. The list of signs that a child is being abused can seem long, but the main things to look for are injuries and emotional issues.
How to Find Help
One of the main things to remember when it comes to abuse is that parents don't want to be abusive and kids don't want to be abused. The truth is that most of the people who have kids have them, love them, want them to be successful, want them to be happy, and often are just frustrated or isolated, or just don't really know how to provide the right environment for their kids.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay offers a variety of programs to help families to stay out of unmanageable and abusive situations, including in-home classes, parenting classes and counseling. These can be crucial for parents who may feel that they don't know how to discipline their kids or that they aren't cut out for parenting.
If there is a situation that is critical, we have our trauma counseling for kids which is different from regular family counseling. It can be traumatic for the parents too—they don't want to hurt their kids, so responding to the trauma in parents is equally important to responding to trauma in kids.
If you suspect someone is being abused, or if you or your children are in an abusive situation, please call 1-800-962-2873 to speak to the abuse hotline, or dial 2-1-1 to reach the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
For more information on how to stop abuse and what you can do, visit TBParenting.com or check out our May Issue.
Who Will Seize the Child Abuse Prediction Market?
by Darian Woods
Lisa Mayrose knew Florida's Department of Children & Families needed to overhaul how it investigated phone calls reporting beaten and neglected children.
“We had a rash of child deaths,” Mayrose, the regional managing director of the department in Tampa, said in an interview with The Chronicle of Social Change.
The deaths were concentrated in Hillsborough County, where there were nine child homicides between 2009 and 2012. At the time, child protective services were contracted out to private youth services agency Hillsborough Kids. This contract was worth $65.5 million a year.
So in 2012, the department made changes. It commissioned a comprehensive analysis of the data behind the child deaths that were concentrated in Hillsborough County. Hillsborough Kids lost out on the $65.5 million contract and went into liquidation. A private youth services agency, Eckerd Youth Alternatives, was selected by the department to take care of approximately 2,900 abused children in Hillsborough County. The next year, Florida Governor Rick Scott boosted funding for new social workers. Perhaps most radically, a new decision-making tool called Rapid Safety Feedback was introduced in the county.
Rapid Safety Feedback uses — in the parlance of big data crunchers and, increasingly, social scientists — predictive analytics to prioritize calls of suspected child abuse.
Predictive analytics in child protective services means assigning suspected abuse cases to different risk levels based on characteristics that have been found to be linked with child abuse. These risk levels can automatically revise as administrative data is updated. Administrative data may be as simple as school reports or could delve deeper into other information that the state holds: the parents' welfare checks, new criminal offenses or changing marital status.
Combining predictive analytics with more investigators seems to be producing results in Hillsborough County. According to Eckerd, who also holds contracts in Pasco and Pinellas counties, since it took over the contract in 2012, the quality of reviews has improved 30 percent. There is a significant increase in completed documentation by caseworkers. There have also been zero child homicides in the county since the handover.
Florida's use of predictive analytics to better prioritize suspected child maltreatment is on the frontier of child protective services, and it is a frontier that is increasingly competitive.
A battle for better child maltreatment risk prediction is heating up around the United States and the world. The world's largest privately held software company, the SAS Institute, has turned its attention to child wellbeing. Leading researchers are turning towards predictive analytics as a tool for child protective services.
Following success with reduced child fatalities in Florida, Eckerd is donating its new predictive tool, Rapid Feedback Mechanism, to Connecticut's Department of Children and Families for one year. States such as Alaska and Maine are also working with Eckerd to improve their decision-making for children under investigation.
Texas is sharing data between its Department of Family and Protective Services and the Department of State Health Services, finding that linked data can predict risks of child fatalities. Both Los Angeles County and Allegheny County in Pennsylvania are investigating ways that predictive analytics can be used to prevent child maltreatment. Jurisdictions as far away as New Zealand are also navigating new territory in how administrative welfare data could be used to inform how child abuse calls are screened.
The child welfare predictive analytics pond is still relatively small, with a few key companies and non-profit agencies competing for contracts and hegemony in what promises to be a lucrative market.
Eckerd's Rapid Safety Feedback in Florida
The report that led to Eckerd developing the Rapid Safety Feedback tool analyzed calls to the Florida Abuse Hotline between 2007 and 2013. The facts were striking.
At an extreme level, one of the greatest risk factors for child deaths found in Florida was if the child had previously been removed from the home due to sexual abuse. This flags an increase in risk of child death by 67 times. At a lower level, boys had a 47 percent higher risk of death than girls. Seventy-five percent of all child deaths occurred before the age of three. The children who had died were often in homes where substance abuse was a problem. Many of the parents were abused as children. Another risk factor was a boyfriend of the mother in the house.
Putting these factors into a new tool helped case workers prioritize.
“Previously there might have been a call about a child with a black eye, and the case would close if the investigator didn't find any bruises,” Mayrose said. “Now we treat the family like a moving picture and really look at the experience of the child within the family.”
In 2014, the department also boosted the number of social workers on the front line. This allowed an additional 171 child protective investigators to be hired to spend more time with high-risk families. This was nearly a 20 percent increase and allowed Florida, through the Department of Children & Families' contract with Eckerd, to change the way it dealt with suspected child abuse.
“If the family falls into a high-risk category, we're going to heighten the case for a more experienced worker, and they are going to independently read the case,” said Eckerd's Senior Quality Director, Bryan Lindert.
There have not been any child homicides in the Tampa area since the changes. Although, given the rarity of these events, a lapse in child deaths could be as much anomaly as anything else.
“I never try to claim causality,” Lindert said.
Because resources and attention also were increased when Rapid Safety Feedback was implemented, it is hard to tease out exactly what impact Rapid Safety Feedback has had. Nevertheless, other states are working with Eckerd to bring this kind of change to their child protective services. Eckerd is currently working with Connecticut, Alaska and Maine to apply Rapid Safety Feedback to their child safety investigations. Further counties and states such as Oklahoma and Nevada are also discussing partnering with Eckerd.
The Department of Children & Families in Florida is positive about how data-driven decision-making has improved child protective services in its state.
Regional Managing Director Lisa Mayrose said that data could be used to save children's lives even beyond child protective services. She said that more child drownings in certain ZIP codes could allow community training and prevention to focus in these areas.
“If we're not using predictive analytics to drive our attention, then we're not using our resources effectively,” she said.
A Short History of Statistics in Child Welfare
Using data to solve social problems is not new. In President Herbert Hoover's 1930 address to the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection, he shed light on the role of data.
“Statistics can well be used to give emphasis to our problem,” Hoover said. “Out of 45 million children … 6 million are improperly nourished … 1 million have defective speech, [and] 675,000 present behavior problems.”
President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty heralded vast new sums for the research of social problems in the 1960s.
“Johnson gave so much balance to the numbers guys,” said author Joe Flood.
Flood's 2010 book, The Fires, documents the rise of the fields of operations research, game theory and systems analysis and how lessons from mathematics and defense were applied to solving issues of poverty and urban problems in the 1960s and 70s.
Predictive analytics has its roots in these fields applying statistical techniques to social problems, but it is a much faster, operationalized, and real-time version of the kind of statistics Hoover was talking about. Instead of simply identifying 6 million improperly nourished children, the child protective services sector has the potential to predict, with stomach-knotting accuracy, who those 6 million children will be ahead of time.
Recognizing this potential, large private firms want a stake.
The Statistical Analysis System (SAS) Institute
The common engine behind the work in Florida, Connecticut, and Los Angeles is the database software called Statistical Analysis System (SAS).
The SAS Institute is not a traditional child protective services partner. SAS began in 1976 as researchers at the North Carolina State University sought to improve agriculture crop yields. With its software used as the backbone for large datasets all over the world, the SAS Institute is now the planet's largest privately held software company. In 2014, it made over $3 billion in revenue.
Business analytics is a $14.4 billion a year business globally, dominated by market leaders like SAP, Oracle, and IBM. SAS faces strong competition from these companies. There is even a free, open source software package similar to SAS called R, which draws away paying business.
In 2009, The New York Times reported on the company's prospects.
“We know we have to change — no question about it,” SAS senior vice president Jim Davis said in the article.
So while the company has traditionally focused on business and academia, SAS is promoting the use of its software to solve social problems like child abuse, and has been expanding its connections to state and local government.
“We believe we can truly change outcomes for kids,” said Kay Meyer, a principal industry consultant in SAS's state and local government practice division.
According to its website, SAS's state and local government practice brings in $100 million in revenue each year. Government is a growth industry for SAS: this practice has been growing at double-digit rates every year for the last five years. $100 million is a large amount of money; in state and local government information and communications technology contracting, the potential for growth is even greater.
The SAS Institute aims to lead social analytics, and is pursuing what it sees as a wave of opportunities in state and local government.
“It's hard to quantify at this point,” Meyer said. “But as these issues have become more and more well-known to the public, the greater the public outcry for solutions.”
As SAS expands this role, it is hiring leading experts in the state and local government sector, including professionals from child protective services. Before moving to SAS, Meyer worked for North Carolina's state government where she was the program director for the North Carolina Statewide Data Integration program. SAS has also recently recruited Will Jones, an expert with the title Child Well Being Specialist.
Until April this year, Jones worked as chief of programs at Eckerd Youth Alternatives. Seeing the potential for predictive analytics, he moved to SAS.
“We're at the very beginning of utilization of predictive analytics,” Jones said. “I think fifteen years down the line, I'd like to see every state provider and every private provider using a tool.”
Jones believes predictive analytics could help prevent child deaths in foster care, assist with foster children aging out of care, and even steer vulnerable youth away from committing crime if the problem is identified early. Jones suggested that doing the job better might also have fiscal benefits for state and local government.
“The answer may not be that we need more social workers,” Jones said. “I'm not a big believer in more workers as a standalone solution.”
While faster processing power and cheaper data storage means that the quantity of data available in public officials' hands is larger than ever, some warn that predictive analytics based on real-time data, while shinier, may be no stronger than existing decision-support tools such as the long-time leader in this now-hot market of risk assessment: Structured Decision Making.
The Old vs. the New: Structured Decision Making vs. Predictive Analytics
Structured Decision Making (SDM) is used in jurisdictions in over 20 states, and it is widely considered the industry benchmark. That position may change as new child abuse screening tools are competing fiercely to be used across the country.
“When I see predictive analytics that's more robust than what we've done, I'll say that's got some promise. So far I haven't seen anything that can outperform what we've got,” said Raelene Freitag.
Freitag is the director of the National Council on Crime & Delinquency's Children's Research Center, which produces the SDM.
SDM is, in essence, a form. It is a list of prompts like: “Primary Caretaker has Historic or Current Alcohol or Drug Problem” (1 point,) “Current housing is physically unsafe” (1 point,) and “Domestic Violence in the Household in the Past Year” (2 points.) These tally up to a final score of risk. The final score could mean the difference between children staying with their family or being taken into care.
“It's designed for key decision moments,” Freitag said.
This tool is a static snapshot; unlike predictive analytics it is not updated in real time. While not making use of real-time administrative data to the same extent as predictive analytics, one advantage of SDM is that it has been thoroughly researched.
A 2000 review of decision-support tools in child protective services by the National Council on Crime & Delinquency finds support for actuarial-based systems like SDM. This was reinforced in 2004 by Director of Evaluation at Alameda County Social Services Agency, Will Johnson, who tested the validity of Structured Decision Making as used in the largely urban county east of San Francisco. Some studies have been less favorable, most notably in regards to SDM's implementation in South Australia and Queensland, Australia.
Freitag believes the less positive reviews from Australia were due to poor training and not the tool itself.
“We didn't know the first thing about implementation science when we went into Queensland,” she said. “Training is a good first step, but without coaching you won't get practice change.”
Decision-making Across the United States
Across states, attitudes towards child protection vary. One challenge for any tool like SDM is how its recommendations integrate into state legislation and cultural expectations of when a family should be investigated further after a call comes in.
A new Children's Bureau report, released in January 2015, shows vast differences in how many calls are further investigated across states. The report shows that the proportion of child maltreatment cases screened out of the system varied from zero in Illinois, New Jersey and North Dakota to 74 percent in Vermont, 71 percent in Minnesota and 83 percent in South Dakota. That means that for every 10 calls going to South Dakota's Child Protective Services, only two will be investigated further.
Freitag said that there are many factors that explain this difference, some of which can be addressed by tools like SDM.
“What do people in the community call in about? You will see some variation in that,” she said. “Some people are loathe to invite government intervention. Some other people are more into punitive responses to bad parenting.”
There are also changes in screening practices over time, especially after a child fatality.
To address cultural, legislative and procedural differences among states, whenever SDM is brought to a new jurisdiction, the Children's Research Center brings together a work group consisting of a majority of line staff as well as supervisors and managers. This allows new guidance to accompany SDM depending on the legislation in the new jurisdiction.
Discretionary over-ride is also possible, although this is rare.
“There's always a balance between professional judgment and what the tool says,” Freitag said.
Social Workers and Statisticians
Joe Flood's book, The Fires , mentioned earlier, describes how the RAND Corporation's partnership with New York City leaders obsessed with statistics created an imbalance of perspectives and suggests that this was associated with the burning of the homes of hundreds of thousands of New York residents.
“When you have by-the-gut traditionalists and spreadsheet jocks with thick glasses not talking to each other, you have a problem,” Flood said.
Flood is optimistic that applying statistics to child protection can open up new insights that have previously been left hidden. The problem comes when the knowledge and judgment of fieldworkers is ignored.
“I've heard people saying we're moving from the age of Big Data to the age of smart analysis,” he said. “But that's the age we should have been in all along.”
One of the Hardest Jobs to Imagine
Social workers must often choose between two traumas: the trauma of removing a child from their family or the trauma of continued abuse. It's a decision that some argue should not be left to human judgment alone.
“We need to use science to demonstrate what is working, what is data and research telling us,” said Child Well Being Specialist at SAS, Will Jones.
The decision to remove a child from a home is one of fraught trade-offs, cultural complexity and risk assessment.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Associate Professor Joseph Doyle finds that Illinois children who remained in the home fared better on a range of indicators. The children who were not taken into foster care had fewer arrests, higher earnings, lower teen-pregnancy rates and lower unemployment in later life compared with children in similar home situations who were placed in foster care. Yet many children will be at risk of further abuse if left in the home.
“Being a case worker is one of the hardest jobs I can imagine,” SAS industry consultant Kay Meyer said.
Even in the most egregious cases of child abuse, where the decision is clear that a child should be taken out of a home, the removal can still be traumatic for the child. Freitag, of the National Council on Crime & Delinquency, recalled an episode earlier in her career that illustrated this tension.
As a patrol officer in Milwaukee, she was called into an apartment at 2 AM. There was no food in the kitchen but spoiled milk and cockroach-infested Cheerios. She had to keep walking to prevent the mice and cockroaches from crawling up her legs. Five children and babies were alone. This was the worst case of child maltreatment that Freitag had seen.
“I remember how the kids screamed when they were taken from their home,” Freitag said.
It was not just the abject conditions of the house and the children that give Freitag reason to recall the painful details from that night. It was what happened unexpectedly later that week at the court house: When the mother appeared for her charge of neglect, her children came running down the hall to embrace her. They missed her and wanted to be with her.
“We oughtn't get into positions where we argue either for child rescue or child preservation,” Freitag said. “What we need to realize is that either could be the right answer for this child in this moment in time.”
Decision-support tools offer assistance to social workers and child abuse investigators. Supplementing professional judgment and point-in-time tools like SDM with predictive analytics may not be a panacea, but it could help. Bryan Lindert, a senior quality director at Eckerd, sees the picture holistically.
“We put a lot of emphasis on the tool, and not the artisan who's using the tool,” Lindert said. “No matter how good your paints are, what matters is the decision made by the artist.”
Testing the Test
Whichever tool used for the prevention of child abuse ends up dominating the market, there is still the question about how to judge whether it has been effective.
“Just because there's new data or new findings, that doesn't change the standards by which any new tool should be judged, and these need not be lost in the excitement around predictive analytics,” said Director of Research at the National Council of Crime and Delinquency, Jesse Russell.
Russell, whose organization created, researches and actively promotes Structured Decision Making, set out four criteria for testing new tools.
According to Russell, tools should be tested for validity, reliability, equitability and utility. Validity means that a tool should first get the answers as close to right as possible. Second, it should be able to be done consistently: it should not matter whether the prediction was done on a Tuesday or a Thursday, in winter or summer. Third, the tool should explicitly address equity concerns: does this tool embed racial or socioeconomic inequities or does it alleviate them? Finally, the answers have to be useful in practice.
“If you don't have the capacity to change practice, then it's not helpful,” Russell said.
With the child protective services sector on the cusp of a new world of decision-support tools, Russell considers the dialogue between front-line workers, managers, statisticians and politicians to be constructive.
“Everyone is at the table,” Russell said. “The mood is generally one of excitement.”
The standard for child protective services decision-making is rapidly changing. Since 2013, Eckerd's Rapid Safety Feedback has been spreading across the country. Researchers and departments are linking administrative data with child protective services information at a scale that has not been possible until now. SAS's statistical software is now underpinning many risk-assessment tools, and the company is expanding into the child protective services realm. For now, Structured Decision Making maintains its position as the standard tool.
The discussions happening now among policymakers, statisticians, social workers and communities about the future of child protective services decision-making appear to be held in good faith overall.
These conversations are only going to get tougher as big tech companies, sensing fresh markets, ramp up competition with SAS, as communities debate state surveillance, as communities of color learn whether these tools will improve or exacerbate higher child removal rates, and as social worker judgment starts to clash with statistical output. One high-profile child death may derail everything.
For the sake of the child whose life depends on the right decision—to stay with the family or to be taken into foster care—keeping those conversations open will be critical.
Darian Woods is a Master of Public Policy candidate 2016 at the Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley. He is an editor at the School's PolicyMatters Journal. This piece was written as part of the graduate course, Journalism for Social Change.
China executes teacher for sexually abusing 26 girls
China's top court said it has executed a primary school teacher found guilty of raping or sexually abusing 26 girls.
Li Jishun had committed the crimes between 2011 and 2012 while teaching at a village school in Gansu province.
He preyed on pupils aged 4 to 11 who were "young and timid", according to a statement by the Supreme People's Court reported by local media.
It said there have been more than 7,000 child sex abuse cases in recent years and that the trend is on the rise.
Li had raped 21 of his victims and sexually abused the other five in classrooms, dormitories, and the forest surrounding the village near Wushan town.
The statement said that some of his victims had been raped or abused more than once. It made no mention of how he was caught.
But it said that the Gansu court had found him "a grave threat to society" and noted that he had committed the crimes within just one year.
"The Supreme People's Court thus believes that it was appropriate for Li Jishun to be executed," it said.
Local media ran the story with caricatures of the man depicting him as a wolf gobbling up children.
His sentencing was met with widespread approval on China's microblogging platform Weibo, with many expressing shock at the youth of his victims.
"Four years old? I can't believe it," said one. "A death sentence is too good for this man," wrote another commenter.
In a rare disclosure of abuse statistics, the Supreme People's Court told local media that the courts heard 7,145 cases of child sexual abuse between 2012 and 2014.
The figures showed that the number of cases went up by about 40% during those years.
The Front Against Child Sex Abuse Expands to the Family: Josh Duggar, the Duggars, and What Every Family Should Know About Incest
by Marci A. Hamilton
The war against child sex abuse received an infusion of weapons and power when the Boston Globe revealed the pattern of the cover-up by the Catholic hierarchy in 2001. With horror, the world witnessed secondhand the bishops shuffling pedophiles among parishes and fresh child victims. That same pattern has emerged in state after state, like Pennsylvania, where Philadelphia District Attorneys Lynne Abraham and Seth Williams put together thorough documentation in 2005 and 2011 Grand Jury Reports, and Minnesota, where statute of limitations reform has opened the door to the justice system that in turn has revealed the specifics of the cover-up. The unfolding story has also been told in Australia and Ireland.
These revelations painted a paradigm of adults letting children be abused by other adults. I call it “adult preferentialism.” As adults, we are persuaded that our interests (e.g., reputations and jobs and relationships) are much more important than the needs of children. We worry about the long-lasting effects on our reputations, but expect the kids to “get over it.” It is shocking when revealed, but that paradigm has played itself out in one venue after another since 2001, including (1) multiples of religious organizations from the Jehovah's Witnesses to the ultra-Orthodox Jews, and (2) sports programs from Penn State football to Olympic swimming and speedskating.
Then elite private schools like Poly Prep and Horace Mann came into the spotlight, as well as public schools. Horace Mann is in the news this week because a coalition of alumnae and experts like Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, Charol Shakeshaft, and I banded together to find a way to make sure the serial abuse at Horace Mann and the institution's hardhearted response did not happen at any other private schools. The Horace Mann Action Coalition issued a scathing report this week, replete with important guidelines for private schools.
The Irony Underlying All of these Revelations About Child Sex Abuse: Most Abuse Happens in the Home
While we learned about, discussed, and reacted to the abuse in all of these “safe” venues, the abuse that occurs the most remained unspoken: Incest. There was a time when all sex abuse discussions were taboo; that taboo has persisted with respect to family-on-family abuse. Incest is the last frontier for child sex abuse.
These victims are in many ways the most vulnerable, because they rely for the very roof over their heads and the food on their tables on family members who are either perpetrating the abuse or not rescuing them from it. Not to mention the love of family: We have a cultural expectation (for realists, a hope) that children are in safe, loving homes. That is obviously not true when a parent or both are alcoholics or drug addicts. But when the issue is child sex abuse, it usually remains undercover, often quite literally. The child does not understand this is not a normal childhood, suffers shame and humiliation, and the abuse persists right in front of the people closest to the victim.
The Duggar Moment of Public Education on the Reality of Incest
This week, the Duggar family of TLC reality show infamy became the vehicle for the public to start focusing on sibling (and other familial) incest. The Duggars are part of the Christian Patriarchy movement, which counsels that men are the heads of the household, birth control is prohibited, and women should bear as many children as their bodies can stand. In addition, they deliver pious instructions to their young people that suitors may not engage in intimacy—of any kind. (A “side hug”, however, is not considered intimate.)
In this context, Josh Duggar sexually abused five of his sisters. While that is bad enough, that was not the sole issue the public needs to examine. In addition, his father, Jim Bob, covered it up, and the family faith counseled the traditional, religious, and victim-shaming response to such crimes: Forgive and forget.
The hypocrisy of the Duggars' no-intimacy-before-marriage message after Jim Bob and Michelle knew that their son had sexually abused his sisters in their home is breathtaking. I feel abidingly sad for these girls. The Duggar parents said show after show that girls who have intimate relations with boys before marriage are dirty and unattractive. It reminds me of the abused girls in ultra-Orthodox Jewish homes, where girls have been treated like damaged goods because they were abused. In both communities, girls are trained to believe that marriage is the highest goal, and purity is a pre-requisite to the best marriage. What is a girl to believe in that context?
Moreover, the “forgive and forget” theme is precisely the wrong message to victims, and to young perpetrators like Josh. Studies show that appropriate treatment of an abuser before he or she reaches age 18 radically increases the odds that the abuser will never do it again. The same is not true for youthful abusers who do not receive this treatment.
This was not the first brush this movement has had with sex abuse recently. Leader Bill Gothard was involved in sexual harassment misconduct that involved underage girls and had to step down. Rule of thumb: Male-dominated institutions where men are unaccountable (e.g., Catholic bishops, ultra-Orthodox rabbis, the prophets of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, and men in the Christian Patriarchy movement) mean more suffering for women and less safety for children.
From a public education perspective, the important moment in the Duggar scandal is this: It is the first time that major national media publicity has spotlighted revelations that a brother sexually abused multiple girls in his own family. This time, the focus has lasted long enough for the millions of family victims to hear that their abuse and suffering need not be secret forever. Finally, the public has been shown the reality that abuse happens in families, that they cover it up, that public declarations of “purity” can be false, and that the victims can remain voiceless and faceless as they have with the Duggars. I hope that this reality does not sit well with the public.
Every Victim Who Speaks Can and Often Does Embolden Another
One constant in these ongoing revelations and public education about child sex abuse has been that when one victim stands up or when the public learns about abuse in a new setting, other victims are often emboldened to step into the light from the shadow of shame and humiliation. They hear and see that we as a society blame the perpetrator and institution, not them. They deserve our sympathy and support, not the judgment they have unconsciously expected. In short, it was not their fault. They were kids.
While the Duggar girls have every right to choose when to speak about their abuse, if ever, other survivors are taking this moment to speak up. Accordingly, it is good to see the #CallThemOut social media movement; survivors are increasingly refusing to keep secret the abusers in the inner circles of their families and classrooms.
I expect that the Duggar disclosures will stir many among the millions of incest victims in the United States to step up. When they do, they may well protect the next generation of children, because the child abuser who starts with one family member not infrequently moves on to another, as Josh Duggar apparently did. This can go on sometimes for generations. Adult abusers don't age out of their abusive tendencies, and they rarely disclose if they can avoid it.
Sadly, the justice system did nothing to redress what Josh Duggar did, in part due to the inadequacies of the Arkansas statute of limitations. A court has destroyed the records, and the report was made too late for prosecutors to go forward, according to them. Instead, the Duggar family profited from the secrets kept while Americans were misled into thinking that their “purity” was real.
What good can come of the Duggar story? We can't help victims we cannot see. The paradigm of covering up abuse in religious and educational institutions can now be seen in the family. The public needed to hear this message, as well as the message that being righteously religious does not guarantee child safety.
I hope that many more will now be able to see the incest victims silently situated in their abuse and find ways to help them. It is on each and every one of us to ensure the safety of children across all faiths, cultures, jurisdictions, and, yes, even families.
Marci A. Hamilton is the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, and the author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty and Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children. She also runs two active websites covering her areas of expertise, the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, www.RFRAperils.com, and statutes of limitations for child sex abuse, www.sol-reform.com. Professor Hamilton blogs at Hamilton and Griffin on Rights. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I lost my whole family for reporting my rapist
by Jen Bicha
Five years ago, while a junior in college, I walked into a Florida police station and reported the memories I had spent a lifetime trying to forget.
I don't regret my decision that day. But knowing what I know now, I would struggle to make that choice again. While I knew there would be costs, nothing could prepare me for the confusion and heartache of the next few years.
There was no guide map for reporting rape a decade after the fact — especially when your rapist is your own brother.
The detective asked me why I hadn't reported sooner. The question was deeply painful because I had reported as a child — to my parents, a teacher and my pastor — and they all chose to do nothing. My father even walked in on the abuse once but blamed me for it and called me a whore. I was barred from going to counseling or even talking about it.
It wasn't until I was 22 years old that I finally had the courage to break free from my toxic home environment and report my rapist to the police. I was terrified that the police would minimize my abuse, as all the adults in my life did before. Thankfully, the detective treated it very seriously.
My brother's initial bail was set at $400,000, and he was forbidden to contact me.
The trial was postponed six times over the course of three and a half years, and each delay ripped the wound open all over again. I knew my family would be upset, but I never expected the intensity of their rage and their unabashed support of my rapist. They repeatedly reminded me that I was ruining his life and that they believed he had changed in the many years that passed since he committed his crimes.
My heart screamed. Didn't I matter? How many victims should there be before his crime is taken seriously? In court, my brother admitted to abusing four other girls, although he could be charged only for the two victims who reported.
My family couldn't see that their questions already tortured me when I lay in bed at night. “What if he has changed?” “Am I destroying my brother's life by bringing this up over a decade later?” But I was haunted by other questions too. “What if he hurts someone else?” “How will I ever live with myself if I could have stopped it and did nothing?” Instead of judgment, I needed a shoulder to cry on. The weight of this decision was too crushing to bear alone.
The financial costs of reporting were significant and unexpected. In order to report, I was forced to leave home and was ultimately disowned by my entire family. I struggled with paperwork and court dates while balancing a heavy course load at college. After graduation, the expenses of traveling to court and the time off work took a heavy toll as I tried to establish myself in my career as a pediatric nurse.
The court process was grueling. Rape is shameful and disgusting. I begged to have a closed courtroom when I testified so I would not have to publicly share the graphic and humiliating details, but I was told it wasn't allowed. I was forced to replay my abuse over and over while a defense attorney crudely mocked me. “Did you say no? Did you cry out? If that really happened, why didn't anyone else see it?” I felt as if I were the one on trial, not the perpetrator. I will never forget watching my relatives line up in the middle of the courtroom waiting their turn to go on record supporting my rapist. First an aunt testified, then another and another, then my uncle, sister-in-law and, finally, my own mother. A friend held my hand and whispered in my ear, “This is incest.”
As the grief threatened to overwhelm me, I looked at the other half of the courtroom and saw every row filled with my amazing friends and nearly a dozen advocates from the local rape crisis center. On the hardest day of my life, I was truly not alone. On Sept. 27, 2013, the judge convicted my brother on two counts of sexual battery of a minor under 12 years of age and sentenced him to three years in prison and a lifetime on the sex offender registry. About the adults who failed to protect me, the judge said, “Frankly, those that did not report this deserve to be in prison.”
When my rapist was led away in handcuffs, tears streamed down my face. After waiting a lifetime for this moment, instead of celebrating, I felt an overwhelming sadness. There were no winners in court that day. He was my rapist, but he was also my brother, and I grieved for the devastation this crime inflicted on my entire family. I worried that prison wouldn't rehabilitate him but only make him more angry at the world.
I also struggled with the finality of court. While life continued to race by around me, I was left to pick up the pieces and find some meaning in this long and painful journey.
Why don't victims just go to the police? Why do many wait so long to report? These have become common refrains as the issue of sexual assault has garnered more national attention. Victims are often made to feel that they need a criminal conviction for their experiences to be valid. We live in a culture that often blames victims for their abuse in subtle ways that seep into the minds of those wrestling with the decision to report. In the majority of rape cases, there's little evidence, and many victims feel as if they're the ones on trial, not the offender. The emotional and financial costs of reporting sexual assault can be enormous. Even after a victim jumps over all the hurdles, the likelihood of a conviction is slim to none. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, out of every 100 rapists, only nine will ever see a day in court, and only three will ever spend a day in prison.
We need to take steps to come alongside and support the victims who choose to report. We also need to support those who choose not to. It's not fair to demand that victims subject themselves to public humiliation, lose friends or, in my case, their family. Like many victims, I felt it was my responsibility to go to the police so that others wouldn't get hurt. But that's an unfair burden. The victim is not responsible if others are victimized; the fault remains solely with the perpetrator.
Five years ago, I packed what I could fit into one suitcase, knowing that I would never again return home. I wish I could go back in time and wrap that fragile, terrified girl in a huge hug and tell her that one day she would feel OK again. That the God who promised to be a father to the fatherless would not just provide for her needs but overabundantly bless her life. I wish I had known that even though I would lose my entire family by choosing to report, I would gain friends across the country as I became an advocate for victims of child abuse. I wish I could tell her how amazing it is to be safe and free. I wish I had known that instead of my life ending, this was a beautiful beginning.
The court process was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Knowing the costs, I would hesitate before recommending somebody else to report. But I have absolutely no regrets. I was able to face the monster that haunted my dreams, with my head held high.
When I began to testify, my rapist stopped court and insisted I move so that I was in his exact line of sight. It was unspeakably painful to look directly into my rapist's eyes as I was forced to describe his cruel acts. But in that moment, I was transformed from the scared kid who could barely utter a word to a courageous survivor who would soon find hope and healing in the comfort of justice.
I looked directly at my brother and said, “I am a rape victim, but I am also a survivor. I am able to stand here today and say, ‘Your actions couldn't defeat me. I am stronger than you. I won.'”
Child sex abuse cases rising
by Whitney Helm
For 17 years Juneau County resident Kelli Bungert, 35, was sexually abused by her father.
Bungert said the abuse began when she was 9 years old and included inappropriate touching and sexual intercourse. At age 12, Bungert said she confessed what was happening to her aunt who proceeded to call the police.
Prior to questioning, her uncle tipped off her father and he threatened her before the police got to the home. Bungert said she was questioned in front of her father and lied due to fear. That fear worsened after Bungert had three children by her father.
“He'd tell me if I did anything wrong, he would kill them,” Bungert said.
She eventually was able to get away through someone she met online.
“I needed to tell someone and I had to reach out to a stranger,” Bungert said. “I couldn't trust people in my house because they allowed it to go on.”
Bungert said her friendship with a woman she met in a chatroom extended outside of the Internet.
“He began to trust her and he thought we were taking the kids to the doctor, but instead we went straight to the police department,” she said.
The Beloit Daily News contacted Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network to connect with a spokesperson on childhood sexual abuse. The paper was connected with Bungert.
Bungert is not alone. There are increased reports of sexual assaults in the City of Beloit, according to Beloit Police Department figures.
Within that increase, there have been more reports of child sexual assault cases, which can include inappropriate touching, grabbing or physical discoveries made by a doctor. It can also include a teenager relationship where both or one party is under the age of consent, which is 18 in Wisconsin.
“As law enforcement gets better (in handling cases of sexual abuse), citizens' compliance in reporting increases,” said Capt. Dan Risse, the Beloit Police Department's public information officer.
In 2012, there were 57 total reports of sexual assault cases — 43 of the cases involved a minor.
In 2013, there were 74 cases reported — 68 involved minors.
In 2014, there were 87 cases total and 76 involved minors.
Jesi Luepnitz, program director for the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) Crisis Center in Janesville, said she's also seen increased numbers in cases of sexual assaults over the last three years.
She credits some of that increased reporting to presentations given at schools and a higher awareness of sexual abuse.
“We sometimes have kids come up after the presentations at schools and tell us things,” Luepnitz said.
More than half of the forensic interviews conducted by the YWCA CARE Center in Janesville this year have been cases of childhood sexual abuse. Through April there have been 60 forensic interviews conducted and 40 involved sexual abuse of a child, according to Luepnitz's figures.
In 2013, there were 126 forensic interviews; 90 were sexual abuse of a child. In 2014, there were 159 forensic interviews conducted; 103 were sexual abuse of a child.
The YWCA CARE House was established in 1993, with members from law enforcement, the District Attorney's office, Child Protective Services, and health care conducting joint forensic interviews with each child. The interviews are recorded and used as evidence during trial so the child doesn't have to repeat the story or face their abuser in court.
According to Risse, prosecution of childhood cases can take a longer time than adult sexual assault cases.
Rock County's District Attorney's Office did not have a figure for the number of sexual abuse cases prosecuted.
For survivors of sexual assault the effects last a lifetime. Today, Bungert is a mother to a 4-year old, but has no contact with her three older children. Her father, who received a 10-year sentence, will be released in September.
She said her abuse has made her less trusting of people and she keeps to herself, though she urges others to speak out and seek help.
“I'd rather just live my life and do what makes me happy,” she said.
To report a case of sexual assault contact the Beloit Police Department or YWCA Care Center.
Sex trafficking of minors remains a dirty secret — and agents, officers and victims' supporters want to bring it into the light
by Abby White
Nashville has a booming tourist trade, a robust economy, large-scale events that bring hundreds of thousands of new faces to town each year, and an enviable geographic position at the hub of multiple travel routes. Those factors make the city extremely enticing as a vacation and convention destination.
They also serve the needs of an industry that police, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and victims' support groups hope to repel.
In the state of Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, dozens of minors are moved each month along networks of human trafficking. Estimates from various sources place the number as low as 65 and as high as 120. While the information won't appear on travel brochures, the city of Nashville is uniquely poised to become a larger stop on the trafficking circuit.
"Everything that makes Nashville a great place to live is also appealing to traffickers, who see this as a business," explains Derri Smith, executive director of End Slavery Tennessee, an organization founded in 2008 to strategically confront human trafficking in Tennessee. "We've got a thriving economy, a lot of growth, and a lot of tourists and events. That means people are coming in who might leave their morals at home, and that makes for buyers of sex."
Nashville's proximity to Atlanta — one of the largest domestic human trafficking hubs, according to a 2014 Urban Institute report commissioned by the U.S. Justice Department — and the fact that three major interstates intersect within our city limits makes it an ideal location to funnel people through a reverse underground railroad.
Compounding the problem is the fact that human trafficking is an extremely difficult issue to tackle. Discrepancies exist in the reporting of incidents, especially involving minors. Young victims of trafficking are often entrenched in complicated dependent relationships with their captors, unaware that they're being held in forced prostitution.
Legislation involving sex trafficking is relatively new in Tennessee, and intervention work by law enforcement and social services is challenging. But lawmen, government agents, lawmakers and victims' advocates are working to build their own anti-trafficking network, before Nashville becomes a fixed point on a grid of modern-day human slavery.
The problem isn't confined to any one corner of Middle Tennessee. In February, seven people were arrested in Franklin following an investigation into Oriental Massage Center on Sugartree Lane. The bust followed a high-profile raid almost exactly a year before, when detectives from Metro Nashville's Specialized Investigations Division team (formerly known as Vice) hit four Nashville massage parlors — Acupressure Treatment Center on Fourth Avenue South, Daily Massage on Gallatin Pike, ABC Massage on Franklin Pike, and Golden Massage on Abbott Martin Road.
The raids found evidence of illicit activity, including prostitution and trafficking. Swept up in the raid on Golden Massage, which operated in the same Green Hills strip mall as a wine shop and just down the street from Hillsboro High, were three women of Asian descent who spoke only Mandarin Chinese and could not even identify the town where they lived. (See "Crimeless Victims of a Victimless Crime," March 24, 2014.)
What makes human trafficking hard to fight, in part, is that it's hard to define. In 2013, a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report stated, "Minor sex trafficking occurs in both rural and urban counties, wealthy and poor families, and racially diverse communities, but minors who come from impoverished households may be especially vulnerable to victimization."
In short: almost anyone, anywhere. "Furthermore," the report summarized, "sex trafficking in the United States has traditionally been the purview of the State Department because it has long been believed that the victims of trafficking are mostly immigrants. Anecdotal evidence and new data are challenging that assumption."
The report profiled 21 counties with the highest rates of underage sex trafficking, seeking insight into what makes certain populations especially vulnerable. According to data gathered by the TBI for a previous 2011 study, Davidson County had the highest percentage of minor and adult sex trafficking cases. Seventy-three percent of respondents reported cases of minor sex trafficking, with more than 100 known cases of both adult and minor trafficking over the previous 24 months.
Events that drive tourists to town increase reports of trafficking, the report noted, mentioning the opening of the Music City Center as an example. Coffee County — home to Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and above-average meth-lab seizures — was singled out as the only rural county with more than 100 reported cases of minor sex trafficking.
The information gets progressively vague beyond those stats, however. Some victims are immigrants pressed into service as sex slaves, or youths sometimes lured away from malls and other public areas in the anonymity of a crowd. For others, the path is much more gradual and slippery.
Sheila Simpkins McClain grew up with a mother whose idea of parenting was teaching her almost four decades ago how to perform oral sex. McClain was 6 at the time. She was 14 when she ran away and met a guy — "just the typical 'boyfriending' situation where I thought he was my boyfriend," she tells the Scene .
Before long, though, she remembers, she was selling her body to feed them both. The years that followed were nightmarish. McClain was in and out of juvenile homes and lived a life on the run. She eventually moved to Memphis, where she met a pimp. He introduced her to a world of interstate sex trafficking.
"He sold me a dream," McClain says. "He took me from state to state, selling me. When I tried to run away, he'd find me."
McClain's pimp brought her to Nashville in 1996. While she managed to escape from him, the experience left her with a drug addiction she couldn't kick on her own. McClain credits an outreach by Nashville-based nonprofit Magdalene, which assists women in escaping life on the streets, with resetting the needle on her compass.
"[Magdalene] was doing an outreach on Murfreesboro Road, and that's when the seed was planted," recalls McClain, who ended up working with the program for nine years. "A couple of months later I went to jail. I wrote the judge — Judge Casey Moreland — a letter, telling him about the Magdalene program. I asked him if he would give me another chance and let me go into that program. And my life has been different ever since."
Today, McClain has a college degree and is married and the mother of two children. As director of survivor services for End Slavery Tennessee, McClain shares her story time and time again, illustrating the scope and severity of the issue.
Derri Smith founded End Slavery Tennessee in 2008 after years of experience working internationally against human trafficking. The nonprofit provides therapy, addiction treatment if needed, and housing, connecting the dots to best serve an individual's recovery needs.
"We do a lot of in-house services, but we also connect community partners," Smith says. "We have therapy, classes, jobs, education and support groups. We also connect to that array of community services that are needed. But because there's a single point of contact, it works best for the survivor, because they're with people they trust, and it works best for the community because there's not this disjointed, disconnected approach to services where things fall between the gaps and where nobody quite knows who to communicate with and what to communicate."
As a result, the services End Slavery Tennessee offers depend on the unusual particulars of each case.
"We have a girl who is branded across her neck with her trafficker's name, so we'll make sure she gets tattoo removal," Smith explains. "We have somebody who lost her baby during the trafficking — she's a teenager — so we'll make sure she gets the best care, the best lawyer to help her with that. We work in a very comprehensive and individualized way."
That's why it's vital, Smith says, to have actual survivors on staff like McClain, whose experience allows her to bond with recently recovered victims. McClain says the intervention process includes working through stages of change. When police busted the Oriental Massage Center in February, End Slavery Tennessee was on hand, offering help to the five female victims.
"I started off at End Slavery as an intervention specialist, because I'm a survivor myself," McClain explains. "Most of the time, if there's a sting with the police, or if someone is found, I'm the first point of contact, so I will go and try to build a relationship, gain some trust, tell them my story to let them know that they're not alone, and then give them options. If they're ready and they want help, they leave with me."
Best-case scenario, that's what happens. But what the TBI wants to do is eradicate human trafficking from the state of Tennessee. And the most effective way to do this is to go right to the source: those who buy and sell humans.
In June 2013, Metro police arrested a Trenton, Tenn., native named Michael Kohlmeyer. According to police and court documents, he'd contacted an online escort service and requested a girl between the ages of 8 and 16. The escort service contacted the police. An undercover SID detective responded, leading to his arrest.
In the past, only sellers of sex, not buyers, had been prosecuted as traffickers. But the climate had changed over the past five years, according to TBI assistant special agent Margie Quin.
Driven by a 2011 study by the TBI, in partnership with Vanderbilt University's Center for Community Studies, Tennessee lawmakers passed some 36 laws toughening guidelines for sex-trafficking charges. Among these were stricter sentences for those who sell or purchase minors for sex.
Under these new laws, Kohlmeyer was charged with solicitation of the rape of a minor, soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means, and trafficking for a commercial sex act. In April, Judge Mark Fishburn sentenced him to 22 years in prison for trafficking a person under 15 for a sex act.
"I saw pictures — this guy built a concrete slab room with nothing but a toilet and a cot and a door opening only to his bedroom," says Smith, who sat in the courtroom for Kohlmeyer's sentencing. "He has serious problems."
The Kohlmeyer case marked the first time a buyer of sex was found guilty of sex trafficking in Tennessee. Just five years ago, the crime was a misdemeanor. Today, it's a felony.
"One of the biggest impacts you can see right now is the types of sentences that are being handed down as a result of trafficking conviction," Quin says. "Michael Kohlmeyer is a perfect example. That's one count of trafficking for sexual servitude — under 15 years of age is a Class A felony, 15 and over is a Class B felony."
Shared Hope International, a nonprofit fighting global sex trafficking, ranked Tennessee as the nation's toughest state for statutes prosecutors can use against commercial sex exploitation crimes. In addition to more severe sentencing for sex crimes involving minors, the Kohlmeyer case exemplifies what Quin calls a commitment by state lawmakers, law enforcement and the courts to target buyers of sex.
"This is a supply-and-demand issue," Quin says. "Adding individuals who promote — just promote — prostitution is now a registerable sex offense. Those sorts of laws, I think, really tell you what the intent of the General Assembly is, and that is to really go after the buyers and sellers — to shift the focus off the women and onto the men who are selling and buying."
Through its Select Committee on Children and Youth, the Tennessee General Assembly tasked the TBI in 2010 to determine how widespread sex trafficking was and what needed to be done. The effort involved surveying nearly 1,000 individuals working in law enforcement, social services, the courts, treatment providers and academia in counties across the state to learn about their experiences with human trafficking over the past 24 months.
The resulting report, Tennessee Human Sex Trafficking and Its Impact on Children and Youth 2011 , opened light onto a statewide issue that operated largely in the shadows. The study emphasized the impact of sex trafficking on minors, though adult sex trafficking was also present in many of the counties surveyed. According to Quin, who participated in the report, the numbers took many by surprise.
"I think, frankly, we were all surprised at the prevalence that was reported in the initial study," she says.
Echoing others in law enforcement who spoke to the Scene , Quin says it's difficult to get precise statistics for human trafficking. Even so, while densely populated urban areas contained a higher concentration of reported trafficking of minors — Coffee, Davidson, Knox and Shelby led the state — 42 percent of rural respondents reported sex trafficking in their counties.
"You see enormous numbers in huge urban centers — the volume is just higher, because the demand is higher," Quin says. "But what's been so surprising in our report is that this seems to be just as prevalent in rural locations as in urban locations, which tells me that obviously the dynamic can be quite different."
Methods to identify and fight trafficking in those areas are notably distinct. In cities, johns are more likely to use the Internet. Even when escort service websites or major sites like Backpage.com or Craigslist are busted, people find ways around the restrictions. As Quin explains, rural, poverty-stricken areas provide different opportunities for johns.
"A mother selling her kid for sex to get money to buy pseudoephedrine to make meth is just as likely to happen in a county with less than 50,000 people as it is to happen anywhere else — probably more so," she says. "We're seeing in some of these poorer counties higher rates of sex trafficking. Now, is poverty the reason we have sex trafficking? No, but it's certainly a driver, because some of these rural counties that have unusually high numbers of trafficking are also Tennessee's poorest counties."
At the same time, the study showed the difficulty the various people fighting trafficking have in agreeing on the issue. Data from the study showed that law-enforcement personnel and civilians such as social workers both view minor immigrants as the most vulnerable group. But law enforcement perceived immigrants as the group generally most at risk, while civilians reported that minors were most likely to become victims.
This wasn't the only rift in perception. Individuals who work in social services reported more cases of sex trafficking than those who work in law enforcement, highlighting how difficult it is for police to identify and help victims.
People who engage in prostitution — whether they're minors or adults — are fearful of being punished for a crime, and are less likely to contact the police if they see minors involved in prostitution or trafficking. But they could be more likely to contact organizations like End Slavery Tennessee.
"We've had women on the streets who will see somebody young being sold, and they will get her help with us," Smith says.
Such outreach will be pivotal in confronting an issue that is already tough to quantify. If you're wondering why you haven't heard much about human trafficking in Tennessee, McClain suggests it's extremely difficult for people to accept that it's happening in their own city. This gives predators and johns an edge in conducting illicit activity in plain sight.
"The reality is, when it comes to trafficking, this has been going on for a long, long time," McClain says. "Now it's just finally being talked about. When I was 14 years old on the streets in San Francisco working for a guy, no one paid no attention to it. And I'm 45 years old right now. That's a long time ago. Now it's the new thing that everyone's talking about."
The 2013 follow-up by the TBI to the original 2011 study noted the similarity to domestic violence as public awareness started to increase in the '60 and '70s. "Sex trafficking transcends social and geographic boundaries," the report said. "Domestic violence was an overlooked social problem until that time. As was recognized in domestic violence cases, sex trafficking has emerged as a legitimate social problem, and there are examples of victim-blaming and denial of the problem's existence."
According to McClain, a shift in public perception of the severity and frequency of the issue is essential. The formation of organizations like End Slavery Tennessee, the passage of laws, and the dedicated efforts of TBI are all factors in raising awareness throughout Tennessee.
"I don't think people really wanted to admit that children were being sold," McClain says. "But I think communities have started to really pay attention to what's going on, and maybe because everyone's been getting so involved with international trafficking, they finally got the a-ha moment that it's happening here. And it's connected, too — it's been going on for a long, long time."
Among the 941 participants to the 2011 survey, law enforcement had the highest response rate, with 94 percent returning results to TBI. The high response rate suggests they are clearly willing to combat the issue. Until recently, however, they haven't been entirely able.
"One of the most alarming statistics that we got — besides the sheer volume of cases or incidents — was the fact that 79 percent of the people that responded said they didn't feel their agencies were adequately trained to even recognize or identify a case of human trafficking," Quin tells the Scene . "We've got 94 percent of law enforcement responding, and 79 percent of those that responded to the survey don't think that their agencies can even identify a case. That becomes extremely problematic."
According to a 2014 report by Polaris, which has published yearly ratings on the 50 states' and the District of Columbia's anti-trafficking legal frameworks for the past four years, 37 states passed modern slavery legislation in the previous year. Delaware, Washington and New Jersey were the only states that received a "perfect" score — meaning they met criteria in 10 categories of laws integral to combating trafficking and supporting survivors. The TBI's follow-up reported that Tennessee ranked in the top tier. Yet Polaris noted that our state lacked training for law enforcement.
But according to Quin, the TBI had already identified the need to educate law enforcement officers on the distinct challenges of identifying human trafficking.
"The TBI then turned their focus to training and awareness over the past three or four years," she says. "We've been out across the state training law enforcement and other agencies, first responder types, on how to recognize a case of human trafficking. What does a victim look like, how they present themselves, at what point in a system do we have an opportunity to intervene or identify a victim, and those sorts of things."
This year, Quin says, the legislature gave her unit four agents to spread across the state to train more law enforcement officers and first responders. On May 21, the district attorney's office announced these four agents — assistant district attorneys Tammy Meade, Antoinette Welch, Zoe Sams and Vince Wyatt — as members of the human trafficking unit. Working out of the district attorney's office, this team will work in partnership with End Slavery Tennessee and multiple law enforcement agencies.
"I think those first couple of years, they will work predominantly to train and raise awareness," Quin says. "They will also work cases, because we felt pretty strongly that if you aren't out there working cases — and if you aren't out there seeing what's happening — the patterns and trends change with regard to criminal activity. If we don't stay current in the way that it's occurring — things that criminals do to avoid detection — then we're not going to be able to train effectively, especially law enforcement."
MNPD training officer Matt Dixon was part of the SID team involved in the Golden Massage sting, which he said was instigated by a civilian complaint. After launching an investigation intended to attack multiple locations, the team secured search warrants for the massage parlors and the home of main suspect Peng He, Golden Massage's owner. Dixon says law enforcement and the public must be taught to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
"It's important to educate law enforcement and the public in general," Dixon says. "I couldn't do my job without End Slavery. They're not only educating us, but they're providing a service that the police does not provide."
Such organizations also play an integral role in assisting law enforcement and the courts in prosecuting perpetrators and pimps. Survivors of trafficking and prostitution are often suspicious of the powers that be, especially if they have a record. If they don't trust the system to prosecute their captors, they're not going to make the best witnesses.
This is especially true with minors. Dixon says that if they're placed in Department of Children's Services custody, they're likely to run away. But if they can be convinced that somebody is actually going to help them, they're more likely to seek a path to recovery.
"Sometimes they don't even consider themselves victims of a crime," Dixon explains. "That's why we have to work with End Slavery. We're lucky in Davidson County, that our chiefs, the D.A.'s office and the community, are behind us, and that they let us investigate the crime."
In addition to End Slavery Tennessee, programs like the Hannah Project assist survivors through the recovery process. Spearheaded by assistant D.A. Antoinette Welch, the Hannah Project offers those charged with prostitution an educational session that will, upon completion, expunge their records. Dixon says the three women arrested during the Golden Massage sting completed the program. Since they were not minors, he does not know their current whereabouts.
As for how widespread human trafficking is in Davidson County and beyond, Dixon says it's tough to get an exact figure.
"I can't give you an exact number, but it is more prevalent than we think," he says. "We have to do reports, and the way we do that is through classification codes, and it's reported through that system. For example, a narcotics offense would be '35A,' so I could look and see how many there are."
Yet while kidnapping, rape and prostitution all have distinct codes — and human trafficking could involve all of these offenses — there is currently not a separate code for trafficking, making it even more difficult to quantify.
"In my opinion, it needs to be on there," Dixon says.
While Tennessee has taken major steps forward in combating human trafficking within our borders, progress can't happen fast enough for those held in captivity.
"Every time a victim bumps up against the system and doesn't get identified, then we lost an opportunity to rescue that victim, which means bearing the life for weeks, months, years longer, and the complex trauma that occurs can build exponentially," Quin says.
"We're talking about the extreme end of complex trauma here," Smith adds. "This is not the same as one rape. When you have somebody whose been trafficked, they might be sold an average of 10 or 12 times a day. The average age of entry is 12 to 14 for girls and 11 to 13 for boys, and they've almost always been the victims of child abuse or trauma earlier in their lives, and that's what makes them so vulnerable to this type of exploitation.
"It leads to a very complex kind of trauma; a deep need for love, acceptance, belonging, that hasn't been met. Traffickers are master manipulators, and they can come along with a dream — that they're a boyfriend, and that they love you, and they make you feel special — and you're going to have a happily-ever-after kind of life, and that's a powerful thing. Once somebody is trafficked, the average life expectancy is seven years."
McClain says End Slavery Tennessee works with anyone who has been trafficked — sex trafficking or labor trafficking — and that the majority of the survivors are women.
"Currently we're working with seven labor trafficking and 22 sex trafficking victims, and five of them are juveniles," she says. "[It's] easier for me to make a connection with a juvenile, because they know whenever I'm coming, they're going to get lunch, or get to go shopping, we're going to get to build a relationship."
This relationship building is a key part of the healing process, as juvenile trafficking victims often have a strong emotional tie to their captors and, accordingly, severe trust issues.
"It's because they think they love them, you know?" McClain says. "They think that they love them. And that's probably the hardest hurdle for me, getting them to realize that's not love. Getting them to see that they're actually victims. Because the reality of it is, sometimes, that life is better than the life that they were running from."
Human trafficking hits home
Push to raise local awareness grows
by David DeWitt
Human trafficking is not just a problem in faraway lands. It happens here in America, in Ohio, in Athens County. And it doesn't happen like it does in a Liam Neeson movie. It's subtle. It's insidious. And it can be hard to spot.
"Many victims do not realize they are being trafficked," a pamphlet from the Ohio Attorney General's office warns.
More than 1,000 minors are believed to be forced to sell sex in Ohio each year, and many adults fall victim to sex and labor trafficking across the state as well, according to the latest report from the state AG's office.
Last year, two Athens County residents were sentenced to prison in a case where a 70-year-old Chauncey man paid in money and drugs to have sex with a 16-year-old girl. The man pleaded guilty to importuning and received one year in prison, while a 28-year-old woman received a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges of compelling prostitution, aggravated drug possession and theft.
Athens County Child Advocacy Center Director Rebecca Miller recalled her time working in juvenile court on cases where kids came into care because somebody in their home was abusing them, typically sexually. Often, the person in the home with custody knew what was going on, she recalled, but did not report it because the abuser was supplying drugs, paying the rent, or otherwise providing something of value to the custodial person.
"Essentially, there was kind of a trade-off of sexual abuse for money, drugs, whatever it was," she said. "We saw that kind of case all the time, but didn't really have a name for it until a couple years ago - at least for me, learning about human trafficking and what it was. I was able to say, 'Oh my gosh, that is trafficking.'"
She said while many people conceive of human trafficking as something that happens in the slums of poverty-stricken countries halfway around the globe, this subtle trade of sex for money or drugs is the type of trafficking that happens most often in rural Ohio, and it often involves family.
"I think there is more traditional trafficking such as what happens at truck stops that happens here too," she said. "We just don't have eyes and ears everywhere looking for it, so we don't see those types of referrals the way we think we will after we bring more awareness to this issue."
She said common places for labor trafficking include nail salons, landscaping companies, spas, massage parlors and certain restaurants (though of course, this doesn't mean that all, most or many of those types of businesses are involved).
More and more, politicians are attempting to address the problems of human trafficking with legislation. The often deeply divided U.S. House of Representatives passed a human trafficking bill last week by a vote of 420-to-3.
The AG's Ohio Human Trafficking Commission report for 2014 said that nationally, more than 100,000 children are thought to be involved in the sex trade, and in a study sample of 207 victims of trafficking in Ohio, 49 percent were under 18 when they were first trafficked.
Law enforcement around the state conducted 85 human-trafficking investigations last year, leading to 98 arrests and 17 successful criminal convictions so far. A total of 181 potential trafficking victims were identified in Ohio last year, with 147 being female and 34 male, it said. Ninety-four of them were between 16 and 20 years old, while another 50 were between 21 and 29.
In March, the Athens County Child Advocacy Center, in partnership with Hopewell Health Center, and Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services, held a free training for local law enforcement, behavioral health professionals, counselors, and social workers on human trafficking. The meeting included discussion on the formation of an Athens-based human trafficking coalition.
More training opportunities will be held this summer, said advocacy center Director Miller in an interview last month.
The role of the CAC, Miller explained, is to serve children who have been sexually abused through a multi-disciplinary team of mental-health professionals, medical-health professionals and law enforcement. In this way, a victim does not have to go first to the hospital, then to the police department, then to a social services agency. Everything happens at the CAC office on West Union Street. All of the services come to the family in one location.
Two years ago, the ACCAC received new funds from the state to expand efforts against human trafficking, Miller said, and plans are being made for more outreach in local schools, along with a general campaign to better inform the public through the efforts of a community awareness advocate.
ATHENS COUNTY SHERIFF'S Det. John Deak agreed in an interview earlier this month that instances of human trafficking in rural Ohio are relatively subtle.
"It does exist here but not in the image everybody is familiar with," he said. "A lot of it is more subtle. It can be family based. It has a lot to do with the drug problem but I think here it has a lot to do with poverty."
He likewise cited a scenario where a parent might allow the adult boyfriend of an underage daughter to stay in the house because he is helping to pay bills.
"They're getting their needs met but allowing that to happen. That kind of thing happens everyday here, all over," Deak said. "But by definition, that's human trafficking."
Labor trafficking is another concern in rural areas of Ohio such as Athens County, he said, and is also driven by poverty.
"It could be a 25-year-old man working in a field for a place to live," Deak said. "There's no set demographic as far as age, or race or gender."
AMY O'GRADY, THE OHIO Attorney General's Office director of criminal justice initiatives, said last week that the state is focused not only on helping law enforcement but helping service providers by providing resources.
"The role we play is not only to see how we help victims of crime through the investigations we do on the law enforcement end; it's also looking at the needs of the provider and making sure (communication is happening across counties)," she said.
Giving help to law enforcement, she said, continues to be an important service. She said that the AG's office has a philosophy where they don't come in and dictate what should be done by local police, but try to provide support for the action local police decide to take.
This includes training through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.
"It's an effort from our office to educate other agencies' requirements under Ohio Revised Code for human trafficking cases," she said. "I think that process has been very encouraging."
O'Grady also emphasized the importance of generating awareness.
"Human trafficking has always been there. The difference now is that we've put a name to it," she said. "And it's everywhere… What we try to encourage people to do is that if they see something out of the ordinary, pick up the phone and call law enforcement."
The AG's Office provides a pamphlet that shares warning signs for potential victims.
For sex trafficking, these can include a person who moves often, talks about traveling to other cities and runs away from home. A "boyfriend" who is much older can be a warning sign, or a home environment where the person seems to be controlled and is rarely alone or kept away from family and friends. Signs of physical abuse and starvation are also warning signs, as well as a lack of identification such as a driver's license or passport.
FOR LABOR TRAFFICKING, one of the biggest warning signs is the appearance that employees live at the workplace, with cots or sleeping bags visible in the back room of a business. People being trafficked for labor also may have their movement restricted - not allowed to go places - or work with a large group in a small space. Victims being labor trafficked may show signs of physical abuse, isolation or starvation. They may work long hours without being free to leave. They may lack identification, passports or immigration documents.
To report activity that may be related to human trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center 24-hour hotline can be reached at 1-888-373-7888.
Locally, the ACCAC holds coalition meetings the second Wednesday of every month, and those looking for more information can contact Brytanni Barker, the ACCAC child and family advocate, at 740-566-4847.
Barker said that she's looking to hold another training in August.
"We're looking at a different form, maybe bringing a survivor this time," she said. "We definitely would like to have trainings once every quarter (year)."
At the state level, the commission has promised to continue its work bringing resources to local entities, while nationally, the legislation currently heading toward President Barack Obama's desk establishes a new Child Exploitattion Investigations Unit in the Justice Department, a Cyber Crimes Center, and a computer forensics division within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to investigate child exploitation.
Should Lying To Get Sex Be Considered Rape?
by Charing Ball
If you are like most single folks out here in these dating streets, the thought has probably crossed your mind that at least one of your exes deserved to be locked away in a jail cell for lying and breaking your hearts. If you are a New Jersey resident, the good news is that soon you might have an opportunity to do just that.
According to Jenice Armstrong columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, New Jersey law Assemblyman Troy Singleton has sponsored a bill which would make “sexual assault by fraud” a punishable offense. In short, the bill hopes to expand the definition of sexual assault in that state to include “an act of sexual penetration to which a person has given consent because the actor has misrepresented the purpose of the act or has represented he is someone he is not.”
As reported by Armstrong, the inspiration behind the bill is Mischele Lewis, a 37-year-old “suburban-mom-turned-activist” who found out that the man she was dating lied about not only not having children – he has a 10 year old daughter – but also not having a home – he lived in his parent's basement.
As Lewis told Armstrong in an interview:
“I think it's important because trying to deceive anyone for the purpose of sexual gratification is just wrong…Every person has the right to knowing consent. And before they consent to be intimate with anybody, they should absolutely know 100 percent who it is that they are being intimate with.”
According to the Daily News report, Lewis met her soulmate online in 2013 as Liam Allen, a supposed secret agent for the British Government. She later found out that his actual name is William Allen Jordan and he is a registered sex offender who was convicted of indecent assault of a minor and once served time in the U.K. for bigamy. In addition to conning Lewis out of her panties, he also conned her out of $5,000 over the course of their courtship.
I'm not going to judge Lewis too harshly, as most of us have fallen for the romantic okey-doke before. Okay, most of us probably haven't been conned into believing that our beau was 007, but many of us can readily recount being lied to by a partner who said they were unattached and maybe even childless, when the opposite was true. Hell, it is the entire first season plot of Being Mary Jane.
And as crazy the law is, there is precedence. Tennessee, Alabama and Michigan all have rape by deception laws on the books. And in 2009, the state of California introduced its own rape by fraud law after a man named Julio Morales was arrested and tried for sneaking into a woman's bedroom at night, pretending he was her boyfriend and proceeding to sex with her. In addition to facing charges for sexually assaulting a sleeping woman, Morales was also convicted for rape by fraud for impersonating the woman's boyfriend. The conviction was based on an old California law from 1872 that criminalize such deception. However, the appellate courts dismissed the rape by fraud charge, because the law only applied to married women. In 2013, A California assemblyman introduced two bills to expand the existing rape by fraud law so that it included non-married couples and after passing through both the state house and senate with little dissention, the law was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
Personally, I'm on the fence with these particular laws. I definitely feel like there should be some sort of legal recourse when folks engage in fraudulent or deceptive behavior in intimate relationships, be they consensual or otherwise. There are people who lie about their HIV/AIDS statuses and end up costing someone, or ones, their lives. Surely that kind of treachery deserves some time in prison? Plus, we lock people up for stealing inanimate objects all the time, so why shouldn't our own bodies deserve the same sort of protection?
But where do we draw the line? What if a guy tells me that he has a big penis and then I find out he is packing nothing bigger than a Vienna sausage. Could I then go to the police station and file charges against him for rape by fraud? Laugh, but the courts are clogged now with this sort of malicious prosecution. If you ask me, these laws are painfully open to interpretation. And that is what kind of scares me.
Daycare deaths and injuries in Canada
Some have resulted in criminal charges, others remain under investigation
by CBS News
The rules surrounding daycares in Canada vary from province to province. Generally, licensed daycares are subject to inspections and regulations, but unlicensed daycares, which often operate behind the closed doors of a private home, are not inspected unless a complaint is made.
Unlicensed daycares are subject to few rules other than a maximum number of children in the home. There have been several injuries, deaths and other abuses in unlicensed daycares across the country.
In May, the parents of a four-year-old girl who was sexually abused by a 13-year-old visitor at a daycare on Montreal's West Island spoke out, criticizing the provincial government's response. The teen pleaded guilty to charges of gross indecency and new safety measures were put in place, but the daycare remains open. The regional co-co-ordinator refused to shut the daycare down.
In Quebec, home daycares are subsidized, but they are not subject to the same rules as licensed daycares, and complaints and inspection reports are not made public.
Eva Ravikovich died in an unlicensed daycare in Vaughan in 2013. After her death, Ministry of Education officials searched the home and found 29 children and 14 dogs. The maximum number permitted in an unlicensed daycare in Ontario is five children under the age of 10.
She was one of four Ontario children who died in unlicensed daycares in a seven-month period over 2013 and 2014, prompting a scathing report by the Ontario ombudsman. The cause of her death has not been released.
In July 2013, two-year-old Allison Tucker drowned at her babysitter's condo in Toronto. The woman was later charged with manslaughter.
Aspen Moore was nine months old when she died in late 2013 at an unlicensed daycare in Markham. Provincial officials, notified by the coroner, found 12 children in the home and later laid charges under the Ontario Day Nurseries Act.
Four months later, a four-month-old baby died in a Toronto apartment. Provincial officials investigated and found eight children in the home and laid charges later that year.
In 2010, a two-year-old named Jeremie Audette drowned when his caregiver, who operated an unlicensed daycare, brought him and several other children to another unlicensed daycare in an Ottawa home with a backyard pool. There were 31 children present at the time along with five adults, a 2012 inquest heard. Wendy Lapierre was charged under the Ontario Day Nurseries Act but continued to operate a home daycare.
A coroner's inquest jury recommended all daycares, regardless of whether they are licensed, be registered and that unannounced safety inspections of licensed daycares be permitted. The jury also recommended daycare operators be certified as trained.
In 2014, a Kitchener-Waterloo woman pleaded guilty to poisoning two children she was caring for in her home and two other children. She admitted to feeding the children eye drops that caused them to stop breathing. Her lawyer said Christine Allen was a mentally ill drug addict who ran the daycare to help pay for her substance abuse. She was sentenced to six years in prison.
The children, including two babies, survived but were hospitalized, and at least one has developmental problems related to a lack of oxygen flow to her brain. The unlicensed daycare operated from 2009 to 2011, according to police.
B.C. woman Maria McFerran pleaded guilty in 2013 to criminal negligence causing death in the case of Arto Howley. The one-year-old died in 2011 after he was strangled by the car seat he was left in alone, in a room with a closed door, at a home in Coquitlam. McFerran, who was not licensed, had six other children in her care at the time of the death. She was only legally allowed two. McFerran was sentenced to 18 months in jail in 2013.
A 21-month-old girl, Mackenzy Woolfsmith, died under suspicious circumstances in a Calgary daycare in 2012. The daycare operator Caitlin Jarosz was charged with second-degree murder in 2013 and is expected to stand trial.
In April, a Calgary man was charged with sexual interference amid allegations he asked a four-year-old girl to fondle him. His wife was the owner of a day home, which is subject to some provincial standards.
?A different man was also charged this year amid allegations he fondled a four-year-old boy at a day home.
State agency 5 years behind reporting on child-abuse deaths
by Laura Figueroa
The state agency charged with monitoring child abuse investigations has failed to file required annual reports for the past five years about child abuse-related deaths.
The delay comes as the number of child abuse-related deaths statewide has increased, according to state records. That has prompted state legislators and child advocates to push for release of the reports, which track the number of deaths and include policy recommendations.
New York's Office of Children and Family Services is required under state Social Services Law to submit reports to the governor and State Legislature each year detailing the number of abuse-related fatalities and "appropriate findings and recommendations."
The last report the office issued covered deaths in 2008 and 2009, agency records show.
Assemb. Donna Lupardo (D-Binghamton), chairwoman of the Committee on Children, called the reports key to shaping policy. She said she recently became aware of the delay and planned to press OCFS for an update.
"These reports contain critically important information that helps us develop policies to address primary prevention of child fatalities," Lupardo said in an interview. "It also helps us direct resources and funding. In addition, we look at geographic trends. . . . This is a very important document."
On May 14, after inquiries from Newsday about the missing reports, state Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the Senate Children and Families Committee, wrote to acting OCFS Commissioner Sheila Poole, requesting reports for 2010 through 2014 and "an explanation for the lapse," within 30 days.
OCFS spokeswoman Jennifer Givner said reports for 2010-14 have not been issued because the agency "recently moved to a new, customized data collection and technology platform for tracking and reporting child fatalities."
She said OCFS "is prepared to release within 90 days an updated report on child fatalities" covering deaths in that period.
Child abuse-related deaths involve children who were under some level of watch from child protective agencies, according to OCFS. They include children whose guardians were reported to the state's child abuse hotline for suspicion of abuse.
The agency's most recent report indicated that the number of child abuse-related deaths was increasing.
In 2005, there were 158 child abuse-related deaths; in 2009, there were 223.
Unofficial numbers provided to Newsday by state lawmakers show that in 2010, 265 children died statewide in child abuse-related cases. In 2012, there were 276 such cases.
From 2007 through 2009, OCFS identified 50 abuse-related deaths in Suffolk and 20 in Nassau out of 791 child abuse-related fatalities during the period statewide.
Long Island has had several high-profile cases since then that aren't reflected in available state figures.
In November, Jonathan Thompson, 34, of Amityville, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for punching 4-year-old Adonis Reed to death in January 2013 when the boy complained he was sick. Thompson was the boyfriend of Adonis' godmother, who was acting as his caretaker.
Also, State Police are continuing to investigate the death of 17-month-old Justin Kowalczik. His body was found buried in the backyard of his family's Farmingdale home in October 2012, after a Suffolk Child Protective Services worker had questioned the boy's mother and stepfather about the child's whereabouts during a check on his other siblings.
The family had lived in Orange County before moving to Long Island. Authorities said it was unclear what led to the boy's death, but they said he had been buried for two years before his body was discovered.
Anthony Zenkus, director of education for Safe Center LI, a Bethpage nonprofit that provides counseling to domestic violence, rape and child abuse victims, said child advocates rely on the annual state reports to "structure our prevention messages when we are out there educating the public."
For instance, "if there was a rise in deaths because of co-sleeping, we would know to emphasize that information when talking to parents," Zenkus said. He was referring to parents who share beds with infants, but who sometimes roll over and suffocate the tots.
"If the lives of our children are truly a priority, we need to get these reports done," Zenkus said.In March, Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Watertown) filed a measure calling on the OCFS to conduct a study of deaths of children who had been under the watch of child protective services before their deaths.
Ritchie said when she filed the bill she was unaware that OCFS was already required to submit such findings to lawmakers each year, but proposed her measure in response to the growing number of deaths. The measure was approved by the Senate's Children and Families Committee May 12, but does not yet have an Assembly sponsor.
"Each county may have different issues they're dealing with," Ritchie said in an interview. "Until a report or a study is put together, it's kind of hard to find solutions and determine where more resources need to be put in place."
Duggar drama a chance to act on sex abuse
by Teresa C. Younger
TLC has an obligation to educate about child abuse as much as it has marketed the Duggars.
In the aftermath of revelations about child sexual abuse reportedly committed by Josh Duggar, many questions remain unanswered. Why was Josh Duggar able to abuse five girls, some even after members of his family and church community were aware of allegations against him? Why did police officials fail to charge Josh when Jim Bob Duggar finally turned in his son? What happened to the children who were sexually abused?
Child sexual abuse happens far beyond the confines of made-for-tv families. All too often, victims are left unprotected and without qualified counseling to help them recover. Too often their abusers remain free to continue the abuse.
Many are especially angered by this case because the Duggars have been outspoken critics of same-sex marriage and women's reproductive rights. The Duggars want the government more involved in women's and LGBT people's lives while they worked to thwart legitimate government involvement in their own lives.
The hypocrisy is palpable.
We know that survivors of sexual abuse can suffer into adulthood, especially if they do not receive adequate support. Girls who are sexually abused are more likely to be diagnosed with eating disorders and more than twice as likely to have a teen pregnancy. We are concerned about what sort of treatment and support Duggar's victims are receiving, given the inappropriate response to the allegations.
Child sexual abuse is embedded in many social issues facing families and communities. This case underscores the need for systemic change in the way we address — or fail to act upon — allegations. Yet, with the exception of high-profile cases, there is little national coverage — and too little thoughtful, public discourse — about child sexual abuse. Media attention disappears when a criminal trial ends, but the suffering left behind by abusers never really ends.
The only real justice is prevention. We need community, institutional and individual leadership to make abuse into a national priority. Those leaders need to speak out against abuse and adopt policies and practices that protect children. Imagine if every place where children live, play and learn implemented child sexual abuse prevention policies and protocols. If the Duggars' church had a formal policy on child sexual abuse and lived up to it, events would have, almost certainly, been better handled .
We have public service announcements encouraging that "if you see something, say something" — in an effort to prevent acts of terrorism. If you think that a suitcase under a seat on a train could be a bomb, you know it is your obligation to speak up. Why don't we have the same sense of communal responsibility for the safety of children?
Prevention is possible. We need to support the organizations and individuals working to design and implement innovative and practical approaches to prevention that will ignite lasting cultural change. We must engage survivors of child sexual abuse, communities of color and disability rights activists to ensure that diverse voices and perspectives are driving the change toward ending abuse.
The Ms. Foundation is calling upon TLC to partner with child sexual abuse prevention advocates to launch a public education campaign on the same scale as the network's relentless marketing of the Duggar family. Regardless of whether the network cancels the Duggars' show or not, TLC can and must help empower every person who knows of or suspects child sexual abuse to take action.
Today's headlines offer us the chance to refocus public attention on what to do if you know or suspect a child is being abused -- even in your own home or family. We cannot afford to waste that opportunity. We hope that TLC will use the same platform it gave to the Duggars to help protect children.
Teresa C. Younger is the president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women.
Trooper Who Did Not Report Duggar Abuse Listed 'Kinki Kids' As Online Interest
by Hilary Hanson
The Arkansas state trooper who reportedly gave the young Josh Duggar a “very stern talk” once had a Yahoo profile in which he detailed his own sexual interest in children, according to a 2009 court document.
The Pulaski County, Arkansas, “risk assessment” document, which is publicly available online and was posted by Jezebel on Wednesday, detailed the criminal history of the former officer, Joe Hutchens, who is now serving a 56-year sentence on child porn charges.
When Hutchens was still working as a trooper in 2006, Jim Bob Duggar approached him with the information that the teenaged Josh had sexually molested someone, according to a police report obtained by InTouch. Josh had, in fact, "forcibly fondled" five underage girls, some of whom were his sisters. Hutchens did not officially report the teen's actions but instead gave him a “very stern talk,” the report said.
Hutchens now claims that the elder Duggar did not tell him the whole story. In a prison interview reported by InTouch, Hutchens said that both Jim Bob and Josh told him that Josh had molested only one victim.
Hutchens added that he regrets his actions (or lack thereof). “I did what I thought was right and obviously it wasn't,” he said. “If I had to do it over again, I would have told him immediately I am going to call the hotline and contacted the trooper that worked those cases and have a full report made. I thought I could handle it myself."
The year after his meeting with Josh Duggar, Hutchens pleaded guilty to eight counts of possessing child pornography after authorities searching his home computer found multiple images of “prepubescent children” being sexually abused, according to the Pulaski County document.
The document states that Hutchens' Yahoo profile username was “dadsluv2002” and that his profile listed such interests as “Kinki Kids,” “Child Play series,” “Strangers with Candy,” “Puberty” and “Preschools.” The report also states that between 2004 and 2005, Hutchens “spent considerable time on his computer viewing child porn.”
Hutchens was initially sentenced to five years in prison, but by early 2010 he had been released on a suspended-sentence agreement. In March 2010, he was arrested again on child pornography charges. This time he wound up pleading no contest to 10 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing child pornography, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported, and was sentenced to 56 years behind bars.
Though Jim Bob Duggar reportedly knew as early as 2002 that his son had assaulted a girl, he did not contact Hutchens until 2006. Prior to that, he had sent Josh to counseling at a Bible-based facility whose affiliated homeschooling program has been criticized for its “horrific” teachings about sexual abuse.
The Duggar family went on to star in the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting” -- originally known as “17 Kids and Counting” -- beginning in 2008.
Josh Duggar, who is now 27, apologized for his actions in a public Facebook post last Thursday. TLC pulled “19 Kids and Counting” from the network's lineup the following day.
Good Question: Why Do We Have Statutes Of Limitations?
by Heather Brown
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Reality TV star Josh Duggar has apologized for what he called “wrongdoing” in response to reports he molested five girls starting in 2002. Authorities have reportedly said he can't be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run out.
So, why do we have time limits on prosecuting crimes? Good Question.
“The problem is that stories change and evidence disappears and at some point we're not confident that we're going to get an accurate portrayal of what happened 20 years ago,” said David Larson, a professor of law at Hamline University.
Outside of federal crimes, each state legislature determines its own numbers for limits. Depending on the criminal or civil case, when the clock starts ticking is different for each case. It could be when the crime or negligence first happened, when it was first reported or when its effects were discovered.
“The Sixth Amendment says everyone has a right to a speedy trial and that's kind of where it starts,” said Larson.
In Minnesota, there is no criminal statute of limitations for murder, kidnapping or trafficking of a minor. Trafficking of an adult and bribery are six years and arson and check forgery are five years. Sex offenses on an adult are nine years, while sex offenses on a minor are nine years or three years after it's reported, whichever is longer. If there is DNA evidence in a sex offense, there is no limit.
For civil statutes of limitations, contract breaches or sex abuse of an adult is six years and libel, medical malpractice is two years and slander, assault or libel is two years. These numbers are not all set in stone and can depend on the case. For example, if a contract for a sale is involved, it's a four year limit.
“If you're caught, no matter when that happens, you should have to serve the time,” said Dana Munson of Minneapolis.
Larson says whether or not it's a fair system is in the eye of the beholder.
“Recognizing we do have a presumption of innocence, not everyone who is being charged or sued is liable,” he said. “We do have to weigh both sides.”
State legislatures use a broad range of factors to decide the different limitations.
“A lot of policy goes into this in terms of what has been the offense, how egregious is it, how soon do we think the plaintiff should be able to understand what happened to them,” said Larson.
In 2013, Minnesota lawmakers made a very rare move. They got rid of the statute of limitations for survivors of child sex abuse for a window of three years, between May 2013 and May 2016. Legislators ultimately believed it would allow victims coming forward with cases of alleged abuse by priests to address what happened years ago.
Juvenile Jails Adopting ACE- and Trauma-Informed Practices
by Ed Finkel
Jane Halladay, director of the service systems program at the National Child Traumatic Stress Network , which developed the Think Trauma curriculum for staff members in juvenile correctional facilities, remembers a young man who was very difficult to handle, especially first thing in the morning.
When he woke up, it was as if he had just emerged from battling demons in his dreams. “He was extremely confrontational, aggressive, ready for a fight,” Halladay says. “In treatment, it came out that the staff woke people up by turning on and off the lights — and it came out that he had once been stabbed in the neck and had come to in the ambulance.
“They understood the impact,” she says. “They made it a policy to wake him up every morning before they turned on and off the lights. All of his behavioral issues completely disappeared. He was a completely different youth.”
Youths convicted of offenses that land them in facilities to serve out their sentences have a disproportionately high number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). One Florida study recently put hard numbers on this intuitive reality — half of the Florida juveniles reported four or more ACEs, compared with 13 percent of those in the CDC's ACE Study.
This is important, because a high number of ACEs can cause chronic disease, mental illness, violence, being a victim of violence and early death. (See ACEs 101 for more information.)
After decades of get-tough policies that often morphed delinquent youth into hardened criminals — i.e., further traumatizing already traumatized kids — state, local and private facilities are developing ACE- and trauma-informed training for staff and systems for their facilities. They realize that the time these post-traumatic youth spend under their roofs can be a time for healing — if it's handled right.
Six years ago, New York state asked staff members in the Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth to “evolve their understanding of their role,” says Joe Tomassone, acting associate commissioner for programs and services.
“Their role becomes to be an agent of change,” he says. “The historical days of juvenile justice being about custody are gone. Juvenile justice in this country right now is about supports and services and treatment focus. We believe that, given their age and the plasticity of their brains, that they can have a different life outcome. That's why we wake up every day and do what we do.”
At the local level, the correctional facilities in Randall County, Texas, turned in a trauma-oriented direction more than 20 years ago, says Neil Eddins, deputy chief probation officer for detention and residential services, who serves as facility administrator.
“Boot camps were in vogue,” he says. “A lot of folks were in that, march 'em around and scream at them [mentality]. They used a program designed to get young people ready for war in a juvenile justice setting. That didn't work. Those kinds of things don't change the heart.”
Things have certainly changed in Texas since then: Juvenile supervision officers at Randall County and throughout the state receive trauma-informed care training as mandated by the state legislature in 2013. Barry Gilbert, training officer in Randall County, says the Texas Juvenile Justice Department developed a six-hour training to address the issue, and the county further addresses trauma-informed care and ACEs as part of its ongoing training for officers. “We use the ACE score and discuss the long-term impact of high ACE scores on individuals' lives,” he says.
Some states have shut down traditional prisonlike correctional facilities and opened group homes, which tend to be more amenable to trauma-oriented care, says Carly Dierkhising, assistant professor at the School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics at California State University-Los Angeles.
A couple of years ago Dierkhising and Halladay were among those who participated in a national Juvenile Justice Roundtable to think through what a trauma-informed system would look like in the juvenile justice arena.
“There are places trying to implement it in a variety of different settings,” she says. “It's a trickle-down process. I always say we started trying to inform folks who worked in justice about what is trauma, why you should care, the prevalence of youth in their system [who have experienced trauma] and how it might impact their behavior. Then people started asking, ‘What do we do about it?' Which is really great, as someone who has been advocating for this.”
Halladay, whose organization has been working to disseminate best practices in partnership with the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention , says the political and funding climate for trauma-informed juvenile justice work has brightened in recent years. “It's now infiltrating the federal mandates, or at least it's becoming part of the language,” she says. “There are more strategies and practices available. There's also a really long way to go.”
The Think Trauma curriculum, on which National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has trained staff at about 80 sites around the country — and which has been adapted for probation and other community-based work — starts with the link between delinquency and trauma.
“It goes to talk about how to create a trauma-informed individual safety plan around what triggers the trauma [and] what helps the child feel better and more relaxed,” Halladay says. “We do training with staff and help to implement and sustain it. If people know it well, they're more likely to practice it.”
The center and its partners continue to flesh out the elements, focusing on what's unique to juvenile justice and figuring out the right measures to make systems as thoughtfully trauma-informed as possible, Halladay says. They're talking about parent and caregiver trauma, and how best to reach and engage families in the process. They're also developing best practices in cross-system collaboration with child welfare, education and health care, she says, building continuity of care within the limits of what personal information can be shared.
The final section of the Think Trauma curriculum prompts staff to look at their own ACEs, Halladay says. “You can input the results and show everybody later in the training the average number [of ACEs among people] sitting in that room,” she says. “That's always a huge eye-opener for them. We have a lot of different tools and approaches for individuals, but also for a program or organization, to address ACEs and reduce [staff] burnout.”
Dierkhising says she sees mounting evidence of the proliferation of trauma-informed programming in juvenile justice, which she finds encouraging but also somewhat concerning. “I can't believe the number of webinars I see come across my listserv,” she says. “It's hard to track this kind of stuff, especially now when it's proliferating so much, which also worries me — we really need to be evaluating what people are doing. … We need to be carefully monitoring these practices as we're implementing them, to make sure they're working in settings like juvenile justice.”
The state of Missouri began implementing what Dierkhising says would “probably be considered a trauma-informed model” decades before other states, at a time when few people were even thinking about a trauma perspective.
“It was before its time,” she says of Missouri. “It wasn't developed based off trauma research. … A lot of the principles were there, like family engagement and a therapeutic community. But you might not necessarily be getting trauma treatment.”
Missouri's Division of Youth Services Treatment Services believes that delinquent youth need to undertake a “process of self-exploration” to change their life trajectory, says Rebecca Woelfel, director of communications for the department. “This process addresses their history, development, trauma and family dynamics, and how these have influenced their present situation, perceptions, emotions, decisions and behavior,” she says.
Youth and families are closely involved in the treatment planning process, which unfolds during the first 45 days from commitment and explores any trauma issues identified during that process, Woelfel says. Youth in residential care can address trauma through daily group meetings, sessions with individual advocates and as part of family sessions with their guardians.
Woelfel says traditional corrections programs are housed in “sterile” environments, while trauma-informed programs try to create a “warm, humane” backdrop. Traditional programs take a “correctional” approach that does not allow youth to feel safe in disclosing their trauma histories. Trauma-informed programs support a caring culture by increasing staff-to-student ratios and intensively training staff, she says.
In Missouri, that means more than 200 hours of training in the first two years for new staff, Woelfel says. “Being trauma-informed is an underlying theme in DYS training,” she says. “DYS treatment beliefs align with trauma-informed principles. Staff are trained in our treatment beliefs from day one and throughout their employment.”
Within three months of being hired, staff members take a course specifically aimed at working with trauma survivors, and within two years, they receive additional, in-depth training on other trauma-specific issues like childhood sexual abuse.
“Staff work in stable teams and are assigned to one group of 10 to 12 youth who they stay with during the course of the youth's stay,” Woelfel says. “This allows for continuity of relationship and increases safety, which allows youth to address past trauma.”
In developing its trauma-informed practices, New York state turned to a national organization called the Sanctuary Network, a community of organizations working to create trauma-informed, safe cultures in mental health and social service settings, Tomassone says.
First, the division of juvenile justice needed to look up from its day-to-day work, he says.
“There had been lots of literature developing in the field that spoke to factors important to look at, when dealing with adolescents,” he says. “Trauma was a theme that kept coming up over and over again. We wanted to incorporate best quality research and practices. We had to take time out. That's a tricky thing.
Things tend to move at 100 miles per hour, but we wanted to pause and take a look at what we were doing, and how to incorporate new information about trauma.”
In partnering with the Sanctuary Network, the New York system wanted not only to serve youth better but also its staff members, Tomassone says. “We wanted a healthier community to deal with trauma with not only our kids but also the folks who work with our kids,” he says. In both cases, a key tenet is that “people are doing the best they can, and with help and support and engagement with other people, they can do better.”
Such a nonjudgmental approach enables staff members to keep in mind the likelihood that a youth who is lashing out, cursing somebody or being physically aggressive is still reacting to past trauma, Tomassone says. “We try to understand it in the context of, if that kid could do better, wouldn't they?” he says. “Our goal is to get them to another place. We don't ignore the context of what they're doing; if you don't start there, it becomes problematic.”
That means not labeling a youth as “an aggressive kid,” for example, Tomassone says. “That puts them in a box,” he says. “It doesn't open the door to changing behavior. You're not going to punish that out of them. You have to account for it in your formulation, and you have to account for it in the interventions you do for a kid.” And when a youth is being resistant, “They need more information. They need to be engaged. They need to understand why what we're asking them to do is important.”
The staff training is ongoing because of the need for changing techniques and changing culture, Tomassone says. ‘It's not just a training you offer for a week or two and then say, ‘OK, go do this,' ” he says. “You have to constantly nurture, monitor and support to make it effective.” With 11 residential facilities statewide, he adds, “The scope is huge.”
The state has just begun to collect measurable results, Tomassone says, having recently developed a quality assurance function to do so. “Six years in the life of an institutional culture is not a long period of time,” he says. “We're still looking at the variables of what we're trying to target — quality outcomes for kids and quality outcomes for staff.”
That culture change is definitely the most challenging aspect of the transition, Tomassone says. “When you approach somebody and talk about expanding their understanding about not only the kids they're working with, and how trauma impacts their behavior, but we're also asking them to change their role — it's a lot to swallow,” he says. “We work at it almost every day, helping people understand. And through that new understanding, we open their eyes up to all sorts of connections and how to build relationships.”
As with any culture change, some staff “gravitate to it like a duck to water, or whatever metaphor you want to throw in there,” while others are more hesitant and need support and coaching, Tomassone says. “It's not always obvious to people. Some people are put together differently, and they're not interested in being more psychologically self-aware,” he says. “But we assume they're doing the best they can and try to help them understand how this would be beneficial to them in their work and their life. They have to see how the improvement of the quality of their work goes up when they're better able to engage kids, and they have more tools.”
North Carolina began a transition to more trauma-informed juvenile justice about three years ago with money from the MacArthur Foundation. This allowed the state to begin training staff in correctional centers on trauma-informed care, using curriculum developed by the NCTSN, says William Lassiter, deputy commissioner for juvenile justice.
The state started moving in this direction after staff and management started noticing that many of the female detainees entered the system having experienced sexual abuse of some form in the past, and facilities started asking male youth similar questions about trauma and ACEs, Lassiter says. A staff member who had worked with NCTSN in the past encouraged the relationship, he says.
“We saw the numbers and the need — so many kids who had been exposed to trauma,” Lassiter says. “We wanted a way of dealing with those kids, and we wanted to move away from a correctional to a therapeutic model. It's been a change in the way we do business. We've gone from facilities with 200-plus kids to 32 kids, focusing on therapeutic interventions. We knew trauma was a big part of why these kids were acting out.”
In addition to psychologists and higher-level professional staff, North Carolina employs “what we call counselor techs,” who typically have associate's or bachelor's degrees, and who help work with trauma-impacted youth, Lassiter says. Staff training on trauma has been infused into the four-week curriculum all participate in at the outset of their employment, he says. “Our staff like the training; it makes sense to them,” he adds.
Every child that enters a state facility receives a Crisis Assessment and Response Plan that identifies their trauma triggers, which the staff uses to better understand them and de-escalate crisis situations, Lassiter says. The accompanying form documenting the plan helps staff to implement their training day to day. “I tell people all the time, I want that form wrinkled and with coffee stains on it,” he says. “I want you to use it all the time. We're getting there, and that form is going to help us.”
Making sure that trauma-informed training gets integrated into daily use is probably the most significant challenge juvenile justice systems face, Lassiter figures. “One of the things we're working on is fidelity, and making sure staff are following through on what they've learned with the triggers,” he says. “We've done really well on getting most people trained. It's just that last step of fidelity and good implementation. When it's in the heat of the moment, do you remember it?”
Staff also look at their own ACEs, Lassiter says. “They have to do it first, identify their triggers and how that informs how they treat the youth today,” he says.
Florida and Kentucky are among states that are just teeing up trauma-informed approaches to juvenile justice, both with the help of psychologist and juvenile justice consultant and trainer Monique Marrow, who has dual affiliations with the Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice at the University of Connecticut and the Center on Trauma and Children at the University of Kentucky.
Florida plans to spend a year piloting its approach in three Department of Juvenile Justice sites and take a very comprehensive approach, with a “combination of training staff, providing a group intervention to youth, and then working toward developing a better, multidisciplinary team to address youth trauma,” Marrow says.
Kentucky, with roughly the same budget as Florida, plans to roll out trauma-informed care to juvenile justice facilities statewide, Marrow says. “They want everything,” she says. “They have not necessarily funded themselves to do everything.”
In both cases, Marrow will start with the 10 ACEs in the original CDC ACE Study and build outward from there “because ACEs does not include experiences that many incarcerated kids have, particularly in urban areas,” she says. “The staff will be looking at selecting appropriate screening measures.”
Marrow also wants to ensure that both states are creating a broad trauma-informed environment, not just reacting to youth experiencing symptoms in the moment. “Every aspect,” she says, “allowing youth the opportunity for voice, for choice, empowering them to be able to speak on their own behalf, involving families.”
And Marrow says staff will be talking about their own ACEs, as well. “The very first activity they do is finding your ACE score,” she says. “They complete the 10 questions. That is part of the training. We talk about the fact that many of the staff called to do this work have their own [trauma] backgrounds. That impacts often positively, but sometimes in a detrimental way, their ability to work with this group. We talk about knowing that and owning that.”
Ohio's Department of Youth Services also has invited Marrow in to help boost trauma-informed training and practice, although she and her concepts are no stranger to that state. She worked there as deputy director of treatment and rehabilitative services from 2005-08, during which time the DYS worked with the state's Department of Mental Health to implement trauma-informed approaches and overall improvements in the quality of care for youth.
During that time, youth in DYS facilities that implemented trauma-informed training experienced a significant decline in restraints, seclusion and threats against staff, along with reductions in measures of post-traumatic stress syndrome like nightmares, avoidance symptoms and levels of hopelessness, depression and anxiety, Marrow says.
“The youth talked about the fact that the unit felt safer and better,” she says. And more experienced staff who had seniority privileges — and who had avoided positions that involved working directly with youth — suddenly started asking to work with them. “That told me that there was something to it,” she says. “They felt they had more tools to use, they could engage in treatment, they were part of the team. Of course, we also had fewer staff injuries.”
These changes, which came out partly in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of advocacy organizations, lapsed for a period of several years, Marrow says, but the state is currently “reinvigorating” its response toward trauma, closing “multiple” facilities and shrinking the number of kids who are locked up from about 1,700 in 2008 to about 500 by last year.
Ohio remains under formalized court monitoring under a federal consent decree first reached in 2008 and amended last year to specifically target dramatic reductions in the use of solitary confinement.
County-level facilities, comprising some or all of the correctional landscape in certain states, have been moving in a trauma-informed direction as well. At the Central Ohio Youth Center in Marysville — Ohio has both state- and county-level facilities — problem behaviors among youth continued to escalate during the 2000s. By 2010, “We were at a crisis state, feeling like we could not manage the youth in our organization,” says Emily Giametta, clinical administrator for the 40-bed facility. “We were not trauma-informed.”
Central Ohio had been using techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy to target thinking errors, she says, but the youth continued to suffer from reactions typical of post-traumatic stress disorder and did not seem to be building resiliency. There was high turnover among staff members who were experiencing vicarious trauma and burnout.
Giametta started researching best practices and came across Marrow, who came to the facility in May 2011 and helped to launch trauma-informed training. She also found research that shows the average youth in the American juvenile justice system had experienced about six traumatic events in their lifetimes, while Marysville's population averaged nine.
“We were hitting above the national average — that was a big concern,” she says. Marrow's training “was to go over the trauma lens, promote health and recovery; we felt like we were building a foundation. … We were shifting to working on relationships and giving our kids coping skills to deal with PTSD reactions.”
The facility began systematically interviewing youth about their past and forming regular group sessions to address trauma starting in 2012. “That has dramatically changed how we do things,” Giametta says. “Our kids are feeling like they have more self-control; they have coping skills if they hit their trauma triggers. We went from a facility that restrains kids to going months and months without a restraint. It's been healthier for kids and staff and made a huge difference from top to bottom, going from a punitive to a relationship-based approach.”
While youth typically have multiple trauma triggers, staff and clinicians at Marysville start down the path of healing by identifying one issue that a youth seems to feel most comfortable processing, Giametta says. “It's less threatening,” she says. “They do one-on-ones with a therapist plus group support. What really starts to be healing is that the kids can support one another, too. That's another layer.”
Staff members walk youth through the theory behind trauma-informed care so they understand better what's happening in their brain and bodies when they have PTSD reactions, Giametta says.
“When they feel upset, they know what they're reacting to,” she says. “We go over hyper-arousal and what that's like. Their body and brain have been on high alert for so long; this allows them to feel like they're in control. We're working on monitoring some of the changes in their mood and feelings.”
New staff members are trained in the basic knowledge about trauma “before they hit the floor” and then take an annual refresher course that addresses any vicarious trauma issues they might have experienced, Giametta says. “That's certainly something that occurs,” she says. “We do have staff who get triggered, as well.”
In Randall County, Texas, administrators, clinicians and staff have tried to balance giving youth in their custody their support while making it clear that they need to rise above a “victim stance,” Eddins says. Many arrive with a multiplicity of issues.
“Some of them have some really sad stories. It's tough for compassionate people,” he says. “We also very much believe in individual responsibility and accountability. We recognize that kids have sad stories, and we want to help them work through their issues. At the same time, we don't want to let them use [ACEs] as an excuse for bad behavior. … You show these kids that you're pulling for them, and at the same time, you're going to hold them accountable.”
The most challenging part of this effort is training staff not to stand in judgment when youth act out, Eddins says. “We all have our biases,” he says. “I don't want them to be robots. I want my staff to be real people. But for folks in this business, you have to believe in intrinsic value; you have to believe that every human being, regardless of what they've done, has some value. Sometimes that's hard.
“For instance, we've seen a propensity in young people offending sexually on young victims. There's a lot of folks who have hang-ups with that,” he adds. “I'm a daddy. I have children in my home. I can imagine how I would react. But we have to take the stance — I tell my folks, ‘If you know you have a hang-up in that area, that's where I want you to pull up your fair-o-meter.' ”
Many of those who have perpetrated such crimes were first victims themselves, Eddins says, at the hands of parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. “That gets a little skewed. Those stories are hard. Our first response is, ‘That shouldn't have happened,' ” he says. “Then, we've got to help this young person deal with this, involve counselors and have places to work through those issues. At the same time, it cannot be an excuse for misbehavior.”
That requires separating what they've done from who they are, which many adults have never successfully managed, Eddins says. “What are your core values and beliefs? What are your motivations?” he says. “We've got young people focusing on concepts that are probably beyond their years but because of the predicament they're in, we must do that.”
Clinicians perform an initial 30-day assessment with testing and psychological evaluation to pin down as much information as possible. Youth are asked to write their autobiographies in an unflinching way, but “not so we can rub their face in it. They need to take a complete look,” Eddins says.
That process brings them face to face with their ACEs and can help build a sense of control over their autobiography in the days ahead, he says. “Just because my dad was abusive doesn't mean I have to be abusive. Because my dad was an alcoholic doesn't mean I have to be. We also have to recognize that we have those influences in our life that we have to battle.”
Through that process, staff members are tasked with holding kids accountable for misbehavior with true consequences, but without making it into a power struggle, Eddins says. “These kids will kick our tails,” he says. “They've shown they're willing to break the law. If the staff does the same thing, it doesn't turn out well. We tell staff, ‘You're going to out-positive these kids.'
“Look for what they do well and emphasize it,” he adds. “Then, the kids start to replace negative reinforcers with positive reinforcers: ‘I'm being recognized for what I'm doing well.' This is not rocket science. It's kind of like 1950s middle-class values — treating people with respect and developing a relationship and helping them work through their struggles and their issues.”
Staff members meet weekly and talk about their own issues, Eddins says. “We have to hold one another in check,” he says. “We asked staff to do the ‘who am I?' piece” that helps them get in touch with their own trauma issues. That's something you're not going to get up there and share because it's going to have some dirt in there. But they've got to walk around in these kids' shoes.”
At the Berrien County (Mich.) Juvenile Center, staff focused on rational behavioral training (RBT) to de-escalate youth behavior until about three years ago. Mary Ann Witkowski, clinical and treatment services manager, says RBT is “all good stuff,” but she wanted to move the program toward a more clinically oriented approach.
At first, Witkowski worked to get families more involved in an integrated treatment approach, offering parenting classes on how to deal with out-of-control behavior. “We got into finding out family history and issues, and lo and behold, many of these kids have tons of trauma in their lives — sexual abuse, substance abuse, violence is huge, the whole gamut of issues,” she says.
That led to educating treatment staff on trauma issues, which was a mixed bag given that many staff had been there for many years and were “old school, brought up in a custodial mindset,” she says. “We tasked ourselves with trying to move out of that custodial mindset and help the staff work with the kids from the kids' perspective. … Some people were like, ‘This information is great — it's a great way to look at it.' Other people said, ‘Everybody has had things go on in their life. You have to suck it up and deal with it.' It's an evolving process.”
To date, Witkowski would not say Berrien County has become completely trauma-focused but she believes the shift in training has moved the culture in that direction. “It's helped the staff become more empathic with what the kid has lived through,” she says. “They try to respond to the kid in an empathic way rather than a directive way. It's not just, ‘Do it because I said so.' We're trying to get the staff to understand that the kid is reacting to them based on previous experience and events.”
Berrien County has emphasized a nonphysical, literally hands-off approach in which staff members attempt to verbally de-escalate youth, Witkowski says.
“When you have a kid who is acting out for whatever reason, keep in mind the other issues around the kid,” she says. Then afterward, youth see their case managers to process the event in addition to the initial de-escalation. “Hopefully, we can circumvent away from a case where the kid has to be physically managed,” she says, adding that isolation is “not an option” in the facility.
Staff members also talk about their own ACEs as part of their training, Witkowski says. “It really depends on the individual staff,” she says. “We really stress with them that it's OK, everybody has to deal with their own stuff. Here, it's even harder if you have a lot of personal baggage because the most severe of the severe are here.”
Boys and men are also survivors of sexual abuse
by Amber Stevenson
A recent televised interview by veteran journalist Barbara Walters of “20/20” did a huge disservice to male victims of sexual abuse.
Throughout the interview with Mary Kay Letourneau and her now-husband, Walters repeatedly referred to the child rape as a “relationship” and an “affair.”
Hardly mentioned was the fact that Letourneau was this child's second-grade teacher. Later, when she began sexually abusing him, she was his sixth-grade teacher.
Instead of taking ownership for the heinous acts she committed, Letourneau dismissed her responsibility by saying that he “flirted with her” and “was in love with her.”
She ultimately pled guilty to two counts of felony second-degree rape of a child.
Media outlets have sensationalized this story, even saying that Letourneau had “celebrity status” while in prison. Unfortunately, this story is not rare, and in recent years we have heard similar stories of women in positions of power and authority exploiting and molesting our young boys.
Researchers now estimate that one in six men have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood.
This equates to more than 19 million of our brothers, fathers, sons, partners and friends who are impacted by this problem.
Even more startling is that these numbers are likely an underestimate of the actual prevalence.
The problem of sexual abuse often contributes to many of adult men's mental health, personal and work difficulties.
Studies show that men who don't address those childhood experiences are at a significantly higher risk for a range of negative consequences, such as symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and depression, alcoholism and substance abuse, pornography addiction, anger issues, problems in intimate relationships and suicidal thoughts and attempts.
There are many myths surrounding unwanted or abusive sexual experiences of boys and men. So what are the facts?
• Girls and women can sexually abuse boys. These boys are not “lucky,” but exploited and harmed.
• If a boy liked the attention he was getting or got sexually aroused during the abuse, this does not mean he wanted or liked being manipulated or abused, or that any part of what happened was his responsibility or fault.
• Boys can be sexually abused by both straight men and gay men. Sexual abuse is the result of abusive behavior that takes advantage of a child's vulnerability and is in no way related to the sexual orientation of the abusive person.
• Whether he is gay, straight or bisexual, a boy's sexual orientation is neither the cause nor the result of sexual abuse. By focusing on the abusive nature of sexual abuse rather than the sexual aspects of the interaction, it becomes easier to understand that sexual abuse has nothing to do with a boy's sexual orientation.
• Boys and men can be sexually abused and it has nothing to do with how masculine they are.
• Most boys who are sexually abused will not go on to sexually abuse others (www.1in6.org).
We want to shatter the myth that males aren't victims. In the last fiscal year, the Sexual Assault Center provided counseling services to 79 males under the age of 18 and 57 males over the age of 18.
We also provided a Male Adult Survivors' support group. We understand the impact that childhood sexual abuse has on boys and men.
For more information, contact the Sexual Assault Center at (615) 259-9055, use the center's 24-hour crisis and support line at (800) 879-1999 or visit its website at www.sacenter.org.
Consider attending a Stewards of Children training, an evidence-informed training for parents and adults that offers practical ways that we can all be empowered to protect the children in our lives and prevent sexual abuse.
Amber Stevenson, LCSW, LADAC, is the clinical supervisor and a therapist at the Sexual Assault Center, based in Nashville.
Horace Mann's History of Sexual Abuse Won't Go Away
by Sean Elder
“Our goal is not to rehash or accuse, but simply to understand how more than twenty abusers operated for decades with little fear of reprisal.”
So begins in calm, just-the-facts language the introduction to Making School Safe, a report released on Wednesday, which was the result of an independent investigation into alleged sexual abuse that occurred at the Horace Mann School in New York City from the 1960s to the 1990s. The details contained within—a gym teacher molesting barely pubescent boys in the weight room, an English teacher raping a female student on the floor of his apartment—are disturbing enough. Equally appalling is the school's well-documented refusal to fully investigate what happened over those years and how it responded to allegations at the time.
My familiarity with the story began after Amos Kamil wrote a June 2012 story for The New York Times Magazine and made international headlines. Kamil asked me to help him write a book with him about the scandal. But as well as I knew most of the stories uncovered in this report—commissioned by the Horace Mann Action Coalition (HMAC), a group of concerned alumni, after the school refused to fund its own—it's especially sickening to read them in this condensed format. For Kamil's story was just the beginning. His reporting on a handful of students who said they were abused at Horace Mann in the past opened the floodgates. Today, HMAC reports over 60 credible charges of sexual abuse at the school.
In the wake of Kamil's article, the Bronx district attorney set up a hotline for other victims; they received 30 calls over next 10 plus months and investigations followed. “The interviews,” the district attorney reported at the time, “reveal a systemic pattern of alleged abuse beyond what was outlined in the original New York Times article. In total, we received direct information regarding at least 12 separate alleged abusers. The reported abuse ranges from what may be characterized as inappropriate behavior to child endangerment, actual instances of sexual contact, sexual intercourse and criminal sexual acts. The earliest instance of abuse that was reported to us occurred in 1962. While the majority of the abuse was said to have occurred in the 1970s, additional instances were reported from the 1980s and 1990s. The last reported occurrence of abuse was in 1996.”
For almost a year, Horace Mann did not comment publicly on the allegations presented by Kamil, except to offer a vague apology for what happened in the past. On Tuesday, however, it released a statement to The Wall Street Journal saying: “While the school has significantly revised its practices and procedures regarding child abuse prevention and reporting to make them state-of-the-art, we will review the report to determine whether it contains any suggestions that would further strengthen child safety.”
In the statement, Horace Mann added: “The school cooperated fully with reviews by the Bronx district attorney and the New York City police department, and engaged in an extensive mediation and settlement process during which over 30 survivors told their stories of abuse at Horace Mann from the 1960s to the 1990s. We encourage anyone with additional information to reach out to the appropriate authorities.”
That Horace Mann failed to investigate itself is perhaps not surprising—if you're a lawyer or a flack. Silence is often deemed the best way to protect the brand. Horace Mann is considered one of the best prep schools on the East Coast and its powerful alumni include politicians (Eliot Spitzer), famous authors (Robert Caro) and publishing tycoons (Si Newhouse).
The school insisted it did not respond to reporters on the advice of counsel and because of privacy concerns. But Horace Mann's failure to fully engage with the victims, most of whom are now in their 50s and older, and deal with the growing controversy has had more serious consequences. Nine of 35 trustees have resigned, individual donations have dropped and the school has become shorthand for an institution blind to its own failings. When a teacher at the elite Virginia Potomac School was accused of serial sexual abuse in November 2013, a headline on The Daily Beast read “Horace Mann on the Potomac.”
Because Horace Mann wouldn't investigate the claims of the students, HMAC crowdsourced the funds and hired Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan to spearhead its effort. In the course of conducting the investigation, Snyder and her cohorts interviewed victims, alumni and former faculty. Among them: An upper schoolteacher who calls himself “Al,” who worked at the school from 2007 to 2012. “People knew something of what went on,” he told investigators. “It came up around the [faculty] lunch table. Why this never resulted in more responsible oversight at Horace Mann is certainly a question.”
It certainly is. Most of the accused, predators and protectors alike, are dead now, and most of those who aren't have had almost nothing to say. And thanks to New York State's strict statute of limitations, which says victims of childhood sexual abuse must come forward by the time they're 23, they don't have to. But to read the compendium of stories gathered here, and in our book, and not see a pattern of abuse and neglect constitutes denial of Joe Paterno proportions. If the stories start to sound the same, as skeptics of child sexual abuse sometimes say, it's because the abuse, from the grooming to the act itself, is so often identical.
Not that the teachers necessarily saw it that way. Tek Young Lin, a former Horace Mann English teacher and one of the few of those accused who went on record after Kamil's story broke, told The New York Times , “In those days, it was very spontaneous and casual, and it did not seem really wrong… everything I did was in warmth and affection and not a power play.” (Head of School Tom Kelly later condemned Lin's remarks in a letter to alumni, faculty, trustees, employees and families of students.)
Lin's explanation is simple if you're the one with the power. For the minor who often fancies him or herself a free agent, with the decision-making abilities of an adult, it's another matter. “Jessica,” a girl who alleged being raped by a former English teacher named in an article in The Daily Beast and whose story was included in the report, said the teacher put his arm around her shoulder when she was still in middle school. “Would you like me to be your boyfriend?” he asked her. “Jessica” said she remembered thinking, “Wow, someone thinks I'm special." Later, after their relationship became sexual, she went to the school's guidance counselor, Bill Clinton, to complain; Clinton, who has no relation to the former President, gave her a copy of Lolita .
In March 2013, HMAC announced in The New York Daily News that it had credible reports of 64 students abused by 22 staff members at Horace Mann from the 1960s to the 1990s. Some of those victims dealt with their issues through therapy and group support. Some suffered long periods of drug addiction and alcoholism. Several took their own lives, and at least one, Ben Balter, did so after reporting his abuse at the hands of Horace Mann's late music teacher, Johannes Somary, to the school. (Balter's mother, Dr. Kathleen Howard, a science teacher at Horace Mann, received a negotiated settlement from the school on her son's behalf, though I bet she'd rather have her son back.)
The Swiss-born Somary, an internationally respected musician and conductor, haunts this report as does the school's reaction to accusations when they occurred. An administrator identified only as “Pat” spoke to Clinton about the music teacher and glee club leader when another student complained. Clinton (since deceased) poured him a drink and told him he could go to then-headmaster R. Inslee Clark and repeat what he'd heard. But he “warned that ‘the tree is rotten, so the leaves don't matter' or words like that,” the administrator said, according to the report. “Pat” did report Somary to Clark who said, “These things happen,” and said he'd take care of it. But he didn't.
After the Balter letter, Somary was finally told he could not travel with students without a chaperone. When in the course of reporting his article, Kamil confronted a different former headmaster, Phil Foote, and asked him why more was not done about a man with numerous allegations brought against him, he was told: “It was a time with different values and different systems. You didn't have the access you do now. It was hubris. [Horace Mann] was sure it was above everybody else. Nobody wanted anything to change.”
Some things have changed. “In September 2012, Horace Mann adopted a new policy on reporting child abuse of students by school employees,” the report says. “While the new policy included a statement that allegations of sexual abuse would be reported to authorities, Horace Mann would do so only if the allegations appeared to be ‘substantiated and to constitute criminal behavior. In April 2013, ‘after some discussions' with the Bronx DA's office, Horace Mann's policy was re-written to include ‘immediate notification to law enforcement.'”
The school was much more straightforward in its immediate response to the scandal. An English teacher identified as “Al” said in an email to Snyder that “the faculty was notified ‘well in advance' that Kamil's article was coming and were told to keep quiet. ‘From the very first, the very intentional tack of the school with regard to the recent disclosures has been to suppress information. ‘You can say what you like if a reporter calls,' [headmaster Tom] Kelly said at a faculty meeting. ‘But the school can respond as it likes [i.e. with adverse employment action] if you do.'”
“Al” has since left the school.
Most child abuse goes unpunished, experts say
Only a fraction of cases reported to police
by James Whittaker
The vast majority of sex offenders in the Cayman Islands are getting away with their crimes, according to statistics from police investigators and trauma counselors.
Despite recent survey results suggesting one in five young girls have suffered sexual abuse by an adult, the police Family Support Unit, the main investigative body for child abuse, has had just 41 cases referred since January 2014.
Statistics on the number of convictions were not available, but counselors believe only a very small percentage of abuse cases are prosecuted.
Detective Inspector Lauriston Burton of the Family Support Unit said many victims were fearful of going through the investigative process and of their identities being disclosed.
He said the Pan American Health Organization report suggesting some 19 percent of teenage girls had been sexually abused was “alarming.”
“We don't believe we are getting all the reports we could be getting,” he said.
He said most referrals come to the unit, though some cases are investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department.
Dr. Taylor Burrowes Nixon, a trauma counselor and the deputy chair of Cayman's Mental Health Commission, said most sexual abuse cases are currently going unpunished.
She said the investigative process is often very slow and the police are sometimes reluctant to prosecute, even when counselors believe there is sufficient evidence.
More frequently, she said, children are reluctant to go through the investigative process or are talked out of it by family members.
She said, “We must respond to wrongdoing swiftly and unequivocally in support and protection of the wounded, and also ensure that offenders, and those complicit, are held legally responsible and provided with behavioral intervention with sentencing.
“Without a reasonable and timely response on both sides of the spectrum, we will continue to protect offenders and shame victims into silence. They can't speak up comfortably if they know they are the ones punished.”
Dr. Sophia Chandler, a psychologist who works with victims of sexual abuse at the Cayman Islands Hospital, said many cases go completely unreported to adults and only emerge in anonymous surveys like the PAHO report.
For those who do speak up, many don't want to pursue a criminal investigation, and even when they do, it is a long and rocky road to secure a conviction and many do not stay the course.
“The vast majority of sexual abuse is within families or the close friendship circle. For the child, reporting it means totally disrupting what has been the norm in the family,” she said.
“A lot of children do a cost/benefit analysis and decide they may not be believed. There really is a disconnect between the amount of abuse happening and what breaks through to the courts.”
She said in many cases, parents or guardians are complicit in the sexual abuse, or are unwilling to support their child in making a report.
In numerous cases, she said, mothers are financially or emotionally dependent on the abuser – a boyfriend or stepfather – and choose to believe them, rather than their daughter.
“For some women, it attacks their ego. They think, ‘I couldn't tell this guy was a creep; he was more interested in my teen daughter than in me.' It is easier to say she is a liar, than I am a fool. It happens more often than you would like to think. Sad to say, that is the reality,” she said.
Dr. Burrowes Nixon, who also runs a monthly support group of the survivors of sexual abuse, said complicity of family members is common.
“For many victims, their neighbors and their families knew what was happening and nobody stopped it,” she said.
Dr. Chandler sees around 40 to 50 patients a year suffering from the consequences of sexual abuse. Dr. Burrowes Nixon estimates she has seen around 60 patients who suffered sexual abuse as children over the past six years.
The work of both counselors is funded by the Hedge Funds Care charity, which is also funding a new outreach program through the Red Cross called “It's not your fault” to reach high school students.
Carolina Ferreira, deputy director of the Red Cross, said its role is education and outreach.
The organization offers “darkness to light” training – a program that helps adults identify and intervene in child abuse cases.
It has also produced a documentary on DVD highlighting the prevalence of sexual abuse in Cayman and is running a “Protection Starts Here” campaign to raise awareness of the role parents and the community can play in preventing abuse.
Ms. Ferreira said the Red Cross would also like to see mandatory minimum standards for all youth organizations, including sports clubs and summer camps, requiring background checks on coaches and other youth workers.
She said the topic needs much broader attention than it is getting.
“The first thing is to acknowledge we have a problem, and not just because it is the topic of the week. This is a generational problem, entrenched in our history, in our culture, and being brought in from outside as well.”
Temporary care program aims to curb child abuse
by Amy Flowers Umble
A teen who hid her pregnancy until labor started. A high school student who was giving birth while her mother was dying. A battered woman who worried her husband would also abuse her newborn.
Each new mother faced a crisis. And each sought help through an infant-care program run by Children's Home Society of Virginia. The program allows parents to temporarily surrender their children to the agency for up to 89 days.
“When children enter the foster-care system, parents think they lose all control and can't get the child back,” said Laura Ash–Brackley, director of social work for Children's Home Society. “This is a voluntary service to provide a woman some options for her to make a plan with help from us.”
The program is geared toward parents of newborns but could accommodate children up to age 2 if the family is in crisis, agency director Nadine Marsh–Carter said.
After the parent gives up custody temporarily, the baby stays with trained foster parents while the agency works with the birth family, providing counseling and resources. Sometimes a mother needs to get connected with a domestic violence agency or a group that can help with unexpected medical needs. Sometimes the mother decides to put the baby up for adoption.
Last year, nine babies entered the temporary custody program, Marsh–Carter said. At any given time, there is usually at least one child in a temporary placement. Most come from the agency's Richmond headquarters, but the Fredericksburg office is recruiting temporary foster parents for local babies.
“You hear all the tragic stories of babies who were hurt or didn't have outcomes just because their parents were in a horrible place. This is a way to provide those resources,” Marsh–Carter said. “This is totally preventive, the whole goal is to prevent a crisis from happening.”
Nearly half of all American children who die from abuse or neglect do so in their first year of life, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In fiscal year 2013, about three-quarters of Virginia children who died from abuse or neglect were under the age of 4, according to the Virginia Department of Social Services.
No research exists to prove that efforts like the temporary infant-care program reduce child abuse or fatalities, but the idea makes sense, said Deborah Daro, a senior research fellow with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
“Sometimes young mothers when faced with an actual baby, they panic. They don't know what to do, so an option that would keep that baby safe and give them time to think about it … seems like a great idea,” Daro said.
She cited research out of Duke University showing that 93 percent of new mothers participating in a home visiting program needed some sort of resources, regardless of their socioeconomic status or education level.
“Even very middle-class parents have questions about how to take care of their children,” Daro said.
State safe haven laws were created in the 1980s to prevent women from abandoning their infants, Daro said. But those laws don't address the fact that many parents want to keep their babies, but need some resources to become good parents.
The temporary infant-care program bridges that gap, Ash–Brackley said, by giving new parents some breathing room to find resources and to make a decision about adoption without a pressing time commitment.
“We're just trying to provide the resources so a mother can make the best decision for the child,” she said.
Children's Home Society of Virginia is recruiting Fredericksburg-area foster parents to provide temporary care for infants. One parent must be at home to care for the baby, and homes must be nonsmoking. For details, call 540/226-0583 or go online to chsva.org.
Child sex abuse live streams loophole to be closed
The UK's government aims to tackle the spread of child sexual abuse imagery online by closing a legal loophole.
It has proposed that live video streams of abuse should be punished in the same way that recorded clips already are.
It would mean that people who broadcast such footage would face up to 14 years in jail.
In the past, offenders have sometimes been given lighter sentences if the authorities could not prove a recording was made.
The plan was announced as part of the Queen's Speech, in which the the government set out its legislative programme for the year ahead.
The change is relevant to a loophole in England and Wales' legal system, but not Northern Ireland or Scotland's.
The live streaming of child sexual abuse over the internet is a growing problem, according to a report published by the EU's law enforcement agency Europol last year.
"The popularisation of webcams and chat platforms that enable the streaming of live images and video has led to their exploitation by child sexual abusers," it said.
"Some applications allow users to upgrade their accounts by paying a fee, guaranteeing access to extended features such as broadcasts protected by passwords and extra layers of anonymity.
"It is a crime that is hard to detect and investigate since the offenders do not usually store a copy of the streamed material."
The report noted that much of the activity involved children filmed in deprived economies, typically Eastern Asia.
However, there have been prosecutions involving cases in the UK.
In 2013, a teacher working in Birmingham and two accomplices were arrested after broadcasting live footage of sexual abuse involving a 15-year-old girl.
The teacher, William Hanna, was subsequently sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted of three charges of sexual activity with a child and ordered to sign the sex offenders' register for life.
Because there was no evidence that footage of the abuse had been recorded, he could not be prosecuted for a related offence of causing or inciting the sexual exploitation of a child, as defined by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
The change to the law would give the Crown Prosecution Service the ability to seek such a conviction for other live video stream creators in the future.
The government also set out plans to introduce sanctions for professionals who fail to try to stop child abuse where it is their duty to act, as part of a new Policing and Criminal Justice Bill.
Child Sexual Abuse: How Foundations and the Paternos are Funding Prevention
by Kiersten Marek
Well, here we are again. Another child sexual abuse scandal rocks the nation. Josh Duggar, star of 19 and Counting , sexually abused multiple girls as a teenager. His behavior was reported to the police (his police records are now conveniently destroyed) and the whole thing was kept under wraps in the proud state of Arkansas as the family went on to film a "reality show" touting their ultra-squeaky-clean Christian living.
Key takeaway for youth funders: Invest more in sexual abuse prevention here, there, and everywhere. There are still way too many people involved in ignoring, minimizing, and/or covering up these crimes.
Before Josh Duggar, another recent case prompted national discussion and awareness about child sexual abuse—the trial and conviction of Jerry Sandusky. And that one seems to have spurred an increase in funding that is worth looking at.
But first, a quick review of the backstory: Joe Paterno was head coach for football at Penn State when assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was committing his crimes against children. Shortly after Sandusky's arrest in 2011, Paterno wrote in his journal that he hoped something good could come of it all, implying that he hoped the "silver lining" of the crisis would be increased awareness and prevention of child sexual abuse.
His widow, Sue Paterno, seems to have taken this as a personal call to action. Since 2012, she and other members of the Paterno family, have been working with Stop It Now! to develop Circles of Safety for Higher Education, a program to combat child sexual victimization. With $230,000 in funding from the Paternos, Stop it Now! worked with nearly 150 college staff members from across Pennsylvania's 14 state university systems, training them in child sexual abuse prevention. These 150 then went on to train another 2,000 staff, creating what the university hopes is a safer environment across the system, where children under 18 are less likely to be abused.
The goal of this two-year training effort was to help college staff members recognize the warning signs of sexual abuse of children, and be more aware of what to do in situations that cross boundaries into inappropriate or illegal contact. “If my father had had the training we're now doing, he'd have known what he was dealing with,” Joe Paterno's son, Scott Paterno, recently said. Stop it Now! and the Paterno family would like to see this training brought to college campuses across the country.
The Paternos are coming along at a good time with their mandate to heighten awareness and battle child sexual abuse. In choosing to work with Stop it Now!, the family is adding to the growing momentum of an organization that has been a front runner in pushing education and awareness about child sexual abuse both nationally and internationally.
Stop it Now! has been around since 1992 and was founded by Fran Henry, a child sexual abuse survivor. At that time, very few child sexual abuse prevention programs existed. Since then, Stop it Now! has made great strides in identifying, refining and sharing effective ways to prevent child sexual abuse before children are harmed.
Where has Stop it Now! gotten its funding in the past? One foundation that has been particularly supportive of Stop it Now! is the Oak Foundation. Founded in 1983, the Oak Foundation is international, with 64 employees in offices in Belize, Bulgaria, India, the U.K., Switzerland, and the U.S. (To apply for funding with the Oak Foundation, you need to first review the Child Abuse program, and send a letter of inquiry.)
The Oak Foundation began funding Stop It Now! in 2008 with an initial grant of $174,460 for "collaborating to strengthen child sexual abuse prevention efforts in low- and middle-income countries." Also in 2008, the Oak Foundation provided a second grant for $349,792, for Stop it Now! to take its knowledge and policy experience on child sexual abuse in the U.S. and bring it to a global audience, establishing an active policy presence internationally on the issue.
In 2010, a larger grant from the foundation to Stop it Now! took aim at both national and global agendas. With $373,573 over 24 months, the goal of this grant was to "improve the Child Sexual Abuse prevention capacity (e.g. knowledge, prevention tools, strategies, professional connections) of family and child- serving professionals in selected low and middle income countries, and at local and state levels in the US."
In 2013, Stop It Now! received $500,000 from the Oak Foundation "to provide core support to build organisational capacity." In other words, time to take this program to scale and get this vital information disseminated nationally and globally.
The Oak Foundation has clearly put child abuse high on its funding agenda, which is great. We need more foundations willing to take on this issue. Currently, much of the funding for child sexual abuse prevention comes from state or regional community foundations such as Meyer Memorial Trust in Oregon, the California Endowment, and the New York Community Trust.
Alongside these community foundations, a handful of nationally focused private foundations also cover this ground. One private foundation that has put serious money toward this issue is the NoVo Foundation, which gave a total of $5 million between 2009 and 2012 to the Ms. Foundation for Women to support a project called Child Sexual Abuse: A Social Justice Prevention Model.
Another past funder in this area is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which gave $500,000 in 2011 to the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center to "support the Network of Treatment Providers Collaborative Project in expanding mental health treatment for victims of child sexual abuse." On a smaller scale, the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center also received $50,000 from the VNA Foundation in 2014 for the purpose of addressing "the critical need for victims of child sexual abuse and their families to access mental health services in a timely manner."
The Paternos provide a good example of how to pick up the pieces after a disaster and make something valuable to the community that prevents the problem they were involved in. We can only hope the Duggars will have a similar sense of responsibility, after misrepresenting and hiding their son's problems with child sexual abuse for over a decade.
Child advocates eye new center in Mason City for child abuse victims
by Kathy A. Bolten
Nearly 1,400 cases of child abuse were recorded in 2013 in north-central Iowa, an area of the state that lacks nearby child protection services, child advocates and local law enforcement say.
That's why the Iowa Chapter of Children's Advocacy Centers is working to raise money to open a child advocacy center in Mason City.
"Children are not getting access to a center because of the distance of the drive — more than an hour or more in some instances," said Nancy Wells, executive director of the Iowa advocacy centers chapter, which is member of the National Children's Alliance based in Washington, D.C.
Without child protection services nearby, many children don't receive help after they have been in an abusive situation, said Wells, who with other child advocates are trying to win $25,000 from the online State Farm Neighborhood Assist program. Money from the program would go toward opening a center in Mason City.
Iowa's five current Child Advocacy Centers are located in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Muscatine and Sioux City.
The centers annually serve more than 3,000 children who have been physically, sexually or mentally abused. They provide a team of people specifically trained to investigate child abuse claims; conduct forensic interviews; provide medical and mental health services; and be advocates for the child.
The state appropriates about $1.3 million annually to operate the five centers. Funding from other sources is also obtained annually for the centers, Wells said.
Advocacy center staff receive specialized training to question child abuse victims about what happened to them and to provide treatment that will help them heal physically and emotionally, Wells said.
For children who have been abused, going to a center typically means only have to describe once what happened to them. Children who aren't treated at a center usually retell incidents related to their abuse numerous times, which can be traumatic, child advocates said.
"This is a tough story to tell," said Mary Ingham, executive director of Crisis Intervention Service in Mason City. The child is "telling the story, again and again to strangers."
And, as with most people, when a story is retold numerous times, details change.
"The child is not seen as credible because the story has changed," Ingham said.
Mason City police investigator Jason Hugi said officers in his department don't do forensic interviews of children who have been abused. Many are referred to the Child Advocacy Center in Waterloo, he said.
"Those are the people specialized in those techniques," he said. Center workers "can get the county attorney the information needed for a prosecution."
A center based in Mason City would also make it easier for families to get services for their child, Hugi said. Oftentimes, parents either can't afford to take time from work to take their child to a center more than an hour away or don't have access to transportation.
"A lot of families say they don't have the resources available," Ingham said. "We hear after the fact about families who say 'The police told me to go by I couldn't go.'
"We forget as professionals that some people don't have access to cars or gas money, or work in jobs where their employers won't let them take time off."
Reduced travel time increases the likelihood that families will seek out the services of a Child Advocacy Center, advocates said.
Currently, families in north-central Iowa must travel to Waterloo, Sioux City or Des Moines to receive services for their child.
In the 14-county area west of Mason City, one in 50 children have experienced some form of child abuse, according to Iowa Department of Human Services data.
In 2013, four north-central counties — Wright, Floyd, Franklin and Cerro Gordo — were among the top 20 Iowa counties with the highest rates of child abuse cases.
And for families in those counties, services are more than an hour away, Wells said.
"We're an idea model for helping children," Wells said. "We want to get our services to where there are high numbers of child abuse cases."
Ingham said a center in Mason City would also shine a light on the issue of child abuse.
"We want to let people know that they're not alone — that there's help and support available," she said. "We want them to know that (child abuse) is not something that is so bizarre and unique that they have to travel hours away to get services."
Catholic celibacy does not drive child abuse, royal commission hears
Psychiatrist Carolyn Quadrio says men attracted exclusively to children would feel more comfortable in the priesthood and not be affected by the rule
by The Australian Associated Press
A Catholic church rule requiring clergy to remain celibate is not driving child abuse, an expert has told a royal commission.
Carolyn Quadrio, an associate professor at the University of NSW, said that while abuse occurred in every faith group, it seemed to be more marked in Catholic institutions.
The issue of celibacy is important but not the main cause, she said. “I don't think the celibacy drives child abuse,” she told the child abuse royal commission hearing into Catholic institutions in Ballarat on Monday.
Quadrio said men who already had an orientation to be attracted exclusively to children as sex objects would feel more comfortable in the priesthood.
“The celibacy vow is not going to bother you if you're not interested in having sex with other adults, so obviously that will be a more comfortable environment,” she said. “They have access, they have authority and they have the cover of a very respected profession.”
She said about 30% of girls and 20% of boys in institutional care were abused.
It is the first time the commission has heard evidence from a psychiatrist with particular expertise in the consequences of sexual abuse, including by clergy.
Quadrio said young children would have seen a priest or member of the clergy as someone close to God.
“And so the sense of betrayal is particularly shattering because it's kind of like not just one bad person, but it feels like, well, maybe God's bad,” she told the commission. “The loss of faith and shattering of the belief is really very damaging to a child.”
She said the child's family or their entire community could be strongly affiliated with the particular religion. “That means that when children make disclosures they very often get a bad reception and are told they're lying, it can't be true.
“The negative response from family and community can really compound the damage enormously,” she said.
Woman charged with murder, child abuse blames 9-year-old son for toddler's death
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A 36-year-old mother is facing second-degree murder charges, along with four counts of child abuse, after her youngest child was found dead.
Family members say they started to realize something was wrong when they couldn't get in touch with 36-year-old Marie Chishahayo.
Court documents say Chishahayo's brother had tried to call her, but she didn't answer.
When he stopped by her apartment with his children, she refused to answer the door.
Finally, he told police he went back to Chishahayo's apartment again and was let inside by her 9-year-old son.
When he tried to go upstairs, Chishahayo stood in his way, saying her children were sleeping upstairs.
According to court documents obtained by KCTV, there were broken dishes and furniture scattered around the apartment.
KCTV reports that he found Chishahayo's 3-year-old daughter hiding under a blanket.
As he moved the blanket, the girl reportedly said, “Mommy, you're hurting me, stop it.”
After he lifted the blanket, he discovered the body of his 2-year-old niece.
The mother, according to court records, initially told police that she had not hit the children.
Instead, she told authorities that she allowed her 9-year-old son to punish them.
She told officers that he heated a knife and burned one of the children all over her body.
According to WDAF, Chishahayo told police that she allowed him to do so “because God had told him to.”
She also told officers that she saw her 9-year-old son pick up his younger sister and throw her against the wall several times.
Authorities say there was evidence of a fire in the apartment, which may have played a role in the girl's death.
At this time, they still are not sure how long the 2-year-old was dead before she was found.
The 3-year-old little girl is still in the hospital for treatment.
“She can answer all kinds of questions but when you ask her what happened and who did this, she won't say anything. I think she's scared,” said Danny Stephen, Chishahayo's brother-in-law.
“I never smelled fires, heard them fighting, nothing. Who would do something like that? Who would let their 9-year-old torture the kids like that?” said Verbana Fisher, the woman's next door neighbor.
UN officials didn't follow up on sex abuse claims for months
by Cara Anna
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — For months, the U.N.'s top human rights officials knew about allegations of child sexual abuse by French soldiers in Central African Republic, collected by their own staff. But they didn't follow up because they assumed French authorities were handling it, statements marked "strictly confidential" show, even as France pressed the U.N. for more information about the case.
In a signed statement obtained by The Associated Press, the deputy high commissioner for human rights also says that her colleague who first informed French authorities last July did it because he didn't think the recently created U.N. peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic would act on the allegations.
A year after the U.N. first heard allegations from children as young as 9 that French soldiers had sexually abused them, sometimes in exchange for food, it seems that the only person who has been punished is the U.N. staffer who told French authorities.
The deputy high commissioner, Flavia Pansieri, says she was distracted from the case by other issues, including budget cuts, from last fall until early March, when her boss, the high commissioner, brought up the case.
"I regret to say that in the context of those very hectic days, I failed to follow up on the CAR situation," Pansieri says in the statement dated March 26. She adds that "both the HC and I knew that on CAR there was an ongoing process initiated by the French authorities to bring perpetrators to justice. I take full responsibility for not having given the matter the necessary attention."
The Paris prosecutor's office this month, however, blamed the U.N. "hierarchy" for taking more than six months to supply answers to its questions. The office wanted to speak with a U.N. human rights staffer who had interviewed some of the children, saying she was willing to talk.
The U.N. finally handed over written answers on April 29, the Paris prosecutor's office said — the same day that the Guardian newspaper first made the French and U.N. inquiries public.
French soldiers had been tasked with protecting civilians in Central African Republic from vicious violence between Christians and Muslims. Thousands of scared people had crammed into a camp for displaced people in the capital, Bangui. Residents have told the AP that soldiers offered cookies, other food or bottles of water in exchange for sodomy or oral sex.
It is still not clear where the accused soldiers are now. France has not announced any arrests.
When the allegations were first publicly reported, part of the uproar was over the suspension of the Geneva-based U.N. human rights staffer who first informed French authorities, Anders Kompass. The U.N. says he breached protocol in sharing the report without redacting the names in it. The U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight Services is investigating. He could be fired.
A spokesman for the U.N. human rights office, Andre-Michel Essoungou, said Monday that the office would not comment on Pansieri's signed statement, noting the ongoing investigation of Kompass.
While France, like any country, has the responsibility to investigate its own troops, the U.N. human rights office has the responsibility to follow up on alleged abuses and offer its help.
French troops arrived in Central African Republic in late 2013 and had a U.N. mandate to assist an African Union peacekeeping operation that was later taken over by a U.N. mission last September. France's defense ministry has said children told U.N. officials of sexual abuse by French soldiers between December 2013 and June 2014. France says it was informed of the allegations in July.
At that time, the abuse was thought to be still going on.
When the U.N. peacekeeping mission was created in April 2014, it included human rights staffers with a mandate "to monitor, help investigate and report publicly" on abuses. That included, specifically, abuses against children.
One of the human rights staffers took stories of alleged sexual abuse from children in May and June. Such staffers report to both the U.N. human rights office and the head of the peacekeeping mission. It is not clear which peacekeeping officials were informed of the allegations. A peacekeeping spokesman did not comment Monday.
The U.N. human rights office has no specific guidelines on reporting child sexual abuse, including any requirement for immediate, mandatory reporting.
"No one in the chain of command took action, in other words, until Kompass did," said Beatrice Edwards, the executive director of the Washington-based Government Accountability Project. "They were documenting, monitoring and reporting, despite the fact that the abuse was heinous, immediate and ongoing."
After France received the sexual abuse allegations in July, its authorities opened a preliminary investigation, and investigators went to Central African Republic in August.
Pansieri's statement says she first heard about the allegations weeks later, in "most probably September," when a senior legal adviser told her about the French authorities' request for more information.
At the same time, she was told that Kompass, the office's director of field operations, had notified French authorities. She asked him why.
"He felt that no action on it was being taken by the mission in Bangui, nor that there was any intention to do so in the future," her statement says, adding that he said "the names in the report were fake ones and that there was no risk therefore for witnesses."
Kompass has not spoken publicly because his case is still under investigation.
As for how to respond to France's request for additional information, Paniseri said she and legal staff decided to give the French a redacted copy of the same report that Kompass had already given them.
The report was handed over on March 30, a U.N. spokesman said this month.
"In the intervening months I have not focused on this matter (which, I repeat, I understood being under investigation by the French authorities)," Pansieri's statement says.
The high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, took up his post Sept. 1. His confidential statement obtained by the AP says his senior legal adviser last fall told him about the report and its allegations being "leaked" to the French. "All of this — aside from the deeply disturbing allegations of sexual abuse — was alarming," his statement, dated March 29, says.
This month, he told reporters he had known there was an investigation but didn't know the details until much later.
Zeid's statement also says he more than once mistakenly thought the allegations were about French troops in Mali, having confused the acronyms for the peacekeeping missions in Central African Republic and Mali, MINUSCA and MINUSMA.
In early March, the issue came to Zeid's attention again. It's not clear why.
On March 12, Pansieri's statement says, she gave Kompass, a Swedish citizen, "the request of the HC that he submit his resignation." Kompass protested. Zeid's statement says Sweden's ambassador indicated to Pansieri that firing Kompass "may affect Swedish funding to the office." Kompass was suspended.
The U.N. Dispute Tribunal early this month rejected the suspension, saying that not doing so would irreparably harm Kompass' reputation.
Zeid, who a decade ago wrote a landmark U.N. report on preventing sexual exploitation by peacekeepers, this month asked why France hadn't moved more quickly to pursue the allegations, asking how no one knew before the U.N. did.
He also noted the U.N.'s delayed response to the Central African Republic case. "In the way it was eventually handled," Zeid said, "we could have done better at the time."
‘Hollow' apologies over child sex abuse
by Cormac O'Keefe
Apologies by governments for historical child sexual abuse “ring hollow” when children continue to be abused by the system, a leading charity has said.
Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI), which provides therapeutic services to sexually abused children, said that the lack of services nationally was harming “a new generation of forgotten children” to whom an apology will need to be given one day.
CARI said if these children are left unsupported, many struggle to cope and that children as young as eight experience thoughts of suicide and self-harm.
CARI therapy supervisor Monica Murphy said the lack of services for such children was “a shocking scandal”. CARI runs a therapeutic service in Dublin and Limerick, while statutory services are only available in Dublin.
Speaking at the launch of CARI annual report for 2013 and 2014, she said: “There are huge gaps in the provision of services. Where you live in Ireland may decide whether a service is available or not. Therapeutic services are urgently needed at a regional and national level.”
She said CARI had been trying to bridge this gap, but has had to shut services in Cork, Naas, and Wicklow due to funding cuts. The reduction of funding has also resulted in the number of therapists it has being cut by a third. This has had the effect of a 29% cut in therapy hours available to children and their families.
“It feels like we are swimming against the tide for funding,” said Ms Murphy.
“National apologies for past practices ring hollow when children continue to be abused by an inadequate system. The sad irony is that the lack of services and practice is harming a new generation of forgotten children to whom a national apology will one day be owed.”
CARI chief executive Mary Flaherty said the charity has suffered “impossibly difficult budgetary pressures” since 2009. She said it was unacceptable that there were waiting lists at their Dublin and Limerick centres and that children can be waiting up to a year to be seen.
The report said that given an appropriate therapeutic space these children “can go on to lead a fulfilling life”.
Addressing the launch, Children's Minister Dr James Reilly said he would “like to see more investment” in the area. He told the media afterwards that the lack of services nationally was “something this Government needs to look at — no doubt about that”.
The report, which said 3,000 children report sexual abuse every year, comes just days after the sixth anniversary of the damning Ryan report — the commission into child abuse at religious institutions. The CARI report said a new Child Advocates service in Galway — where a staff member supports children attending the sexual assault and treatment unit — was the first of its kind. Figures showed that 58% of children using the service were pre-schoolers. The most common age was four years old, with the youngest child being an infant of eight months.
Helpline: 1890 92 45 67; email@example.com; www.cari.ie
Can emojis help prevent child abuse?
by Tanvier Peart
No one ever wants to think about their child being hurt in any way. If, however, the unfortunate occurs, there's an app to help where words can't.
"A complex reality demands a complex set of symbols."
What would you do if your child was being physically or emotionally abused? Could you pick up on warning signs that indicate they're having a bad day — or experiencing emotional pain that leads to thoughts of hurting themselves?
Unfortunately the answer is no.
No matter how hard we try as parents, there's never a foolproof way or perfect system to protect our kids. There is, however, an app that hopefully will make coming forward a whole lot easier.
BRIS, a Swedish nonprofit organization, has created a new phone app called Abused Emojis that might sound a little weird but has the potential to un-silence your child's voice. Currently available on iTunes, the app features a series of emojis or digital images that each express a different emotion. Examples include children with cuts and bruises, being in the presence of a parent who drinks, thoughts of worthlessness, suicide contemplation and much more.
I'll be the first to admit that hearing about such an app made me very sad. Who wants to ever think about their child being hurt, let alone receive a text message with one of these gruseome images?
As a new mom myself, I'm already thinking about "what if" scenarios that make it difficult for me to trust just anyone to watch my child. Call it paranoia or being the daughter of a retired police officer — I always try my best to shield my little one from harm.
When I was 5, I was physically abused by a day care provider. Even though I knew something was wrong, it took me some time to tell my parents. I didn't always have or know the words to say. Fortunately I was able to speak up for myself, though I know many who experience pain at the hands of others often don't.
Today's child is growing up in a modern society where it's more common to text than to hold a conversation or, God forbid, pick up a pen to write something. Communication is quick and to the point, as rarely anyone wants to spend time going into details, let alone their feelings.
Yes, the truth hurts, but knowing just might help to save a life. If this app empowers children and teens to come forward about their emotions, I say, why not? Even if it's not the solution, it can be a springboard.
More than 18,000 Ohio children reported missing last year
by MARC KOVAC
COLUMBUS -- More than 18,000 Ohio children were reported missing last year, according to a report released Friday by the attorney general's office.
Most of those were found quickly, but 600-plus remain in a database maintained by the state to spotlight youngsters who have been kidnapped, who have run away or who have otherwise not returned to their homes.
Some of those children have been on the list for years.
"The good news is the vast, vast majority of these kids, they come back," said Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine. "They took off by themselves or they went with someone else, the parent didn't know about it, there's some misunderstanding. But you also have kids who are 15, 16, and they just run away from home. ... The bad news is, when a child leaves at a young age, gets on a bus and goes somewhere, many times that child is victimized and becomes a child that is trafficked."
DeWine announced the statistics during an event at a suburban Columbus charter school, where students released balloons that included the names of children in the attorney general's Missing Children Clearinghouse.
Of the children reported missing last year, 17,826 (about 98.5 percent) were recovered safely.
And of the statewide total, 10,328 were reported as runaways (those who left their homes without permission and were away for at least one night), 36 were abducted by noncustodial parents and four were abducted by strangers.
The attorney general's website (www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/missingchildren) includes names, pictures and details of nearly 700 others who have not yet been found.
"The key, I guess, is getting the public to understand that database is there," DeWine said.
"And if they see a child who they think for whatever reason there's something suspicious about what's happening to that child or who is with that child, if it doesn't look natural, they can go up online and check and see if they see that child. We really rely on the public to do that."
He added, "Some of these stories turn out very, very tragically. We really depend a lot on the public to help solve human trafficking... to help solve the missing children who are truly missing."
Malaysia migrant grave bodies 'show signs of torture'
Many of the bodies found in 139 graves on human trafficking route on Thai border 'showed signs of torture' before being killed, says police chief
by Colin Freeman
Malaysian police have revealed grisly new details of their probe into hundreds of graves found on a people trafficking route, saying some of the corpses they had unearthed showed signs of torture.
While they did not elaborate on what methods of torture had been used, they said that metal chains had been found near some of the burial sites, suggesting some of the dead had spent time as prisoners.
The disclosures came in a police press conference on Monday, which followed the second large-scale discovery of shallow graves in the border zone with Thailand in less than a month. At the beginning of May, the skeletons of 33 migrants were found in a bamboo forest at an abandoned smuggling compound.
At Monday's press conference, Malaysian detectives said that a total of 139 suspected migrant grave sites had now been found in 28 people-trafficking camps along the Thai border.
Khalid Abu Bakar, Malaysia's national police chief said some of the graves, found since 11 May, probably contained more than one body, raising the possibility that the total number of dead could run into several hundred.
"They are not sure how many bodies are in each grave," he told reporters in Wang Kelian, Malaysia. "The first team of our officers has arrives in the area this morning to exhume the bodies."
The largest of the camps, which were found between May 11 and 23 in hard-to-reach mountainous jungle areas, could have held up to 300 people, according to Malaysian officials.
The dead are believed to be mainly Bangladeshi jobseekers and Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma, where they face persecution at the hands of the country's Buddhist majority.
Thousands are ferried by traffickers through the region each year, but in recent years traffickers have taken to holding them hostage around the border areas until their families pay ransoms for their release.
Human rights groups say that most are in such desperate circumstances already that they have little choice to comply. They have also accused local officials of turning a blind eye to the trade in return for backhanders.
“Clearly this area has been an enclave for these ransom-for-release camps," said Philip Robertson, deputy Asia director with Human Rights Watch, in an interview with Voice of America. "And I don't believe for a second that that could take place without connivance, at some level, by the authorities.”
Past investigations by the Reuters news agency have shown ransoms demands ranging from $1,200 to $1,800, a fortune for impoverished migrants used to living on a dollar or two a day.
Pictures of the camps shown to journalists by Malaysian police showed basic wooden huts built in forest clearings.
The International Organization for Migration, said that migrants had been roaming in the Thai forests on the point of starvation and suffering vitamin deficiency.
"It's people who are skeletal, they have no fat on their body they're just bones. They can no longer support their weight," he told the BBC. "They are no longer a commodity to smugglers they're an example to others that they have to pay."
The camps were found along a 30-mile stretch of the Thai-Malaysian border and were only hundreds of metres from the graves discovered in Thailand at the beginning of the month.
Mr Khalid said ammunition was also found in the vicinity, suggesting the presence of armed trafficking gangs.
"We were shocked by the cruelty," added. "We are working closely with our counterparts in Thailand. We will find the people who did this."
Thailand has taken into custody or issued arrest warrants for nearly 80 people in connection with the smuggling.
“In Thailand what we've seen is local politicians and police being arrested. That's a first step,” added Mr Robertson. “But they're not getting to the real masterminds, the sort of senior patrons behind these movements. And I'm expecting that we may see the same on the Malaysian side, as well, that a few low-level scapegoats will be rounded up to take the blame for what was happening here.”
Child abuse victims live 'shorter lives' than other children, royal commission hears
by Jane Lee
People who have been abused as children live shorter lives than those who have not been abused, a psychiatrist has told a royal commission.
Dr Carolyn Quadrio, from the UNSW School of Psychiatry, said on Monday that children who have been abused have a life expectancy about 10 to 20 years shorter than those who have not.
"They don't live as long as children who have not been traumatised," she told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Ballarat.
Trauma produced both physical and psychological damage, affecting children's development, including their personalities and sense of self.
Children's brains and immune systems were also affected, making them more prone to a range of auto-immune diseases.
"They (also) often have unhealthy lifestyles so they're prone to substance abuse and poverty and unemployment ... and all of that adds up to something like 10 to 20 years less life for a child who's been traumatised," she said.
There was also a "strong link" between child abuse and suicide, which could be influenced by a variety of factors including depression and substance abuse, which exacerbated negative thoughts.
Rather than the sexual abuse itself, "what's most damaging is for the child to feel worthless, betrayed, to feel they have no value, that they're just there to be used or abused and that's extremely damaging to a child's psychological development", Dr Quadrio said.
It was the first time the royal commission had heard evidence from a psychiatrist specialising in assessing and managing trauma and the consequences of sexual abuse.
Sometimes, victims took their own lives because they could no longer tolerate symptoms such as experiencing flashbacks of the abuse, Dr Quadrio, who has worked with victims and been involved in offender rehabilitation programs, said. Survivor witnesses have previously told the Commission that they believe many of their peers at school were also abused as children, and had since taken their own lives.
Twenty-five to 30 per cent of girls and about 5 to 15 per cent of boys suffered some form of sexual abuse, the commission heard. In institutions this was higher, with 30 per cent of girls and 20 per cent of boys abused.
Child sexual abuse could be more marked in Catholic organisations because of the church hierarchy's control over their congregations. Dr Quadrio did not think the clergy's vow of celibacy drove child abuse but she said that paedophiles were drawn to the priesthood. Some, including young men with sexual development issues, liked it because "they have access (to children), they have authority and they have the cover of a very respected profession".
About 20 to 40 per cent of child abuse victims did not display signs of trauma because they were naturally "resilient". But some of this group would be psychologically triggered later in life, she said.
All psychiatrists and psychologists should be trained in trauma counselling and be required to continue learning about it after they are qualified to practice, she said. Psychiatry was pre-occupied with diagnosis and medication, rather than how to manage trauma.
To minimise child abuse, institutions needed to have a screening process for potential abusers and operate transparently, with an avenue for children to complain if they had problems. There had not been "any effective screening to date with the religious organisations".
"We have to keep that level of reality testing that adults are prone to abuse children in their care so we have to have scrutiny of these institutions," she said.
The commission has heard how the church moved clergy, including former priest Gerald Ridsdale, between parishes despite abuse allegations against them. Dr Quadrio said the church should look to a person's history and any psychological troubles to help screen potential offenders out of their organisations.
There was no "fool-proof test" and identifying potential sex offenders was difficult, with many not showing any psychological abnormalities.
Why doesn't society care about male rape?
Over 3,500 victims of violent sexual assault and rape in the UK last year were men, yet the UK's biggest male-dedicated support charity has had its funding cut to zero. How can this happen, asks Martin Daubney
by Martin Daubney
Male rape survivor John Lennon is adamant that group therapy at a dedicated, male-only support network helped save his life.
Lennon's attacker was sentenced to four years and three months after he brutally raped him for three and a half hours at his flat in Manchester in August 2010. At he end of his horrific ordeal, Lennon needed plastic surgery to rebuild his battered face – but it was his shattered mind that would bear the bigger scars.
Yet, like many survivors of male rape, he had no idea where to turn for help.
“After my attack I was suicidal, and in desperation called a Rape Crisis helpline, but the woman said, ‘This service is for women only,' and hung up on me,” says Lennon, 45, from Manchester. “I don't blame her, but I felt so angry and rejected that they turned men away. Luckily, I used my anger to get help.”
Then Lennon found out about Survivors Manchester – one of only 20 services nationwide that offer help to male rape victims and one of four that offer male-dedicated help – and his slow path to recovery began.
“I started two years of group therapy, which is crucial,” he says. “It makes you feel like you're not alone, not such damaged goods; like a whole human again.”
Yet in spite of John's experience that single-sex therapy is essential, Survivors UK (based in London and the UK's biggest male-only victim support group) has recently had its funding slashed to zero, meaning the only male-dedicated service in London now has to turn desperate men like Lennon away – despite a staggering 120 per cent increase in male rape in the capital in two years.
Police crime figures for 2014 in England & Wales show there were 38,134 incidents of rape or sexual assault of a woman and 3,580 against men.
Yet due to the shame and stigma surrounding perhaps the darkest male taboo of all, Survivors UK believe only 2-3 per cent of men report their rapes (official figures for women are 10-12 per cent reporting) meaning many thousands of men are suffering in silence.
Furthermore, there are an estimated 1.5 million adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the UK – abuse against boys accounts for around 70 per cent of cases.
London has the highest national prevalence and in 2014, 307 men reported being raped to the Metropolitan Police – an increase of 120 per cent over 2012 figures. In addition, 518 men experienced a serious sexual assault, an increase of 80 per cent on 2012.
In 2014, in London, The Mayor allocated £1,292,666 to provide specialist support services for victims of sexual assault in London. Of that, £32,666 (2.5 per cent) was spent on specialist services supporting men and boys.
Incredulously, as of April 1 this year, that funding was cut to zero. Yet a petition to press the Mayor for critical funding has so far only attracted 699 signatures. To put that in context, the recent petition to remove the Protein World ads from the London Underground attracted 71,111 signatures.
Michael May, Director of Survivors UK says he feels “utterly betrayed” by the Mayor's decision to slash his funding to nothing.
“In July of last year, a review showed that one of four primary areas where the Mayor wasn't reaching its statutory obligations was the assault of men,” he says.
“On 31st March, our funding came to an end. Since then, they have not shown any appetite for funding male services at all.
“I felt hopeless and disappointed. For the last six years I've asked them what they are doing to support male victims of violence and they have never, ever answered me in any direct way, other than to say they have no money.
“We've had to close our group therapy because we can't afford to fund it. On an individual therapy level, we've had to turn people away and put them on a waiting list.
“We have 40 people in our service and we cannot let any more in until others leave. In the last month, we've had 18 referrals. That's growing every day. Yet we have to reject them. It's heartbreaking.”
Tomorrow, Survivors UK launches a new digital platform to help victims, survivorsuk.org, but it is a bittersweet moment: referrals are guaranteed to increase, yet with zero funding, they have no way of physically helping them.
“I feel utterly, utterly betrayed,” says May. “Eight years ago, the Labour party came up with the Violence Against Women cross-party action plan, which was an amazing piece of legislation.
“But I said to ministers – including Harriet Harman – ‘can we not just say it's for women and children?' and they said, ‘absolutely not: it has to say women and girls because that's the strategy'.
“So we have a situation where there is a 'violence against women and girls' strategy, but not one that includes men [or boys].
“I understand that, but things have changed in the last four years since Savile and Oxfordshire. All the press reports said it was female victims, but in all cases it's 15 per cent male victims – yet they never got a mention, once. That's very disempowering for male victims.
“Yet this isn't about men versus women: it's bigger than that. It's ensuring equality of treatment for victims of sexual assault and rape, irrespective of gender.”
John Lennon – who has written a book called My Journey To Justice – is adamant that Survivors saved him and leads the call for the Mayor to reconsider its funding.
“Without help from organisations like Survivors, I'd probably be dead,” he says. “I felt worthless and was suicidal but they gave me hope. They give a silent, shamed minority a vital voice.”
The DUGGAR'S have a PROFOUND EFFECT on SOCIETY AND SEX
VICTORIA, TEXAS, May 24 th , 2015 — Local inspirational author Stacy Snapp-Killian, who wrote the book, “Be Beautiful Being You” is weighing in on the scandal surrounding reality TV star Josh Duggar, who appeared on TLC's hit show “19 Kids and Counting.” The scandal has dominated the national media, and Snapp-Killian answers whether media outlets are doing their job or making things worse because of their reporting.
A debate has raged for years concerning sexual abuse because the public is unaware of the truth involving how such behavior unfolds. Most media reports the stories of registered sex offenders, pedophiles, and molestation charges, rather than share the epidemic facing the world today concerning sexual abuse among teens and young children.
“Even though it can get very uncomfortable, even embarrassing at times, journalists are reporting the truth about sexual abuse and bringing awareness to sexual suppression. It's the Constitutional right of every citizen to be informed of the dangers facing families today,” said Snapp-Killian, also known as StacyK, the CEO and founder of The Justus Love ™ Movement. “On the other hand, times have changed, and we are in a world where sex is openly discussed. It is incumbent upon the media to carry out its role as a responsible party in this matter and share with people the truth. Siblings, cousins, childhood friends, and baby-sitters, those not considered pedophiles, are the ones introducing each other to sex. The curiosity takes place (unwanted) when children who have yet to reach puberty are exposed by those people in their environment, who are a couple of years older than them, seeking to experiment with sex.”
The news unfolded less than 48 hours ago concerning Duggar, 27, reality show personality who admitted to foundling five girls the same age or a few years younger when he was 15 years old. Some of the girls were his sisters.
“For once, in history, the media has spoken and got it right! This story (of the Duggar's) allows everyone to see the truth about sexual abuse, where it really comes from, and who exposes children in ways we're ashamed of. This story will open the minds of parents to discussing masturbation, sex, and puberty with their kids. Now, it's my job to rebuild the lives of those adults who are sexually suppressed, because they were exposed to sex as a child but never told anyone, how could they- we just started openly talking about sex as a society. I'm proud to have the support of the press and know the truth is being released. We've had an epidemic on our hands for years, and wanted to believe it was the boogie man, when in all actuality it was a friend or loved one introducing us to sex. This scandal will impact the lives of parents” said StacyK.
STACY SNAPP-KILLIAN is the founder of Sexual Suppression: “A state in which the conscious mind excludes itself during an encounter of sexual abuse” and has a world-wide movement known as “JustUS ™” for Survivors who: “Pray it out, Write it out, Speak it out.” She's not condoning children be allowed to have sex or masturbate but she is encouraging parents to talk to their teens about puberty and explain their actions have consequences on those around them.
“Every child, beginning around the age eight, should be taught about puberty. And, should know, just because something feels good to the body doesn't make it right for the soul.” –says StacyK
An Award Winning Hairstylist at Shearly Marvolus Salon in Victoria, Texas she is a public figure in the South. Snapp-Killian has combined her two careers as a Hairstylist and Author, known as a hair therapist, she makes people beautiful from the inside-out.
After working with clients for more than twenty years she believes she has discovered a common element to most people's lives, and as each client begins to open up and confide in her, they seem to have one thing in common- a secret of sexual exposure from their childhood.
StacyK says -" People believe its natural for children and teens to touch and fondle one another. Teens don't realize the consequence of their actions or the effect it has on the younger kids around them."
Children develop sexually, just as they develop physically, emotionally and socially. But, sexual behavior can be a problem when it is inappropriate or involves other children. The act of sexual abuse will have an effect on the victim and the perpetrator well into their adult years. It is always abuse if it involves pressuring or forcing someone else to be sexually active against their will. StacyK believes it's up to parents to talk to their children about sex and teach them there are consequences for sexual behavior. She also supports the media releasing the story of the Duggar's, as they contribute their lives to television with a reality show sharing with viewers their concerns about being sexually active before marriage. She believes the scandal is an eye-opener for all parents and hopes they will learn from the Duggar's mistake; it's one thing to wait and have sex till your married but its a whole other responsibilities when it comes to being a kid.
“When children are exposed to sex from family or friends they suppress the trauma, they grow into adults hoping to forget the incident, and they don't know how to talk about the secret because it's embarrassing. So, this becomes a lie they grow up- suppressing. They convenience themselves the behavior is normal or it never happened. But, overtime, the secret of being sexually abused grows with the person, and develops into sexually suppressed adults with low self-esteem. These victims of sexual abuse do not know how to love themselves. I wrote this book as a tool to help adults who are sexually suppressed, release the truth, and take back power over their life. They need to understand what true beauty looks like and it begins with loving yourself.” Snapp-Killian says
Author of the pocket sized book: “BE BEAUTIFUL BEING YOU” Snapp-Killian takes a contemporary look at self-confidence. It contains the Ten Character Commitments used to support her theory: “someone who loves their self is truly- healthy, happy, and beautiful.” These ten character commitments were designed to rebuild victims of sexual abuse into survivors. She wrote the book from her own journal's used to rebuild her life after admitting to being sexually abuse, at nine years old, by a seventeen year old boy who was a family friend. The book will inspire you to: release the lie that's suppressed, and “BE BEAUTIFUL BEING YOU.”(ISBN -978-0-692-30910-0)
Suicide is now the biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide. Here's why
A shocking statistic has emerged, which reveals suicide has overtaken maternal mortality as the biggest killer of young women in the world. Nisha Lilia Diu asks the experts why this is happening - and how we failed to notice
by Nisha Lilia Diu
Towards the end of last year, a shocking statistic appeared deep in the pages of a World Health Organisation report . It was this: suicide has become the leading killer of teenage girls, worldwide.
More girls aged between 15 and 19 die from self-harm than from road accidents, diseases or pregnancy.
For years, child-bearing has caused the most deaths in this age group. But at some point in the last decade – it's difficult to say exactly when - suicide took over. And the data suggest it's been a close second to maternal mortality for years.
Yet, somehow, we didn't notice.
I heard the statistic from Sarah Degnan Kambou, President of the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), at a Gates Foundation breakfast last month.
Most of my fellow guests worked in the fields of global women's rights or female health. Yet they were as stunned as I was to hear it.
“I'm not quite sure why we haven't realised this before,” says Suzanne Petroni, a senior director at ICRW. Suicide has edged into first place “because maternal mortality has come down so much,” she says.
“Which is fantastic. But self-harm was pretty close to being the leading cause of death, even in 2000.”
The picture varies by region.
In Europe, it is the number one killer of teenage girls. In Africa, it's not even in the top five, “because maternal deaths and HIV are so high,” says Petroni.
But in every region of the world, other than Africa, suicide is one of the top three causes of death for 15 to 19 year old girls. (For boys, the leading killer globally is road injury).
It's particularly shocking given that suicide is notoriously underreported.
Leading causes of death for teenage girls
In South East Asia, self-harm kills three times more teenage girls than anything else. (The Eastern Mediterranean, which includes Pakistan and the Middle East, has the second highest rate.)
Professor Vikram Patel, who was recently featured in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People for his work in global mental health, is blunt in his diagnosis:
“The most probable reason is gender discrimination. Young women's lives [in South East Asia] are very different from young men's lives in almost every way.”
The male suicide rate in this age group is 21.41 per 100,000, compared with 27.82 for girls.
This is the age at which girls may be taken out of school and forced to devote themselves to domestic responsibilities, forgetting all other abilities or ambitions. Hitting puberty can mean no longer being allowed to socialise outside the home. Sometimes it can mean no longer being allowed out of the home at all. And, sometimes, it can mean forced marriage.
Prof Patel was the founding director of the Centre for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine but now spends much of the year in Delhi, where he works for the Public Health Foundation of India.
“Indian media is filled with aspirational images of romance and love,” he says. “The ability to choose your life partner is an idea that's championed by Bollywood. But that's completely not the case in reality for most young women.”
Young brides, says Suzanne Petroni, “are very often taken away from their peers. They're subjected to early and unwanted sex, and they're much more likely to experience partner violence than people who marry later. All of these things put them at greater risk of suicide.”
In India, says Prof Patel, “female suicide rates are highest in parts of the country with the best education and economy, probably because women grow up with greater aspirations only to find their social milieu limits them.”
In Prof Patel's view, “fifty per cent of those attempting suicide in China and India do not have a mental illness. They suffer logical despair.”
The adolescent male suicide rate, though lower, is also extremely high in this region. Prof Patel's interviews with survivors of suicide attempts have led him to believe that, “for girls, gender issues are usually behind it. For boys, it's financial insecurities.”
Boys face great pressure to succeed and provide. Which strikes me as a gender issue, too - it's a different problem from those suffered by women, but it's still a problem rooted in a rigid gender role.
Leading causes of death for teenage boys
In the UK, says Joe Fearns, the Samaritans' Executive Director of Policy and Research, “all of us in suicide prevention are most concerned by men.”
That's because almost 80 per cent of all UK suicides are men. But, says Fearns, “the majority of self-harm cases in the UK and presentations at A&E for self-injury are women.”
Part of the reason for the dramatically higher rate of male suicide in the UK (and in most of the western world) is drugs and alcohol; men are more likely to abuse both, leading to more impulsive behaviour.
“Men also tend to use more violent means that are less survivable,” says Fearns. Some of this is circumstance. Fearns tells me there is a higher than average rate of suicide among those working in heavy construction and farming - “because they have the means”.
Far fewer women than men work in these environments.
Prof Patel sees a similar reason behind the much higher female suicide rate in South East Asia than the UK.
“The suicide attempt rate for young women in the UK is extremely high. But young women are overdosing on paracetamol, which won't kill you.” Their counterparts in Asia, he says, are more likely to have pesticide to hand than painkillers - "and that will”.
Dr Amy Chandler, a research fellow at Edinburgh University who specialises in self-harm and suicide, agrees. “If you're upset and you've got access to the means, you're more likely to complete suicide,” she says. According to Prof Patel, “in young people, suicides tend to be impulsive” - making circumstance all the more important. “Most young survivors tell me they're relieved they're not dead,” he says. “That's not the case with older adults.”
Western girls are more likely to self-harm than boys, says Chandler, and “their explanations for doing it are around control: their body being a site where they can exert control. Boys have other routes for expressing anxiety and distress,” such as fighting.
Girls turn to self-harm, she says, “because it's not acceptable for them culturally to express anger in the same way”.
Prof Patel believes “sexual pressure” may contribute to the unhappiness of teenage girls in the West, along with experiencing their first bumps against the glass ceiling. Also, in some European countries (and plenty of non-European ones), access to abortion is severely restricted.
Suzanne Petroni of ICRW tells me there's evidence suggesting this leads "some pregnant girls to feel that suicide is their only option".
“Gender is a pervasive global issue,” says Prof Patel. “Though it's clearly far worse in some countries than others”.
"It's very difficult to identify someone's motivation when they harm themselves," says Joe Fearns. But, he says, “groups that have less power” tend to be most vulnerable - suicide rates are consistently higher among the unemployed, and the economically or socially marginalised.
Young women in parts of the Middle East and South East Asia are some of the most disempowered and marginalised people in the world.
And, as we're somewhat belatedly realising, the consequences can be fatal.