TLC show on child sexual abuse airs at 10 tonight
by Michael Storey
I guess we can thank Josh Duggar for this one.
Maybe something good will come out of the reality star's recent implosion.
TLC, former home of the now canceled 19 Kids and Counting , will broadcast Breaking the Silence at 10 p.m. today. The hour special will air commercial-free and deal with "the challenging journey faced by those affected by child sexual abuse, as well as offer useful information where people can turn for help."
The documentary, set to include two Duggar daughters, is part of a face-saving public relations campaign by TLC. It's intended to soften the one-two whammy of the Here Comes Honey Boo Boo scandal (Mama June Shannon started dating a man convicted of child molestation), followed by the revelation that Duggar had fondled four of his sisters and a baby sitter when he was a teen.
Under pressure, TLC pulled the plug on 19 Kids on July 16. About his teenage behavior, Duggar admitted he "acted inexcusably," said he was "deeply sorry," then resigned his position with the Family Research Council.
The 27-year-old Josh, eldest of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar's 19 kids, had been a lobbyist for the socially conservative FRC, which has the mission "to advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian world view."
Josh's troubles didn't end after he and his wife, Anna, packed up and moved back to Springdale.
Earlier this month, hackers stole customer information from the Ashley Madison adultery website and posted it online. Ashley Madison, which boasts "over 39,385,000 anonymous members," specializes in helping people have extramarital affairs. It labels itself, "the most famous name in infidelity and married dating." Its slogan: "Life is short. Have an affair."
Duggar reportedly had two Ashley Madison accounts and is no longer anonymous.
After Duggar was outed, he issued another statement on the family website, duggarfamily.com: "I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the Internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife."
He ended, "I deeply regret all the hurt I have caused so many by being such a bad example. I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Please pray for my precious wife Anna and our family during this time."
In his own statement, FRC president Tony Perkins said, "We are grieved by Josh's conduct and the devastating impact of his pornography addiction and marital unfaithfulness."
Perkins added, "Josh's failures serve as a painful reminder of the destructive effects of not living with integrity. We are praying for the family."
Josh and Anna have four children, the youngest born last month. Will she leave him?
People magazine quotes a source "with ties to the family" as saying, "Anna will not leave him. As with her in-laws, she is turning more to her faith than ever. She and Josh are probably praying around the clock right now, I would assume."
All that sounds like the topic for another special.
Meanwhile, TLC's Breaking the Silence will point out that an estimated one in 10 children will be the victim of sexual abuse before the age of 18.
The special is in cooperation with two abuse prevention organizations -- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and Darkness to Light (D2L), an organization that shares the inspiring stories of sexual abuse survivors.
Featured will be Erin Merryn, two-time child abuse survivor, advocate and the inspiration behind Erin's Law, which requires sexual abuse prevention education in public schools and has been enacted in 26 states.
"Like so many survivors, I ended up keeping it a secret for years," Merryn told People . "Now, as a mother with my own child, I want to make sure my children know how to speak up."
Also set to appear in the special are Jessa Duggar Seewald, 22, and Jill Duggar Dillard, 24, two of Josh's sisters.
TLC says the Duggar daughters will be shown at a prevention training session put on by D2L and "want to use their situation to help others and promote adult education for the protection of children."
On May 5, Jill and Derick Dillard starred in a two-hour 19 Kids episode, "Jill's Special Delivery," following the birth of their son. Israel Dillard was delivered via cesarean section April 6 after a 70-hour labor, weighing in at 9 pounds, 10 ounces.
Ironically, in the previous (April 28) episode, "Family Dinner," Jill and Derick visited Josh and Anna in Washington, "where Derick gets some fatherly advice" from Josh.
Jessa and Ben Seewald's first child is expected Nov. 1, their first wedding anniversary.
When Child Sexual Abuse Is in the Public Eye, Don't Lose Sight of the Children
by Teresa Huizar
Each year, official government reports indicate that more than 62,000 children are sexually abused. The numbers are especially staggering for girls aged 14-17, of whom researchers estimate more than 17% have experienced sexual abuse. While we know sexual abuse is still underreported, there is cause for hope because child sexual abuse is preventable, and because more and more Americans are waking up to the ways to prevent it.
It would be comforting, and wholly wrong, to think that abuse happens only in certain kinds of families. But, the truth is that these children are our neighbors, our children's playmates, members of our faith communities, our friends, and perhaps even members of our own families. This reality has been driven home in the public sphere by the recent child sexual abuse revelations in the Duggar Family, stars of TLC's "19 and Counting." The larger implications of what happened to two Duggar daughters and a babysitter could be lost in all of the other ways in which this family seemed so different from most American families: famous simply for being a very large and media-savvy family, with the wealth and prominence that come with that stardom. To treat this as an unusual incident, though, misses a teachable moment for all of us about the ways in which we may be failing to protect children in our own community and what we can do to change that.
Last year, more than 315,000 children summoned the courage to walk through the doors of a Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) and disclose their abuse. Two-thirds of these cases involved child sexual abuse. Children's Advocacy Centers work with a multidisciplinary team of professionals to investigate these cases, hold offenders accountable and help children and families heal. Every day, I am so incredibly grateful to know that in 800 communities around the country, this caring and evidence-supported response will help transform the lives of these most vulnerable children. And, at the same time, I know that each child is also not only an individual suffering but also a representative of the broken promise of safety in the community in which he or she resides.
There is no reason to feel helpless or hopeless. Because of improvements in the prevention and response to child sexual abuse, researchers indicate the number of children reporting such abuse has declined dramatically over the past decade. Children's Advocacy Centers have been deeply engaged in that work, providing prevention education to 1.6 million individuals last year alone. To join forces and protect children in your own community reach out to your local CAC to request prevention training at your workplace, school, service club, or faith community. And, for those that might not have a nearby Children's Advocacy Center, learn the signs of abuse, how to report it, and practical tips to keep the children in your life safe at NCA's national prevention initiative OneWithCourage.org.
In 26 states, legislatures have passed Erin's Law and named after an adult survivor of abuse and aimed to ensure that all children learned body safety and abuse prevention in school just as they learned fire drills and other safety rules. If your State has not yet passed this commonsense measure to protect children learn how to advocate for its passage at ErinsLaw.org. And, at the national level, ask your Members of Congress to pass the Child Sexual Abuse and Prevention Act or the Federal Erin's law S. 1665/H.R. 3067) to ensure that states have the resources they need to implement these invaluable prevention programs.
Each case of child sexual abuse is a personal tragedy and a community failing. But, it is also a personal reminder to each of us about our own moral obligation to provide a circle of safety and care for the children in our lives. Through our own actions in taking responsibility for protecting children, learning the signs of abuse and how to report it, and in advocating for systemic change, let's enlarge that circle of safety to all the nation's children.
After abuse, women face doubts they'll be good moms
by Monique Potenaude
Mothers who were abused as children may be less confident in their parenting skills—and may in turn abuse their own children.
Intervention programs for moms at-risk should do more than teach parenting skills. Experts say it's important to bolster mothers' self-confidence, as well.
“We know that maltreated children can have really low self-esteem,” says Louisa Michl, a doctoral student in the psychology department at the University of Rochester.
“And when they become adults, we've found that some of these moms become highly self-critical about their ability to parent effectively. “Research has shown that this type of self-doubt is related to poor parenting—yelling, hitting, and other kinds of negative parenting behaviors.”
Mothers in the study who experienced more types of abuse as children—sexual abuse, physical, or emotional abuse, and physical or emotional neglect—showed higher levels of self-criticism, and greater doubt in their ability to be effective parents.
The study, published in Child Maltreatment, included both mothers who were clinically depressed and those who weren't. “Our research shows that self-criticism leads to lower-confidence in parenting abilities in previously maltreated mothers and this was true in non-depressed moms as well as depressed mothers,” Michl says.
Prior research has found that a mother's confidence is closely linked to her motivation to use positive child-rearing strategies. “When a mom has confidence in her ability to use positive strategies when under stress—like when her child throws a tantrum in a grocery store—then she is more likely to parent effectively,” Michl says.
All of the mothers in the study were from low-income households. “For families living in poverty, daily stresses can quickly add up, and parenting—which can be challenging for anyone—can become overwhelming.”
“So many parenting interventions are didactic. They're teaching parenting skills: ‘if your baby cries, do this'; ‘this is how you feed your baby'; ‘this is how you burp your baby.' That's all well and good—moms can learn those skills.
“But what happens when they are in a stressful situation? What do they do? If they don't have the attitude—the belief that they can do this, that they can be a good mom and enact all those things they learned—then they may fall back on how they themselves were treated as children.”
There is a positive side. Beliefs of maternal efficacy are modifiable, Michl says.
“If a mom who was maltreated as a child can sustain some strong beliefs in her competency as a mom, then it may help break the cycle of abuse and buffer her children against that kind of experience she had. That is where this research has led us so far.
“My hope is that community services that offer intervention support will focus on moms' mental health—how her critical self-beliefs are getting in the way of believing she can be a good parent. Making sure moms have good parenting skills is really important. But we can support these moms in a more holistic way—provide her the facts, but also help her to believe in herself.”
The National Institute of Mental Health supported the work.
Parricide: High-profile killings in Oklahoma leaves experts searching for explanations
In nearly all parricide cases, a type of homicide in which a person kills a parent or other close family member, the perpetrators fall into one of three categories, said Howard Kurtz, a criminal justice professor at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
by Jennifer Palmer
The tragedy involving the state labor commissioner has highlighted an area of family violence not often talked about: when young people kill their parents.
By the numbers, parricide, a type of homicide in which a person kills a parent or other close family member, is uncommon. However, a slew of high profile killings in Oklahoma has left some searching for an explanation.
In Duncan, Alan Hruby, 20, a college student, is accused of killing his mother, father and sister in an attempt to collect the family's inheritance after being cut-off from his parents' finances.
In Lawton, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against a teen who is accused of shooting his father and younger brother for financial gain. Four high-school classmates have been convicted for their involvement.
Two Broken Arrow brothers, ages 18 and 16, are charged with murder after the stabbing deaths of five family members: their parents and three younger siblings.
And most recently, a 26-year-old mentally ill man was arrested in connection with the Oklahoma City stabbing death of his father, state Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.
Each case is different, of course, and no single explanation applies to all.
But in nearly all parricide cases, the perpetrators fall into one of three categories, said Howard Kurtz, a criminal justice professor at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
Those categories are: the killer suffered physical or psychological abuse as a child; the killer is mentally ill, with the condition sometimes exacerbated by drug addiction; or the killer is a psychopath or sociopath, psychological conditions in which the afflicted person is unable to form emotional attachments to or feel empathy for others, Kurtz explains.
And while it may be easier to understand why a child would lash out against a parent who is cruel and beats them and locks them in a basement, he said, in many cases, the parents are really nice people — making the violence toward them harder to comprehend.
“You never want to think that your children would ever harm you,” he said.
When a young person takes the life of their own parent, people are often tempted to characterize the act as “senseless.”
Don't, cautions James Garbarino, a psychology professor at Loyola University in Chicago who has been called as an expert witness in numerous murder cases.
Virtually every killing makes sense to the person who commits it, said Garbarino, and adolescent brains are prone to poor decision making.
“To dismiss it as senseless, one, doesn't shed any light on how these things happen, it doesn't help with future prevention and it also may obscure the fact that if you had experienced what that person had, you might better understand why they did this,” Garbarino said.
Garbarino has spent 20 years probing the minds of killers and wrote the book “Listening to Killers” based on interviews he's conducted.
Legally, the line of adulthood is drawn at 18, though some younger teens are prosecuted as adults. But scientists who study brain development have learned that many people's brains aren't fully developed until their mid-20s, Garbarino said.
Adolescent brains make errors interpreting emotions and tend to make bad decisions, especially when influenced by peer pressure.
“Teenagers do stupid things, and this is sort of the colossal stupid thing,” Garbarino said. But an adolescent who commits a terrible act can mature and become a model citizen, which is why he advocates for giving young criminals the possibility of parole.
Most likely random
FBI data shows there were 270 parents killed by their children in 2013, the latest data available. Of the total victims, 142 were fathers and 128 were mothers. In comparison, there were 40 percent more children who died at the hands of their parents.
The recent spate of parricides in Oklahoma is most likely random, though it's possible there's a social contagion effect, such as is sometimes seen with teen suicides, Garbarino said.
“It becomes a sort of cultural script that's out there. This is what you do when you're an angry, troubled teenage boy. This is one option,” he explained.
Most teens experience anger, and most do not kill, said Edmond psychologist and counselor Stewart Beasley. In cases of parricide, there is a “story behind the story,” such as mental illness, child abuse, alcoholism, or something else.
Signs that an adolescent's anger could turn to violence include withdrawal from family activities, school or friendships, disrupted personal relationships with parents, depression (sometimes identified, often not), drug and alcohol abuse or anarchy-type thinking.
“A lot of parents chalk it up to normal teenage behavior, but that really isn't. That darkness is not,” Beasley said.
Why stress from your childhood is hurting your health today
We've long known that suffering physical or sexual abuse in childhood negatively affects mental health for life. But recently, researchers have uncovered a link between more common forms of childhood adversity and chronic physical conditions later in life.
In other words, scientists are breaking down, on a biochemical level, how stressors we face when we're young catch up with us when we're adults — predisposing us to autoimmune disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, migraines, and asthma.
As a science journalist who has spent the last ten years exploring the intersection between neuroscience, immunology, and the deepest inner workings of the human heart, I decided to delve into the research in my new book, Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal.
The work builds upon a large-scale epidemiological study launched in 1998 that probed into the child histories of 17,000 patients, and compared their early experiences to later health records.
The results were shocking: nearly two-thirds of subjects had suffered one or more categories of chronic, unpredictable and stressful Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. These categories included:
1. Being repeatedly put down, insulted or humiliated by a parent
2. Feeling unloved or unsupported by family members
3. Facing physical or sexual abuse
4. Experiencing emotional or physical neglect
5. Losing a parent through abandonment, divorce or death
6. Growing up with an alcoholic or addicted family member
7. Having a parent who suffered from depression or mental illness
It turned out that the number of ACE categories an individual had faced could predict the amount of medical care she'd require in adulthood. For each adversity a woman had faced, her risk of having an autoimmune disease in adulthood rose by 20%. And individuals who'd encountered four or more ACEs were twice as likely as others to be diagnosed with cancer.
Here's why: The chronic, unpredictable stress of ACEs can alter a child's developing immune system when they're at their most vulnerable. And when children are caught in a state of fight or flight, brain and body marinate in inflammatory chemicals. These, in turn, reset their stress response to “high” for life, so that they may become more reactive to stressors as adults. And this continued inflammatory stress response promotes physical illness.
These scientific findings can seem overwhelming, especially if you're among the 40% of Americans who've faced two or more ACEs.
But the same science that tells us that childhood trauma changes our physiology also tells us that our body can recover. Just as physical wounds and bruises heal, there are scientifically-supported steps to remove the fingerprints that early-life trauma leaves on one's neurobiology:
1. Take the ACE questionnaire.
Begin by completing this ten-question survey about your childhood experiences, and then bring your results to your doctor. You'll acknowledge the link between your past and present, and this “aha” moment can prompt the start of your healing journey.
2. Incorporate meditation into your routine.
There are plenty of medications you can take to dampen down your sympathetic nervous system (which triggers fight-or-flight mode), but there's no drug to help boost the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to calm you down after a stressor has passed so that you can relax again.
But there is mindfulness-meditation. Research shows that individuals who practice mindfulness-meditation have an increase in gray matter in the brain and even demonstrate changes in genes that control the stress response.
3. Practice yoga.
Here's another reason to work on your sun salutation: Yoga can help to release decades worth of physical tension stored in the body. In one study, participants who did yoga training for 12 weeks experienced decreased blood flow to the amygdala, the brain's fear center, and increased blood flow to the frontal lobe and prefrontal cortex, which helps us to respond more appropriately to stressors.
Studies also show that yoga can raise levels of GABA, a chemical that helps to protect us against depression and anxiety.
4. Manage your gut health with probiotics.
New research shows that your gut microbiome can influence your mood state. A sophisticated neural network transmits messages between your brain and the trillions of bacteria involved in digestion, creating a powerful feedback loop.
And studies suggest that good gut microbiota, such as those found in probiotics, may have a direct effect on neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, such as GABA. In other words: maybe there's some truth to "you are what you eat."
5. Nurture your relationships.
When we surround ourselves with people who support us, we give our bodies and brains a better shot at healing. Positive social interactions up production of oxytocin, a “feel-good” hormone that dials down the stress response. In fact, research shows that having strong social ties betters outcomes for women with breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other chronic conditions.
6. Write to heal.
The exercise of writing down your secrets, even if you destroy what you've written afterward, has been shown to have positive health effects. In one study, individuals who wrote about their emotional upheavals (for just twenty minutes a day for four days) experienced a boost in their immune function and required fewer visits to the doctor.
7. Consult a licensed therapist.
Sometimes, you might need a little help in unpacking the past. When a therapist sees you for who you are and accepts you unconditionally, you form a safe attachment and learn to untether yourself from your most painful memories.
Plus, research shows therapy can heal the cellular damage done by chronic, unpredictable stress. In one study, patients who'd undergone therapy showed changes in the genes that regulate the body's stress response — even a year after their last session.
It's never too late to embark on a journey of self-awakening and transformation, and emerge gracefully from a tumultuous past.
Police: NY mom killed baby girl, lived with body for months
by The Associated Press
BATAVIA, N.Y. (AP) — A woman who prosecutors say lived with her dead baby girl's body for three months was charged Saturday with murder.
Christina Colantonio, 28, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of her daughter, Genesee County District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said.
Police launched an investigation Thursday when an acquaintance visiting Colantiono at her apartment in Batavia, about 45 miles from Buffalo, found the baby's lifeless body and called 911, Batavia Police Det. Sgt. Todd Crossett said at a news conference Saturday evening.
Investigators believe Colantonio killed the girl "shortly after birth," about three months ago, Crossett said. Authorities would not say how the baby died, but Friedman said investigators "have enough evidence to come to a conclusion it was intentionally caused." A medical examiner will determine the infant's official cause of death. Friedman said the investigation was still ongoing.
Police said Colantonio, who has two other children, lived alone in the apartment. She was arraigned Saturday at Batavia City Court and ordered held without bail.
Colantonio remained jailed Saturday evening and could not be reached for comment. It was unclear whether she had an attorney who could comment on her behalf.
Crossett said the officers who discovered the baby girl's body were being offered counseling.
"It's not something you see on a regular basis," he said. "They are the most vulnerable part of the population."
Sen. Rob Portman: Cultural-attitude changes needed to stop human trafficking
by Andrew Welsh Huggins
While laws are changing to reflect the reality that child prostitutes are victims, cultural attitudes also need to change, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said Thursday after hearing from experts and a survivor of child trafficking.
Portman said most of his constituents tell him, “‘Are you sure this is going on in Ohio?' They can't believe that in our own backyard there'd be this problem today.”
Portman, a Republican who serves as co-chair of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, heard from community leaders working on the problem during a tour and forum at the Central Ohio Youth for Christ City Life Center in Columbus.
The center also operates the Gracehaven program, founded in 2008 to help rehabilitate victims of domestic minor sex trafficking. Gracehaven just opened a center for up to eight girls in Ohio and already has two girls, said Director Terri Foltz.
“It's hard to overemphasize the amount of services they need, the trauma they've endured,” Foltz said.
She said people often focus on the physical abuse the girls have suffered. But just as harmful is the emotional damage the girls undergo by placing themselves in bondage to their trafficker, Foltz said.
During the forum, a 24-year-old survivor of trafficking told of living a double life from age 15 to 21, putting on a normal face to classmates and teachers while being trafficked at night by a friend of her father's. The woman is now married and just had her first child. She said people can't assume anything about the background of victims, who come from rich and poor homes.
The state estimates that about 1,000 Ohio children are forced into the sex trade each year.
Between July 2013 and April 2015, 135 cases of trafficking of children and young adults were identified, according to a state report released in July. Most were girls between ages 13 and 18; 20 were under age 13.
Portman has sponsored several bills to stop human trafficking; one signed into law in May strengthens the ability of police to investigate and prosecute those who buy sex from trafficking victims.
Reward to Fast-Forward: One Man's Courage to Explore Past Abuse
by Edie Weinstein, with Sasha Joseph Neulinger
Taking a deep breath before putting fingers to keyboard to write this article, pondering how to encapsulate an experience of one courageous young man and the saga of a family in a way that does it justice. Childhood sexual abuse impacts people on all levels-body, mind and spirit. Even more devastating is when the perpetrators are family members. Further damaging when one of them is a renowned spiritual leader in his community.
Initially, I intended to take 'sound bites' from the interview with Sasha Joseph Neulinger, the talented film-maker who is in the completion stages of a movie that will be pivotal in the healing process for sexual abuse survivors. I have chosen, instead to leave Sasha's responses to my questions intact, since they are powerfully poignant, so although this article is long, it will be worth the read.
I watched the trailer for this movie with tears in my eyes, from two perspectives. The first was as a career therapist who has sat with abuse survivors for 30 years and walked through the fire with them, helping to clean up the ashes; putting salve on the sometimes invisible wounds. The second (the most challenging and painful) was as someone with abuse survivors in my close circles. I marvel at Sasha's resilience and I marvel at theirs as well.
How would you describe this film?
In my first feature length documentary, (Rewind To Fast-Forward) I will share my experience of overcoming child sexual abuse, a journey from victim to survivor. My goal is to shed light on what it is to be a child abuse victim--from the first moment of abuse, through the process of reclaiming and rebalancing life. I want to expose the causes underlying the destructive multigenerational cycle of child abuse in my own family. And I hope that as I share my story as a case study, we can have a more open conversation about the importance of an uninterrupted healing process for child victims and reduce the numbers of children who are abused.
Who were you before the movie? Who are you now?
Before I embarked on this journey to tell my story, I remembered a word of advice from a friend of mine. He said, "Embrace your fear and it will become your power." For so much of my life, any possible joyful moments were overshadowed by my struggle to embrace myself and to find a way to survive the pain that resulted from my the abuse I experienced as a child. When I came to Montana in 2008, one year after the last of three trials ended (Howard Nevison's trial was the last), I was essentially beginning the next chapter of my life, a life that I could live for myself, without the fear of a new trial in the back of my mind. Montana was a fresh start for me, and I slowly started the process of tearing down the protective walls I had built around my heart.
When I decided to make this film back in December of 2012, It was because I felt more happy, more at peace, and more alive then I had ever felt in my life. I had just graduated from college and I had my dream job working with Grizzly Creek Films (now co-producers of my film) on a National Geographic show titled, "America, The Wild." I was living in a place that I loved, with time and space to do the things that I loved to do, with beautiful and supportive friends to share my happiness with.
While most of my walls are down today, I know that I still have some work to do. What is different about me since I started making this film is that I almost never repress my feelings. No matter what I am feeling, or how challenging this process is at times, I listen to my heart and express myself, without self-judgement. Doing this consistently has allowed me keep pace with my mission to share my life story- to remain open and accept the vulnerability as I move forward.
What have you learned about childhood sexual abuse as a result of creating the movie?
When I was sexually abused, I was instantly severed from myself, and in that moment lost all sense of self love and ownership of my beauty. I felt disgusting, unlovable, and the furthest thing from beautiful. Sometimes I wonder who I would be today if I hadn't had the love and support that I did, both emotionally, and clinically. It took me between 10 and 15 years to fully love myself again, and to remember my beauty.
So what motivates a human being to abuse another human being in the form of sexual abuse?
My Uncle Larry (one of my abusers) and my father both stated that their older brother Howard (also one of my abusers) abused them when they were children. While my dad found a way to survive due to incredible love and support from outside of his immediate family, what I understand is that my uncle Larry didn't. I know the pain that I had and the darkness that trapped me before I started to get help as a child abuse victim. I simply cannot imagine what it would mean to grow up in that pain, without any help, all the way through the middle age of adulthood. I believe that when a human being is so deeply pained, and so incredibly distant from their inner beauty, and are unable to love themselves even remotely, they will either hurt themselves subconsciously, hurt other people, or both.
I don't know if my uncle Howard was abused or not, but I do know that both my uncle Larry and my cousin Stewart were abused as children. If they had gotten help, would they have abused me? I can't answer that with certainly. However, I strongly believe that if we want to stop child abuse, we need to make sure that current child sexual abuse victims are getting the proper love, guidance and support that they need to find peace in their live so that when they grow up, they are not hurting themselves and hurting others. If we help this generation of child abuse victims to heal and loves themselves again, I think we will find that the numbers will be significantly reduced.
What kind of courage did it take for you to face your fears? Were there times when you wanted to put a halt to it?
There were countless moments in my life where I wanted to silence myself, crawl into a corner, and disappear from the world. Between the ages of 7 and 13 I even tried to end my life a few different ways.
There were countless moments in my life where I wanted to silence myself, crawl into a corner, and disappear from the world. Between the ages of 7 and 13 I even tried to end my life a few different ways.
I choose love. I choose patience.... most of the time :)
How did your father's experience impact your own?
The day I told my dad what had happened to me, it was over the phone. I was sitting with my mom and my psychiatrist. I remember the silence on the phone after I had said what had happened. My dad said, "I believe you because my brothers did the same things to me." While my dad did nothing but love me, there was a lot of anger directed towards my dad initially from my family. "How could you let your brothers in to the home after what they had done to you." That is a hard question to answer, right? Well, Fast-Forward nearly seventeen years, and together, with his 200 hours of home video and his willingness to embrace his fears, and accept his vulnerability along side me, we are answering that question together.
When my dad was being abused by his brothers, he believed that he was being abused because he was gross, dirty and disgusting, just as I felt when I was being abused. When my dad's brothers grew up and left the house, the abuse stopped. From his experience with abuse, my dad thought that the nightmare was over. Though he believed that he was a "bad" or "gross" child, now that he was an adult, and his brothers had stopped, it was over. My dad never thought in a million years that his brothers would abuse me the same way they abused him because he saw me as beautiful and perfect, unlike his childhood self. No one explained to him that he was a victim, and that actually, he did nothing to warrant or deserve the abuse he endured as a child. It wasn't until my dad explained this to me while filming the first week of filming "Rewind To Fast-Forward," that I COMPLETELY understood him.
I never planned to tell my parents what Howard, Larry, and Stewart were doing to me. I never would have told anyone if I hadn't discovered that my little sister was also being abused. In my mind, I was gross, ugly, and unlovable, and my abusers must have been doing this to me because I was bad. But my sister? She was the most beautiful person in my life. I loved her so much! It was only then that I realized on some deeper level that what was happening to me, wasn't just unique to me. I realized that what what my abusers were doing to me wasn't just painful, it was also very wrong! If they could do it to my sister, they could do it to anyone!
If we are going to have a conversation about multigenerational child sexual abuse, I believe we we need to approach the conversation without anger. In no way I am I suggesting that my abusers are not fully responsible for what they did to my family, nor am I suggesting that we should never feel anger. My abusers committed unspeakable crimes and deserved to be brought to justice. What I am saying is that fear and anger will cloud our ability to understand the deeper intricacies of the phycology of both abuse victims, and abusers themselves. My dad's openness, along with his videos, has allowed me to tell this story, and it goes to show that it is never to late to free yourself from the pain and paralyzing effects that come from being an abuse victim.
My dad and I are closer now then we ever could have imagined.
If the movie could fulfill your wildest expectations, what would it do?
If this film helps one survivor overcome the pains of their past, or helps protect or heal just one child, the film will have been a success. My feeling is that it will eventually help millions of people.
Talk about the kickstarter campaign.
Words cannot describe what it feels like to watch thousands of strangers stand up and say, "You are beautiful and I not only believe in you, I want to do anything I can to help you. Thank you for being my voice!" Thousands of survivors have shared their stories with me.
In the first week of their Kickstarter campaign, Sasha and his team had reached their goal of $137,000! They are now working toward their stretch goal of $200,000 which will give them 10 more days of filming and better camera and sound equipment. This is an incredibly important film that clearly has touched others' hearts, sparked conversation and spurred their generosity. Please visit their Kickstarter page. Let Sasha know why this film is important to you and spread the word :)
State reissues child abuse report weeks after inaccuracies reported
by Megan Trimble
The state Department of Human Services published its revised 2014 annual child abuse report on Thursday, weeks after pulling the original report to correct errors.
The state removed the 2014 annual child abuse report from its website in July to correct errors in the data originally released. The department removed the report from its website after learning of the data errors. The final report was posted to the state's website as of 5:15 p.m. on Thursday.
Cathy Utz, the department's deputy secretary for children, youth and families, led an internal team to review and correct the errors in the first report, according to an email from Kait Gillis, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services.
"I apologize for any inconvenience the inaccuracies in the report may have caused," Gillis said in the email to PennLive.
The July 27 release was already late — nearly three months past the May 1 deadline outlined in state law — which raised red flags for child advocates, who rely on the report's statistics.
In one segment of the initial report, statistics of fatalities and near fatalities for several counties listed in a county-by-county chart didn't match up to the number of summaries of child fatalities and near fatalities that came later in the document.
The state tried to pass through corrections, which were noticed by child advocates and media outlets. The advocates criticized the initial release, saying the state had released a collection of data that was "full of flaws."
The statistics carry great weight in the child welfare realm, but, with the discovered inaccuracies, advocates were left questioning just how much faith could be placed in the state's data.
The report's statistics are used to determine funding levels, improve programs and measure how well children are being protected in the state.
Department of Human Services is including a page-by-page summary of the changes made in the reissued report "to help aid individuals who are interested in the report and in an effort to be transparent about the changes we have made," Gillis said.
Final 2014 Child Abuse Report
Court: Child-abuse records generally confidential
by Randy Ludlow
Parents are not permitted to inspect records of abuse investigations involving their children without establishing “good cause” to overcome a law declaring the records confidential, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.
The unanimous court ruled in a case brought by Stephanie Clough, who represented herself in her action against Franklin County Children Services.
Clough claimed that an agency policy permitted her to review the child-abuse investigation file concerning her daughter and turned to the Ohio Supreme Court after the agency denied her request.
She had been told that an allegation of abuse involving her daughter had been found to be unsubstantiated, but asked to see the case file when told it was going to be changed to “indicative of abuse.”
The justices found that the agency's policy grants adults and children who are involved with children services the right to review records on their cases -- as long as it is not prohibited under other laws.
Investigations of child abuse are confidential and are not public records, a status that can only be overcome if the agency director is persuaded “good cause” exists to provide access, the court said in its unsigned opinion. Clough could make no such showing.
“While her case is sympathetic, and she is no doubt concerned about the investigation of her daughter's possible abuse, she has not alleged that the child is currently in any specific danger, that her due process rights are in jeopardy, or that there is any similarly compelling reason to depart from the statutory mandate of confidentiality,” the court wrote.
When worry is good: Talking to your child about sexual abuse
by Allison Shumacher
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I worried about everything. I remember reading about how eating healthy things like fish and vegetables (none of which I wanted to eat) would aid in the baby's brain development and help her make better food choices as she grew up. One evening after work, my husband innocently asked me what I wanted for dinner. I burst into tears and answered, “Pizza!” When he asked why pizza was a problem, I sobbed, “Because our child is gonna be unhealthy and unable to learn and it'll be all my fault!”
Don't just worry, do something
Yeah. Moms worry. So please don't hate me when I add one more thing to a list laden with buying BPA-free bottles and finding affordable childcare—but I wouldn't do it if it weren't important. It is this: child sexual abuse prevention.
After all, we are our children's primary protectors—so while we shop for the safest car seats and cover up all the electrical outlets in our houses, we also need to be thinking about talking to them in ways that can keep them safe from abuse.
Don't put it off, do something now
I know you don't want to think about it. Neither do I. And at the very least, it seems like something you could put off until they're, say, 5 or 6. But child predators won't conveniently wait around for us to start having these conversations, so we need to start early. Think of it as being proactive: you could sit around and worry about your child becoming a victim of sexual abuse. Or you could do something about it.
Start with safety rules
I'm lucky enough to work for an organization that's been teaching personal safety skills to children for 35 years—we even have a series of short videos and articles showing parents why and how to talk to their kids about sexual abuse. So I started early. As soon as our daughter could form sentences, for example, my husband and I started talking to her about the difference between secrets and surprises.
Secrets vs. surprises
Going with Mommy to buy Daddy a birthday present is a surprise—it's something we want him to find out about at a certain time. Someone giving you unsafe touches and telling you not to tell anyone about it is a secret. And we don't keep secrets in our family.
The touching rule
Another one we started around about the same time was what my organization calls The Touching Rule: No one can touch your private body parts except to keep you healthy.
Keep it frequent and informal
And in case you're wondering, these conversations aren't formal sit-downs on a par with United Nations peace talks. They're normal, frequent little chats—and believe me, it's a lot easier to talk about this stuff when you group it with other family safety rules:
We don't touch the stove. We don't cross the street without holding a grownup's hand. And we Always Ask First—that is, we always ask the adult in charge before someone can give us something, take us somewhere, or do something with us.
Of course, I still continue to worry about my daughter. It seems to be a hazard of this whole motherhood thing. But I do sleep better knowing that she knows ways to stay safe from sexual abuse.
Oh, and as for my worry about the food I ate when I was pregnant? My daughter is super healthy and does just fine in school. But she'll take pizza over broccoli any day of the week.
Sexual assault workshop planned
NEWTON — Teens and adults will learn how to detect and prevent child sexual assault at free training sessions on Wednesday, Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. until noon or from 6-8 p.m. at Project Self-Sufficiency, 127 Mill St., Newton.
The workshops will be offered by the Enough Abuse Campaign, a cooperative effort of Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey, Project Self-Sufficiency and the Sussex Warren Partnership to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse.
The community-wide education initiative aims to mobilize adults and communities to prevent child sexual assault by increasing awareness of the warning signs displayed by predators and as well as victims.
Educators are particularly interested in training middle and high school youth, their parents, teachers, administrators, coaches and other youth-serving professionals on how to recognize and prevent child sexual abuse.
Participation is free and open to anyone interested in stemming the tide of child sexual assault, but advance registration is required.
To register, or to find out more about the Enough Abuse campaign, call Project Self-Sufficiency, 973-940-3500.
Child abuse royal commission: Children still being sexually abused inside Victorian juvenile justice system, inquiry hears
by Sarah Farnsworth
Children are still being sexually abused inside Victoria's youth justice system, despite the Victorian Government's efforts to try to "safeguard" against it, a royal commission has heard.
Pradeer Philip, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS), has told the inquiry since 2005 there had been 121 reported cases of "sexual behaviour" within the juvenile system.
Those include two cases of sexual exploitation, 20 cases of client-to-client sexual assault, two cases of client-to-client rape and two cases of staff-to-client sexual assault.
The Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse heard 13 out of 16 cases deemed to be "category one" sexual abuse have been reported to police.
Mr Philip said the DHHS was in the midst of a culture change and the system was working.
"We've even had one this week with a report made to one of our justice workers about sexual abuse prior to entering," he said.
"Three things happened straight away - safety of the child, health needs of the child and reporting to police.
For the past two weeks, the royal commission has been examining three decades of sexual abuse at three state-run facilities in Victoria that housed both juvenile offenders and wards of the state, including the Turana Youth Training Centre.
The commission has heard harrowing details of wards of the state being sexually abused by other residents, and staff, and subjected to degrading treatment by government staff between 1960s and 1990s.
Mr Philip apologised for the department's past failings.
"As a father I am shaken to the core that children and young people were forced to endure such horrific experiences," he said.
"I am profoundly disappointed of the failures of our public institutions that led to or compounded the tragedies that have emerged through the hearings.
"I offer my sincere and unreserved apology to all who have been affected by these failures and unacceptable practice."
Parents of abused school children speak out
GOSHEN – Outraged parents of the abused victims of a Pine Bush school bus incident that occurred in early May stepped forward on Thursday afternoon at Attorney Michael Sussman's office to inform the public of a growing problem on local school buses.
On May 4, Shirley Ellson, 73, a bus monitor for one of First Student Bus Company's Pine Bush routes, was caught on camera abusing two children. Both of the victimized students were “non-verbal” autistics who could never communicate to their parents or authority figures what was happening to them.
Daniel Viggiano, father of one of the victims, explained in detail the events he saw via a police edit of the bus camera footage from the day his child was abused.
“The monitor is forcibly holding my son's right arm, with her left arm, causing the bruises and scratches that occurred on May 4th, 2015,” said Viggiano. “While he's repeatedly trying to free his arm and crying, the monitor is repeatedly smacking him on his face, in his head area, with her right arm several times and then she leans over and smacks the only other child on the bus, in the face, right behind my son. She then smacks my son again and leans over again smacking the headphones off of the other child, while all the time, screaming at both of them.”
Both victims' parents claim neither the school nor First Student informed them of the incident and that the monitor was suspended the next day then quietly resigned.
Patricia Nelson, mother of the other victim, was emotional when she addressed the situation.
“One hour, each day, five days a week and not one person in the entire company came forward in defense of these boys,” said Nelson. “These are the people we all depend on to put our trust in to take care of our kids.”
Both sets of parents claim they found out much later even after contacting First Student for the tapes, of which, they claim First Student insisted were null due to lack of visibility and poor camera angles. The parents finally saw the tapes via the State Police where they claim that there were, in fact, three different and visible camera angles recording the abuse.
Sussman said that approximately five to six additional claims with similar circumstances, from various school districts and contracted bus companies from around the Hudson Valley, have surfaced since these two students were abused.
Many of these other incidents involve students with disabilities that either inhibit their ability to communicate or keep them from being able to communicate at all. These incidences have ranged from assault to sexual abuse and verbal abuse.
The case involving the two Pine Bush students is currently in the Orange County Supreme Court and the first hearing is scheduled for early October.
For Special-Needs Students, a Ration of Corporal Punishment
by Nate Robson
More than a dozen names are inked onto the wooden paddle tucked behind Principal Josh Gwartney's desk.
Each name memorializes a child who was given a swatting in Chouteau-Mazie Public Schools, located about 25 miles east of Tulsa.
Gwartney, who leads the early childhood center, said the paddle is rarely used on the center's pre-kindergarten through second-grade students, and only with their parents' permission. Paddling also is used in the district's elementary, middle and high schools.
Superintendent Roger Mason said the biggest benefit of enforcing that discipline is that students know the paddle exists, and will likely try to stay out of trouble to avoid being swatted.
“The most effective part of corporal punishment is the mental component,” Mason said. “It is an option, and it is in the back of a child's mind.”
Oklahoma is one of 19 states that allow schools to physically discipline students. It has the fourth highest rate of corporal punishment of both all students and special education students, who have learning and emotional disabilities, according to discipline data for the 2011-2012 school year collected by the U.S. Department of Education.
In that year, special education students made up 15 percent of Oklahoma enrollment but were more than 20 percent of students who were physically punished. At dozens of schools, special-needs students received corporal punishment – generally paddling – at much higher rates than their peers.
A total of 2,199 special education students, and 10,802 other students, were given corporal punishment in Oklahoma in 2011-2012.
Proponents of the practice say it is needed to ensure order in the classroom. Opponents say paddling has no long-term benefit and can traumatize students, especially special-needs children, who have conditions such as hyperactive attention deficit disorder or learning disabilities.
Attorney George McCaffrey, a special education attorney who represents parents and children, said the higher rates of physical punishment of special education students indicates schools are lashing out in frustration instead of addressing the disabilities underlying the behavior.
“You can't beat the disability out of a kid,” McCaffrey said. “These are the most fragile, innocent students in our society. If we turn our backs on them, that says a lot about our society.”
Not all Oklahoma schools use corporal punishment. Generally, those that do are in smaller, non-urban districts. Of Oklahoma's 1,774 schools, 587 used physical discipline in 2011-2012.
The discipline data for each public school is reported by districts to the U.S. Department of Education. The department said there is a verification process before the data is released to the public that includes computerized edit checks and certification by a district official.
At Chouteau-Mazie High School, more than three-fourths of its special education students, or 38 in total, were given corporal punishment, the data show. None of the other students were paddled.
Mason said that administrators from that school year are no longer at the district, so no one could comment on the disparity. He also questioned the accuracy of the federal data, but said he had no way to substantiate his doubts.
Mason said he does not believe the district over-disciplines special-needs students.
“To my knowledge, it's not an issue,” he said. “Our special education students have more protections than a regular child in education.”
Mason was referring to protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Special education advocates and attorneys say districts can get around those protections by claiming the student's behavior is not related to his or her disability. That places the burden of proof on the parents.
Mason said Chouteau-Mazie gets permission from parents of children in all grades before using corporal punishment. The parents can also be present for the paddling.
Another school that reported a large disparity was Rattan Elementary School in southeast Oklahoma. The federal data show 19 special education students, or 36 percent, were physically disciplined, compared with none of the other students.
Rattan Public Schools Superintendent Shari Pillow said she doubts the federal data for the district's schools are accurate. She said she didn't have the district's 2011-2012 report to the federal government. She did not respond to requests for more recent discipline data for her district.
The Rattan district uses a wooden paddle, and students are paddled for serious offenses such as fighting or hurting another classmate, Pillow said.
Pillow said she doesn't believe special education students are targeted for corporal punishment in Oklahoma or nationally.
“The perception is we're barbarians,” Pillow said. “We don't over-use it, and we don't hurt our children.”
Traci Cook, executive director of the National Alliance of Mental Illness for Oklahoma, said that instead of punishing special education students, districts should focus on what's causing a student to misbehave.
In most cases, a student's behavior is tied to his or her disability, meaning paddling, suspending or expelling the student will do little to fix the problem over the long term.
“That's obviously some frustration coming out in these schools,” she said, referring to the number of special education students receiving corporal punishment. “Obviously, it's not working.”
Many of the state's largest districts have banned corporal punishment.
Legislation has been introduced over years to limit the practice or expand it by giving teachers more authority to decide whether to use corporal punishment. None of the bills passed.
In Lawton Public Schools, teachers and administrators are prohibited from using corporal punishment.
Superintendent Tom Deighan said one reason is a fear of being sued if a child is hurt. Another is that paddling ultimately doesn't improve a child's behavior, he said.
“You can follow the law, you can do it exactly as the law prescribes, and it still puts the staff member and student at risk,” Deighan said.
In 2008, the parents of an elementary school child sued Deer Creek Public Schools in Edmond alleging the federal rights of their developmentally disabled son were violated when school employees slapped him on two different occasions, held him down on a desk, and placed him frequently in a timeout room. The boy “was known to occasionally yell, throw, kick, hit, spit, throw tantrums and otherwise exhibit disruptive behavior,” court records say.
In 2013, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that while slapping the child could rightfully be condemned, it did not rise to a violation of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits “executive abuse of power … which shocks the conscience.”
The court's opinion stated, “All three instances appear to have resulted from simple frustration with (the student) rather than any legitimate disciplinary goal.”
When asked about corporal punishment, State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister did not state her position on the issue, but said any allegations of child abuse need to be reported.
“We take these claims very seriously and will work with districts to make certain all state and federal laws are followed for special education students in Oklahoma,” she said. “Any abuse of a child is an outrage, but especially when it involves our most vulnerable student population.”
Changing the way we think about addiction
by Lynne Malcolm and Olivia Willis
Addiction, whether to substances or behaviours, can wreak havoc on people's lives. But the addicted mind is complex, and we know from history that there's no easy fix. Now, one physician is attempting to heal the 'hungry ghost' of addiction by looking at addicts' childhood environment.
Dr Gabor Maté, a physician who studies and treats addiction in Vancouver, has developed a controversial theory after many years of working in the city's Downtown Eastside—one of the most concentrated areas of drug use in North America.
Maté plays down the contribution of genetic factors and suggests that addiction goes back to the pain that many people experience in childhood.
'Genes do not cause addictions. At the very most, they will make somebody more susceptible to them,' he says.
'But we know, both from animal studies and from human experience, that even creatures with the genetic predispositions for addiction will not be addicted if they are brought up in a proper environment.
'In the 12 years of work in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, working with people heavily addicted to heroin, cocaine, crystal meth and other drugs, I never met a single female patient over a 12-year period who had not been sexually abused as a child.
'I also never met a single male who had not suffered either sexual or other forms of abuse or neglect and abandonment—not once in 12 years.'
According to Maté, large-scale studies show degree of addiction strictly correlates to the degree of trauma people experienced in childhood.
Maté references the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study, which looked at 17,000 mostly middle-class Americans.
'Childhood adversity meant physical, sexual or emotional abuse, the death of a parent, a parent being addicted, a parent being mentally ill, a parent being jailed, violence in the family or a divorce,' says Maté.
The study found that for each adverse experience, the risk of addiction increased exponentially.
'People use drugs to escape the pain that is ingrained in them by their childhood experiences. They use the drugs to escape from the sense of discomfort with the self that is a necessary and unavoidable outcome with childhood adversity,' he says.
According to Maté, most doctors today fail to recognise how the brain itself is shaped by early experiences. Without a set of nurturing, connected and emotionally available adults in our childhood, our brain cannot develop optimally, he says.
'So what you have in the case of adversity is emotional pain, poor self-esteem, shame and alienation, and disturbed brain circuits, and this is the setup for addiction.'
Although Maté is supporter of the popular 12-step drug treatment program used in Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, he disagrees with the idea that people should accept they are drug addicts 'by nature'.
'Nobody is a drug addict by nature,' he says.
'If you look, for example, at any population, addiction shows up, under certain circumstances, and those same populations don't have addiction when those circumstances are different.'
Of course, many young people try drugs not because of pain or trauma, but rather curiosity or peer pressure.
'If you look at the research, it's in the context of the peer group that most people are introduced to drugs. But being introduced to drugs and becoming an addict are two separate questions,' says Maté.
'I mean, if alcohol was addictive, then anybody who drank would get addicted, but most people don't. It's the same with food, same with sex, same with gambling, same with shopping, same with heroin.
'What causes addiction is if there is a susceptible brain there.'
Maté explains that narcotics serve as a temporary soothing mechanism for psychic pain because they work in much the same way as pain relief.
'Cocaine is a local anaesthetic, it is used that way in medicine. Alcohol, as you know, is an analgesic. Cannabis, as you know, is an analgesic, it's used that way in medicine.
'Not just the drugs, by the way, but all the behaviours of addiction … they distract you from your emotional pain and discomfort.'
As a result, Maté has coined his own mantra: 'The first question is not why the addiction but why the pain?'
It's a question Maté often asks his clients at the Portland Hotel, a residence, resource centre and harm reduction clinic for drug addicts in Downtown Eastside.
He focuses on improving the lives of addicts by examining the how and why of their addictions.
'First of all we have to see the drug addict as ourselves,' he says.
'The only difference between myself and my clients in the Downtown Eastside is they suffered more than I did, hence their desperation for soothing and pain relief was greater than mine.'
Maté believes that society should take a less judgmental approach to the issue of illicit drug use and recognise that our judgement of drug addicts reflects a refusal to deal with certain parts of ourselves.
'If we understood that, we'd have a completely different social approach,' he says.
'We would put the funds and the resources into rehabilitating people, into helping them, and we would also make sure that young families get the proper support.'
According to Maté, the 'war on drugs' is a misnomer.
'You can't make a war on inanimate objects. There's a war on drug addicts is what there is.'
'The jails in the United States and Canada, I would guess in Australia as well, are full of people who suffered trauma in early childhood, began to use drugs to soothe their pain, then began to engage in criminal activity only because the drugs are illegal and therefore expensive.
'What we are actually doing is stressing large numbers of people, which makes it more sure that they are going to stay addicted, because we know that stress is the biggest factor in causing addictive relapse.'
According to Maté, there is so much more we could be doing to combat drug addiction, and at no extra cost.
'We would have to have a complete shift of perspective,' he says.
'All we have to do is consult science and our experience and our hearts, and we know what to do.'
Why does it take victims of child sex abuse so long to speak up?
by Michael Salter
Last week, former Prisoner star Maggie Kirkpatrick was found guilty of the abuse of a 14-year-old girl in 1984. Kirkpatrick joins entertainer Rolf Harris and Hey Dad! actor Robert Hughes as the latest Australian celebrity to be convicted of sexual abuse.
These cases raise a murky set of questions about the extent of child sexual abuse and the impunity enjoyed by prominent figures.
The UK has been grappling with these questions since hundreds of people accused entertainer Jimmy Savile of sexual abuse after his death in 2011. He is now recognised as one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders.
UK police have been investigating an expanding set of scandals regarding the alleged involvement of high-profile men in the sexual abuse of children in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. These scandals have now engulfed a number of current and former politicians.
Disclosure is often made later
These allegations of sexual abuse are “historical” in two ways. First, they pertain to incidents of abuse that are often decades old.
Second, it is no exaggeration to say that these allegations are remaking history. These disclosures of abuse challenge our cultural memory and collective understandings of public figures. They tell a more complex and disturbing story than the version of history that we are most familiar with.
Understandably, the credibility and substance of these allegations has come under considerable scrutiny. Why didn't victims say anything at the time? And is it justified to pursue their allegations now, decades after the fact?
At times, these questions have had a legalistic and sceptical tone to them. They recall entrenched myths that a rape victim who doesn't raise “hue and cry” immediately after the event is untrustworthy.
An immediate complaint of sexual abuse is relatively unusual. It is more common for children to delay talking about the abuse or to never report it. One retrospective survey of Canadian adults abused as children found that one-fifth reported the abuse within a month, but 58% delayed disclosure for five years or longer, and one-fifth never disclosed the abuse to anyone.
Studies with adult survivors consistently find that most didn't tell anyone about the abuse when they were kids. Only a small proportion of incidents are ever reported to the authorities.
A long road
Disclosure is not an event but a process. Many factors are at play in enabling or constraining a child to speak directly about abuse and bringing that complaint to the attention of the authorities. The age and development of the child, the relationship of the child to the perpetrator, the severity of the abuse and the availability of support dynamically shape the disclosure process.
Multiple stressors in the child's family and community context, and social and cultural attitudes that shame and blame victims, can create environments in which disclosure is fraught with difficulty. The process of disclosure often involves behavioural and indirect cues, and accidental disclosures, as much or more often than a conscious decision to tell someone about the abuse.
It is often assumed that disclosing abuse is naturally in the interest of victims. However, children may withhold disclosure because they accurately believe that the adults in their life will be angry with them or not support them.
Research with adult survivors has found that many did disclose in childhood only to experience blame and minimisation. Abuse may then continue in spite of the disclosure.
Negative and shaming reactions to sexual abuse disclosures have been shown to significantly increase the risk of mental illness and distress in the victim. Feeling betrayed is corrosive to mental wellbeing.
In “historical” allegations, the years that elapse between abuse and a court case are often indicative of the long journey that survivors take to recover from abuse and find a forum in which their complaint will be heard. Initial disclosures of abuse are likely to be to friends, partners and other people who the survivor trusts.
In court, the husband of the woman Kirkpatrick abused recalled a conversation in the mid-2000s in which his wife said that, as a teenager, she went to the house of “the nasty one on Prisoner” and “some sexual things happened”. It was several more years before she made a formal complaint.
Even when disclosure occurs in a formal setting – such as to police – survivors are not guaranteed an adequate response. One of Robert Hughes' victims reported him to police in the late 1980s and again in the 1990s but was apparently told nothing could be done.
The disclosure paradox
The paradox is that, in order to detect sexual abuse, we depend on abused children to speak out, but they are often in environments in which they can't rely on support or understanding.
In this impossible situation, non-disclosure is a way that victims of abuse protect themselves from further betrayal and harm. Extricating themselves from unsupportive environments and finding opportunities to speak about their abuse is a complex and fragile process that can take many years.
It seems that the pertinent question in “historical” abuse allegations is not:
Why didn't victims say something at the time?
Rather, it should be:
Why do abuse victims have to wait so long to speak and be heard?
Kids to live with sex offender; diocese punishes group; stealing in Lord's name
by Margery A. Beck
OMAHA, Neb. — The Nebraska Court of Appeals rejected a father's request for custody of his daughters to get them out of the home of their mother, who is married to a registered sex offender.
The Central City man argued that a Phelps County District judge was wrong to find there was no significant risk to his 16- and 14-year-old daughters if they remain in the house with their stepfather. Online court documents show the stepfather was convicted in 2003 of attempted sexual assault of his 15-year-old stepdaughter from a previous marriage. The appeals court ruling Tuesday said the man testified in the custody case that he served four years in prison for sexually assaulting the girl.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court found that the lower court properly evaluated the facts of the case to determine that their stepfather does not pose a significant risk to the girls' safety. The appeals panel also upheld the judge's determination that it was in the best interests of the children to allow their mother to retain custody.
"(W)e believe that the district court made a thorough and careful evaluation of the evidence and did not abuse its discretion in reaching its conclusion," Judge Riko Bishop wrote for the appeals panel.
The ruling notes that the lower court relied heavily on testimony from the girls' mental health therapist, who said their stepfather posed a low risk to reoffend. However, the therapist testified that she works solely with juvenile sex offenders, not adults, and that she has never interviewed or even met the stepfather.
The stepfather testified that he successfully completed a sex offender treatment program in prison. The girls' mother testified that both girls have a good relationship with their stepfather, are rarely left alone with him and have been instructed to change clothes behind closed doors and not to walk around the house in a towel.
Court records reveal that it's the second time the girls' mother has been involved with a sex offender. After her first marriage ended, court records say, she lived with a man who was later convicted of sexually assaulting one of her daughters, who was 5 at the time of the assault.
The Associated Press is not naming those involved in the case to protect the girls' identities.
State law spells out that a custodial parent moving in with a sex offender justifies a change in custody, the appeals court acknowledged. But the law also allows a judge the discretion to leave custody unchanged if the judge determines the children are not at risk.
An attorney for the father did not return a message Wednesday asking if he will appeal Tuesday's ruling.
New plan aimed at protecting kids from child abuse
by Allison Sylte
DENVER – Denver authorities held a press conference Wednesday announcing a plan that they're calling a "child safety net" to protect kids from abuse situations.
This comes after Mayor Michael Hancock set up an impact team to look at policies after the death of 23-month-old Javion Johnson in July.
His mother and boyfriend face first-degree murder charges. Denver Human Services had been in contact with the family before Johnson's death.
The impact team came up with several recommendations to improve the system:
-Employee training on recognizing child abuse or family issues for anyone in contact with children and their families
-Placing Department of Human Services social workers in some Denver PublicSchools
-Immediate response to certain abuse cases – including when children under 5 live in the home in question
-Consultations between the Denver Health medical team and human services workers about certain cases involving allegations and abuse
-Hosting a series of community conversations to inform the committee on the concerns of the community and ways that the city can provide better support to parents, children and other residents.
-Displaying information in schools and recreation centers for the public about the new statewide hotline to report suspected child abuse or neglect
-Creating a subcommittee comprised of agency leaders form the Child safety Net Impact team to oversee the child safety net as it progresses. The subcommittee will also advise the Mayor on matters related to the protection of Denver's children.
These actions are just the beginning, as they were announced as part of phase one of the child safety net plan. It is not yet known when the next phases will be implemented.
The Impact Team is broken into five subcommittees and an executive steering committee that meets weekly to identify and implement improvements to the children's safety net.
The five subcommittees will review partnerships for improved practice, policies for protecting children, data sharing and modernized technology, coordinated partner training and staffing and community engagement.
Feds warn Montana it faces cutoff of child abuse prevention program funding
by Holbrook Mohr and Garance Burke
The federal government says it will strip Montana of a child abuse prevention grant if the state does not start providing the public with mandatory details about children who die from abuse and neglect.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has for years kept secret details about children who die at their caregivers' hands — including those killed while the agency had reason to know they were in danger — saying a state confidentiality law prevents release of the information.
An eight-month investigation by The Associated Press into child abuse deaths across the country revealed last December that Montana's law violates a rule that all states receiving federal prevention and treatment program grants must "allow the public to access information when child abuse or neglect results in a child fatality," with few exceptions.
Montana routinely keeps that information secret, allowing the state to escape public scrutiny and withhold information that could be used to craft policies and laws to better protect its most vulnerable children.
JooYeun Chang, associate commissioner for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau, warned in an Aug. 13 letter that the state will lose the annual grant if Montana fails to comply with the disclosure requirement.
The AP obtained the letter from Montana officials after filing a federal Freedom of Information Act request with HHS.
It would be highly unusual for the federal government to strip a state of a federal grant related to child abuse prevention. But that still may not force state lawmakers to take action because the $120,000 grant represents a tiny slice of the Montana agency's annual $70 million budget.
HHS would not comment on whether the state could face additional penalties or consequences should it fail to comply.
HHS is responsible for implementing and enforcing federal child welfare laws and programs, but the agency rarely holds states accountable for failing to follow its regulations. The letter said the Children's Bureau has had several discussions with Montana officials about those rules since 2013.
"We don't want an accident of geography to influence whether a child is protected from one state to another, so it's important that the federal government is stepping in here," said Michael Petit, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, which is reviewing prevention policies nationwide.
Petit said the "rare letter" to Montana could have a positive impact in other problematic jurisdictions. "The mere fact that the feds are stepping in creates a stir and I don't think there is a state that wants to get in a battle with the federal government and be labeled as failing to protect children," he said.
Montana department spokesman Jon Ebelt acknowledged that state law conflicts with the federal disclosure rules. The agency proposed legislation to bring the state into compliance during the legislative session earlier this year, but the bill was never brought up for a vote before the session ended. Montana lawmakers will not meet again until 2017.
"Unfortunately, the legislature failed to pass this bill and has put this funding at risk," Ebelt said in an email.
Chang wrote that the state will lose the grant unless the agency develops an improvement plan by Monday and comes into full compliance after the 2017 state legislative session. The state's plan must address how the agency will follow the rules before any bill is passed.
"If the state is unable to comply fully prior to the passage of state legislation, it must provide a state attorney general's opinion as to why that is the case," the letter said.
Ebelt said his agency will ask for an attorney general's opinion, as directed, and for the legislature to pass a bill in 2017 bringing the state into compliance.
As part of the AP investigation, reporters canvassed the 50 states, the District of Columbia and all branches of the military, circumventing a system that does a terrible job of accounting for child deaths.
AP found that at least 786 children died of abuse and neglect in the U.S. over a six-year span in plain view of child protection authorities. One of those victims was Mattisyn Blaz, a 2-month-old from Butte, Montana, who was killed by her father, a man already known to child welfare personnel and police as someone who could be violent with his family. The state kept secret all information about the case, but AP uncovered the involvement of child welfare authorities by reviewing hundreds of pages of court records from the father's murder trial and conducting numerous interviews with Mattisyn's relatives and prosecutors.
The AP investigation focused on children who died from abuse or neglect even while authorities were investigating their families or providing some form of protective services. But the actual number of children who died under such circumstances is likely much higher because some states withhold vital information.
The data collection system on child deaths is so flawed that no one can even say with accuracy how many children overall die from abuse or neglect every year. The federal government estimates an average of about 1,650 deaths annually in recent years; many believe the actual number is twice as high.
Schools work to place child-abuse hotline posters by Friday deadline
by Katie Lamb
Missouri school districts are working to post a child-abuse and neglect hotline number in every student restroom in light of new legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Jay Nixon.
The act, which goes into effect Friday, requires all public and charter schools to post the hotline in all student restrooms. It also requires signs be posted in a visible location in a public area of the school -- in English and Spanish -- with the toll-free number.
Neil Glass, assistant superintendent of administrative services at the Cape Girardeau School District, said the hotline information previously had been available on bulletin boards, and the district now is placing the posters in the required areas.
"This just kind of takes another step," he said. "The more we can make people aware of the avenues they have to report this kind of abuse, the better off all parties would be. It's just another way to protect children."
The hotline, established by the Children's Division, is a toll-free phone line answered seven days a week, 24 hours a day year-round.
Members of certain occupational groups, such as teachers, social workers and physicians, are mandated by law to make reports to the hotline and are considered "mandated reporters." Anonymous reports also can be made by those who are not considered mandated reporters, but the Children's Division encourages the caller to provide their identity.
Deena Ring, director of special services at Cape Girardeau schools, said it's best to err on the side of caution when identifying and reporting possible abuse, and district staff participate in video training each year.
"We are mandated reporters, and we take that responsibility very seriously," Ring said. "If you're concerned about somebody, check it out. It's so much easier to find out that it was nothing than to find out there was something and somebody hesitated. You just never want to be in that situation."
Each building principal was tasked with selecting the public area to post the hotline information. Ring cited school lobbies as a common example.
Dana Saverino, director of communications, said as of Tuesday, the district has printed about 30 posters and was printing more to ensure they meet the requirements by Friday.
Glass said the new law complements the district's online bullying reporting system.
"We already started that process last year of giving children an anonymous way of reporting bullying," he said. "I feel like child abuse and neglect would fall right in line with that."
Brian Lee, superintendent at the Scott City School District, said about 70 posters have been printed and laminated at the district and will be in student restrooms and school lobbies by Friday.
"It's a great idea," Lee said. "Students can see it without making a big deal out of it. ... I think any time you advertise help lines for kids, especially if they've been abused or neglected, it's a good thing."
Child victims of sexual abuse cannot be ‘tortured' in guise of re-examination
People accused of subjecting children to sexual abuse cannot be permitted to “torture” the child victims by urging the trial courts to recall them for re-examination after the conclusion of examination-in-chief by the prosecution as well as cross examination by the defence counsel, the Madras High Court Bench here has said.
Dismissing a petition filed by a person prosecuted for sexually abusing his six-year-old daughter whom he wanted to re-examine before Dindigul Mahila Court, Justice R. Mala said: “It is a settled proposition of law that fair opportunity must be given to the accused to prove his innocence. However, in the case on hand, we must consider the age of the child too.
“Since the child was aged about six years at the time of occurrence and now she is aged about seven years, such child witness cannot be tortured by recalling… I do not find any merit in the contentions taken by the petitioner and I am of the view that the petition has been filed only with a view to harass the minor girl who happens to be none other than the daughter of the petitioner.”
Arguing the case on behalf of the Inspector of Dindigul All Women Police Station, Government Advocate K. Anbarasan pointed out that the petitioner had been booked under Section 376 (rape) of Indian Penal Code read with Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012 and the child victim was examined as the prime prosecution witness on May 30, 2014.
Nevertheless, after about 11 months, the petitioner urged the trial court to recall the victim as well as the doctor who subjected the girl to medical examination, after the alleged occurrence, for re-examination on the ground that they had to be countered with some more documents. The Mahila Court on April 7 this year allowed the plea only with respect to the doctor and hence the present petition.
Raising your child with Victorian hang-ups: a guide for parents
Is your child too affectionate or expressive? Does this worry you? Worry no longer. Here are some tips to ensure your children grow up with a level of emotional suppression that would do any Victorian aristocrat proud.
by Taylor Glenn
American psychologist and author of several parenting books Charlotte Reznick has reportedly advised parents that kissing children on the lips is “too sexual.” Speaking to the unfailingly respectable publication The Sun, Reznick allegedly explained that children are likely to be confused by the “stimulation” of kissing and the fact that their parents (and perhaps also their pets, dollies, and the entire cast of Friends) also kiss.
Although it's possible Reznick has been misquoted for effect, I'm going to stamp out that boring ambiguity by shouting Right on, Reznick ! Just the other day as I was dutifully wiping my two-year old's crotch with a cold, wet wipe and avoiding eye contact, I was thinking how disgusting it is that parents have gotten away with this blatantly inappropriate form of physical contact for so long. What's next – letting them eat from boobs? Blech. Bring me an air sickness bag and a copy of The Stranger, stat.
For too long, the modern parent has relied on physical affection to express its love to children. Sure, babies who are denied physical affection won't survive, but limits, people, limits. You can't click on a news source without seeing the latest child abuse case flashing before your eyes, and since parents are rightly concerned about protecting their little ones from inappropriate contact, what better way to guide them in their potentially paranoid journey than to make them aware that they might be the real abusers .
If you want proof that kissing goes on to produce sexually messed up adults, just look at how many adults end up having sexual relationships. Some of those sexual relationships result in more children, who get kissed by their parents, and the vicious and sordid cycle continues.
Enough is enough. It's time we implemented some more stone cold restraint in our parenting techniques to ensure our kids are the least-stimulated and unconfused people possible. I know from my previous work as a therapist that the patients whose parents stayed well away from touching and kissing them turned out solid and had super relationships.
Here's some top tips for imbuing some Victorian-style sensibility into your offspring (hint: refer to them as offspring as often as possible, as pet names like “darling,” “honey” or “dear” can make them feel exploited, and they might even adopt them as stripper names later in life):
1. Affection Sub: If your child reaches out for a hug or a kiss, step back and hand them a stick. Instruct them that they may pretend the stick is a friend (or use it as a weapon) but that it is in no way meant as a sexual gesture. If no stick is available, a rock or chunk of plaster will suffice.
2. Ice baths: As children begin to grow they'll find warm water too relaxing and potentially arousing. Nip this in the bud with a good old fashioned ice bath. (Hint: a towel which is air-dried for days will be crunchy and rough, which can be helpful in keeping things even more uncomfortable post-bath),
3. Bland foods: Many parents make the mistake of introducing spicy and complex foods to their children. But this can stimulate their taste buds, creating confusion in the brain. They'll be especially thrown as they see you dining on the same foods. “Why are my parents eating pad thai too?” they'll ask themselves, before going on to become underground BDSM workers.
4. Thwart, Thwart, Thwart: Children are inappropriately curious creatures who will probably look to you for guidance, and ask questions about sex even before they reach adulthood . Although shameful, remember that you're in control. Take charge by distracting your kids when they ask questions about sex, boundaries and inappropriate behaviour. If the stick and/or the rock don't work, try doughnuts. That's what my mother did, and to this day I use food to cope with all sorts of things. Simple!
I sure hope this has been helpful; parenting is a minefield and not one which should be navigated lightly or without expert guidance. Just remember: if your instinct tells you it's OK, it's probably wrong.
Taylor is a comedian, writer and former therapist whose toddler often licks her face and pokes her boobs. You can follow her on Twitter for more surefire parenting tips, @taylorglennUK
Undergoing Sexual Abuse As A Child Can Haunt Survivors All Their Life: Time For Change
by Ravi Sahay
This is a difficult topic – moral corruption of child sexual abuse usually closes our heart and our mind goes into denial. Chetan Bhagat, in his column, ‘Let's Talk About Sex', cautioned Indians, “ ..Since we shun it so much we have two major problems around sex in India. One, repressed sexual desire often comes out in unsavory ways. Two, we are unable to discuss or have a meaningful debate around any topic to do with sex. Repressed sexual desire, for instance, is manifest in child sexual abuse which is rampant in India. ”
This crime has been going for centuries. In 2012, Aamir Khan, in the second episode of his popular TV series, ‘Satyamev Jayate‘, raised mass awareness on this topic in India. Now, almost every day, from all corners of India, the media is reporting on this crime, and a new criminal law – Protection of Child against Sexual Offence (POCSO:2012).
That is a great opening. UNICEF, along with Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, and many others are speaking against this crime now.
UNICEF India is training all Indian medical doctors to heal and prevent child sexual abuse crimes in India. Smt. Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development has asked schools to screen a documentary film ‘Komal‘ to educate and inform elementary school children about ‘Good Touch/Bad Touch‘. She has also asked students and the school administration to be vigilant against this crime.
But, the healing of the adult survivors of this crime has not started for Indians. The awareness about the devastating long-term damage on health, well-being and close relationships of adult survivors is missing.
Child sexual abuse trauma affects the brain. It changes our biology. In the USA, the largest-scale study to date of the incidence and effects of childhood trauma that includes Child Sexual Abuse known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study links serious illness, for example, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, fibromyalgia sleep disturbances and mental health including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), fear of intimacy, domestic violence, gender confusion, addiction including alcoholism to name a few as the long-term adverse outcomes. One in five victims of child sexual abuse have moderate to serious impact on their wellness.
Denial of this evil is costly.
Dr. Christine Courtois, a leading trauma consultant notes, “The unfortunate result of denial and disavowal across cultures has been the extension rather than the amelioration of the suffering of the traumatized, at individual, family, community, society and global levels.”
Mass awareness on this topic started some thirty years ago in America – Dr. Judith Lewis Herman, professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School, and a pioneer in the study of post-traumatic stress disorder and the sexual abuse of women and children, is the author of the book, ‘Trauma & Recovery'. In this seminal book, Dr. Judith Herman explains why a political or social context is a very important part for the start of the recovery process.
A feeling of “safety” by the victims is a pre-requisite or the first stage of the healing/recovery process. The political or social context is getting ripe in India for victims to undergo the healing process. This fact may explain as to why some of India's child sexual abuse survivors are writing about it. For generations, the victims were not able to heal their wounds, they suffered physically and mentally in silence and so did their off-springs.
A vicious intergenerational cycle of abuse persists today which is losing its grip as the survivors are starting to heal. The recovery process is not easy. There are several stages to this process– it can take months and years. There is no pill available – awareness of the inflicted wound is the first required step.
Mass education is needed to educate the public that this act is criminal and punishable by law. However, creating a compassionate and nurturing environment where the victims gather strength and courage to heal themselves is paramount. This is a major task for Indians.
Indians need courage to empathetically and honestly discuss the trauma of child sexual abuse which has affected half of its population, both boys and girls. In the face of this denial, all, including their children suffer in silence. Breaking this silence is the first step towards healing.
Svava Brooks, abuse survivor coach writes, “Deep inside, survivors of child sexual abuse want to be heard, validated, and believed. Keeping the abuse as a secret for so long has caused more damage. It manifests in dysfunctional survival mode. The coping strategies may have served them to survive but they have manifested in personality disorders driven by fear and mistrust of others. For victims to heal now, they must gather courage and reach out for support from professionals, friends and trusted family members again and again and again. The survivor needs true friends who will say: I'm so sorry that happened to you! How can I help and support you?”
You can help the victim but you cannot cure. You will need your own strength to endure with the victim. Do not ask the victim to forget and forgive. Make sure that the victim puts the blame solely on the predator. It is never the child's fault.
The same principle applies to a couple where the bruise of child sexual abuse of one or both shows up invariably as dysfunctional relationship. The best advice to the spouse is to read about the ill-effects, recovery and stages of healing. Do remember that you are not alone. Do not take it personally and this too shall pass. However, the turbulence can shake up or break the relationship of a couple like a major storm does. Be resilient!
Dr. Paul Hansen writes, “One of the most healing (and perhaps the most frightening) thing you as a couple can do is to stop keeping the secret. You cannot complete your healing until you do. ” Dr. Hansen in the concluding paragraph of his book, ‘Partners And Survivors' notes, “ A useful approach for my wife and me has been to view this healing task as we would any other major health problem for one of us or one of our children. Without blame, we both become willing to be transformed by this healing process. Without blame, we both emerge from it stronger, more loving and more whole persons.”
Fortunately, media, including documentaries, movies, and TV programs are becoming widely available to educate the American public. Oprah is a TV celebrity who openly talked about her child sexual abuse on TV for over two decades and educated the public on ways to heal the survivors of this crime. There are no such public Indian TV role models to coach the survivors towards healing and happiness
India needs its own Oprah Winfrey or a TV program by a spiritual Guru to educate, inform, empower, and heal the wounds of child sexual abuse. Educational programs on TV and Webinars will bring forth two things – compassion for the victims and the resolve (discrimination and wisdom) to stop this evil of child sexual abuse for our future generations.
FBI Joins Hunt for Missing South Carolina Teen
by Christine Pelisek
The FBI has joined the hunt for missing South Carolina teen Marley McKenna Spindler, who disappeared last week on her first day of school.
"The FBI has offered their help," Lt. Raul Denis of the Horry County Police Department tells PEOPLE. "We will welcome any help we can get. We want to find her safe and soon."
Marley, 16, was last seen on Thursday when she left her home to meet friends for breakfast at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Surfside Beach at about 7:30 a.m. After breakfast, Marley told friends she was going to pick up her friend Jeremy, a 22-year-old man she met at the beach a few weeks earlier, take him to an address in nearby Garden City, and then return to school afterwards. The Socastee High School student left in her 2002 Ford Escape and never made it to class.
According to Marley's aunt, the teen sent her friends a text at about 8:40 a.m., saying she thought someone was following her.
"They all thought she was joking and didn't think that much of it," Shelley Long told Dateline. "They are also teenagers and didn't want to tattle on their friend if she was cutting school. They didn't think anything bad had happened. But now we're all scared."
Marley was later caught on surveillance cameras driving on Ocean Blvd in Myrtle Beach. Shortly after that, she stopped by her bank wearing a different outfit to withdraw some money from her account.
That afternoon, Marley missed a routine check-in call with her dad, Jay Spindler, who then called her cell phone, Dateline reports. A clerk at the Ocean Reef Resort in Myrtle Beach answered, saying the phone had been found in the hotel parking lot earlier.
Police located Jeremy and cleared him of any involvement in her disappearance, according to Lt. Denis.
"We were able to verify that he wasn't implicated in the case," he tells PEOPLE. "He was at work all day."
So far, Denis says there is no reason to believe foul play is involved.
"Our investigators have been working since Thursday and we are working around the clock and will hopefully find the girl soon and have it over with," he says.
Marley's mother, Karen Spindler, told WMBF that her daughter's disappearance "is not like her at all." She added, "She's never skipped school in her life."
Marley's missing person flyer describes her as 5'8'' and 105 lbs. A Facebook post on the Horry County Police Department's official page says she has brown hair with blond highlights and brown eyes.
Anyone with any information about Marley's whereabouts is asked to contact the Horry County Police Department at (843) 915-8477.
Victoria should follow NSW and put chemical castration of repeat child sex offenders on the table
by Wendy Tuohy
IT may sound radical, even a rights violation, but chemical “castration” of repeat child sex offenders should be on the table in Victoria.
On the one hand are the rights of repeat offenders not to have a bodily function (production of sex hormones that control their sex drive and function) disabled.
On the other are the rights of children to be spared the horror that has destroyed so many Australian lives.
A NSW move to have a government taskforce examine introducing forced ‘anti-libidinal' drugs introduced as a sentencing option for repeat abusers, announced today, should be replicated here.
Anyone who has read or listened to the harrowing stories of child sex abuse told by survivors to the child abuse Royal Commission would struggle to argue against any new strategy to prevent such gross violation.
The stories of child rape by repeat offenders as aired at the commission have been as devastating as they have been infuriating.
Despite mounting evidence of the destruction inflicted on abused children, why has there not been more done to control perpetrators and prevent them continuing to offend.
Evidence about the life sentence handed to child sex abuse victims has been plentiful, as has evidence by some repeat offenders that they cannot control their sexual urges (as evinced by notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale in his video testimony to the commission from jail).
The NSW taskforce will consider whether if mandatory medical intervention is one answer.
It will be made up of victims' groups including the Victims of Crime Assistance League, Bravehearts, the Homicide Victims' Support Group, Enough is Enough, Adults Surviving Child Abuse and the Survivors and Mates Support Network, police and health authorities.
In Victoria, anti-androgen drugs can be made a condition of bail for “dangerous sex offenders”,
but the NSW taskforce will look at “chemical castration” drugs being available also as a sentencing option. It would be used in combination with other “strong measures to prevent reoffending”.
According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, Australia's child sex abuse problem is difficult to quantify but the ABS' Personal Safety Survey found 12 per cent of women and 4.5 per cent of men in Australia report having been sexually abused by the age of 15.
In the 2008-09 financial year there were 5591 “substantiations of child abuse notifications for sexual abuse of children”, though the crime institute concedes “the figure does not reflect the total number of incidents of child sexual abuse, as much child sexual abuse goes unreported”.
Chemical castration is an emotive issue because it involves removing the ability of a man to function sexually; but surely anyone who has heard or seen the trauma and ongoing psychological (and often sexual) damage suffered by child victims would want it to be considered.
Even if it only helps to spare one child.
Rotherham abuse victims speak out - 'We can make a difference for future generations'
Abuse survivors and relatives from Rotherham tell Sadie Robinson that police and authorities are still failing children. But they're now organising to make sure future generations get real support.
Abusers are still targeting children in Rotherham a year after a damning report sent shockwaves across Britain.
Professor Alexis Jay's report estimated that at least 1,400 children suffered child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the South Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013.
Police and other authorities claim things are different now—but those with experience of the abuse disagree.
Jessica was sexually exploited from the age of 14. She told Socialist Worker, “It's still going on. I've seen it in broad daylight. It won't stop just because we've had some media attention.”
She contacted police just this month after one man, related to known abusers, had been approaching young girls falsely claiming to be 14 years old. She described how abusers have tried to “groom” her son to become a perpetrator too.
Jessica still avoids some places in Rotherham, such as Clifton Park and the bus station. She said they're still abuser hotspots. “But it's everywhere really,” she added.
Sally Jane told Socialist Worker her 15 year old daughter was contacted by a man on Facebook last November. “He was trying to groom her,” she said. Apparently he's contacted 34 other children.
“My daughter did a statement, but the police say they can't find it.”
The Jay report detailed horrendous violence against children, some as young as 11. Young girls were gang raped, beaten and trafficked across Britain.
Abusers would befriend children, flatter them and shower them with gifts. Over time they used alcohol, drugs and threats of extreme violence to control victims and facilitate abuse.
Jessica said the authorities “tried everything to prevent people coming forward”.
But even when they did, police either didn't believe them, said they couldn't help, blamed the children or said they were “consenting”.
Jayne Senior ran the Risky Business project, which was set up to support CSE victims and those at risk, from 1999 to 2011. She told Socialist Worker, “Young people had been identified as involved in or at risk of child prostitution.
“I hated that word—but the law reflected the idea that children were making a choice.”
Jayne added that children could be more easily dismissed because they didn't always fit the dominant view of a victim.
“ChildLine adverts show children sat in a corner crying, so people donate money,” she said.
“I understand that, but how many people would put their hand in their pocket when they see a nine, ten or 11 year old shouting and swearing? That frightened child is the same as the one in the adverts.”
Jenny told Socialist Worker how her two daughters suffered CSE—and how the authorities failed them.
“The younger of the two was one of the worst cases in Rotherham,” she said. “She was raped and they used a broken glass bottle.”
Jenny approached the authorities to report the abuse. “I went to social services. But they were more concerned with blaming me than they were with the children.”
Meanwhile the police didn't seem interested. “Every time she went out and wasn't in at the time she should've been, it was a matter of phoning the police,” Jenny explained.
“You'd be on the phone to them for an hour and half the time they never showed up. All they thought was she's just a child running off all the time. They didn't take it seriously at all.”
Sally Jane's older daughter was 13 when she suffered CSE. “I witnessed my daughter's abuse,” Sally Jane told Socialist Worker. “They were forcing her to give them oral sex in a field.
“Social workers took her away the day after.
They wouldn't let me see or speak to her for a week. It was awful. To me, I felt she could've blamed me for her being took away because of what I saw.”
The authorities failing to deal with the abuse took its toll on Sally Jane. “I suffered badly with panic attacks and anxiety,” she said. “It took years to get over that.
“People just thought I was imagining it because nothing had been done about it.
“I didn't just witness it on my own—my friend was with me. But they didn't take her statement until a year later. They didn't do ID parades until six months later.
“They told me I couldn't say anything as I was going to be used in court as a witness—only they never did. I just felt like they thought I was lying.”
Sally Jane said police “either lost my evidence or destroyed it”.
She added that the police said if she talked about what she'd seen her other children could be taken away. “That's what I was blackmailed with the whole time,” she said.
The Jay report found that some officers treated victims of abuse with “contempt”. Jessica said, “I got called all sorts. I was a bitch, his mistress, a slag, a prostitute.”
“They were told they were no good,” said Sally Jane. “Trouble-causers. The police said to my daughter, ‘If you go back to those men you'll be classed as a little slapper'.
“She was 13 at the time. And that was the night I'd witnessed the abuse. I wouldn't trust the police as far as I could throw them.”
Jenny said, “The police blamed them for running off, thought of them as little prostitutes. They weren't a priority when you phoned up. The police couldn't be bothered.”
Many media reports have focused on Asian men who abuse children. But the women wanted to make clear that the problem goes wider than this.
“Not all perpetrators are Asian,” said Jessica. “I've had abusers that were white, Asian and as an adult I've been abused by a black man.” She said that some cases involved women abusers too.
“Anyone can be a victim and anyone can be a perpetrator.
“In Rotherham perpetrators have included professionals, police officers and councillors.”
Sally Jane added that the man targeting her daughter on Facebook wasn't Asian. “There's all races that do it,” she said. And Jenny's daughter is now suffering domestic violence—at the hands of a white man.
The women think there are other reasons for the lack of action. Sally Jane said, “The problem with Rotherham is that some of the councillors were connected with abusers.”
Jessica said there were such connections all over Britain and added, “It's quite scary how connected people are.”
She has described in the past how police had links with her abuser—one buying steroids from him, for example.
She added that the abuse was “very organised”. “The abusers aren't just involved in trafficking girls, but all sorts of other crimes too,” she said.
These links may be one reason why police refuse to act over CSE.
For all politicians' warm words, they're slashing funding for services.
The Youth Association reported last year that cuts to Rotherham's council youth services are “particularly high and well beyond the national average”. The Tory government plans to slash £1 million from Rotherham's £16.3 million public health budget from January.
Sally Jane said support should be there for people of all ages, not something that ends when a child turns 16 or 18.
For Jessica, even the support that is there for older people has been hard to access. “When I first went for therapy, there was a waiting list and I was 50-odd on the list,” she said.
And she said that it took months after the Jay report was published to see any changes. “Everyone says it's a year on but it's not,” she said. “It's only been these last six months that support has come from other agencies.
“When Jay came out everyone was fixated on the 1,400 figure—there was no more support.”
Jayne agreed. “We had six months of continued denial,” she said. “A lot of time and energy was spent trying to disprove the number rather than admitting the issue and moving it forward.”
She added that CSE doesn't only affect the victim but whole families. “There's got to be a service where everybody can access some support,” she said.
Despite everything the women are optimistic and are trying to organise to change things.
They have set up the Rotherham Steering Group to try and raise awareness of CSE and support those who have experienced it.
They said getting together helped them feel less isolated and creating their own support network had transformed them.
“We're living proof that when the right support gets put in place, it makes a difference,” said Jessica. “And we seem to be getting listened to. I think the council and police know they've got a lot of people watching them.”
Sally Jane said, “You can't change the past. But we can make things better for future generations.”
Join the Unite Against Fascism protest against fascists Britain First who want to use the abuse scandal to whip up racism. Sat 5 Sep, assemble 12.30pm, All Saints Square
'Police saw girls like me as scum'
Sarah Wilson was sexually exploited by men in Rotherham from the age of 11. “My mum reported me missing countless times but the police barely batted an eyelid,” she said. “In their opinion, we'd agreed to this.”
Sarah recalled one officer referring to her as “a nasty young woman”.
She called the police when she was 14 to report a rape but the police officer she spoke to “just laughed”.
Sarah's abusers threatened her and her family if she didn't continue to see them. So Sarah regularly went missing with them.
Her mum Maggie said, “Every time I phoned the police, sick with worry and scared this would be the time she wouldn't come home at all.
“The sigh was always audible on the other end of the phone. The officers usually told me to give them a call when Sarah returned, rarely even pretending that they were looking for her.”
Sarah has written a book about her experiences. She described how police saw her in cars with those abusing her. “I often saw them laughing and joking with my abusers,” she wrote.
“A couple of times I even caught them shaking Jamal's hand before we drove off.
“For many years, a large number of officers within South Yorkshire Police saw girls like me as scum.”
The men who abused Sarah were Asian and much of the mainstream media has focused on this.
But Sarah said that CSE “isn't about race”.
“It really annoyed me when the idiots from the English Defence League turned up,” she wrote. “They were just jumping on the bandwagon to try to make excuses for their pathetic racism.”
Sarah now works to raise awareness of CSE. “I've realised I don't have to be a victim forever,” she said. “I'm also a survivor, and I can make a difference.”
Why the silence? Child abuse expert weighs in
by Anne Schindler
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As became clear in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case at Penn State, pedophiles can wield enormous influence over their victims – and their communities. That power often means the abuse is followed by years of silence.
But child abuse expert Stacy Pendarvis says time – and even justice -- can help restore the balance of power.
Pendarvis is the program manager at the Monique Burr Foundation, a Jacksonville nonprofit that works to end all types of child victimization. She says that while the allegations in the Pak's Karate case may seem staggering, but they fit a familiar pattern – multiple victims, hundreds of incidents, over a period of many years.
"You think of priests pastors and teachers -- they use that position of power to totally manipulate their victims. That just tends to be the norm with pedophiles."
Perhaps the most confounding part of the pattern: silence.
"More often than not, they do not disclose as children. And that sad reality allows offenders to continue to offend year after year after year, and take on new victims."
She says that high-achieving athletes are especially vulnerable – not just because they often love and respect their coaches, but because they're driven to succeed.
"They develop a very tight bond and they want to please, they want to do well, they want to advance to the next level," she says.
Societal pressures also play a role, including fears of how victims may be perceived. Male victims are significantly less likely to report sex abuse.
"The fact that they were male and the offender was male as well had a lot to do with why they didn't speak up."
When abuse does occur, Pendarvis says, professional therapy is the first resource for recovery. But she believes the legal system can offer relief too.
"Sometimes that seeking of justice is therapeutic for a victim of child sexual abuse."
And while another case of alleged abuse may be the last thing anyone wants to hear, she believes there is some value in just knowing.
"Sadly [high profile cases] are [helpful]. You don't want to hear of children being victimized but it always raises awareness, and awareness is a great thing, because it brings in the attention of everyone's home."
Child advocate talks about how to spot the warning signs of sexual child abuse
by Charlie De Mar
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (Aug. 25, 2015)–Several high-profile child porn and exploitation cases have centered in Indiana, and it has many parents asking what they can do to keep their children safe.
Sandy Runkle, an advocate for Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, spoke to FOX59 about how to talk to your children.
“Because children are so easily manipulated, we really feel it is an adults responsibility to protect children,” said Runkle.
Runkle says children victimized usually know the suspect.
“When a child is perpetrated against, it is almost always by somebody that they know. Over 90 percent of the time. It is rarely a stranger,” said Runkle.
Runkle suggests talking to your kids about body safety when they are infants and use the correct names of body parts– not nicknames. Also, pay attention to the behavior of your child.
“If you are noticing a change in behavior, explore it with your child. It could be nothing or it could be something or somewhere in between,” said Runkle.
“We tell our daughters if someone touches you to tell a grown up,” said Rowan.
If your child reveals that they have been touched or put in a compromising situation, Runkle says to tell them that you believe what they are saying and reinforce the fact that it is not their fault.
Suspected child abuse reports rise when school starts
by Lindsay Shively
The Child Protection Center performs more forensic interviews than usual in August and September after kids head back to school.
"Teachers are an invaluable asset in the fight against child abuse," said CPC Board President Dan Nelson. "Teachers are trained to look for instances of a child who might be exhibiting unusual behavior. Perhaps they're sullen. Perhaps they're withdrawn. Perhaps they're quiet, they're just acting abnormally. The teacher will know to go to that child and say, 'Did something happen over the break? Is everything OK?'"
Nelson said anyone can report suspected child abuse by calling this number: 1-800-392-3738.
"There is absolutely no risk in making a call," said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. "The only risk that happens if you don't make a call is that a child really is going to be exposed to future harms."
"It was just a few short years ago in Kansas City that a little girl's harms were being reported," said Peters Baker. "Children's division workers came in and her life was saved. Her life was saved because they found her from a phone call, from someone who had suspicion. She did not know, she had suspicion."
Nelson said CPC also sees a rise in referrals after the winter break and in April, which is Child Abuse Awareness Month.
Prominent US-based haredi rabbis declare obligation to report child abuse to police
by Jeremy Sharon
More than 100 prominent haredi rabbis and educators from across the US have signed a public declaration stating that it is an obligation of Jewish law on all Jews to immediately notify law enforcement officials when a reasonable suspicion of child abuse exists.
The declaration was described as “an historic watershed” for its broad-based support from a large number of haredi rabbis from major Jewish communities in the US.
The letter addresses the need to prevent and eradicate the epidemic of child abuse adversely affecting the Jewish community.
“We, the undersigned, affirm that any individual with firsthand knowledge or reasonable basis to suspect child abuse has a religious obligation to promptly notify the secular law enforcement of that information,” the declaration reads.
“These individuals have the experience, expertise and training to thoroughly and responsibly investigate the matter. Furthermore, those deemed ‘mandated reporters' under secular law must obey their state's reporting requirements.”
The rabbis said in their declaration that “lives can be ruined or ended by unreported child abuse, as we are too often tragically reminded” and cited the biblical injunction “Do not stand by while your neighbor's blood is shed,” as the basis for reporting suspected cases of abuse.
Among the signatories are Rabbi Nota Greenblatt, the head of the rabbinical court in Mephis, Tennessee, Rabbi Dov Aharon Brisman, head of the rabbinical court in Philadelphia, Rabbi Peretz Steinberg, co-chairman of the rabbinical court of the Agudath Yisrael organization, and Rabbi Yechiel Perr, dean of the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway/Derech Ayson Rabbinical Seminary.
“People stand by and do nothing, because they don't want to get involved. It's not their business. But it is,” said Perr. “The Torah has made it everyone's business when a Jew is being harmed.”
A statement to the media on the rabbinic declaration cited the recent conviction of a child molester from the haredi community in the UK, Todros Grynhaus, who was convicted in July this year of six counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault against girls between 13 and 16.
Rabbi Shraga Feivel Zimmerman, chief rabbi of Gateshead, England, testified against Grynhaus, the son of a prominent rabbinic judge in the UK, which helped lead to Grynhaus's conviction and sentencing to 13 years in prison.
In a recent lecture, Zimmerman proclaimed, “We have to educate ourselves to understand the pain of these children... It's time that we say ‘Enough!' It's time to end the silence.”
Man Gets 2-7 Years In Prison For Concealing Death Of 4-Month-Old Girl
by CBS News
WHITE CLOUD (WWJ/AP) – A 27-year-old man has been ordered to prison for concealing the death of a 4-month-old girl whose body was found in a western Michigan crawl space.
Matthew Bradley was sentenced Monday in Newaygo County Circuit Court to spend at least two years and four months but no more than seven years in prison.
He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of concealing a death in July.
Investigators say Bradley placed Natallya Rich's body in a car seat and hid her in a cabinet of the basement crawl space in White Cloud. Police say he told them he awoke to find the baby dead and panicked. Relatives reported her missing, prompting a multi-day search.
A medical examiner's report determined the girl suffocated because of unsafe sleeping conditions.
Bradley allegedly admitted to using methamphetamine and taking Morphine and Norco tablets both before and after Natallya's death, Mlive.com reported.
“It was a very traumatic experience,” Bradley told the judge on Monday. “I'm very remorseful.”
Bradley will received credit for 111 days served.
Old Dominion University fraternity suspended amid uproar over suggestive signs
by Fox News
The national office of the Sigma Nu fraternity suspended all activities at its Old Dominion University chapter Monday as it opened an investigation into three sexually suggestive banners that were hung from the front porch of the group's off-campus house over the weekend.
"The Fraternity condemns the derogatory and demeaning language used on the banners," the fraternity's executive director Brad Beacham said in a statement. "Such language has no place in our Fraternity or within any caring community, such as that of ODU." Beacham vowed that any fraternity members deemed responsible for what he called the "reprehensible display" would be held accountable.
The signs were hung over the weekend as newly admitted freshmen were arriving at ODU's Norfolk campus. They read, "Rowdy and fun hope your baby girl is ready for a good time…"; “Freshman daughter drop off”, with an arrow pointing to the house's front door; and "Go ahead and drop off mom too…". Images of the signs were captured in a picture that was briefly posted to Facebook and preserved in a screengrab by the Huffington Post. The Facebook post has since been deleted.
The Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported that a man who answered the door Monday at the house where several members of the Sigma Nu Eta Chi chapter lived admitted that the signs had been made there, but said they had been hung at a different house. Members of the fraternity did not respond to other requests from the paper for comment.
University President John R. Broderick said in a Facebook post that he was "outraged" over the banners and vowed the incident would be reviewed "immediately."
“I said at my State of the University address that there is zero tolerance on this campus for sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Broderick wrote. "Any student found to have violated the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action."
Broderick said at least one young student he talked to “thought seriously about going back home” after seeing the “offensive message.”
"Not only do these actions taken by a few individuals undermine the countless efforts at Old Dominion University to prevent sexual assault, they are also unwelcoming, offensive, and unacceptable”
- ODU Student Government message
The ODU Student Government also addressed the signs in a Facebook message and video featuring campus leaders.
“An incident occurred this weekend that does not reflect the university's commitment to the prevention of sexual assault and dating violence,” the Facebook message said. “Not only do these actions taken by a few individuals undermine the countless efforts at Old Dominion University to prevent sexual assault, they are also unwelcoming, offensive and unacceptable.”
Rachael Holiday, an ODU sophomore, told the Virginian-Pilot that she saw the banners on Friday while helping new students move in. She said most of the parents she spoke to wanted the banners taken down and told her they were thinking of pulling their daughters out of the school.
Sexual assaults against women on college campuses have become a hot-button topic. Several states, including New York and California, have adopted a “yes means yes” policy of affirmative consent for sexual interactions, a change which some critics think could lead to more men being accused of sex assaults where they may not have been committed. In addition, a recent Rolling Stone magazine article about an alleged fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia, was ultimately revealed to be a hoax.
The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has also opened an investigation into more than 100 colleges and universities over their handling of sexual assault complaints. Old Dominion is not one of the schools under investigation.
Mother arrested on child abuse charges; 5-year-old weighed 19 pounds
by WMBF News Staff
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Newly-obtained police reports detail an Horry County child abuse case that left two young, malnourished children in the hospital, including 5-year-old boy who weighed just 19 pounds when he was found.
A woman was arrested nearly a month ago, but now she's out on bond, accused of unlawful neglect of a child or helpless person.
Horry County Police say a traffic stop with Danielle Naughgle last month led to a wellness check on her two children. Police reports show officers found two extremely emaciated children alone in her home, all by themselves.
Those reports state one child found by the officer was naked in a playpen, surrounded by dirty dishes and sharp objects.
The officer describes the child as severely malnourished and highly unresponsive. That 5-year old was later found to be a mere 19 pounds according to reports.
"It was just really sad,” said Kimberly, Smith, the woman who housed Naughgle and her kids at the time. “He was always hungry and there was only so much I can do."
Smith says she offered Naughgle a place to stay when she fell on hard times.
Smith says the younger of the woman's two kids has cerebral palsy, and was never in great shape. She says she would feed the kids at times, but didn't want to get in the mother's way.
"I was just trying to help and it was mainly for those kids,” Smith said. “ I could not see them sleeping in their car."
Further investigation into Naughgle's past shows this isn't the first time officers responded because of her kids.
We found Horry County Police also performed welfare checks on the kids last September, and even just a month before Naughgle was arrested.
We tried reaching out to Naughgle several times, but could not get in touch with her
IT glitch means another 300 cases of suspected child abuse ignored
by Chris O'Brien
Further IT problems in the Queensland education system have meant another 300 reported cases of suspected child abuse have been ignored, taking the total number to almost 1,000, a budget estimates hearing has revealed.
Education Minister Kate Jones said it was initially thought 27 cases were not reported to the Child Safety Department because of a computer firewall.
Ms Jones said that number now appeared to be much higher.
"The initial advice I've received is that it could be up to 300, dating back to September 2013," she said.
"We've done an initial desktop assessment.
"I've asked [the Education Department] to manually go through and check every single one to make sure.
Earlier this year, a separate IT problem was reportedly the cause of 644 reports regarding suspected abuse not being passed on to police.
The Director-General of Education Jim Watterson, said his department had already consulted with police and child safety officers.
"We don't want to catastrophise around that number, although it is obviously worrying for all of us," he said.
"But there could be reasons why [the cases] haven't shown up in the data cross-checking."
The consulting firm Deloitte is investigating the failures.
"I can advise today that the Deloitte investigation is going to cost a $1 million," Ms Jones said.
Minister queries LNP staffer's trip to the Glasgow Games
Earlier at estimates, Ms Jones, who is Minister for the Commonwealth Games, queried a trip to the Glasgow games last year by her LNP predecessor Jann Stuckey.
Ms Jones said Ms Stuckey was accompanied by a chief of staff who had already moved to another office.
"We [had] a minister who [took] a staff member that no longer worked for her on a $40,000 trip to Scotland," she said.
In a statement, Ms Stuckey said staff member James Martin was heavily involved in the preparation for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
"Having worked in my office for two years his experience and corporate knowledge made Mr Martin the most appropriate staff member to accompany me on the trip," the statement read.
Abuse reports, cases spike at SC child-welfare agency
by Jamie Self
COLUMBIA -- Calls reporting possible child abuse and neglect have increased 25 percent since January at the state's child-welfare agency, leading to a 41 percent increase in opened cases, that agency's new director says.
New, regional call centers — covering about half the state — are making it easier to report cases of abuse and neglect, and more of those reports are leading to cases being opened than previously, when county offices screened calls, S.C. Department of Social Services Director Susan Alford told a state Senate panel Monday.
The added cases come as the child-welfare agency struggles to lower its workers' high caseloads while improving its services.
Alford said she wants to expand the call centers across the state. But she has halted that expansion because it likely would result in another spike in cases and a need for even more caseworkers, she said. Right now, the regional centers cover 20 of the state's 46 counties.
“(Y)ou want that to happen,” she said of the spike in cases – evidence the agency is being alerted to more cases of potential abuse and neglect.
Lawmakers and the agency's leadership have blamed child-welfare workers' heavy caseloads for children falling through the cracks. The agency's former director resigned last year amid public outcry over children dying while in Social Services' care.
Alford, who took over at the agency in February, has made lowering caseloads, and improving employee retention and morale top priorities. But the process has been slow going, she said Monday during a Senate DSS Oversight Committee hearing.
New caseworkers, approved in this year's state budget which started July 1, should be hired, trained and helping to relieve caseloads in six months, she said.
Saying “we're still looking at something very dangerous,” state Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, asked Alford to look at possibly bringing in retired caseworkers or others “on a temporary basis” to relieve caseloads now.
Alford said the agency is stepping up recruitment efforts and is working to move temporary employees into full-time positions to help with the load.
She also said the agency has many other needs, brought on by years of budget cuts and a lack of modernization.
“Our needs in the technology arena are vast,” she said, adding money for computers and other technology will be part of the agency's budget request for the next several years.
Addressing turnover is another challenge.
The agency has hired nearly 500 child-welfare caseworkers and supervisors from June 1, 2014, to Aug. 12, but 289 employees left during that same period.
Last year, half of the state's child-welfare staff left within a year of joining the agency, Alford said.
State-approved raises and new avenues for career advancement are helping with recruitment, but high caseloads are the top driver of caseworkers leaving, she said.
Karate instructor first to face ‘Hidden Predator' sex abuse lawsuit
by Lois Norder
Secret sex offenders were the target of Georgia lawmakers when they approved the Hidden Predator Act this past session.
Now, the new law is seeing what is apparently its first case, a lawsuit against Georgia karate school owner Craig Peeples. Seven former Taekwondo Junior Olympic medalists accuse him of years of pervasive sexual abuse. He has denied those allegations.
The seven also are suing the Amateur Athletic Union for continuing to allow Peeples to enter tournaments with children this year, even though a Georgia district attorney in 2014 found evidence of "multiple acts of sodomy, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, and sexual battery."
The district attorney couldn't pursue criminal charges, though. Georgia has a short statute of limitations to bring such cases or to pursue civil claims, and the former students are now in their 30s, according to their lawsuit.
That case prompted Rep. Jason Spencer, a Woodbine Republican, to file the Hidden Predator Act, which makes it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek damages.
Starting this past July 1, victims have two years from the time their abuse has been established by medical or psychological evidence to pursue legal claims.
The law also has a provision for those shut out in the past by Georgia's short statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. From July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2017, those victims also can pursue claims. That allowed the seven men to bring their complaint against Peeples.
Another provision in the new law allows them to seek damages from AAU.
It says that if the perpetrator was a volunteer or employee of an entity that owed a duty of care to the victim, or the abuser and victim were engaged in some activity over which such entity had control, the victims could be awarded damages against the entity when there was a preponderance of evidence of negligence.
Georgia business interests fought to weaken that provision, according to the Daily Report. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce was concerned that employers, nonprofits, and other entities could be sued for employing or giving volunteer opportunities to people later discovered to be child predators. The bill was passed, with some changes to address business concerns, on the final day of the session.
In their suit. the seven men say that AAU and its leaders were aware of the risk of child sexual abuse perpetrated by adults responsible for the supervision and instruction of children. Indeed, it says, the AAU's longtime president was forced to step down in 2011 after allegations that he sexually abused two basketball players during the mid-1980s. But, the suit claims, the organization certifies amateur coaches with only one hour of training.
Hear more about the case here, from a WSB Radio report.