Report Looks At Best Practices for Addressing Trauma in Diversion
by Sarah Barr
When officials in four states were asked several years ago what tools they would need to divert youth from the juvenile justice system, a better understanding of trauma was at the top of all their lists.
They wanted to help youth with behavioral conditions when they are evaluated for probation but said they couldn't do so most effectively without understanding how traumatic experiences had affected the adolescents.
A new report sets out a framework for trauma-informed diversion that grew from those states' experiences and additional research into best practices. It's intended as guidance for other juvenile justice officials considering reforms to address trauma.
“If four independent states are identifying this as their biggest challenge, they're not the only ones,” said Karli Keator, division director at the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. The center and the Technical Assistance Collaborative Inc. worked with the four states — Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts and Tennessee — as part of the 2014-15 Policy Academy-Action Network Initiative and released the report.
Research shows many youth who have contact with the juvenile justice system are dealing with mental health or substance use disorders, and most also have experienced at least one traumatic event. Because trauma can interact with mental health or substance use disorders in ways that intensify those issues, a trauma-informed system plays an important role in helping youth, according to the report.
“By more effectively responding to traumatic stress, probation officers and others in the justice system can expect youth to experience increased levels of success with diversion services and more fully comply with dispositional requirements. Better life outcomes should also be realized,” the report says.
It identifies nine key elements needed to develop a trauma-informed diversion program for youth with behavioral conditions. The elements include leadership, cross-sector collaboration, policy and procedures, funding strategies and workforce development.
The elements are rooted in a report about trauma by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration but tailored to the needs of juvenile justice systems.
The report details each element and provides case studies from the four states. Under leadership, for example, the report shows the importance of identifying champions and linking leaders across systems, such as law enforcement, education and public health. Under policy and procedures, the report includes information on internal policies, memoranda of understanding between agencies and legislation.
The case studies tell of the role of a probation officer in Georgia who championed reform, engaging youth in Tennessee, and family involvement in Massachusetts.
Keator said much work remains to be done across the country to build trauma-informed diversion policies. States also will need to think about how to best identify kids in need, make appropriate referrals to services that are designed to address trauma and provide follow-up support.
“It's not a one-and-done approach. We need a continuum,” she said.
In Georgia, state officials and their community partners built on earlier efforts to build a trauma-informed system. They were able to pinpoint when and how to screen youth in ways that are so far showing success, said Christine Doyle, director of the Office of Behavioral Health at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.
“The information we have anecdotally is that it's going well. The kids are responding to the screenings. They're answering the questions, the referrals are being made and the kids are getting services,” she said.
Doyle said that while every state will have its own needs and solutions, collaboration is critical no matter the situation.
“Building a strong team is an essential piece to doing this work. No one organization or agency can do it alone,” she said.
Many Dozier School Remains Still Can't Be Identified: Report
by the JJIE Staff
The final report on human remains at a Florida Panhandle reform school has been issued by the University of South Florida. Nearly 100 boys were known to have died at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, most of them African-American.
Researchers found 51 sets of remains, of which only 13 were in the school cemetery, NPR reported. Many of the remains can't be identified. Surviving residents say they were viciously mistreated at the school, which closed in 2011.
Fight against human trafficking highlighted in red sand at Utah Capitol
by Josh Lee
SALT LAKE CITY — Each year in Utah, scores of young people barely of legal age fall prey to predators and are forced into indentured servitude or sex slavery. Local advocates say the time is now to break the cycle of victimhood.
As part of a worldwide art installation during Human Trafficking Awareness month, dozens of activists filled the sidewalk cracks on the south side of the state Capitol with red sand in an effort to raise awareness about human trafficking. Several artists and advocates gathered on Saturday to remember victims and bring attention to those who have "fallen through the cracks" into the quagmire of trafficking.
At least 85 percent of people are completely unaware of the issue of human trafficking, said Terry Palmer, director of Backyard Broadcast — a teen awareness and human trafficking prevention organization. But that trend is changing, she noted.
"We're identifying it more," Palmer said.
The organization, launched three years ago, has clubs — or "stations" — at Cottonwood, Kearns, Skyline, Davis and Judge Memorial Catholic high schools.
According to Backyard Broadcast's website, youths who are vulnerable to sex trafficking are generally young teens, youth who have experienced abuse, have unstable home lives and older boyfriends. The average age a child is forced to have sex for money is 13 years old, the organization's website stated.
"(However), the people that are falling through the cracks are not just youth, but the 18 to 21 years olds — the aged-out foster care kid or kids who are on the street ... who are engaging in dangerous activities like drug use and alcohol abuse," Palmer said. "They're already having 'survivor sex' — engaging in sexual activity to get their needs met — to get a place to stay, to get some food."
She said the people in these kinds of circumstances are easy prey for predators.
"They become very vulnerable to a pimp or a trafficker, and because they are 18, we're not really looking out for them," she said.
Data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children indicates that at least 100,000 American children are being trafficked every year.
The typical underage victim in the U.S. will enter prostitution or pornography between ages 12 to 14, and is typically sold for sex 10 to 15 times per day, said Fernando Rivero, chairman of the Utah Trafficking in Persons Task Force's education committee and member of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault. In contrast to adult women, who earn an average of $20 to $50 per hour, children can make up to $400 per hour for their pimp or trafficker, he told an audience at the University of Utah last year.
Traffickers tend to target vulnerable populations like homeless youth and victims of prior abuse by offering to meet the children's basic needs for food, money and affection, he noted.
Today, Utah lawmakers are crafting legislation to combat the issue of human trafficking. Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said she and her colleagues are working on bills that match similar efforts underway at the national level in Congress.
"We need to look at ways to help them become survivors and self-sufficient so that they don't fall back into patterns of trafficking," she explained. "When someone has been exploited and they don't have the resources to empower themselves, they turn to an environment that is unhealthy."
She said there is an effort among legislators to appropriate funding to help provide resources for victims of human trafficking.
"We, as a state and as a community, need to ensure that we're protecting vulnerable populations," Romero said. Informing the community about the issue is also a key component to raising awareness, she said.
"We want to make sure we're educating the everyday Utahn to identify when a child or vulnerable person is (at risk)," she said. "Human trafficking is happening in our state, and we need to (provide) the tools to identify it."
List: 10 things to know about PTSD
by Mahleah Chicetawn
PTSD –Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – is a psychiatric disorder that can happen if someone experiences a traumatic event in their lives that can be considered life-threatening.
It was once known simply as something affecting war veterans and was often referred to as “shell shock.”
Through medical advancements it has been found that a person can develop PTSD through multiple experiences such as witnessing a murder, surviving a rape, being involved in or witnessing a car accident, death of a loved one, kidnapping or living through a natural disaster.
There is no cure for PTSD, but it is manageable.
There are some people who can return to normal in time and for others, if they receive treatment immediately following the event, can also recover to varying degrees.
For many, the symptoms do not go away and may even get worse over time.
In 2015, over five million people in the United States had been diagnosed with PTSD.
If you have PTSD, or know someone that does, there are some facts you should be aware of and here are 10 of them:
1. The statistics.
In order to fully understand the impact that PTSD has on American society, you have to know the statistics:
• 70% of people will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives and out of that number, 20% will go on to develop PTSD.
• 5% of Americans will have PTSD at any moment in their lives.
• 8% of adults will develop PTSD.
• Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD as men.
• One out of ten women will get PTSD.
• PTSD costs the United States over $42 billion a year due to misdiagnosis and under-treatment.
• 50% of people who receive outpatient medical services have PTSD.
• 6-11% of military personnel who served in the Afghanistan war have PTSD.
• 12-20% of military personnel who served in the Iraqi war have PTSD.
• Over 300,000 soldiers who have been deployed over the past three years have PTSD.
• 21% of inmates have PTSD.
• 45% of PTSD sufferers smoke to deal with the anxiety.
• 35% of PTSD suffers abuse prescription drugs.
• 34% of men and 27% of women who have been diagnosed with PTSD will develop a drug addiction (this also includes heroin and cocaine in addition to prescription drugs).
• 28% of women and 52% of men will become alcoholics.
• 12% of PTSD sufferers who are 65 years of age and older will attempt suicide at least once and an additional 6% will commit suicide.
Statistics: http://www.sidran.org/resources/for-survivors-and-loved-ones/post-trauma ...
2. Symptoms of PTSD.
There are three categories of symptoms that are related to PTSD:
• Bad dreams/nightmares
• Scary thoughts that you can't control
• Staying away from people, places or things that remind you of the event
• Feeling emotionally numb
• Feeling guilty or depressed
• Having trouble remembering especially about the traumatic event
• Changes in your personal routine
• Suffers from low self-esteem
• Disconnects from relationships and their own life
• These symptoms are constant
• Easily startled
• Feeling on edge
• Difficulty sleeping
• Angry outbursts
• Difficulty concentrating
Symptoms: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disord ...
3. Toxic Stress Syndrome.
Toxic Stress Syndrome is a diagnosis used by psychologists/psychiatrists to describe the impact that severe abuse/neglect, the experience of having a mentally ill or addicted parent has on a child's development.
It is the overburdening of a child's brain and emotional system of intense, chronic stress.
This diagnosis also has an impact on brain structure and development.
It will cause a child who is living in these circumstances to always have a fight or flight system of operation that always stays on.
The flight or fight system conditions someone to react either by fighting or running away whenever they believe that a situation threatens them.
Everyone has the fight or flight system automatically programmed into their beings, but for a child with this syndrome it's all they know and how they deal with any problem or situation.
For such children, 60% are diagnosed with Toxic Stress Syndrome which puts them at a greater risk of developing PTSD and 19% of them do eventually get diagnosed with PTSD as adults.
It also puts them at greater risk to develop other problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, asthma, and learning disabilities.
Toxic Stress Syndrome: http://www.centerforyouthwellness.org/what-is-toxic-stress/
4. Circumcision and PTSD.
For centuries infant males have been getting the loose skin on their genitals taken off for various reasons such as religious, health or cultural.
It has been believed that performing this type of surgery reduces the chance of getting cancer in certain areas, urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases.
There have been a lot of strides made in medicine since this belief was formed and the possible risks now have alternate medical treatment available.
It is also important to note that 80% of the world's male population isn't circumcised and the rates of cancer, infections or sexually transmitted diseases are not any higher due to being uncircumcised.
However there have been skeptics who believe that this surgery was unnecessary causing the infant unnecessary physical and emotional pain.
Over the last five years there have been even more people who claim, mostly through the internet and with no medical proof, that having this surgery increases the chances that this infant will contract PTSD either in infancy or in adulthood.
So is this true?
Prior to the 1980s it was believed that the circumcision surgery wasn't painful because infants couldn't feel pain and therefore didn't need anesthesia.
In the early 1990s studies found circumcision to be a traumatic event and in 1996 The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) description of a traumatic event applied to the medical procedure.
The DSM-IV also stated that trauma can occur anytime between infancy throughout an adult's life.
However, the application of determining the effects of traumatic events in children cannot be measured on infants, but if a child got circumcised later (after five years of age) it can be measured because they can talk and have the ability to access their memories.
In the United States 60% of male infants have the surgery prior to leaving the hospital and right after birth.
In countries such as Africa, the United Kingdom, and Iran the surgery is sometimes performed on boys up until the age of 15.
There are no published studies available on the effect of trauma experienced through circumcision because as infants they lacked any awareness of the surgery or even the recovery period afterwards.
The attitudes men in America develop regarding their genitals is complex and there are numerous factors that could feed into any trauma or PTSD symptoms that may or may not be related to the circumcision.
Circumcision trauma: http://www.cirp.org/library/psych/goldman1/
5. Therapies for PTSD.
Therapy for sufferers of PTSD is a very effective way of helping them deal with the symptoms that come with the disorder.
What sets this type of therapy apart from others is that it works on specific types of symptoms which means not every type of therapy or more generalized therapy will work.
It's also important to have a doctor or clinician who has experience in treating someone with PTSD.
A popular type of therapy when treating PTSD symptoms is referred to as Talk Therapy or Prolonged Exposure.
This is when the patient tells the story of their trauma repeatedly. Often the ability to revisit the trauma instead of repressing it allows them to start to heal.
Some of the therapies help the patient develop new coping skills and teaches them relaxation techniques.
One obstacle that may hinder the successfulness of therapy is the patient.
Many therapies require a type of stability in order to have the patient focused enough to do the work.
Some points of instability can be homelessness, an active addiction or ongoing panic/anxiety attacks and even suicidal thoughts.
Sadly, many PTSD patients experience these factors as part of the disorder.
As stated earlier, having an experienced doctor is important because they will understand that a successful therapeutic approach will include a treatment that will include three phases:
• Phase 1 is a skill building phase that focuses on increasing tolerance of stress, developing an awareness of the conscious, developing skills to help the patient handle/deal with relationships and relaxation techniques.
• Phase 2 is the recollection of the trauma. Depending on the severity of the trauma, will depend on how long this procedure will take. A trauma that is severe could take months and may need additional work of the first phase in order to handle recalling the trauma.
• Phase 3 is the application of the new skills that have been learned, developing a better understanding of themselves as well as the trauma that was experienced and developing a plan for ongoing care.
In addition to this type of therapy as well as Talk Therapy/Prolonged Exposure there is Reprocessing Therapy that uses images and body sensations to help address experiences associated with the trauma that hasn't been resolved.
Therapies: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/post-traumatic-stress-disorder--tr ...
There are several types of medication that is used to treat some of the symptoms of PTSD.
Some people prefer just to do the therapy and there are others who combine the therapy with medication.
There are even more who must take medication to deal with symptoms like anxiety/panic attacks or other issues in order to be able to focus on the therapeutic process.
There are currently 22 medications that can be used to treat PTSD, but 19 of them are called off-label medications.
Label medications are medications that have gone through clinical trials and have been found to work the way it's supposed to and is deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The term label is basically a report that contains certain information about a drug.
Off-label medications are older medications that are used to treatment ailments/diagnosis' that are different than the original use that was included as part of the original label.
Even though off-label drugs are legal, it is illegal to market these drugs for uses they weren't intended for.
The drug companies can easily go through the process to have these drugs approved for different uses.
The FDA moves slower than a slug in a pile of mud and it would make the process very expensive as well as long.
It is also difficult for insurance companies to get reimbursed for off-label drugs and often list these drugs as experimental or investigational in order to avoid having to pay for them.
The two remaining drugs on the list of PTSD medication –Zoloft aka Sertraline and Paxil-are both anti-depressants.
Sertraline and Zoloft are often listed separately, but they are basically the same as Sertraline which is the generic form of Zoloft.
Depending on the complexity or severity of the initial trauma, some doctors may describe a benzodiazepine such as Adinazolam, Alprazolam, Bromazepam or Diazepam to reduce anxiety or stress levels.
Many PTSD sufferers have a difficult time finding a medication that will work or work over a long period of time which may be why many forgo this option in favor of just therapy, but for those with severe PTSD medication is usually not an option.
PTSD medications: http://www.webmd.com/drugs/condition-1020-Post+Traumatic+Stress+Disorder ...
Others medication: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disord ...
In 2014, it was reported that:
• 2.7 million veterans that served in the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars were diagnosed with PTSD.
• 50% do not get treatment for the disorder
• 7% also suffer from brain injuries in addition to the PTSD
• That those who do get treatment (usually from the Veteran's Administration), the treatment it been found to be woefully inadequate
• Every year there are 5,000-8,000 veterans with PTSD commit suicide
• That 10% or 2.2 million female veterans who have PTSD were diagnosed after experiencing MST (Military Sexual Trauma)
An important component of the treatment of PTSD is that treatment should start when symptoms appear and in some cases that is within two weeks of the trauma.
If the person is still on active duty at that time, the military will get them help.
The problem is that many times symptoms don't appear for months, even years and by that time the soldier is now a veteran.
Getting help through the Veteran's Administration (VA) is often frustratingly difficult.
They just don't make it easy for returning female soldiers who come to them for help.
Despite women becoming the fastest rising population in the military, the VA hasn't kept up with the changes that would come from providing services for their female vets.
Nearly one third of all centers don't have the staff to treat this type of trauma such as qualified gynecologists.
An additional 31% of the administration's health centers can't even begin to treat the trauma because they also lack qualified facilities as well as staff. Many of these centers don't even have female bathrooms despite the fact that females have been joining the military, and coming home, for years.
An additional problem is the military's age-old boys' club problem where women were strongly discouraged from reporting an assault and the perpetrators' were protected from the judicial system.
These actions also made it difficult for trauma survivors from getting the help that they needed because they lacked the proof to show that anything even happened.
Since they're unable to provide any paperwork, they are often denied disability benefits.
To further complicate matters, the Defense Department permitted the rape kits to be destroyed after one year and any reports of assault after two years.
In Pennsylvania the statute of limitations for these assaults is 12 years.
In states that have military bases on them the statute of limitations is:
Texas: 10-13 years
Georgia: 7-15 years
California: 10 years
Oklahoma: 12 years
It is contemptible why the VA and the military makes their veterans jump through hoops just to get what is owed to them.
Veteran PTSD statistics: http://www.veteransandptsd.com/PTSD-statistics.html
MST: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/female-veterans-battling-ptsd-fr ...
Statute of Limitations by state: http://victimsofcrime.org/docs/DNA%20Resource%20Center/sol-for-sexual-as ...
8. The cost.
Like many disorders, people who are diagnosed with PTSD can be affected by it during their entire lives in one way or another.
For people who have been diagnosed with PTSD the cost can be staggering because having the disorder ain't cheap.
For veterans who have PTSD, the mountain of paperwork and the mind-numbing bureaucracy involved to approve a claim can take months or even years although the VA claims that the average time is 277 days which is still too long.
For those who have PTSD that isn't service connected and who either can't work or are unable to hold down a job, their option is to apply for disability through the Social Security Administration (SSA).
This isn't any better than the VA. For a claim to be approved, it takes over 18 months and sometimes as long as two years.
In addition to that time, Social Security is likely to deny your claim and then you have to file for an appeal.
The number of people who do get disability through the SSA is staggering as well. It is estimated that over two million people who have PTSD receive some kind of disability through them.
For those who can't get approved from the SSA, have never been an active duty soldier or who have had to file an appeal, they usually receive public assistance through state funding, but this amount isn't anywhere near what is needed to sustain their lives.
The first year of treatment can cost over $4,000 and for those who either have to pay for the therapy themselves, or pay for the medications that their insurance company won't pay for because it's not on their approved medication list that amount can be elevated to around $12,000 per year.
Even if the insurance company or the VA will pay for the treatment as long as it's at whatever facility they approve, that facility may not provide good care or have staff who are trained in the treatment of PTSD thus forcing the afflicted person with either not getting treatment at all or paying for it themselves.
Many who have been diagnosed but can't afford the care will often self-medicate using drugs or alcohol.
If they choose to use alcohol to treat their symptoms, it can cost them over $500 per year depending on what type of alcohol they consume.
Inpatient rehabilitation for alcoholism for those without insurance or who self-pay starts at $1,000 per day in Philadelphia.
For the drug addicted, depending on the drug of choice and the severity of the addiction, the cost can be $100 per day and up.
Rehabilitation for an addiction can skyrocket up to $28,000 per stay.
Even for those who have health insurance, most HMOs will only cover about three-five days of treatment in an inpatient rehabilitation facility which isn't enough.
For people who are active in their addiction there is the additional cost of dealing with the law enforcement community (bail and attorneys) as well as increased car insurance for those who still drive.
There are 44.7 million people who have long-term PTSD. Half of those people (over 22 million) smoke in order to cope with their symptoms.
The cost of one pack of cigarettes in Philadelphia is $8.00 and since most people with PTSD tend to be heavy smokers, they smoke more than a pack a day usually two or three packs.
A carton of cigarettes runs them –depending on the brand and where you purchase them at in Philadelphia – between $65-80.
Again, depending on how much they smoke will depend on how many cartons they go through in a month.
Typically, someone who smokes three packs a day will go through about 7 cartons per month costing them $450-550.
Aside from physical ailments related to smoking (cancer, COPD, diabetes, and heart disease), addiction (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, lung and liver disease) there are also ones that are related to PTSD: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Drug treatment costs: http://alcoholrehab.com/drug-addiction-treatment/drug-and-alcohol-rehab - ...
PTSD percentage: http://www.ptsdunited.org/ptsd-statistics-2/
9. The families.
If you want to know what it is like living with someone who has PTSD, just ask a member of their family.
What they will tell you is critical about how this diagnosis not only affects the sufferer, but family members as well especially if they knew the person both before and after the traumatic event that caused them to become diagnosed with PTSD.
There are many families who will stick with someone who has been diagnosed out of the love and loyalty they feel for that person.
There are even more families who will abandon someone once they have been diagnosed and even blame them for having PTSD.
Having to experience the symptoms of someone who has the diagnosis is difficult regardless as to the road a family member or love one will take.
Although there is a lot of statistics indicating that military veterans with PTSD have been violent it is also important to note that many veterans are also diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury in addition to the PTSD.
It has also been discovered that the chances of a veteran becoming violent may be caused by being returned to active duty and/or serving more than one tour of duty.
There are no statistics for non-veterans with PTSD committing acts of violence because the numbers are low and alcohol/drug abuse has been a mitigating factor in violent behavior.
Still, dealing with a person who has PTSD is not easy due to their recurring flashbacks of the trauma, depression, avoidance, isolation, the difficulty in expressing certain emotions, sudden outbursts, and feeling numb.
Many family members who do stay with the affected loved one choose to attend therapy and participate in support groups.
Families coping with PTSD: http://ptsd.about.com/od/infoforfriendsfamily/a/PTSDfamily.htm
10. Changes that need to be made.
On the February 2016 cover of O Magazine, founder and editorial director Oprah Winfrey declared, “You are not alone! We're starting a conversation about anxiety, depression, help and hope.”
Starting with the current issue, the magazine decided to do a three-part series on mental health that would include stories, tips and information for those struggling with various forms of mental illness or conditions.
In the first article in the series was a woman's story about her PTSD.
The problem was that this series didn't appear until page 96 out of the magazine's 138 pages although many of these pages are advertisements.
So why was the positioning of this article a problem?
On the cover, Oprah's declaration, made it seem like the topic was really important, but not as important as the Valentine's edition of Oprah's Favorite Things, two full page ads for men's cologne (Polo Blue by Ralph Lauren and Gio by Giorgio Armani), a brief interview with Danai Gurira who portrays Michonne on The Walking Dead, or The World According to Gayle.
So it seems that there are some things more important than starting the conversation that Oprah declared was important.
This is the attitude that has side-lined conversations and actions regarding mental health care for many people but more so for those with PTSD.
Mental health care in this country is abysmal.
Insurance companies will pay more for inpatient care than they do for outpatient care.
The ones who do pay for both usually won't pay for enough treatment or the co-pays are so high the client can't afford to go as often as they should.
There is some talk about providing more help for people who have been diagnosed with PTSD, but the aid will be given to veterans.
Although PTSD was originally believed to be a condition that affected those who served in the military, that is no longer the case.
Even in the case of military vets, treatment of PTSD for their female veterans is lacking.
In the United States there are over 44 million people who have PTSD and half of them (22 million) are veterans.
The treatment should be equal across the board. There should be no preferential treatment to any race or class who has been diagnosed.
Male veterans, for example, fare better when getting treated than the female veterans.
While serving in the military the females must comply with the same rules and go through the same training as the males. They all put on the same uniform and must make the same sacrifice.
Once they finish their time in the service, they also are eligible for the same benefits except when it comes to the medical benefits.
PTSD is a double edge sword.
While people who have been diagnosed can appear to be normal (do daily tasks, take care of their families and maintain a certain lifestyle), they can also struggle to function by holding a job or maintaining relationships.
PTSD affects many aspects of society and for those whose diagnosis isn't a result of serving in the military it is too often a result of the violent culture that America has become.
Educating the public about PTSD-the facts as well as the fiction, demand for better mental health care, for movies and television studios to stop using PTSD to explain a criminal's behavior for violence and for the politicians to address this health issue through bills needs to happen.
There needs to be an acknowledgement of the strain PTSD puts on families, healthcare providers, the economy as well as the legal system.
If the politicians are unwilling to do something about the culture of violence that has besieged this country perhaps they should be doing something about the victims it leaves behind.
FBI admits it has secretly operated child abuse image websites to catch paedophiles
The FBI has previously condemned the controversial tactic, but now argues that it may be the best option in the fight against child abuse images
by Siobhan Fenton
The FBI secretly operated a website sharing thousands of child abuse images, it has emerged.
The Justice Department has acknowledged in court filings that the FBI ran one of the world's biggest child abuse image sites for almost a fortnight, USA Today reports.
Officials say that agents infected the website with software which allowed them to identify hundreds of criminals when they downloaded the material.
They kept the website in place whilst secretly doing so between 20 February and 4 March 2015.
It is the third known occasion on which federal agents have commandeered such a site to catch suspected abusers.
The tactic is a controversial one which the FBI has previously stated it strongly opposes. The Justice Department has previously said it is opposed on ethical grounds to any operations which involve the distribution of abusive images.
However, officials have said that whilst they acknowledge the risks, they feel it is currently the best strategy at their disposal. Ron Hosko, a former senior FBI official who was involved in the first such operation said: “There was no other way we could identify as many players. We had a window of opportunity to get into one of the darkest places on Earth, and not a lot of other options except to not do it.”
Justice Department spokesperson Peter Carr said: “The government always considers seizing an illegal child pornography site and removing it from existence immediately and permanently.
“While doing so would end the trafficking of child pornography taking place on that one website, it would do nothing to prevent those same users from disseminating child pornography through other means.”
He added: “The decision whether to simply shut down a website or to allow it to continue operating for a brief period for law enforcement purposes is a difficult one.”
Let's end child abuse and neglect
No one should simply shake their head and sadly lament the horrific story of child neglect that has rocked our community this past week. Instead of passive despair, let this tragic incident serve as a galvanizing call to action for us all to commit to ending child neglect abuse and securing the safety and future of every child in Sheridan County.
Yes, we can end child abuse. We can end it when we all become advocates for children.
For some of us, that advocacy comes in a formal role. Teachers, child care workers, health care providers and others who come into daily contact with children can be vigilant for signs of abuse and neglect. Their actions to report suspected abuse or to offer extra time and attention to fragile children can do more than make a difference. It can save lives.
CASA volunteers – court-appointed special advocates – also put their passion for the well-being of children into action. Assigned to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, CASA volunteers make sure kids don't get lost in the overburdened legal and social service systems or languish in unsupportive foster homes. Volunteers stay with children until their court case is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.
For many abused children, their CASA volunteer is the one constant adult presence in their lives.
A CASA volunteer's intense advocacy can break the cycle of abuse and neglect. When children grow up in homes where their only adult role models respond to them with violence and disregard for their needs, they repeat that cycle with their own children. When a CASA volunteer intercedes, it not only changes the course of one child's life, it makes an impact for generations.
Not everyone can be a CASA volunteer – although Child Advocacy Services of the Big Horns certainly welcomes more caring adults into our volunteer ranks – but everyone can be an advocate. Here are a few steps you can take to make our community safer for our children.
• Be mindful of the signs of abuse and neglect in children, many of which appear before an obvious physical mark: lack of adult supervision, extreme passivity or aggression, poor hygiene, or watchfulness, as if waiting for something bad to happen.
• Also be aware of warning signs in parents: showing indifference or rarely touching or looking at their child, constant verbal criticism, demands for perfection, blaming the child for family problems, or other irrational behaviors.
• If you think a child is in immediate danger, don't hesitate. Call 911.
• In the state of Wyoming, every citizen is a legal mandated reporter of abuse and neglect of children and vulnerable adults. If you think a child is being abused or neglected, report your suspicions immediately.
• Take new or stressed-out parents under your wing. Offer to baby-sit, run an errand or share your own challenges and insights about being a parent.
• Volunteer your time and/or donate to community programs that support children and families.
Your advocacy for children not only will help end child abuse, it will improve Sheridan for everyone who lives here. Children who are abused and neglected and do not get the support they need to heal are more likely than other kids to drop out of school, end up homeless, turn to crime, and rely as adults on social welfare programs. When we work together to protect vulnerable children, it saves lives and tax dollars.
There are many life-threatening and incurable diseases that sadly afflict children. But we have the cure to child abuse and neglect.
It lies within each of us. Now is the time to act.
To find out more about how you can be an advocate volunteer, call me at 675-2272 (CASA).
Jo Forbes — Child Advocacy Services of the Big Horns, CASA coordinator, 4th Judicial District
Harbor House offers child sexual abuse prevention training
by Blake Doss
Helping children who have experienced sexual abuse has always been a priority for Harbor House, but the child advocacy center is rolling out a preventative abuse training program this year.
The organization is offering child sexual abuse prevention training to organizations that work with children. The program, Stewards of Children, was created by Darkness to Light, a national child sexual abuse prevention organization.
The goal is to “prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse,” according to an information sheet provided by Harbor House Executive Director Gail Garland.
“This is going to give them a lot more insight into child sexual abuse,” Garland added.
Although the program is aimed at helping organizations, training will be available to the public in April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The training is two and one-half hours long and will be led by an authorized facilitator.
Some of the tips to recognizing children who have experienced sexual abuse include looking at changes in behavior, like getting lower grades in school, Garland said.
However, changes in a child's behavior can happen for several reasons, Garland said, so changes can't always be attributed to sexual abuse.
To prevent paranoia among those looking for sexual abuse, the training will feature DVD testimonies from adults who experienced child sexual abuse. They will discuss how they kept it hidden from those around them, Garland said.
The training will also explain how adults should report the crime.
People don't have to have all the facts, like the child's date of birth or address, Garland said. They also don't have to have proof to go to the police, DFCS or the district attorney.
Garland said a “gut-feeling” is enough of a reason to contact authorities.
The goal is to train around 3,600 Floyd County residents and workers over the next three years, Garland said.
Garland plans to approach groups that deal with children on a regular basis. She would like college curriculums to require all nursing students to take the training.
To take part in the training, which costs $15 per person, contact Garland at 706-235-5437 or at email her at email@example.com.
Sex trafficking starts on our children's computer screens
Discussion about human trafficking can conjure up images of young women being kidnapped so they can be sold as sexual slaves in another country. The imagined scenes are framed in darkness, with muffled screams and futile struggling.
In Las Vegas, human trafficking plays out in far more insidious ways, right beneath the eyes of mothers and fathers: a young daughter sits on her bed and, setting aside her homework, taps on her keyboard, responding to a flattering message from a friend of a friend.
This is how pimps frequently cast their lure, says Sam Martinez, and in Las Vegas, “it's an absolute plague.” Martinez knows; he is Clark County's chief deputy district attorney overseeing the special victims unit. He sends pimps to prison.
Martinez says the path of seducing girls and young women into a life of prostitution and coerced loyalty to a pimp traverses the same territory where we find irresistible video clips of puppies learning how to swim and daredevil motorcyclists tumbling through the air. The trafficking of a child into the sex trade frequently starts with an innocuous Facebook message from a stranger to a teenage girl who so loves the banter and unscripted interaction in social media that she has not used any privacy filters. Her page can be viewed by strangers, including criminals.
The stranger sending the message might offer a friendly remark on something he found on the girl's page, or insinuate that they have common friends, or offer a compliment that might secretly prey on the girl's poor self-esteem or social insecurities. They resume the virtual conversation a few days later and, as the relationship builds unbeknownst to her parents, there comes a time when the girl meets her new friend.
One thing leads to another, as the pimp explores her vulnerabilities and promises a lifestyle that, he says persuasively, she deserves and would enjoy. She would get men's attention, make money, live in the fast lane and have a friend, a close friend, in him.
Once the teen is ensnared, Martinez says, the seduction turns into enslavement. The girl is wiser now and likely yearns for home, but her pimp wields too much emotional if not physical control over her. He threatens to harm her or her family if she bolts. Or, in the alternative, in a world of sex, money and drugs, she has lost her orientation entirely and has turned into a young woman we no longer recognize who thinks she has fallen in love with this man.
“Social media is a huge recruiting tool for pimps, and parents need to be aware of their kids' social media accounts and track them,” Martinez advises. “It's through social media that they make their initial contact and start the process of recruiting, by making promises. They give their victims compliments and build a relationship of trust, and then the victim is in a black hole and can't get out.”
Martinez admonishes parents to educate their children about people who will prey on them — not just the old notion of someone offering a child candy or to help look for a lost puppy, but who will connivingly and manipulatively worm their way into their social lives. Children, especially those yearning for a friend, are easily duped. Matinez has prosecuted cases in which the victims were as young as 12.
Awareness of the problem has increased in recent years, thanks in part to then-Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto's success in the 2013 Legislature to establish the crime of sex trafficking in Nevada. The strengthened law made it easier to prosecute pimps, expanded the sex offender registry and gave victims the right to sue their captors.
There are law enforcement efforts nationwide, starting with the FBI, to stem human trafficking, which includes snaring teenage girls — and boys — for sex. But the front line of that battle frequently plays out in our own homes.
Martinez advises parents to be much more active in their children's social media engagement. Parents must frankly teach their children the need for personal security, physically and virtually. Failing that, parents need to monitor their children's activities in social media, as closely as they would keep an eye on their youngsters at a park or at the mall.
The bottom line: Children have to be on guard for the perils of online relationships, especially when messages come from people other than their known circle of friends. Their default reaction should be one of concern and suspicion. And then they should have the confidence and trust to share these incidents with their parents.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Let this serve as a trigger for parents to talk to their children about identifying and ignoring strangers making appearances on their social media pages. Don't lose a child in her own bedroom.
Sex trafficking in Muncie: 'I just went hysterical'
by Emma Kate Fittes
MUNCIE — The first time Annette Campbell thought about sex trafficking was when she caught her 11-year-old chatting online with a much older man.
For Judge Kimberly Dowling, it was when she started looking around for available victim services.
For many parents, it might have been during Muncie Community Schools' internet safety presentation back in October.
Muncie is not a sex trafficking hub. Neither is Indiana. Since 2007 253 cases have been reported in the state, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. But commercial exploitation can — and does — happen here.
Human trafficking generates $150.2 billion a year, making it the second largest criminal industry in the world, according to the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. About 10 years ago, task forces began popping up across the U.S. to try to raise awareness.
Indiana code defines sex trafficking as “a person who knowingly or intentionally recruits, harbors or transports another person by force, threat of force or fraud to engage the other person in… prostitution.” It's a class B felony.
The NHTRC describes trafficking as a “form of modern slavery.”
Dowling, the Delaware Circuit Court 2 judge, describes it as an emotional and manipulative relationship. Pimps hang out where children are, she said. They follow them on social media and look for personal information, like a favorite color or animal, to form a bond.They also look for insecurities or a lack of love or money that would make someone vulnerable.
It can be difficult to tell if someone is being trafficked. Sometimes pimps can act as the person's boyfriend for months before manipulating them into prostitution.
Many victims don't consider themselves victims, which can further confuse things. In their minds, their pimp loves them, and they are just pitching in. Frequently, the victims try returning to their pimp, Dowling said.
Campbell, a Muncie resident, first became suspicious when her daughter began taking her school-issued iPad to the bathroom during the fall of 2014. She brushed it off for a while before finally checking.
She found her daughter chatting with a 30- or 40-year-old man. He was shirtless and on a bed.
"I just went hysterical," she said. She threatened to call the police as he hung up.
Her daughter said the man called her "pretty" and "beautiful," and promised to take care of her. He asked for her address and phone number, and the sixth grader obliged.
They started talking through a messaging application called kik, which Campbell's daughter downloaded. Kik doesn't require a phone number to allow messaging. Therefore, it's become popular for younger children with an iPad or iPod, but no cell phone.
Technically, there is an age restriction to use kik. The app asks for a birth date. If it's under 13, the account won't register. If it's between 13-18 years old, parents can request to have it shut down. But it's easy to lie.
The 11-year-old had messaged about 20 men.
Tracy McDaniel is the founder of an Indianapolis sex trafficking victims services organization, Restored. In 2015, she helped 15 victims in Indiana with everything from legal services to trauma counseling to medical services.
She said it's important for parents to monitor their children's apps and social media. It's also important, she said, for parents to talk about sex, sexting and manipulation with their children.
"Here, with Internet, everybody can be reached," she said.
If a child suddenly has tattoos, is falling asleep during school or is dressing much nicer than before, those could all be signs of trafficking.
If parents do catch their child, like Campbell, McDaniel said not to freak out, even if that's the first thing a parent wants to do. Then they should call the national hotline: 1-888-373-7888
Campbell wasn't sure what to do, but she figured it was the school's' laptop, and therefore the administration's responsibility.
When Campbell showed up at MCS, Steve Brookbank, director of information technology, reset the iPad and Chuck Hensley, MCS chief of security & operations, suggested she go to the police. She says she did, but never filed an official police report.
Muncie Community Schools has protections in place now that they didn't back then. Students in grade 6 no longer have access to the app store, there's a list of prohibited applications, and a staff member uses two different programs to monitor activity and flag any prohibited behavior. Students using the district's internet also can not access social media.
According to school policy, teachers can check the iPads. But it's more difficult to monitor students' personal devices or cell phones, which is where spokesperson Ana Pichardo said most of the behaviors MCS flags as inappropriate come from.
Thankfully, Campbell will never know for sure what the man's motives were. She makes a point of telling her daughter that she's beautiful and loved every day.
A safe place
Other children weren't as lucky.
The Star Press reported in 2014 that two teenage girls from Muncie and Yorktown were trafficked into a "prostitution ring" in Chicago.
The two girls were first reported as missing on Oct. 26, then their parents found pictures of them online, which verified the police department's belief that they were part of an escort service. Federal Bureau of Investigations agents recovered the two girls on Nov. 6. They were taken to the Youth Opportunity Center in Muncie.
In 2015, a long-time reserve officer for the Muncie Police Department was arrested on rape and human trafficking charges.
The alleged victim told authorities she had been physically and sexually abused, and had been coerced into having non-consensual sexual encounters with other men.
Back in 2012, The Indianapolis Star reported a teenager from Carmel was sex trafficked and taken to the West Coast. It took months to get her home, and the girl ran away again before accepting therapy.
In most of these cases, police found pictures of the girls online. Still today Muncie has its own page on a website notorious for prostitution.
Dowling said it has been years since a minor has been charged with prostitution in Delaware County. She couldn't say how many trafficking cases she had seen, but she did start looking for other options for victims.
She didn't find much. There are task forces — like the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans that was created in 2006 to collaborate on cases and provide training for law enforcement — and advocacy groups, but few places to send these victims for help or to keep them from going back to that life.
The Youth Opportunity Center is looking at solutions. The correctional facility already provides treatment services for children who have been “commercially sexually exploited,” which includes trafficking victims. Currently an average of six to 10 women and girls live in the cottages. They receive both behavioral and psychological therapy.
Now they are also “exploring programming and off-site facility options for a stand-alone program” that could help 18-20 girls at a time, grouped together in one place said David Dickerson, director of alternative programs.
Muncie Community Schools is trying to help, as well. This year, for the first time, Northside Middle School students listened to a 45-minute internet safety presentation, which discussed more than cyber bullying.
“I think it scared some of them," said Brandon Qualls, a resource officer at Northside.
He told students not to give out personal information, and explained that they might not really know who they are talking with. He also told them not to constantly post updates of their whereabouts.
This way, it isn't too late by the time students first think about sex trafficking.
“This is the age where they think everybody is safe," Principal Jackie Samuels said. "We can catch it, we can fix it."
How to keep your kids safe
establish rules for Internet use
be informed, learn everything you can about the internet
follow your child's recent searches
become a part of your child's world, try out their online games
check out blocking, filtering and rating applications
Source: MCS online safety presentation
Sex trafficking, by the numbers
$150.2 billion, human trafficking industry
253, cases reported in Indiana ?since 2007
6-10, commercially sexually exploited are at the Youth Opportunity Center, on average
18-20, number of trafficking victims the YOC hopes to help at any one time with a new program
Ex-Oklahoma officer convicted of rape sentenced to 263 years in prison
Former police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was convicted last month on 18 counts of sexual misconduct. His attorney said he will appeal.
by Sean Murphy
OKLAHOMA CITY — A former police officer convicted of raping and sexually victimizing women while on his beat in a low-income Oklahoma City neighborhood was ordered Thursday to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Jurors had recommended that Daniel Holtzclaw be sentenced to 263 years in prison for preying on women in 2013 and 2014. District Judge Timothy Henderson agreed, said Mr. Holtzclaw will serve the terms consecutively and denied his request for an appeal bond.
Holtzclaw waived his right to remain in custody in the county jail for 10 days, instead opting to be taken directly to prison. Defense attorney Scott Adams said Holtzclaw will appeal.
"It is what it is," Mr. Adams said. "It wasn't a surprise."
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater had strong words for Holtzclaw, who was convicted last month on 18 counts, including four first-degree rape counts as well as forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery, procuring lewd exhibition, and second-degree rape. Holtzclaw was acquitted on 18 other counts.
"I think people need to realize that this is not a law-enforcement officer that committed these crimes. This is a rapist who masqueraded as a law-enforcement officer," Mr. Prater said after the sentencing. "If he was a true law enforcement officer he would have upheld his duty to protect those citizens rather than victimize them."
The Associated Press highlighted Holtzclaw's case in a yearlong examination of sexual misconduct by law officers, which found that about 1,000 officers in the US lost their licenses for sex crimes or other sexual misconduct over a six-year period.
Those figures are likely an undercount, because not every state has a process to ban problem officers from law enforcement. In states that do decertify officers, reporting requirements vary, but the AP's findings suggest that sexual misconduct is among the most prevalent complaints against law officers.
During the monthlong trial, 13 women testified against Holtzclaw, and several said he stopped them, checked them for outstanding warrants or drug paraphernalia, and then forced himself on them. All of the accusers were black. Holtzclaw is half-white, half-Japanese, and the son of a longtime Enid, Okla., police officer.
Holtzclaw's attorney had described the former college football star as a model officer whose attempts to help the drug addicts and prostitutes he came in contact with were distorted. Mr. Adams also attacked the credibility of some of the women, who had arrest records and histories of drug abuse, noting that many didn't come forward until police had already identified them as possible victims after launching their investigation.
Holtzclaw's victims included a teenager and woman in her 50s. Three accusers delivered victim-impact statements Thursday, and at least one other was in the courtroom.
Jannie Ligons, whose complaint in June 2014 launched the investigation of Holtzclaw, said she has been under stress because of the case and the fear of being sexually assaulted again. "My daughter and sisters are frightful when a police car pulls up behind them," Ms. Ligons said.
The Associated Press does not identify victims of sex crimes without their consent, but she was among two women who spoke publicly about the case and agreed to be identified.
Another woman, who was 17 at the time of the assault, said her "life has been upside down" since Holtzclaw raped her on the front porch of her mother's home.
"It's been hard on my family. It's been hard on me," she told the court. "Every time I see the police, I don't even know what to do. I don't ever go outside, and when I do I'm terrified."
Several of Holtzclaw's victims have filed civil lawsuits against Holtzclaw and the city in state and federal court.
Thursday's hearing was delayed by a few hours as Holtzclaw and attorneys met with the judge over the defense's request for a new trial or evidentiary hearing, but after hearing testimony from another officer, Judge Henderson rejected the request and moved on to witness statements.
Sex trafficking ring leader sentenced in Houston to life in prison
HOUSTON — A 68-year-old woman behind a 14-defendant sex-trafficking ring that operated in Houston was sentenced Wednesday to life in federal prison.
This sentence was announced by the following agency heads: U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Brian Moskowitz of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); FBI Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner; and Special Agent in Charge Richard Goss of the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (CI).
A federal jury convicted Hortencia Medeles-Arguello, aka Raquel Medeles Garcia or “Tencha,” April 24, 2015, following a 10-day trial and about four hours of deliberations. She was convicted on all counts: conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, conspiracy to harbor aliens, aiding and abetting to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
This landmark sex trafficking case is one of the most significant in scope and magnitude to be tried to a verdict of guilty on all counts, and one of the few in which as many as 12 victims of an international sex trafficking scheme came forward to testify at trial. Twelve victims rescued in connection with this case testified at trial regarding the horrors of their ordeals, beginning with being recruited in their home countries, only to be forced into prostitution against their will in the United States. Some victims were as young as 14 years old when the traffickers recruited them, using fraud and false pretenses to lure them into the traffickers' control.
“The importance of this case cannot be underscored,” said Magidson. “These were human beings – women and children – who were treated as a commodity. They came from their home countries hoping for a better life, only to be enslaved and forced into unspeakable acts. This is a local, national and international issue, but also a humanitarian issue. We will continue to take action against these egregious offenders and seek to obtain the stiffest penalties in order to send a clear message that human trafficking will not be tolerated in this district.”
U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who presided over the trial, handed Tencha a sentence of life in federal prison. At the hearing, additional testimony from six of the victims was also presented. They asked the judge to punish the defendant for the impact she had on their lives.
In addition, 15 real properties and other assets valued at about $2.5 million will be forfeited to the United States having been found to have been purchased with sex trafficking proceeds. The funds will be used to make restitution to the victims of this horrible crime.
“Investigations and the subsequent criminal prosecution like this one highlight the significant collective and collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies in greater Houston that are involved in the fight against human trafficking,” said Moskowitz of HSI Houston. “This sentence should also serve as a warning to all individuals and criminal groups involved in the trafficking of minors and women that we are determined to expend the resources necessary to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all that are involved in this heinous crime.”
“Let this sentence send a message that lives are not to be bought and sold,” said Turner. “The Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA) seeks to rescue those forced into this modern day slavery and hold accountable those who wish to profit from the abuse of others. If you have information about human trafficking, we urge you to contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Testimony revealed that pimps recruited the young girls by convincing them they were in love, making threats to their families, as well as threatening the girls themselves. Testimony revealed Tencha knew that many of the girls prostituted at her establishment were either underage or victims of the beatings by their pimps.
On the first full day of trial, the jury heard from one of the victims in the case. She detailed the horrific conditions she faced at the hands of the defendant and others, to include being forced into having sex at age 14 after she had come to this country in search of a better life. She described how she was forced to comply with demands at gunpoint and locked in a room. She was eventually impregnated by a “customer” and was moved to another area of the bar because she was not worth as much once she became pregnant. Following the move, she found a way to escape with the help of a customer who had befriended her.
“Today's sentencing closes the book on a heinous criminal organization that profited from exploiting innocent women and minors in the worst possible way,” said Goss. “IRS special agents are committed to dismantling the financial infrastructure of criminal enterprises of this nature and removing any financial incentive to exploit innocents.”
Evidence at trial indicated that Tencha made more than $1.6 million in a 19-month period by supplying the upper floor of her cantina for prostitutes to ply their trade. The evidence further revealed that many of the prostitutes were either minors or forced to engage in sex acts at the defendant's bar. The jury heard that Tencha had engaged in harboring illegal aliens, many who were forced into prostitution for more than 13 years.
She will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
All of Tencha's co-defendants who were in custody have pleaded guilty for their respective roles in the conspiracy. Many admitted they worked for Las Palmas II, a cantina located in Houston. They all knew the cantina concealed, harbored and shielded illegal aliens who worked there from detection by law enforcement and that the owners were profiting from such concealment. As part of their employment, they aided in operating the business. And their conduct substantially facilitated the concealment, harboring and shielding of the employees and patrons of the Las Palmas II, whom they all knew were illegally in the U.S. Other co-defendants pleaded guilty to helping Tencha keep track of the monies she made, including investing it in properties she purchased in the Houston area.
Abel Medeles, aka Chito, 67, Tencha's brother, operated the Las Palmas II parking lot. It was part of his job to notify his co-conspirators inside the cantina of any law enforcement presence he observed in order for his co-conspirators to be able to conceal from law enforcement the illegal activities in the Las Palmas II. Similarly, on at least one occasion, Odelia Hernandez, 47, Tencha's sister, told co-conspirators to lock the doors when she realized law enforcement was coming. Medeles was sentenced to 55 months and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, while Hernandez received a sentence of 66 months and must pay a $1,500 fine.
Eduardo Guzman Gonzales, aka Miguel Rojas or El Pantera, 33, and Alberto Mendez Flores, aka Ardilla, 27, managed the cantina. They paid Tencha $20,000 each week out of the money received from the operation of the Las Palmas II; they kept all the monies received in excess of that amount. Both men received sentences of 88 months in federal prison.
Jose L. Uraga, aka Wicho, 36, who provided false/fraudulent identifications to employees, to include females working at Las Palmas II, was sentenced to 28 months. Jorge Antonio Teloxa-Barbosa, aka Eli, 31, testified at trial to his part in the conspiracy. He also managed the cantina with Guzman and Mendez and paid Tencha $20,000 each week out of the money received from the operation of Las Palmas II, keeping all the monies received in excess of that amount. He received a sentence of 37 months.
Graciela Medeles Ochoa, 37, Tencha's daughter, assisted Tencha in counting the proceeds obtained from Las Palmas II. She also negotiated cashier's checks for her mother and sister, Delia Diaz. The money used to obtain the cashier's checks came from the sex trafficking violations occurring at Las Palmas II. Ochoa, who also testified about her mother's unlawful conduct, was sentenced to 18 months. Diaz, 51, received 71 months for money laundering. Another of Tencha's daughters, Diana Medeles Garcia aka Diana Garcia Marquez, 50, testified that her mother had been running brothels since she was 13 years old. She received 21 months for aiding and abetting to harbor illegal aliens.
Guadalupe Valdez Lugo aka Lupe, 58, worked as a manager at Las Palmas II, overseeing the female workers as well as the regular employees. She also testified at trial about Tencha's unlawful conduct and received a sentence of 25 months as well as a $5,000 fine.
Another of Tencha's sisters, Lilia Medeles Cerda, aka Lilly, 66, received a sentence of 52 months for conspiracy to harbor Illegal Aliens. Talat Crippin, aka Chacho, 27, who was married to one of Tencha's granddaughters, pleaded guilty to being a lookout for Tencha's brothel and received 41 months.
David Garcia, 46, (Techa's son) was convicted of aiding and abetting to harbor illegal aliens, and will be sentenced next month.
Another defendant — Alfonso Diaz-Juarez, aka Ponco or El Grenas, a 45-year-old Mexican national — is a fugitive and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact the FBI at (713) 693-5000. A Clear Channel Outdoor digital billboard campaign launched in December across the Greater Houston area touted up to $50,000 reward for information leading to the location and arrest of Diaz-Juarez.
The investigation leading to the filing of criminal charges resulted from a three-year investigation conducted by members of the HTRA in Houston, which includes the following agencies: FBI, HSI, Harris County Sheriff's Office, IRS-CI, Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Commission, Department of State, Texas Department of Public Safety. and the Houston Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ruben R. Perez and Joe Magliolo, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.
Helping Those Affected by Childhood Sexual Assault Find Hope
by Jill Ferguson
Sue Mocker is a hope consultant. She sees the work she does as both a vocation and an avocation. After 30 years of being a teacher, she resigned when she felt her life heading in this new direction. She sees hope as the one thing everyone needs but some people possess so little of.
Mocker defines HOPE as "Have Optimism and Passion Every day." In her book The Hope Factor, Mocker lays out a blueprint for how people can find hope and light through their pain. Mocker knows how to do this from first-hand experience, and through her training while becoming a facilitator through Mending the Soul. From the age of four through pre-pubescence, Mocker was sexually abused by a family member. At the time, she felt a barrage of mixed emotions and told no one.
While in her 30s, she started having flashbacks and realized the impact the abuse was taking on her relationships. That is when she started to get the mental health help she needed and started the healing process. Mocker said in an interview with this blogger, "There's no other way I can think of where someone can hurt someone that can also be done in a loving way. No one would punch someone hard in the stomach in a loving way. Yet sexual acts can be done lovingly or can be the source of hurt and cause triggers and bad memories." Mocker knows that until one admits what has happened and starts talking about it, healing cannot occur.
And that healing can occur by a person working on his or her own with a therapist or in a support group or at a retreat designed for childhood sexual abuse (CSA) survivors. Last year, Mocker had the opportunity to go to the week-long Haven Retreat at The Younique Foundation, which was founded by Shelaine and Derek Maxfield to help adult survivors "who had suffered childhood sexual abuse," according to the foundation's website. Mocker was at the retreat with 10 other women who had been through similar situations. "Sharing stories and being authentic helps people realize what abuse is and what long-term damage it causes," Mocker said.
For years sexual abuse wasn't talked about. The first national survey of adults on childhood sexual abusetook place in 1988, and its results were in the 1990 issue of the journal Child Abuse & Neglect. Victimization was reported by 27 percent of the women and 16 percent of the men, but according to the National Center of Victims of Crime's website, "The prevalence of child sexual abuse is difficult to determine because it is often not reported; experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is reported to authorities. CSA is also not uniformly defined, so statistics may vary."
What is conclusive is that childhood abuse correlateswith multiple types of mental health, behavioral, and social outcomes and affects relationships.
To help people through these effects, Mocker offers private hope consultation, speaking, workshops, and retreats, including A Day of Brave and How the Divorce Stole Christmas. The work she does is complementary to the work of Dr. Bill Ronzheimer, whose research and doctoral dissertation is on the challenges of being a spouse of a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Ronzheimer, who is also a pastor, runs a program and a blog called Marriage Reconstruction, and the website says, the challenges of being a spouse of a survivor of CSA include "a sense of rejection, frustration resulting from unpredictable behaviors and situations, emasculation resulting from dysfunctional sexual relationships, rage, dealing with spouse's self-injurious behavior, fear over spouse's suicidal tendencies, and occasional dissociation."
Ronzheimer relates on his website how important it was for his wife (a CSA survivor) to get counseling and the process that made him realize he needed it, too, especially to strengthen their marriage.
Both Ronzheimer and Mocker help people connect to the resources and services they may need. And Mocker thinks that helping people find hope and resilience allows them to live in authenticity and have "realationships" with their loved ones.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline or 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.
This Danish Child Abuse Awareness Spot Shows Just How Subtle Abuse Can Be
by Lara Eutherford Morrison
(Video on site)
“A picture is worth a thousand words” may be a cliché, but this powerful Danish video about the effects of child abuse proves that it's a cliché for a reason. Created by students at the The Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark, this brief commercial heartbreakingly illustrates how living in conflict-filled, abusive households wears on children, and just how damaging “putting on a brave face” can be. The video was created to promote Bryd Tavsheden ("Break the Silence"), an Danish NGO that offers advice and counseling to children in abusive situations and works to educate the public about domestic violence.
The animated commercial is only twenty seconds long, and yet it packs a major punch. The premise of the short narrative is simple: It starts with a boy who has cracks across his face, damage, presumably, from the fighting going on in his household. He puts on a smooth, shiny mask to cover the cracks, and goes about his day. But when he finally gets home and takes off the mask, the face underneath is more cracked and battered than ever, and on the verge of crumbling completely. It's an emotional reminder that appearances don't always reveal what may be happening behind closed doors, and that many children suffer in silence.
On its website, Break the Silence describes its mission, highlighting the fact that, for many kids, even simply acknowledging that abuse is happening is a hugely important step. The NGO's objectives are:
Actively helping children and young people who are victims of physical or psychological violence from family or from a relationship, to recognize and acknowledge their situation, seek help and act upon it.
Psychology grad student studies revictimization of child sexual assault victim.
by The Daily Nebraskan
University of Nebraska-Lincoln psychology graduate student Samantha Pittenger created a new approach to studying the revictimization of child sexual assault victims, according to a UNL news release. As a student in the Child Maltreatment Lab, Pittenger began doing her dissertation research on child sexual assault.
Revictimization is defined by the Research & Advocacy Digest as “the phenomenon in which individuals who have experienced child sexual abuse are at greater risk than others for adolescent or adult sexual victimization.”
Much of the research involving revictimization focuses on adults. Very limited research focuses on the children and the variables beyond the victim.
“There is a lot of literature that has established sexual revictimization as a problem,” Pittenger said in the release. “But most has really focused on adults. We know that people are reporting this as adults, but we need to understand more about what's happening when they're younger.”
Pittenger compiled more than 100 research articles showing revictimization in adults and teens. She organized her findings to help future researchers more closely examine how many variables interact to create the risk of revictimization. This theory has not been typically used to study child sexual abuse.
Pittenger's research was published in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior and showed external influences can raise the risk of child revictimization.
If research shows there is still a higher risk for later victimization, interventions should be considered.
“Before we can do that, we need to figure out what is going to work to keep that person safe,” Pittenger said. “That's what we did with this review: looked at all of the different contexts that these kids live in and tried to determine what about those contexts might influence their ability to be safe in the future.”
Safe Havens: Preventing Student Sexual Abuse Starts With You
by Anne Littlefield
School districts have legal and ethical obligations to promote safe and healthy environments in which students can thrive. Victims of childhood sexual abuse experience myriad adverse health and educational outcomes. School leaders must consider prevention education as a critical strategy to improve the health and well-being of students.
While many would prefer to think of childhood sexual abuse as a rare occurrence, research shows that it is experienced by an estimated 25 percent of girls and 16 percent of boys in the U.S. by the age of 18.
Districts can prevent or reduce the likelihood of sexual victimization of students both through training and through adoption of certain employment practices and policies. By adopting a robust approach that includes prevention, intervention, and support measures, schools will reduce the opportunity for sexual abuse, create a supportive environment for disclosure, promote positive outcomes for victimized children, and create a safe and healthy environment for all students.
Most states require certified school staff to report child abuse and neglect, including childhood sexual abuse, when they suspect such abuse. While 48 states have “mandated reporting laws,” however, only 23 require training for mandated reporters. For many states, the training mandate is a new requirement.
Not surprisingly, the extent of each state's training requirements varies tremendously. Nearly two-thirds of the states requiring mandated reporter training merely say that such training must be provided, but offer little, if any, guidance as to the parameters of the required training. Fewer than 10 state statutes requiring training expressly outline the extent, frequency, and/or content of the training.
While legal requirements vary in each state, each district should adopt a training regimen that promotes a safe and healthy environment for students with respect to the identification of and support for victims of childhood sexual abuse.
What elements should district training include?
Determine the legal requirements in your jurisdiction, and develop and use a comprehensive training program to satisfy those requirements.
Train all staff, volunteers, and school board members in the recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect, including childhood sexual abuse.
If the law in your jurisdiction gives discretion with respect to the content of training, adopt a training regimen that is research-based and reflects best practices in child sexual abuse identification and prevention.
Ensure accountability by designating a school leader to supervise and coordinate training. Some state laws include mandates for administrators to certify compliance with training requirements. However, even if your state does not impose such a mandate, consider a policy mandate to designate one individual administrator as responsible for the district's efforts.
Require refresher training. District policy that requires refresher training will ensure consistency in implementation of training programs, allow for current legal and educational considerations, and demonstrate a district commitment to preventing childhood sexual abuse.
Establishing school policies and procedures that prevent individuals with a history of acts of sexual victimization of children from having contact with students is the cornerstone of any district's prevention strategy.
In 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a study to examine the circumstances surrounding cases where K-12 schools hired or retained individuals with histories of sexual misconduct and determine the factors contributing to such employment actions.
The GAO's findings are both instructive and troubling. People with histories of sexual misconduct are hired or retained by districts in a variety of student contact capacities. The GAO identified certain factors contributed to hiring or retention of such individuals.
Those factors included:
Allowing teachers who engaged in sexual misconduct with students to resign rather than report them to law enforcement, and giving those teachers positive references to subsequent employers.
Not performing pre-employment criminal history checks or taking advantage of national databases.
Failing to inquire into troubling information regarding criminal histories on employment applications.
Even in the absence of a state law requirement, districts should adopt strong policies for screening of all employees or volunteers. As screening practices may prevent predators from gaining access to children, as well as reduce districts' liability when negligence is alleged, such policies may well have a significant positive impact on students.
What elements should a district screening policy include?
Satisfy legal requirements for pre-employment and volunteer screening.
Screen all staff and volunteers.
Conduct criminal background and sex offender registry checks.
Conduct thorough reference checks. If a former employer will only confirm position titles and dates of hire, it may be a red flag. A telephone conversation in conducting a reference is far more likely to yield information than a written reference.
Ensure fidelity to your screening processes. Having a strong screening process on paper will not protect children if school personnel routinely cut corners by bypassing screening requirements. Monitor those charged with ensuring that screening policies are being followed, and discipline such employees when screening policies are not adhered to.
In all states, educators found to have sexually abused children will face criminal consequences; and in most states, revocation of a teaching certificate also follows from such a conviction. That said, in many cases where sexual abuse in a school setting is suspected, individuals will resign while an investigation is pending, and also may be able to escape criminal prosecution due to the high evidentiary standards of a criminal trial.
Prosecutors and school officials alike wrestle with difficult decisions about asking child victims to provide legal evidence of sexual abuse, as participating in criminal trials or teacher termination hearings can have devastating emotional consequences for children.
As a result, some educators will move on and get new jobs prior to a formal termination proceeding. The GAO study criticized such district practices, noting that “these teachers were able to truthfully inform prospective employers that they had never been fired from a teaching position and eventually were able to harm more children. In certain cases, school officials actually provided positive recommendations or reference letters for the teachers.”
By reporting cases of suspected sexual abuse to child welfare agencies and/or the police, public agencies will continue investigations of such employees, even while school district officials will have no further role to play. Certain district policies and procedures for managing employee discipline and termination will also serve to protect children, as noted below.
What policies and practices should a district adopt for the discipline and termination of abusing individuals?
Place employees on administrative leave with pay during sexual abuse investigations. If a district receives a report of possible sexual abuse by a school employee, it is better to ensure that the employee no longer has access to school children while the report is investigated.
Impose discipline for boundary violations. If an employee engages in conduct that infringes on professional boundaries, whether or not actual sexual abuse is suspected, impose written discipline promptly. This will send a clear message that the district is vigilant about student/staff relationships and will not tolerate inappropriate conduct.
Train administrators to clearly word disciplinary documents. If a school staff member is being disciplined for a boundary violation, the administrator issuing written discipline should use specific language to describe the offense so that a history of behaviors of concern is well-documented.
Prohibit administrators from providing references unless reviewed/approved in advance. Requiring all references to be reviewed and approved by district officials may prevent a situation where a former employee presents a ‘friendly' reference to a future employer and gains access to children elsewhere.
A student report of sexual abuse presents significant challenges for a school district. Legal considerations include 1) analysis of mandatory reporting obligations, 2) Title IX/sexual harassment investigation procedures, 3) possible bullying implications, 4) student confidentiality issues, and 5) to the extent that the disclosure implicates a school employee—possible discipline and/ or termination of a school employee.
Unfortunately, the legal obligation to investigate and remediate sexual abuse of a student requires a robust information gathering process that typically involves not only school personnel, but child welfare agencies, and police. However, in the midst of the firestorm that such a disclosure necessarily involves, it is vital that school administrators and relevant school staff give priority consideration to the needs of the victim for support, sensitivity, and confidentiality.
It is not realistic to expect our school staff members and/or administrators to perform as competent forensic interviewers or have the knowledge and training of mental health professionals. That said, adherence to a few fundamental principles will not only promote positive mental health and social outcomes for the victim in the school setting, but will also create a climate in which student victims feel safe in making such reports.When student victims feel safe in coming forward, sexual victimization of children will necessarily decrease and those responsible for perpetrating crimes against children will be held accountable.
What fundamental principles should school district personnel follow in handling disclosures of sexual abuse of students?
Determine and adhere to any procedures required by law or district policy. As a student's disclosure of sexual abuse triggers mandatory reporting obligations, ensure that school personnel adhere to the mandated reporting obligations.
Respect and reassure the student making the report. Research shows that only 4 percent to 8 percent of child sexual abuse reports are fabricated. It is vitally important to convey an attitude of respect and belief to the student making the report.
Get mental health professionals involved. Most districts employ at least one school psychologist and/or social worker on staff. Have a mental health professional participate in any interviews of the student.
Provide continuing student mental health support after disclosure. Support should include promoting an open dialog with the family and any private mental health providers retained by the family to assist the child.
Preserve the confidentiality of the student's disclosure, to the extent possible. It is increasingly challenging to maintain confidentiality in this age of social media and instantaneous communications. Districts need to discipline staff members who spread rumors.
School administrators can foster a safe and healthy school environment by requiring evidence based prevention training for all staff, volunteers, and school board members. Knowing the facts is an essential first step to building a safe environment for students. It is only by actually discussing the issue in our educational settings, whether at school board meetings, in leadership team meetings, in PTA/PTO meetings, and with students themselves, as well as by adopting the commonsense policies and procedures discussed herein, that we will make meaningful progress in addressing this public health epidemic.
Why cops must take a multi-disciplinary approach to child sex abuse investigations
Good investigators are never afraid to admit what they don't know or ask for assistance when needed
by Moe Greenberg
Child sex abuse investigations pose a number of challenges to an officer or investigator. Many of the cases are reported late, which means there may or may not be a crime scene to respond to and thus little or no physical evidence to examine or collect.
Another challenge is the age of a young victim possibly resulting in his or her inability to articulate what may have happened to them. In older victims, reluctance to report poses another challenge and can be attributed to a variety of reasons including elements of shame, psychological impact of abuse, fear of relocation, affection for their abuser, dependency upon their abuser, or threats made. And yet one more frequently unacknowledged challenge is the emotional response of the officer or investigator to these types of cases.
Despite the many challenges associated with child sex abuse investigations, the victims rely on members of law enforcement and others to attain justice. Most victims are vulnerable, and by the sheer nature of sex abuse crimes may have been abused more than once. They deserve every possible effort we can extend them. These investigations can challenge the skills of even the most seasoned investigator and case success requires a creative approach toward solving the crime. Below are three important considerations when investigating a child sex abuse case.
1. Use a Team Approach
While these cases are undoubtedly challenging, the good news is the primary investigator does not need to go it alone. Child sex abuse cases almost always require a team approach. The average child sex abuse case should involve consultation and cooperation with a number of resources and skilled professionals. Resources to consider are:
Local Department of Social Services
Child Protective Services
Medical/Psychological Professionals (including doctors and nurses but particularly those trained in (SAFE) Sexual Assault Forensic Examination)
Crime Lab/Forensic Technicians (Great for consulting on identifying and locating evidence as well as processing and testing needed)
Others such as local or national child advocacy centers or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
This all-hands approach not only helps to further the investigation but also introduces the necessary resources for the victim's safety, physical and mental health and an informed prosecutorial approach. Consulting these resources also serves to address investigative challenges as they arise, offering ideas from different perspectives and providing fresh investigative considerations. I have always found that good investigators are never afraid to admit what they don't know or ask for assistance when needed.
The team approach does not make for a quick investigation but it does make for a thorough investigation and that is what the complexity of these cases calls for.
2. Involve CPS in Interviews
The interview of child sexual assault victims also requires a team approach whenever possible. Sometimes, due to the size and resources of a department or the nature of a lesser crime, the primary investigator will have to interview alone. In an ideal circumstance, the interview of a child sexual assault victim should be conducted by a child protective services (CPS) worker, a social worker, or a police officer trained in the forensic interviewing of children.
The advantage of the CPS or social worker is that much of the time, they can testify on behalf of the victim instead of the victim needing to take the stand. In these types of investigations and in most states, trained social workers and medical professionals are given an exception to the hearsay rule. Consider the following when interviewing a victim of child sexual abuse:
One of the primary tenets of the forensic interview of children is to avoid asking leading questions. This is very easy to do with children because adults are prone to try to be helpful but this must be avoided!
One helpful way to question a child is to interject as little personal emotion as possible.
Good questioning prompts can be, “Can you tell me everything about what happened?” or “Can you help me understand more?”
If a child gives a response that requires additional inquiry, say, “Tell me about that…”
In child sex abuse cases, it is also important to interview others known to or related to the child victim, especially anyone who may have access to the abusive environment or to the alleged perpetrator. Consider:
Prioritizing the safety of other potential victims
CPS can help establish and implement safety plans for others in need
If others are not in danger of abuse themselves, they may be witnesses to or have knowledge of the abuse the victim has endured
It is important that all possible sources of information are explored and all leads followed up
3. Crime Scene and Physical Evidence
As mentioned, some abuse cases are reported late. This means there may or may not be a crime scene to process or, if there is one, it may offer little or no evidence. If you have a crime scene to work, process it as you would any investigation. Gather all possible physical evidence, photograph or videotape the scene and submit for testing all relevant evidence. In the event that you don't have a crime scene, consider the following:
Focus on validating the victim's claims. For example: The abuse happened four years ago in the basement of a neighbor's house but the neighbor has since moved. Clearly, there would be no evidence to pursue like bedsheets, suspect or victim clothing, instruments of the crime, etc. However, if the victim can describe the basement well, you may want to attempt to obtain photographs of the residence, even though the neighbor no longer lives there, in an effort to validate where the victim said the abuse occurred.
Consider the victim as evidence.
Get a forensic medical exam but be sure to know where those are conducted and by whom.
Even if some time has transpired since the last episode of abuse, there still may be evidence of injury, sexual activity, sexually transmitted disease or bacterial infections consistent with abuse.
Photograph any traumatic injuries.
Consult with medical professionals as to their findings.
Physical evidence is vital in any case and child sex abuse is no different. Consider these items as potential evidence:
Suspect and victim clothing
Sex toys or related items
Cell phones (videotaping, phone calls, or text messages)
Computers, laptops, tablets and data storage devices
Body fluids — biological DNA evidence
Consider the use of an alternative light source to help locate/collect
Recognize the possibility of child pornography — either manufacturing, distributing, or simply possessing it (it is not uncommon for a child sexual abuse suspect to attempt to try to memorialize incidents of abuse in this way)
Two other factors to consider in these cases is careful case preparation. Consult with the prosecutor in the case to ensure that all needs in the case have been met, all leads followed up, and all questions answered. And speaking of needs, consider the treatment needs of the victim. Once again, this is where the team approach really helps.
These victims deserve justice through our very best efforts and this multi-disciplinary approach helps to assure just that.
About the author
Detective Morris Greenberg serves as a proud member of the Baltimore County Police in Baltimore, Maryland. Most of his career has been spent conducting criminal investigation in specialized units including Robbery, Violent Crimes and Homicide. He has also served on the department's Hostage Negotiation Team. Detective Greenberg possesses a Master's Degree from the Johns Hopkins University, Division of Public Safety Leadership and teaches within the Criminal Justice Programs at two local colleges.
Can treating past trauma lead to big US health savings?
by Dan Mangan
For two decades, there's been evidence that people who suffered childhood trauma — violence, sexual abuse or family dysfunction — are much more likely to have a chronic health problems and engage in risky behavior.
Now, 14 community health centers around the U.S. are acting as laboratories for an experiment to see if screening and then treating people for trauma can improve the results from treatment they get for their diabetes, heart disease, pulmonary disease or other ailments.
While the main goal of that project is to get participants leading healthier, happier and longer lives, there's also a potential positive financial side effect. If the project works — and the lessons learned are expanded on a large scale — it may help create savings of billions of dollars for the health-care system by reducing overall medical spending.
"This is a great opportunity here," said Dr. Winston Wong, medical director of community benefit at Kaiser Permanente, the nation's largest managed health-care organization, when asked about the possible financial savings.
Kaiser Permanente is backing the Trauma Informed Primary Care project, which is being conducted by the National Council for Behavioral Health, a group of about 2,500 mental health and treatment organizations. Kaiser Permanente operates a health insurance plan with nearly 10 million members, and as such has an interest in strategies that could hold down medical costs.
Since last spring, the centers participating in the project have been screening groups of clients: Each center decides what physical conditions to focus on, and what level of trauma to use as a cut-off point. Patients who meet those criteria are given the option of receiving help to deal with their trauma along with their chronic condition.
Asked how much the project could save in medical costs if expanded more broadly, Wong said, "I don't think anybody actually has calculated" that figure. That said, the medical costs associated with trauma are often very high.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2012 that "the total lifetime financial costs associated with just one year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment ... is approximately $124 billion." And "the lifetime cost for each victim of child maltreatment who lived was $210,012" — comparable to the costs for patients who had strokes or type 2 diabetes, CDC said.
The woman who is overseeing the trauma project, Cheryl Sharp, noted that chronically ill people who have past trauma can quickly rack up large hospital bills as they cycle in and out of emergency rooms, with costs often borne by public programs like Medicaid.
"I am one of those people," said Sharp, who is senior adviser of trauma informed services at the National Council for Behavioral Health. Sharp, 58, said she grew up in "in a home with a mother who was in and out of psychiatric institutions" and also had medical trauma herself from "being very sick as a child" and undergoing invasive treatment over multiple hospital stays.
Her childhood experience, she said "created a firestorm within me" that led to years of self-destructive behavior, she said. Sharp had multiple stays in mental hospitals, abused substances and attempted suicide nine times, she said.
But Sharp got help to address her trauma when she was in her early 30s.
Others haven't been so fortunate.
A major study conducted by Kaiser Permanente and the CDC from 1995 to 199 evaluated more than 17,000 people for childhood trauma. The Adverse Childhood Experiences [ACE] Study asked participants if they had experienced 10 different kinds of trauma, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse. The answers were tallied to give a participant an "ACE Score."
Two-thirds of the participants ended up having at least one ACE. Nearly 90 percent of participants had at lease one additional ACE. And more than half of the participants had three or more ACEs, the study found.
In a published report, the study's author noted that people who have an ACE score of four or more also had much higher rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide attempts and numerous sexual partners than the general population. There was also between a 1.4-to-1.6-fold increase in physical inactivity and severe obesity.
While the findings were dramatic, and have fueled ongoing, related research, Wong of Kaiser Permanente and others said the health-care system still tends to treat trauma-related psychological conditions and physical illness as separate issues.
Wong also said that there is a "long track record" of primary care physicians and behavioral health specialists "not integrating very well."
Sharp, the trauma project's manager, said that even as primary care doctors were aware of the role trauma might play in chronic health conditions, "they didn't know what to do" about it.
That lack of knowledge spurred Trauma Informed Primary Care project.
"There was this core problem," said Jennifer Perlman, a doctor of psychology who is coordinating the Trauma Informed Care project at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. "Our clients have very, very high rates of exposure to trauma. Early life trauma and later life trauma."
"We wanted to find a way to help our clients address the core issues," Perlman said.
Despite that desire, there was some concern among providers participating in the project about the reaction patients would have when given the ACE questionnaire.
"Providers have fears that when we ask questions about their life history, people are just going to collapse," Perlman said.
But in fact, she said, since the project began, clients were relieved to be able to share their experiences, she said, adding that "no one declined the screening.
So far, about 25 people with diabetes and ACE scores of 8 or higher are being treated through the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, she said.
Based upon the coalition's experience to date with the project, "I would like to be screening all our our population," Perlman said, noting that the group has about 10,000 clients.
The Baltimore-based Chase Brexton Health Care Services center, another project participant, also is "aiming for universal screening," said Suzanne Linkroum, the center's behavioral medicine manager.
"In fact, I'm going to be doing a training for our entire staff" about the ACE study and "some of the strategies that we've learned through this initiative that everyone could be doing, so we can provide trauma-informed care to our patients," Linkroum said.
Linkroum said that "probably at least 75 percent [of the center's clientele] have had some kind of trauma background."
The center, whose clientele overwhelmingly is poor, is focusing on people who have multiple, poorly managed chronic conditions, such as HIV, heart disease, renal failure and diabetes, to screen for the project. Chase Brexton used an ACE score of just 1 as the cutoff.
About 100 patients are participating and getting treatment for their trauma, along with addressing their chronic conditions, she said.
So far, the results have been "wonderful," Linkroum said. "It's more than we could have hoped for."
Specifically, she said, there's been an increase in "patient engagement" among the clients participating in the project, with those people being more apt to show up for scheduled appointments, and check in with their health providers.
"We've had success in reducing HIV viral loads" in some patients, Linkroum said, referring to the amount of HIV that's detectable in the bloodstream. Some patients' "loads are [now] undetectable."
Patients are "doing better, they're feeling better, they are felling more engaged, more supported," Linkroum said. "They feel like they have a team that cares about them."
Ethics ‘Declaration' Won't Help
by David Clohessy -- The Jewish Week
Hundreds of Jewish officials have signed a “declaration” challenging individuals and organizations to be more transparent and accountable in scandals.
We don't think it will help, at least not in cases of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up. Decisive discipline, not moral exhortations, is what deters those who commit or conceal sexual misdeeds.
In our decades of experience, we've seen officials in many denominations make pronouncements, protocols, procedures and policies about clergy sex crimes, misconduct and cover-up. They rarely have any effect.
What does make a difference? The vulnerable are protected, the guilty are punished and the wrongdoing is deterred when two steps are taken.
First, when secular law is reformed, victims, witnesses and whistleblowers are able to expose wrongdoers in court.
Second, when church officials publicly and harshly punish those who commit or conceal clergy sex crimes and misdeeds.
These two steps will do far more to prompt more responsible behavior in Jewish institutions than hundreds of “declarations.”
Sex assault kit backlogs: a disturbing trend
In recent years, studies have shown significant backlogs in laboratory analyses of SAKs
This article is provided by https://CaseGuard.com and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of PoliceOne.
In recent years, DNA evidence has become the new standard in determining conviction or exoneration of a person accused of committing a crime. Not only advances in DNA technology, but popular television programs highlighting (and at times overstating) current forensic sciences capabilities have given rise to a much higher expectation from the public.
In sexual assault cases, the proper collection, preservation, and tracking of DNA evidence is of particular importance. Sexual Assaults Kits, also known as SAKs, are utilized by trained medical professionals during forensic medical examinations to collect and preserve evidence of a reported sexual assault. Protocols may vary across the country, but generally speaking, once a forensic medical examination of a victim has been completed, law enforcement officers from appropriate jurisdictions are called upon to respond and take custody of the SAKs, document the chain of custody, and enter them as evidence via the agency's evidence management software.
In recent years, studies have shown significant backlogs in laboratory analyses of SAKs. The backlogs are attributed to a number of reasons. Many agencies rely on sharing state crime labs that are mandated, pursuant to statute, to provide services to smaller agencies with finite resources. Some agencies automatically request analysis of all SAKs, while others review individual cases before sending SAKs to a laboratory. DNA analysis is expensive and undoubtedly affects an agency's budget. So, cases are prioritized, causing further backlogging within the agency's evidence unit. Certain jurisdictions and prosecutors may utilize discretion in determining whether a SAK should undergo laboratory analysis based upon facts and circumstances of individual cases.
A few examples may include the following scenarios:
The victim and suspect provide statements that corroborate with eye witness accounts
The victim of an alleged sexual assault recants
The investigation reveals that the alleged sexual assault was a consensual act
The case is declined by the prosecutor
The purpose of the Sexual Assault Kit is to identify and convict the perpetrator of the crime. Therefore, concerns raised over backlogs are not only natural, but understandable. Furthermore, DNA profiles can be used to connect other crimes through the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) Database. Legislators have taken steps to address the SAK testing backlog pursuant to provisions in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2013. VAWA grants have been awarded to law enforcement and forensic response agencies for the evaluation of SAKs and to reduce backlogs. The law stipulates that the state must demonstrate that sexual assault victims have access to a free-of-charge forensic medical examination. Moreover, victims' access to an examination is not contingent upon their participation in the criminal justice system.
As mentioned previously, there have been several studies and reports highlighting extensive backlogs in laboratory analyses of evidence collected from victims of sexual assault. The idea of an untested SAK with potential DNA evidence that could solve a series of sexual assaults in the community should be alarming to any agency. A thorough audit of SAKs and their case disposition is paramount for any agency developing an action plan to address backlog issues and to be better prepared when responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. Furthermore, the audit may uncover lapses in protocol. It's not uncommon for an agency to discover discrepancies within the evidence unit that impact standard operating procedure. A physical inventory of every SAK is a good starting point.
A careful inspection of each SAK may be challenging, but it will also provide a quality control opportunity to ensure that basic processes are being followed, including but not limited to:
Ensuring packaging is intact and sealed
Ensuring SAKs are stored in the appropriate location and under optimal conditions
Ensuring labeling is consistent with evidence control forms
Ensuring barcodes are not damaged, missing or erroneous
Unfortunately, a physical inventory of the evidence does not always match a report generated by the evidence management software. Discrepancies are common. For instance, when Sexual Assault Kits are entered or logged in as evidence, officers oftentimes label them differently. There are many names used to refer to Sexual Assault Kits such as Sex Assault Kit, Rape Kit, Sex Kit, Sex Crimes Kit, Sex Evidence, and Sex Crimes Unit, to name just a few. Refraining from the use of this kind of varied nomenclature and implementing naming conventions for specific items when labeling and entering items into the evidence management software will eliminate the need to run multiple reports and queries. Since many evidence management systems have limited search and querying capabilities, it's important for Sexual Assault Kits to be entered as such eliminating, or at least mitigating, discrepancies.
Additionally, it's important for the agency to justify the reasons SAKs have not been tested. The creation of circumstance codes within the evidence management software will allow for quick and reliable reports to answer these inquiries.
Some example Circumstance Codes are:
SAK for Sexual Assault Kit
SAKCL for Sexual Assault Kit - Crime Lab
SAKVR for Sexual Assault Kit - Victim Recanted
SAKPD for Sexual Assault Kit - Prosecutor Declined
Bringing violent sex offenders to justice is a high priority in every community and for every agency. Therefore, it is paramount for agencies to obtain and utilize advanced evidence management software capable of generating reports within any field, or alerting authorized personnel of a specific action to be taken with regards to an item of evidence. Furthermore, agencies will benefit by gaining control over any existing SAK backlogs.
Little Warriors launches new campaign
by Kyle Morris
The Little Warriors Foundation has launched a new ad campaign to bring more awareness to the charity.
Glori Meldrum, the founder of the Be Brave Ranch, says that one of things they're doing is looking for advice from adults who had been sexually abused when they were young.
“We're asking adult survivors, to upload their stories of how they found their inner hero, as a survivor of child sexual abuse and share it publically, so that kids and other adult survivors cans be inspired by other survivors.”
Meldrum says that so far the response to the campaign has been great.
“People have already started uploading their videos of how they found their inner hero. There is one by J.P Bedard, who is a hero of mine, he actually ran the Boston Marathon twice in a row to raise awareness for child sexual abuse.”
Meldrum adds that she knows we're in tough economic times right now and her charity is not immune.
“I really, really encourage people to still support charities like Little Warriors because, we're 100% funded by the public. We've seen our donations drop off from being able to put all these kids through on a monthly basis, to not getting enough money in.”
Little Warriors was founded in 2007 to help the victims of child sex abuse.
Abused Child Found Bound, Gagged In Bag Of Feces: Cops
Mesa Police Chief John Meza says the case is "one of the most disturbing incidents" of child abuse he's ever seen.
by David Lohr
Police in Mesa, Arizona are investigating a horrific case of alleged child abuse, in which a malnourished three-year-old girl was found inside a trash bag, surrounded by feces.
"This case is one of the most disturbing incidents that we've seen in quite a while," Mesa Police Chief John Meza said during a Tuesday news conference. "This is one of those cases that really just shocks the soul."
Police rescued the little girl from a Mesa apartment on Monday after a tipster alerted them of her condition. Responding officers reported finding the child inside a closet. According to the probable cause statement, the child, who was wearing a diaper and T-shirt, was bound, gagged and "inside a black trash bag with only the top of her head exposed. The victim was covered in human feces."
Authorities' attempts to interview the child have been unsuccessful.
"It is unknown at this time if she is unable to speak or will not speak due to the emotional and physical trauma she has sustained," reads the probable cause statement.
The child's babysitter, Francisco Javier Rios-Covarrubias, 30, faces charges of sexual conduct with a minor and felony child abuse. The child's mother, Mayra Yomali Solis, 22, is facing a single charge of child abuse.
According to police, the tipster said he met Rios-Covarrubias online and went to his apartment for a sexual encounter early Monday morning.
"When he entered the apartment, [Rios-Covarrubias] was dressed in a pink dress and a blonde wig," reads the probable cause statement. "[Rios-Covarrubias] performed oral sex on the witness, and the witness smoked some methamphetamine that was provided by [Rios-Covarrubias]."
At some point during the meeting, Rios-Covarrubias allegedly brought the child out and asked the witness, who has not been identified, "if he wanted to have sex with the child," Meza said.
The witness told police the child's mouth was taped shut and her hands were bound.
The witness said he argued with Rios-Covarrubias and left the residence, but returned later and the two had sex. It was after that second visit, police said, that the witness contacted investigators and alerted them to the condition of the child.
The child was examined by a pediatric forensic doctor and then transferred to Phoenix Children's Hospital, where she was admitted for her injuries. Those injuries, police said, include several scrapes and scratches, a "severe blistering rash" and evidence that indicates she may have been the victim of sexual assault.
Questioned by police, Rios-Covarrubias allegedly confessed to placing tape around the child's arms and mouth, but he denied sexually assaulting her.
Rios-Covarrubias told investigators he had been babysitting the child for Solis, who is homeless and had left her daughter there for several days at a time during the past month, police said.
Questioned by investigators, Solis allegedly admitted knowing about her daughter's injuries and acknowledged she had not sought treatment for her, and said she thought the girl had been injured during a fall, but she denied knowledge of a sexual assault.
Solis also allegedly admitted to shaving her daughter's head and claiming she had cancer so that she could collect money from shoppers at a local Walmart, police said.
"That's some of the sickest stuff that I ever heard in my life," Rios-Covarrubias' neighbor told Phoenix's KPHO News. "That's sad that would actually go down. That's just horrifying. Nothing like that should ever happen to anybody."
Solis is being held in the county jail in lieu of a $15,000 bond. Rios-Covarrubias, who authorities said is in the U.S. illegally, is being held without bond.
"It brings to light the efforts we need to continue on sex trafficking. It's a problem that exists," Meza said.
New details on Mayra Solis, mother involved in Mesa child abuse case
by Melissa Blasius and Nohelani Graf
MESA, AZ - A former Walmart employee is saying police missed an opportunity to intervene in the life for an abused Mesa girl when her mom was accused of shoplifting.
Jason Tilley worked in asset protection at the Walmart at Greenfield and Baseline in Mesa in December. On December 18, police were called about a woman who was trying to shoplift food and other items at his store.
That woman was 22-year-old Mayra Solis. Tilley said the 3-year-old girl with Solis was dirty and smelled like urine during the shoplifting incident.
Mesa police say their officers noticed the girl was somewhat dirty and bought her some cookies, but they did not find it appropriate to intervene with social services or report the family to state authorities as a neglect or abuse case. Officers did cite Solis for shoplifting.
"The lead officer was debating calling CPS (DCS) because obviously shoplifting with child and the condition the child was in, but for whatever reason they didn't do it so we thought that was strange." Tilley said.
"It's just heartbreaking because you know something should have been done ahead of time back in December, and it's just a shame it took something to this extent to happen."
"If you got a mom or a child or a little person who don't have the same means as someone else, but they are clothed, there's shoes, there's nothing outstanding there, we can try to offer resources, but we can't simply hold someone or take their child or restrict them," said Mesa Police Det. Steve Berry.
On January 14, another Mesa officer came across the 3-year-old victim with her mother after they were reported panhandling outside another Mesa Walmart near Baseline Road and Country Club Drive. That officer knew Solis from her high school days and chatted with her, but he did not cite her for breaking any laws. Officers say the girl was dressed appropriately for the weather and eating a snack.
Mesa police said Solis said she was waiting for a ride. She said she was working at a local Taco Bell and gave the officer an address where she said she was living.
"We'll find a way to get some resources if we get there and see there was some abuse or neglect. In this case, we had a very seasoned officer who saw this little girl, and there was just nothing there that indicated what was to come," Berry said.
Solis was arrested Monday on a child abuse charge after her daughter was found in horrid conditions. The toddler was bound with duct tape, sitting in her own feces in a trash bag, and concealed in a closet in a central Mesa apartment complex.
Police say Solis was letting 30-year-old Francisco Rios-Covarrubias babysit her daughter for days at a time while she worked at Taco Bell. He's been arrested for sexual conduct, kidnapping and other charges. ICE confirms he's an undocumented immigrant, which means he would not be allowed to return to the streets here.
New effort launched to battle child abuse cases
Enough Abuse Rensselaer County to educate about how to spot perpetrators
by Claire Hughes
Child sex abuse may be more common than you think.
One in every four women and every six men report having been sexually abused in childhood, almost always by someone they knew, according to the American Medical Association.
Yet it's not always easy to detect, or to recognize a perpetrator, partners in a new campaign to prevent child sex abuse said Wednesday.
The local effort, Enough Abuse Rensselaer County, was launched Wednesday at the Northeast Health Krause Center in Troy by more than a dozen law enforcement and social service agencies, as well as school districts in the county.
A key aim is to educate residents about the difficult-to-detect signs of child sex abuse, according to participants. Classes will be targeted to people who do not currently receive child abuse training, like babysitters, Girl Scout leaders and athletic coaches, said Lindsey Crusan. director of the campaign's lead agency, the Sexual Assault & Crime Victims Assistance Program for Rensselaer County at Samaritan Hospital.
Signs of child abuse can range from common ailments like stomach upset to more specific evidence like trouble walking or sitting, Crusan said. Children who have been abused may mimic sexual activity with toys or other people, she said.
Law enforcement partners in the effort described the challenge of spotting perpetrators, who are skilled at building trust with both children and parents, and hiding their actions. An estimated one-quarter to one-third of sexual abuse incidents involve family members.
"These are some of the most cunning individuals that you will come across," said Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel E. Abelove.
If you suspect inappropriate behavior, trust yourself, said Troy Police Chief John Tedesco.
"Your instincts are probably correct," he said.
Enough Abuse Rensselaer County is one of six such efforts statewide chosen by Prevent Child Abuse New York and the New York Partnership for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention. Capacity among county organizations and collaborations already in place were key to the selection, Crusan said.
Selection for the Enough Abuse program comes without funding. The group is applying for grants through other sources to support its efforts, Crusan said.
For more information
To learn more about preventing child sexual abuse, see the Sexual Assault & Crime Victims Assistance Program website at www.nehealth.com/sacc or the Enough Abuse Campaign at www.enoughabuse.org. Or call 518-271-3639.
Samaritan Hospital partners with local agencies to end child sexual abuse
by Nicholas Buonanno
TROY - - The Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program for Rensselaer County announced a partnership at Samaritan Hospital with a host of area police and law enforcement agencies, county service agencies and other community organizations aimed at preventing child sexual abuse.
Enough Abuse Rensselaer County is a first-of-its-kind program in the Capital Region and includes the hospital and its parent organization, St. Peter's Health Partners, as well as the Rensselaer County District Attorney's Office, Sheriff's Department, Child Protective Services and Probation Department, the Troy and North Greenbush police departments, Healthy Families of Rensselaer County, the START Children's Center, Capital Region Health Connections, St. Timothy's Parish, the Troy Housing Authority, the YWCA of the Greater Capital Region and several Rensselaer County school districts.
According to the American Medical Association, one in four women and one in six men report having been sexually abused in childhood, almost always by someone they know, trust or love. The American Medical Association estimates 39 million Americans have been victims of child sexual abuse, 13 million of whom are still children.
“Child sexual abuse is a public health problem,” said Lindsey Crusan, director of the new program. “All of the partnering agencies here today recognize that by coming together and taking a stand, we can send the strongest message yet that child sexual abuse is not acceptable in our community.”
The goal of the program is to educate everyone, including parents, care professionals and even neighbors, to step up and do their part to help end child sexual abuse in the county.
“The Enough Abuse campaign is a powerful new platform to help educate our community about the warning signs and prevention strategies of child sexual abuse and empower children with information about ways to stay safe and protect themselves,” said Norman Dascher Jr., chief executive officer of Samaritan and St. Mary's hospitals and vice president of Acute Care Troy for St. Peter's Health Partners.
According to a fact sheet, the average age of a reported sexual abuse is between 9 and 10, but infants, toddlers, young children and teens are all at risk.
“Nearly 60 percent involve people you and your child know and trust through school, sports, and other communities,” said Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove. “Less than 10 percent of the crimes are actually committed by strangers.”
The partnership plans to conduct at least 30 educational training sessions this year to reach different sectors of the community. These program will pinpoint how child sexual abuse is a public health problem and detail contributing factors, warning signs and prevention strategies. Classes will be grouped to target caregivers, professionals, organizations and the general public.
“We need all adults to be alert to their responsibility of keeping children safe from abuse and exploitation,” said Troy Police Chief John Tedesco. “We want to encourage all citizens out there, if you see something or suspect something, report it. We need everyone's help and awareness in order to decrease the incidence of, and ultimately stop, child sexual abuse and exploitation in our community.”
Child sex abuse reports on the rise in Alamance County
by Carter Coyle
ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- The Alamance County Sheriff's Office is handling more reports of child sex abuse than ever before, they tell FOX8's Carter Coyle.
Investigators researched several years of reports. They say from 2000 to 2007, they received an average of about 19 reports annually related to child sexual abuse. From 2007 to 2015, that average doubled to nearly 38 reports a year.
Lt. Bobby Baldwin with the ACSO Special Victims Unit said those numbers represent only a fraction of the incidents they believe are happening. “We think that's about 10 percent of reality. We know it's a lot more going on out there that's never reported for one reason or another,” he explained.
Reporting on the rise
Investigators said actual incidents may not be happening more frequently than they used to. But they believe the reports themselves are increasing, in part, because of better education in communities. Teachers and other people who work with children are more aware of the signs and symptoms of child abuse. Mandatory reporting laws throughout the country may also play a role in an increasing number of reports.
Darkness to Light is a national advocacy group that trains people worldwide on identifying and reporting child sex abuse. They've trained about 10,000 people in North Carolina, many at places like YMCA facilities that are proactive about preventing such crimes.
“The numbers nationally say the amount of child sex abuse is decreasing. But it's counter-intuitive because you see the number of reports increasing,” pointed out Dr. Lyndon Haviland, current interim CEO of Darkness to Light.
“For a community to see an almost two-fold increase, that may seem discouraging. It should actually seem actually encouraging. It means that you as a community are saying perpetrators cannot flourish here. It will not be tolerated,” Dr. Haviland added.
She praised investigators who are discussing these sensitive issues with the media and public. “It's an adult responsibility to create the environment for children to be safe and healthy.”
Victim to survivor
Christy Childress is a survivor of sexual abuse who spoke up when she was a teenager. In 1988, her stepfather went to prison for molesting and raping her.
“I wanted justice. I wanted him to stop,” she explained.
Talking about what she endured also helped Childress heal as an adult. “I felt like the weight of the world was just lifted off of my shoulders.” She said she was not surprised the number of reports is increasing.
Lt. Baldwin admitted it takes an emotional toll on the law enforcement officers who investigate any crimes related to child victims.
“It's hard on anyone. It's hard on police officers that do this for a long time, OK? I've been doing this now 11 years and there are cases that really get to you.”
But seeing victims transform into survivors like Childress gives them hope.
She empathizes with all of the victims investigators work with daily. “I just pray for them and pray for strength, and I know what they're going through.”
Child sex abuse statistics
According to research provided online by Darkness to Light:
1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn18.
90 percent of those children know their abusers.
Of children who are sexually abused, 20 percent are abused before the age of 8.
It is estimated only 4 to 8 percent of child sexual abuse reports are fabricated.
School personnel identify 52 percent of child abuse cases, more than child protective services or police.
Local priests among list of 77 accused of child sex abuse
by Sarah Grothjan
The Archdiocese of Seattle last week published a list of 77 clergy members and others accused of sexually assaulting children — seven of which at some point served at churches in Cowlitz County.
Of the seven, five are dead, one is of unknown status and one has been removed from ministry work and sentenced by the church to “permanent prayer and penance,” according to the list.
Archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni said he's not aware of any pending criminal charges and only one individual on the list — Paul Conn, who served at Queen of Angels in Port Angeles from 1985 to 1988 — has been prosecuted.
Everyone on the list either resided or served at a church in western Washington.
Magnoni said the list, which took two years to compile, was only recently completed. He said it was released because “it's the right thing to do.”
“This is a societal problem,” he said. “We will take responsibility for the need to prevent child sexual abuse, raise awareness about it and, most importantly, to encourage anybody who is a victim of child abuse to come forward — whether it be within the church or outside the church.”
Magnoni couldn't comment on why there haven't been more charges filed against the clergymen and women. However, according to state law, charges of child abuse can be filed until the victim turns 30.
Father Bryan Ochs, St. Rose's priest administrator, said Monday that he announced news of the list during last weekend's mass.
“Honestly, not many people said anything,” he said of the congregation's reaction. “People who did were sad because they remember the priests and thought highly of them. So the ones who commented were stunned.”
Ochs said no one has ever come to him reporting sexual assault and said he doesn't know whether the assaults happened while those priests were serving at St. Rose or at another parish.
To deal with public perception of the church, Ochs said the church is acting as transparent and honest as possible.
“We're trying to move forward by making people feel safe when they're here,” he said, adding that the church has taken steps to educate parish about how to recognize behaviors of predators.
“I think it's good that the list was published,” he added. “I think it's something that the victims of abuse expect, and I think that this is a necessary step for transparency and acknowledging the terrible things that happened.”
Christi Brittain, director of Children's Justice and Advocacy Center of Cowlitz County, said it's not surprising that the sexual assault came from clergy.
“A lot of time predators for sexual abuse are people you would never expect,” she said, adding that people are more likely to trust their children with people perceived to be upstanding individuals.
Brittain said sexual predators often find different ways to be in positions of trust and power around children — whether that's being a teacher or being involved in extracurricular activities with children.
“It's actually very common,” she said. “It's not the person that's hiding in the bushes that jumps out.”
According to CJAC statistics, 90 percent of abuse comes from someone the family knows and trusts.
As for the archdiocese publishing the list of clergymen, Brittain said she appreciates that they're talking about it. Keeping it quiet protects the abuser and allows him or her to continue abusing children, she said.
“I think that their acknowledging it and talking about it is helpful, but there needs to be more done than that to protect the kids,” she said.
Some ways to protect children from sexual assault, she said, include always having more than one adult present in a room with children. CJAC offers a free, two-hour sexual abuse prevention program that sheds light on how to stop abuse.
“With support, with counseling, with advocacy, there is hope for people who have been abused,” she said. “Kids are so resilient.”
Expert: Mesa case a reminder to report signs of child abuse
by Ashley Thompson
MESA, AZ - An expert in the Valley says the disturbing child abuse case in Mesa should remind people to take action if you suspect abuse.
“We say trust your gut,” Daphne Young with ChildHelp said. “If you see something that doesn't look right, you don't have to be an expert in the field, you can make that call.”
Young serves as the Vice President of Communications and Prevention Education for ChildHelp, the nation's largest non-profit helping neglected and abused children.
Young said the disturbing child abuse case out of Mesa should remind you to take action if you suspect abuse.
Here are some signs…
“Perhaps an underweight child or a child in your neighborhood that's always hungry,” she said.
FOR PHYSICAL ABUSE
Aside from bruises and broken bones, “you might look for a child that's walking to the bus stop in the heat of the Arizona summer with a winter coat on,” Young said.
FOR SEXUAL ABUSE
“This may be a child in your neighborhood that acts out sexually in ways that are inappropriate,” she said.
FOR EMOTIONAL ABUSE
This may be a withdrawn, depressed or anxious child.
“We realize that it's so painful to hear those stories, but it's also a time of great hope,” she said.
Young said once a child is removed from the abuser, he or she can start to cope.
“A child will go to a place like this. They'll receive medical, forensic interviews,” Young said. “We'll put together a case to prosecute the predators and then begin the counseling process.”
Young said even in the worst cases of abuse, a child is able to recover and lead a bright future with the right help.
“We've seen in children whose eyes are completely dead and whose spirits are crushed or who are silenced by abuse and you meet that same child two months later and he or she is laughing and talking,” she said.
If you know a child is in immediate danger, don't wait. Call 911 right away.
If you're not sure if what you're seeing is abuse, call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).
A crisis counselor will help you make that decision and you're able to stay anonymous.
Maryville man pleads guilty to child abuse in bed soiling incident
by Wes Wade
A Maryville man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Blount County Circuit Court to striking his 2-year-old son back in October after the boy soiled himself.
Matthew Steven Ray Robinson, 32, Brown School Road, pleaded guilty to a Class D felony charge of child abuse or neglect to a child 8 years of age or less. He received a judicial diversion and will be on supervised probation for two years.
As part of his diversion, Robinson must complete 100 hours of community service and comply with all orders given to him by the state Department of Children's Services.
Robinson appeared before Blount County Circuit Court Judge David Duggan Tuesday morning to enter his plea. There was a small hiccup, however, which came after Robinson told the judge the incident was “an accident.”
It occurred after Blount County Assistant District Attorney General Ryan Desmond read a brief narrative of the incident to the court. The facts of the case involved Robinson using an open hand to strike his 2-year-old son with enough force to cause bruising and injury, Desmond said.
Duggan asked Robinson if that is what happened.
“Yes sir,” Robinson said. “It was an accident, but yes sir, I did do it.”
Duggan then stopped Robinson, telling him, “I can't take a guilty plea to something you didn't do.”
Robinson replied, “I did do it, I did do it,” but he still wanted to call what happened “an accident.”
“I won't accept it,” Duggan said. The judge went on to explain to Robinson that, “if it was an accident, you did not commit a criminal offense.”
“I did it,” Robinson said.
“No sir, not if it was an accident,” Duggan said.
The judge then called for a break to allow Robinson a chance to talk it over with his attorney, Jackson Fenner.
The two stepped outside the courtroom and returned several minutes later, however did not reappear before the judge until several other cases had been heard.
Fenner told Duggan he had talked it over with Robinson and they were ready to continue. “He wishes to proceed with the plea today,” Fenner said.
Desmond read the facts once more, noting that Robinson had used an open hand to strike the 2-year-old, causing bruising and injury to the child.
“Is that true, and did you do that,” Duggan asked.
This time, Robinson simply said, “Yes, sir.”
Robinson was arrested by Maryville Police officers Oct. 5, a day after the incident apparently occurred. A Maryville woman had notified authorities after noticing a red mark on the cheek of her sister's son, a 2-year-old Maryville boy, according to a Maryville Police report on the incident.
The boy's mother reportedly said she had awakened the morning of Oct. 4 and discovered her son had soiled his pants while in bed. She also reportedly said her boyfriend, Robinson, who is also the boy's father, struck the child with an open hand on the left side of his face.
Police said they later interviewed Robinson and he admitted to slapping the child in the face and on the thigh.
Proposals will tighten child abuse, porn laws
by Rep. Kelly Fajardo / Republican, Belen, and Rep. Conrad James / Republican, Albuquerque
Our children are the future of New Mexico. They are our most precious resource, but they need our care and protection.
Lately, we have seen heartbreaking reports of children suffering horrifying acts of abuse, sometimes at the hands of their own teachers, caregivers and family members. Many of these cases could have been prevented were it not for New Mexico's weak child abuse laws.
We must fix these flaws to protect New Mexico's children.
During this upcoming legislative session, House Republicans are proposing a number of measures to strengthen the laws that hold child abusers and predators accountable for their crimes against children.
Once again, we are sponsoring legislation to close New Mexico's child pornography loophole.
In New Mexico, a person can possess thousands of images and videos of children, often as young infants and toddlers, being sexually abused and the offender can be charged with only one count and sentenced to as little as 18 months.
It is an embarrassment and tragedy that this loophole exists, as it creates an environment that makes our children vulnerable to the most depraved of child predators.
New Mexico cannot continue to be seen as an appealing base of operations for child pornography manufacturers and distributors, and a safe harbor for collectors of these horrific images.
The bill we have introduced has bipartisan support. It has been endorsed by Attorney General Hector Balderas and is co-sponsored by Rep. Javier Martinez, both Democrats.
There is no excuse for not closing New Mexico's child pornography loophole during the upcoming session.
We have also proposed legislation to make distribution of pornographic images to children a fourth-degree felony.
Child predators will often use pornographic images to solicit children. Under New Mexico's current law, it is a felony only if these predators send images of their own bodies.
Our bill eliminates the gray area surrounding this act and makes it a clear felony offense.
Additionally, we are working on measures to enhance penalties for individuals who intentionally abuse a child.
One of the bills we have proposed would expand the number of children covered under Baby Brianna's Law to include all children under the age of 18.
Baby Brianna's Law is named for Brianna Lopez, an infant who was killed by members of her family in 2002. Currently, Baby Brianna's Law imposes a life sentence on anyone who abuses a child resulting in the child's death, but only if the child is under the age of 12.
This bill would make sure all minor children are protected.
Another bill we have introduced increases the penalty for the first offense of intentional child abuse from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony.
Also, the penalty for subsequent offenses would be increased from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony.
These proposals are similar to legislation that was passed by the House of Representatives during the last legislative session, but later died in the Senate.
We believe these initiatives are too important not to pursue, so we will continue our efforts to see them passed and enacted.
“It shouldn't hurt to be a child.” We have heard this child abuse awareness message for years. As legislators, we work every year to improve our educational system and our social service network to ensure that our children have every opportunity to succeed.
However, we must first safeguard the health and happiness of children so they can grow and flourish to adulthood.
We believe the legislation we have proposed is crucial to hold child abusers accountable and prevent additional tragedies in the future.
Calling it in: Statewide child abuse hotline meets Morgan County
Statewide child abuse hotline meets Morgan County
by Stephanie Alderton
Caregivers, law enforcement officers and others in Morgan County are still adjusting to Colorado's new method for reporting child abuse.
This month is the one-year anniversary of the statewide child abuse and neglect hotline, 1-844-CO-4-KIDS. The hotline was created by the Colorado Department of Human Services in an effort to give "mandatory reporters"—those who are required by law to report suspected child abuse—and others a single phone number to call whenever they're concerned about a child, no matter where they are.
In 2015 the hotline received more than 26,000 calls statewide, but many people are still using the old, county-specific numbers, and Morgan County is no different.
Before 2015, people who suspected a case of child abuse would typically call the police or the Morgan County DHS directly. The new hotline automatically links callers to the appropriate call-taker for their county. In Morgan County, that's usually someone in the DHS, who then notifies the police if necessary.
"There are goods and bads to it," Fort Morgan police chief Darin Sagel said.
The hotline slightly delays police officers' response time in emergencies, he said. Sagel also worries that some severe cases aren't being reported to the police, since individuals who call the hotline are "not always equipped to tell how extensive the abuse is."
But Jacque Frenier, director of the Morgan County DHS, said the hotline can save callers time by directing them to the right local organization immediately. It's also helpful for those who don't know which county the child lives in, or don't speak English, she said.
"Initially, there were some hiccups," she said. "But they've got most of them fixed now...the county's mandatory reporters were used to calling us directly, but they're getting used to it."
The DHS has a few screeners whose job is to take calls about child abuse and determine the cases' severity. In about three cases out of four, they then pass it along to the police. The only exceptions are cases which they determine require more assessment.
Many mandatory reporters, like teachers and medical workers, still call DHS or the police directly because those are the numbers they're familiar with. Altogether, Frenier estimated her organization gets about 50 calls a month reporting child abuse or neglect.
Above all, she said it's important to gather as many details about the situation as possible before calling the hotline. The more information DHS workers and law enforcement have, the faster they can respond.
"Many of us want to do the right thing, but some are unsure about first steps," Robert Werthwein of the Colorado Department of Human Services said in a press release about the hotline. "This hotline can, and in many instances, should be step one."
How to call
To report a suspected case of child abuse or neglect in Morgan County, call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS. All information given out over the hotline is kept confidential.
To find out more about how to recognize the signs of abuse, go to: www.childabuse.org or www.co4kids.org
Privacy concerns keep people from reporting child abuse: Ont. officials
by The Canadian Press
TORONTO -- Recent inquests into the deaths of Ontario children have failed to shake persistent myths that prevent many people from reporting concerns about kids to child welfare authorities, two provincial offices said Wednesday.
Teachers, police officers and other professionals who deal with children often remain reluctant to share information with children's aid societies due to common misconceptions about privacy, according to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.
Though they may mean well, their hesitation is misguided and may put children at risk, the officials said.
"Professionals who are working with children not only may share information that may help protect that child, but in some cases, have a duty to share that information," said the privacy commissioner, Brian Beamish.
A new pamphlet released Wednesday aims to clear up those misunderstandings by laying out those responsibilities.
The 15-page document will be distributed to teachers, health-care practitioners, law enforcement and children's aid societies through professional associations.
The need for greater communication between those who work with and care for children has been at the forefront of several coroner's inquests into the death of children.
Recommendations issued in the Jeffrey Baldwin inquest suggested a public awareness campaign about people's duty to report concerns about child abuse or neglect, and reminders to professionals about their legal duties.
Jeffrey Baldwin was a healthy baby when he and his siblings were placed in the care of their grandparents, but over the next few years the boy fell multiple times through society's safety nets and starved to death.
"There's been some impetus from that inquest, after some pushing, to help people understand more the importance about the duty to report and how serious an obligation it is," said Irwin Elman, Ontario's advocate for children and youth.
However, he said, "I think more can be done."
The issue has also been raised at the inquest into the death of eight-year-old Katelynn Sampson, who died at the hands of her guardians in 2008. The inquest is scheduled to resume Monday.
"There are many times when points of protection fail and our worry is we don't want it to fail because there's some myth out there about sharing information about the needs of a child," Elman said.
When Bad Things Happen to Good Girls – And Then They Grow Up
by Dawn Kingston
How do bad things that happen to little girls shape their lives as adults? The science of adverse childhood experiences is growing, and the findings are sobering. And – it's not just the negative experiences that first come to mind, such as child abuse. It's far more than that.
We know that when some children experience a negative event when they are young, they are more prone to developmental and mental health problems. But, about 15 years ago, a small group of researchers and physicians led by Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda from University of California, San Diego, started to make startling connections between adverse childhood experiences and health in adulthood. They even coined an acronym for these experiences: ACES.
We know now that the more ACES that a person endures, the greater his or her risk for all kinds of physical health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and even cancer. ACES victims are also more apt to have unhealthy lifestyles, where they drink more, use more substances, and have a greater risk for mental health problems.
What kind of ACES?
When we think of “bad childhoods,” we tend to think of physical abuse as the most traumatic. But, ACES research is showing that other types of adversity can also affect our mental and physical health as adults. Emotional neglect, parental divorce, and having a parent with a mental health problem are also ACES culprits. In fact, there doesn't seem to be much difference in the impact that one adverse experience generates compared to another.
Does a Mother's ACES Affect Her Children?
One thing we haven't known up until recently is what happens when little girls who have had ACES grow up and become mothers.
Our team wanted to know if there is an “intergenerational” effect. We asked the question, “Is it possible for a mother's experience of ACES to be transmitted to her child, so that her child is affected by her early experiences?”
So, here is the answer – hot off the press: Yes
When a woman experienced three or more adverse experiences in her childhood, her 3-year old child was more likely to have developmental problems. Her child had a greater risk for:
Being physically aggressive
Having anxiety or other emotional disorders
Experiencing separation anxiety
How Does a Mother's ACES Affect Her Children?
Of course, finding out that a mother's ACES had an effect on her child's development and mental health prompted us to ask another question. Exactly how does a mother's difficult childhood affect her children?
We found that when a mother had three or more ACES, she was more likely to have mental health problems in the year after she had her baby, and she also tended to struggle more with self doubt about her parenting skills. She simply didn't feel confident about being a mother. ACES affected her mental health and her parenting.
The Gold Nugget
I know that this seems like a bad news article. However, understanding ourselves better and what our ACES means for our children is the place to start. For many of us who have had difficult childhoods, questions about how this affects us as women and mothers linger. We wonder whether there are carry-over effects. It's better to know that there might be, and to do something with that knowledge, than not knowing at all.
If you are concerned, start by taking the ACES questionnaire. It takes 2-3 minutes. You can find it HERE.
If you have an ACES score of 3 or more, do not despair. Remember – “risk” is not the same as “reality.” It's a wake-up call to recognize that you have risk and to encourage you to take steps to ensure that your “risk” doesn't turn into “reality.”
Teens Are Starting to Study, Talk About Sex Trafficking
by Naomi Grant
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WOMENSENEWS)--Students at William Byrd High School didn't used to think the words "sex trafficking" had anything to do with them or their rural, southwestern Virginian town.
Then their U.S. history teacher, Cristy Spencer, told them about Terrell Raschard Banker, a local man who enticed, kidnapped and forced a minor into prostitution last spring.
"I didn't understand why we were going to be learning about something I didn't believe happened in America," senior Stephanie Brown said in an email interview. "I was horrified when I found out otherwise."
Spencer gave the lesson as part of a high school curriculum created by the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, a nonprofit anti-trafficking and abolitionist organization based in Atlanta. Its curriculum aims to raise students' awareness and help them protect themselves.
Estimates of those being sex trafficked globally range between 12 million and 30 million. Educators and advocates want U.S. teens to know the problem could be very close to home.
To this end, advocacy groups are bringing teacher trainings and curriculum to combat sex trafficking into classrooms.
"More organizations and schools are paying attention because they've heard about sex trafficking in communities through documentaries, through television shows," said Ken Morris, founder and president of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, in a phone interview. "So there's an awareness level out there that wasn't there 15 years ago."
His group's high school curriculum initiative, Globalize 13, is named after the amendment to the U.S. Constitution that outlawed slavery.
Andrea Powell is executive director and co-founder of FAIR Girls, a Washington-based advocacy and education organization whose curriculum, Tell Your Friends, combines videos, art and songs. Students are invited to share their experiences on the topic with their teachers, including by anonymous notes.
"Half of the students who are asking for help are asking for help around intimate partner violence," Powell said. "The remaining is a combination of sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking."
Powell said she thinks no one else is talking to these students, which is why they are writing these anonymous notes asking for help.
Powell added that the curricula also causes reactions among boys. "I'm often surprised by how much boys want to take action on the issue," she said "Boys can be victims too and that's a very sensitive topic and we try to address that in our curriculum as well."
In 2015, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center tracked almost 4,200 cases in the U.S. Ninety-eight percent of all sex trafficking victims are female, as are 80 percent of all people trafficked across international borders.https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-human-trafficking
In the U.S., runaways are often a target. "If [teen girls] ever run away from home they become very vulnerable and none of us are safe from this," said Alejandra Sacio, outreach and engagement manager at Show of Force, the company that produced Nicholas Kristof's documentary series "A Path Appears," which examines the struggles women face in the United States and abroad. "We see people in the film that you could easily say, 'this was my childhood friend.'" In early December, Show of Force launched its second set of educational materials for classroom use.
Internationally, women from rural areas of developing countries are often lured into commercial sex work through the promise of a job. Extreme poverty and the tendency by sex workers to hand down their occupation to their children are other causes, Sacio said in an email interview.
Spencer, the teacher at William Byrd High School, said many of her students have become engaged through their awareness after she taught Globalize 13.
"Kids are asking now, 'Where should I get a major to pursue this aspect of trafficking?'" she said, about students' interest in knowing what colleges will allow them to further their studies.
Brown, the student who was "horrified" when she learned about sex trafficking in the U.S., has taken the issue to heart. She spoke about it at a national anti-slavery conference held in Cincinnati this past fall.
"I think this topic is especially important for girls because no one ever thinks it can happen to them, but it can. If you're not educated about sex trafficking, you will be a target," Brown said in an interview.
Girls Groomed, Targeted
Girls can be groomed for sexual exploitation without even realizing it, such as by dating someone who might actually be trying to sell them for sex, said Morris.
Based on calls it receives, the Human Trafficking Resource Center estimates that 91 percent of sex trafficking victims are female. The U.S. Department of Justice finds "as many as 300,000 children are at risk for sexual exploitation each year in the United States."
Brown also does her best to make sure everyone in her life is aware of the dangers of sex trafficking. For example, when she works at Food Lion, a grocery store, she puts red Xs on her hands to encourage conversation about trafficking for End It, an anti-slavery movement.
"I'm constantly . . . teaching my friends and family how to identify a [victim] and what they can do to help them," she said.
Brown thinks education about sex trafficking and exploitation should start sooner, as early as kindergarten. "Education is imperative to the abolition of all modern day slavery, even sex trafficking," she said.
Brown's classmate, senior Callen Buchanan, agreed. She said that if trafficking were taught from an earlier age and in a setting such as health class while students also learn about dangers like drugs and teen pregnancy, fewer students would dismiss it as a serious problem.
"People kept telling me, 'it's not here, it's not a big deal,' so they're not sure why I'm worried about it," Buchanan said. "Or they told me that there's nothing I can do about it anyway, so there's really no point in me trying."
But like Brown, Buchanan is going out of her way to talk about the issue. "I annoy the crap out of people on social media and I spend a lot of time advocating for that kind of thing and making sure everyone knows to the best of my ability," Buchanan said over the phone.
After she learned about the issue at William Byrd High, Buchanan raised nearly $1,000 for Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives through an art show last year.
"As a young female, it's really scary for me," Buchanan said. "I have younger siblings and . . . I could never imagine having to go through that and I wouldn't ever want anyone to go through that.".
Police arrest Nashville-area school tutor after 3 kids found in car trunk
by Ed Payne
A Nashville-area elementary school tutor has been charged with reckless endangerment after police say they found three children in the trunk of her car.
Andria James had nine children in her Chevy Malibu, according to police. A customer at a Speedway gas station reported seeing three of the kids, about 9 to 10 years old, get out of the trunk on Sunday.
"It's very saddening and heartbreaking ... that an adult would put other people's children or children in harm's way like that," said La Vergne police Sgt. Bob Hayes. La Vergne is about 20 miles southeast of Nashville.
James has denied the claims.
"There were never nine in my car or in the store. Never," she told CNN affiliate WKRN. "That's a complete and utter lie."
But surveillance video from the Speedway tells a different story, according to Hayes.
"(We were) able to view video footage of the gas pumps and observe the vehicle pull up to the gas pump and three children exited the trunk of the vehicle once it stopped at the gas pump," he said.
James said she picked the kids up after a basketball game on Saturday and they spent the night at her La Vergne home.
The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools has put her on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted, Joseph Bass, a school district spokesman, said.
"Obviously, the acts she is accused of are completely inappropriate for an educator entrusted with caring for students, and we will take further disciplinary action if needed as more details come to light," the district said in a statement.
Raising suspicions of child abuse is everyone's responsibility: Dubai seminar
by Nick Webster
DUBAI - - Raising suspicions about child abuse should be the responsibility of all adults, not just teachers, said government advisers.
Free community workshops and seminars on child protection were held in Dubai on Monday by Austability, an Australian company that helps communities to safeguard children. It has been advising police at the Child Protection Centre of the Ministry of Interior in Abu Dhabi for months.
Failure to flag potential signs of abuse could be punishable by law, said Shona Spence, a Scottish lawyer working with Austability on raising awareness about child exploitation across the UAE.
She said child protection covered a range of areas but the prevention of child abuse and the response to such incidents were important. “It is a work in progress in the UAE, and we are very much at the start of that journey,” Ms Spence said.
Reporting child abuse is now mandatory under the federal penal code 2.47. “It is now a requirement for teachers and any adult who comes across a case where there is suspicion that a crime has taken place against that child for it to be reported by law,” she said.
Enacting the UAE Child Rights Law, which the Federal National Council approved in 2014 with amendments passed late last year, as well as a wider understanding of how to recognise signs of child abuse are key to protecting children. Hundreds of nursery staff have been trained across the country to detect child abuse.
It is critical that suspicions of abuse or neglect of children are reported early, said Rachael Freedman, a Welsh social worker who has worked at a Dubai nursery since August.
“We have seen what can happen if it is ignored. That is not just within educational settings, but across all sections of society,” she said.
“During the workshop, we tried to explain to parents that they should consider the adults their children may come into contact with. Parents need to be asking their children who they feel comfortable going to if there is a problem.
“Children are resilient, but they don't always know what to do in these situations.”
Children can be physically or mentally abused as well as neglected. Trafficking and forced labour are other areas of concern.
The latest figures from Unicef, the United Nations' child protection body, show that about 6 million children are trafficked globally, with about 75 per cent of them for forced labour.
Experts have encouraged a community response to reporting signs of child abuse, neglect or trafficking.
Warning signs could be obvious changes in behaviour, such as withdrawing from play or socialising, fear of returning to the family home, developmental delays or animal cruelty.
Participants in the seminars discussed cases in Britain where social services, schools and family members failed to intervene or report child abuse, leading to the deaths of children.
“In the coming months there will be legislation in the UAE that will be signed off to allow child protection officers to intervene and investigate claims of child abuse,” said Barry Randall, who was a police sergeant in Melbourne for 22 years.
He now works with Abu Dhabi Police to share his experiences of investigating child abuse and training officers in best practices.
“The Child Protection Centre in Abu Dhabi will be the centre for reporting child abuse, where it can be investigated fully.
At first there was a lack of understanding by police towards these type of crimes in the UAE, but that is changing,” he said.
'I wanted to reclaim control. I want him to hurt': Victim of attempted rape speaks in court as ex-teacher is jailed
by Sophie Barley
A brave woman who was the victim of an attempted rape as a child faced her attacker in court telling him she has “reclaimed control” as she watched a judge jail him for eight years.
Former teacher David Farlow, 68, who has prostate cancer, was jailed for a string of “vile” sex crimes against three children from 1965 to 1980.
The court heard how the three victims kept the assaults, which happened in Stockton, a secret for more than 40 years.
Judge Stephen Ashurst said: “The truth is now out and the dark shadow that has been hanging over these women may be beginning to lift”
And one of the victim's - the first to bravely come forward - attended Teesside Crown Court to watch her attacker sentenced.
In emotional scenes, she stood up to read out a powerful victim impact statement to her attacker.
'I want others to hate him as I have hated myself'
She said: “I wanted to be in court today to have the strength to face my perpetrator and for him to know it was me who told.
“I wanted to reclaim control. I want him to hurt, to be scared, to feel loneliness, despair and anguish as I have done.
“I want others to hate him as I have hated myself.”
The court heard that all three victims were aged under 14 when the incidents happened. Farlow was aged at 17 when he started the abuse.
One of the victims was aged just nine when the abuse started.
Police fear there were more victims who have not yet come forward.
Prosecutor Shaun Dodds told the court Farlow was convicted in court in 1974 for indecent abuse but the true extent of his behaviour was not unearthed and he was fined £200 and was given a probation order.
He was described as a “respectable” man in the area where he lived with character references given to the judge
Judge Ashurst said: “What they are unaware of is the other side of your life it goes back 35 years ago and memories of what happened then have not faded in respect of the three women.”
The court heard that in relation to each victim there was a “large age gap” between Farlow and the children.
The court was told that Farlow was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year.
Police: 'We are pleased with the sentence'
Mitigating, Peter McCartney said that Farlow has shown some regret and remorse “simply by his guilty pleas”.
Farlow, who now lives in Lichfield, Staffordshire, was charged with 16 offences and admitted 12 - the rest will remain on file. The offences include indecency with a child under the age of 14, indecent assault on a child under 14 and one of attempted rape.
Sentencing him Judge Ashurst also ordered for Farlow to be the subject of an indefinite notification requirement as part of the sex offences act and he was given a sexual harm prevention order.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: “We are pleased with the sentence handed out and hope it reassures anyone affected by sexual abuse - whether recent or decades ago - that police will always take such reports extremely seriously.
“We will always investigate sexual offences in a sensitive, professional and thorough manner and – with input from specialist support organisations – we will offer all the support we can to victims from the time they make their initial complaint, right through the justice system and beyond.
“I would therefore appeal to anyone else who believes they have suffered abuse or assault by Farlow to contact police in complete confidence. We know he worked as a teacher and interpreter in the Staffordshire area many years ago and fear there may be other victims.”
Staffordshire Police would not issue Farlow's police picture to the Gazette when asked.
Millington man convicted in gruesome death of 12-year-old child
by Erin Taylor
MILLINGTON, Tenn. — The Millington man charged in the 2012 death of his12-year-old daughter was convicted on Friday.
Errol Johnson was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and two counts of aggravated child neglect.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 18.
He faces 15 to 25 years behind bars for the aggravated child neglect charges and up to two two years on the homicide conviction.
In November 2012, 12-year-old Andrea Ruth died of sepsis after infected bedsores on her body went untreated.
Testimony revealed she developed gangrene in her feet which became so bad the little girl's bones could be seen along with maggots on her flesh.
In addition, she lost 50 pounds between May 2011 and the time she died.
Prior to her death, she suffered from Asthma, hypertension and obesity.
Medical experts said she eventually became bed ridden and unable to walk.
Johnson, the girl's mother, Raven Ruth, and the home-health aid, Chasara Jones, were each charged in her death.
The two women are awaiting trial.
Neglect Referral a Red Flag in Children With Disabilities
by Nancy A. Melville
Children with disabilities who have been named in an initial unsubstantiated report of neglect have a greater likelihood of having subsequent referrals than their counterparts without disabilities, new research shows.
"Our results are consistent with previous studies on risk factors for child abuse and neglect, [but] what makes our study unique is the large sample size ? more than 480,000 children from 33 US states ? as well as the long follow-up period of 4 years," first author Caroline J. Kistin, MD, of the Department of Pediatrics, Boston Medical Center, in Massachusetts, told Medscape Medical News.
The study was published online January 5 in JAMA.
Most initial reports to child protective services (CPS) of suspected neglect involving disabled children are unsubstantiated, meaning legal evidence of maltreatment is insufficient at the time of the investigation.
To assess the incidence and timing of subsequent reports of maltreatment in such cases, Dr Kistin and her colleagues analyzed data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System on first-time unsubstantiated referrals for neglect between 2008 and 2012 with follow-up on the cases for 4 years.
Re-referrals that occurred within 24 hours were not included, because they were considered to be linked to the index episode. Cases with prior maltreatment referrals were also excluded.
The analysis identified 489,176 cases of maltreatment and neglect, including cases involving 12,610 children with disabilities and 476,566 without.
During the course of the 4-year follow-up period, 45% of children with disabilities had subsequent referrals, compared with 36% of those without disabilities (P < .001).
Rates of substantiated maltreatment were also higher for those with disabilities (16% vs 10%; P < .001), and the likelihood of being placed in foster care was higher for those with disabilities (7% vs 3%; P < .001).
The adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) for children with disabilities, compared with those without disabilities, for having subsequent referrals was 1.41; for substantiated maltreatment, the aHR was 1.82; and for foster care placement, 2.71.
In addition, the time to each of the three measures was shorter for children with disabilities (P < .001 for re-referral, substantiated mistreatment, and placement in foster care).
The most common types of disabilities reported in the study were chronic medical conditions (47%), behavioral problems (32%), emotional disturbances (19%), and learning disabilities (11%). Because many children in the study had more than one type of disability, the authors did not examine whether any type of disability was associated with a higher risk.
The findings suggest that even unsubstantiated referrals for neglect may represent a red flag for an ongoing problem, Dr Kistin said.
"It is certainly possible that there was actual maltreatment at the time of the first report with insufficient evidence and that the future maltreatment we measured is actually ongoing maltreatment," she said. "We are not able to determine that from the data."
The findings should, however, raise awareness beyond the scope of CPS, in settings such as the medical community, of the increased risk for neglect among disabled children, Dr Kistin added.
"By necessity, CPS must focus on the most serious cases of abuse and neglect ? and we know that the agencies are chronically underfunded and understaffed to even do that, much less to focus on the children with unsubstantiated reports," she said.
"I think instead of expecting CPS to do all of this, we need to look for ways that other institutions that care for children can partner with CPS ? places like medical centers and schools ? to identify families who may significantly benefit from additional supports."
A Word of Caution
Howard Dubowitz, MD, head of the Division of Child Protection and director of the Center for Families, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, noted that an important issue regarding disabled children is the potential for surveillance bias.
"An important thing to consider is that children with disabilities usually have much more contact with different professionals, and there is more scrutiny, so they are more likely to be identified as being neglected than those without disabilities," he told Medscape Medical News.
He agreed, however, that the medical community should play a role in identifying potential neglect of disabled children.
"I think it's an important point that medical professionals share in this responsibility," Dr Dubowitz said.
"Certainly, when a child's care seems suboptimal or certain needs aren't being met ? appointments are being missed and recommendations are not being followed ? these are useful warning signs that the family may not be coping well and extra attention is needed to help ensure the child receives necessary care."
Before jumping the gun and assuming neglect, however, it is important to ensure that there has not simply been a failure to communicate proper instructions, Dr Dubowitz cautioned.
"Sometimes [perceived neglect] can absolutely be a misunderstanding," he said. "With asthma, for example, the physician perhaps didn't do a good job of explaining what the plan is, and then, not surprisingly, the necessary care doesn't happen, so we have to be good educators."
Clinicians should also be proactive and attentive to the various factors that may lead to neglect, Dr Dubowitz urged.
"If there are psychosocial problems, such as depression or substance abuse, going on with the parents, these may impede a parent's ability to provide adequate care. Other reasons could include that the family lacks health insurance.
"People can mask these problems quite well, so it can really require reaching out and probing how the family is managing."
The study received funding from National Institutes of Health grant K23 HD078503-02 (awarded to Dr Kistin). Funding in support of the preparation of the data for public distribution was provided by a contract between the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect and Cornell University. The authors and Dr Dubowitz have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Human trafficking victims undergo 'brain training' to heal
by Maureen O'Boyle
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - - When you walk into the home of Lanie George and her husband, Andy, you're immediately met with walls filled with Lanie's inspirational artwork. There are quotes about the power of God's love in healing.
The home is a safe haven for women rescued from sex trafficking. Women are brought to Lanie's home to begin the healing process. Their new life starts the minute they walk through the front door.
They are no longer held captive, no longer sex slaves. But starting over isn't that easy. These are women who have anxiety, extreme fear their former pimps will find them, fears they will be killed or their families will be harmed. Simple tasks like sleeping are, at times, impossible.
"I was his money," said Joy, a survivor of sex trafficking.
We will only identify Joy by her first name to protect her. She says nightmares were common after her rescue, nightmares the pimp would find her and kill her.
She overcame those fears, she says, mostly with the help of Lanie George. In fact, George's organization "Redeeming Joy" is named after Joy.
Part of breaking through that fear and healing is understanding why the women think and feel the way they do.
That is where New Mentality, PC comes in. The women learn how to exercise and train their brains. The organization's website says it's sometimes called "brain training." George says in a way it is.
The patient can actually see their brain activity on a computer screen and learn how to retrain their thoughts, and create brain activity that ultimately leads to a healthier life, according to New Mentality.
George says her organization has seen great success through this "brain training." That's because the women can see for themselves why they are feeling the way they are. Joy says it was critical in her rehabilitation.
"It's retraining my brain so I'm not on such high alert all the time. It helps me sleep so much better at night. I have more logical and wise thinking/decision making, versus emotional and traumatic thinking/decision making," says Joy.
She also acknowledges that she is sometimes tired after the session because her brain works so hard. Still, she says, it helps a great amount with panic attacks and PTSD.
To read more about New Mentality, go to the site for link.
Protecting Kids from Sex Trafficking
Sex crimes involving children often require a trained eye.
That's why the North Dakota Department of Human Services in the Children and Family Services Division have started statewide trainings that focus on children involved in sex trafficking crimes.
The training for case managers and law enforcement focuses on how to help child victims.
The training session's keynote speaker Erin Wirsing shared information about the 'Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.'
This law requires states to have policies and procedures for child welfare agencies.
Wirsing says that trafficking children has always been an issue, but awareness is leading to action.
(Erin Wirsing, Human Trafficking Trainer) "We still do need a lot of awareness so even if they don't ever work with someone who's trafficked, to leave here today and talk to somebody else about the issue and ask them to talk to somebody else because there's still tons of people who have no idea this is happening in their own country and we need to raise that awareness and the more awareness we raise, the more money we raise, the more we can actually help people who've been victimized."
For more information visit their website at ProjectFuse.org.
Stop human trafficking in Pennsylvania
by John Ducoff
January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, a fitting time to learn about what Covenant House Pennsylvania is doing to help end this affront to humanity. You might have seen the post last year uncovering sex trafficking in America, but you may not know that it's happening in our backyard every day.
So often when the term “human trafficking” is discussed, people think it's an international issue, not domestic. In fact, there were 75 human trafficking cases reported in Pennsylvania in 2015 through September. In 2014, there were 113. And that's just the number of reported cases. Next to drug dealing, it's the second largest criminal industry in the world. So what exactly does it mean to be a victim of human trafficking?
Human trafficking is the recruitment, transport, sale or receipt of persons through force, fraud or coercion to place them in modern-day slavery. Traffickers use violence, threats, blackmail, deception, manipulation and more to put individuals in horrific situations. Some of these victims are now residents at Covenant House Pennsylvania. Young adults who have been physically or sexually abused, or are runaways and homeless, are vulnerable. Pimps often lure them with lavish gifts or a place to stay. Homeless youth are so disconnected from the protection of family and the safety of the home that they tend to gravitate towards these perpetrators to feel loved and wanted.
In 2014, of the more than 10,000 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, one in six were likely the victims of child sex trafficking. In a 2013 study conducted by Covenant House New York and Fordham University, of the youth who had been involved in commercial sexual activity, almost half (48 percent) said that they found themselves in that position because they did not have a place to stay. The same study found that one out of every four homeless youth had been either victims of trafficking or had engaged in survival sex – trading sexual acts for basic needs like food or shelter. These numbers are unacceptable.
When a young person walks through our doors, we receive them with simple acts of kindness – a sandwich and a bed, love and support. It's our mission to help combat trafficking by providing runaway and homeless youth with a safe and secure place to stay. We also educate, advocate, and heal. We educate the judiciary, federal, state, and local law enforcement, other public agencies, and social service providers about how to identify trafficking victims. We advocate for the passage of laws that better protect victims and punish traffickers. We heal trafficking victims by providing trauma-informed, resiliency-based residential care and supportive services.
To learn more about human trafficking in Pennsylvania, sign up for one of our webinars taking place each Friday during Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This is also the first in a series of posts we'll be doing throughout January, so follow along to learn more about this issue. Human trafficking is an affront to humanity, truly modern-day slavery. Working together, we must fight to protect our kids. They deserve nothing less.
Ontario and Nova Scotia loosening rules on sex abuse cases, making it easier for victims to sue their attackers
by Sarah Boesveld
Two Canadian provinces are making it easier for victims of sexual assault to sue their attackers — a move proponents hope will lead more people to seek civil justice, although critics feel this will not protect complainants from the victim-blaming they seek to avoid.
Just over a week ago, Nova Scotia removed its statute of limitation in sexual abuse cases, allowing victims to pursue a civil claim no matter how much time has passed.
In its wide-sweeping action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment released last month, Ontario pledged to amend the statute of limitations to drop time restrictions on filing a lawsuit alleging sexual assault.
As the impacts of sexual assault become better understood, personal injury lawyers are getting more queries from victims of sexual assault by partners, or colleagues. Some may choose to pursue a civil claim, instead of a criminal complaint, in an attempt to maintain some control over their experience and to see the burden of proof significantly lowered. Both options are possible.
But critics warn people filing civil suits may still be subject to dogged cross-examinations, victim-blaming and a drawn-out court process.
“[Dropping the limitations] is a trend across the country for sure, and Ontario is a bit behind,” said Elizabeth Sheehy, a professor of law at the University of Ottawa who studies sexual assault law.
“But I don't know that women are going to be flooding in to file these kinds of lawsuits. They still need to go through cross-examination, it just won't be criminal cross-examination. And a lot of the practices in criminal law still apply in civil law.”
These provinces are just catching up to others, including British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which have already made exceptions for sexual assault in personal injury lawsuit limitation rules.
For Gillian Hnatiw, a lawyer at Lerners LLP in Toronto who specializes in sexual assault and abuse cases, lifting these limitations at least makes the justice system “more responsive” to victims of these crimes. It's also a timely move as public discussion about sexual assault, prompted by the Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby scandals, has highlighted why people don't go to police after an assault.
It has also exposed the way sexual abuse can be buried for years and impact victims' lives in ways they may not even realize.
“When you look at what people get paid sometimes for breaking a leg, [these victims are] basically being compensated for breaking their brains,” said Hnatiw.
Pursuing a civil suit can be just as much about catharsis and getting an apology as it is about financial compensation, she says.
“If they're never going to get that from their abuser, then some neutral third party can validate their experience and say ‘Yes, this was wrong.' ”
In a criminal case, the victim's complaint becomes property of the Crown and therefore society, while defendants hire their own lawyer. The court's goal is to determine innocence or guilt — that's why the burden of proof is so high. In civil court, the defendant is still considered not liable until proven liable and the plaintiff just has to prove a balance of probabilities, not beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants can be compelled to produce evidence and don't have the right to remain silent. They can't “hide behind silence,” Hnatiw said.
“I think victims feel as though the law is on the side of the accused in criminal proceedings — that everything seems to be stacked against them. Whereas when you get into the civil arena the playing field is much more level.”
Children's Commissioner Report Finds Seven in Eight Victims are not identified
by Bolt Burdon Kemp
The Children's Commissioner released her report in November 2015, into “Protecting Children from Harm: A critical assessment of child sexual abuse in the family network in England and priorities for action”.
The report has gathered a large collection of evidence, including from adult survivors of abuse, police forces, social services, voluntary sector organisations and a review of academia, in what it considers is the largest analysis of data on child sexual abuse in and around the family in England.
Scale of abuse
One of the report's conclusions from the evidence is that only around one in eight victims of sexual abuse come to the attention of social services, the police, and other statutory authorities.
It finds that between April 2012 to March 2015, there were between 400,000 and 450,000 victims of child sexual abuse.
Another key finding is an estimation that abuse within the family is likely to account for around two thirds of all child sexual abuse, and that sexual abuse within the family is most likely to occur at around the age of nine.
This scale is far higher than is being dealt with effectively by authorities. It highlights that in a recent survey of adults who had experienced abuse, 70% had not reported the abuse to the police (1).
The report identifies that authorities are too reliant upon children, young people and adults approaching them to report abuse, and acknowledges that this is not effective.
It identifies that sufferers of abuse who are of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are likely to face higher barriers in reporting the abuse, as well as those who suffer abuse and also have a physical or learning disability, as set out in my colleague Marlon Ellis' recent blog.
Failures in identification
The report commends the high levels of commitment amongst professionals who work with children on a day-to-day basis, but recognises the importance of professionals accessing sufficient and appropriate training in how to identify potential sufferers of abuse. For example;
“It seems to me that all professionals working with vulnerable children and children at risk of any kind need to have clearer training input around what child sexual abuse can look like.
It rarely looks like a clear disclosure. To be honest, most professionals can deal with a disclosure fairly easily. It is about how you deal with all those other things which are in the land of grey area, where there are lots of concerns about sexual abuse but no one is saying anything”. Children's charity
The report recommends that:-
Implement of a strategy to prevent child abuse across all departments
Strengthen the duty of care of professionals have to children and young people
Better coordinate current programmes to assist early intervention in child sexual abuse cases
Introduce compulsory lessons around healthy relationships
Adopt a ‘whole school' approach to child protection; train and support all staff in how to approach a disclosure of abuse
Train and support all staff to identify the signs and symptoms
When conducting Achieving Best Evidence interviews, they always be undertaken with an intermediary, or suitably qualified child psychologist
Ensure that from initial disclosure, children receive an holistic package of support to help them recover from their experiences, including therapy
Consider how they and social workers work together, to ensure the minimisation of re-traumatisation
Should ensure police force compliance with data reporting on these crimes
Should ensure timely and proportionate intervention to reduce reoffending of children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours.
David Cameron has responded to the report by announcing that local authorities' social services failing to protect children and young people will be removed from direct local authority control. Instead, they will be taken over ‘immediately' by high performing local authorities, by charities, or by experts in child protection.
Whilst it is clearly imperative that all local authorities be led and managed by competent, well-trained teams, this does not appear to in any way address the competencies, training or support of those staff who work on the ground with children and young people. Nor, as far as I can see, does it assist survivors of child sexual abuse in being any more likely to be identified; leaving seven in eight continuing to remain unknown to services which could offer support, belief, and a chance to rebuild their lives and their futures.
Understandably people that have suffered child sexual abuse find it very difficult to disclose what has happened to them, especially if they feel that they will not be believed. This is too often the case when I talk to new enquiries about approaching the police. My colleagues and I are sometimes the first people to whom survivors disclose their abuse.
It is unacceptable that even with so much more ‘supposed' awareness of the prevalence of child sex abuse that so many professionals can be reticent to follow their instincts and discuss their concerns with children and adults whom they suspect as sufferers of abuse. Children, young people and adults who have experienced abuse at the hands of any abuser, will have felt under the authority, power and control of that person, and unsurprisingly, this does not make it an easy thing to disclose to others in positions of power and authority. However, victims of abuse will often attempt to engage with services, or make what could be perceived as a “cry for help”; if someone listened. Given this, the responsibility must fall upon the professionals engaged with people who have suffered abuse, to ensure that these requests for help are not ignored, and to use their judgement in what the report names “proactive enquiry”. It is imperative that these professionals must feel and be supported by their organisations to do so.
NT children's commissioner criticises plan to change child abuse investigation
Northern Territory faces large number of abuse inquiries related to out-of-home care, but Colleen Gwynne says watering down investigations will not help
by Helen Davidson
The Northern Territory children's commissioner has warned a proposal to change the way child abuse is dealt with could be “dangerous”.
The NT's Department of Children and Family (DCF) is re-evaluating its response to complaints of the mistreatment of children in their care, in an attempt to deal with the overwhelming numbers of potential child abuse cases.
The NT children's commissioner said the proposed plan – to divert incidents of “concern” to case managers instead of investigating them the same way as incidents of “harm” – was dangerous.
In 2014-15 about 600 complaints were made to the DCF relating to children in out-of-home care – who are legally under the care of the department head. All were investigated and responded to and 110 were found to be substantiated.
The chief executive of DCF, Anne Bradford, on Monday told the Australian current incidents which now triggered child abuse investigations included cases of what should be treated as “risky adolescent behaviour,” such as a teenage boy obtaining a pornographic magazine.
Even among the 110 substantiated cases, Bradford estimated up to 70% were incidents not intended to be catered for by the Care and Protection of Children Act.
The discussion of changes came from a review of policy introduced in 2014, under which every concern for a child in care was investigated through a process involving numerous stakeholders to determine if it was a substantiated case of child abuse, Luke Twyford, executive director of professional practice for DCF, told Guardian Australia.
Before 2014, the department had no legal power to investigate concerns about children in care.
The potential change would see incidents which constitute concern but not harm or exploitation as defined by the act, being diverted to a case manager for immediate response instead of the full investigative process.
“Our current review of policy has seen often the investigation process is not always best suited to those concerns where a child may be putting themselves at risk,” said Twyford.
“Quite clearly if a child is being harmed or suffering harm we do need an investigation as well as an immediate response to that child's situation, if there are third parties involved. That certainly will not change.”
Twyford said the impact of the changes to response policy would be on “making sure children are protected from harm and that their outcomes are optimised. This was never about impacting on the numbers we record or report.”
However Colleen Gwynne, the NT children's commissioner, said the department seemed to be approaching the issue from the wrong angle.
It would be a more appropriate step to analyse the hundreds of unsubstantiated complaints and determine if smaller incidents were painting a bigger picture of legitimate child protection concerns, and to use that information to develop preventative measures, she said.
“Any allegation of abuse in care needs to be thoroughly looked at and investigated,” she told Guardian Australia on Monday. “I'm concerned we're going to wipe off 70% of them to reduce a caseload.
“I also think to have a case manager provide a subjective test to determine whether a matter is investigated or not is very dangerous.”
Gwynne said the departmental policy only outlined investigations for incidents of harm, as defined under law, and if DCF was examining other issues, it was misinterpreting the legislation.
“With the example provided [in the Australian] around a young person having Penthouse magazine, if they're investigating that then they've completely got it wrong.”
Gwynne also labeled as “ridiculous” a statement by Bradford which singled out domestic violence as an incident that was captured by DCF investigation policy but should not be.
“We're capturing a number of events [in the 100 substantiated reports] that aren't to do with the child; they're to do with the grown ups in the room,” Bradford told the Australian. “I'm certainly not saying it's OK. I'm saying it's captured, but we're not the agency of domestic violence; we're the agency of child protection.”
But Gwynne said it should fall under the definition of child abuse.
“If a child is subjected to domestic violence [between parents] on a daily basis, which is not uncommon in the Northern Territory, then I would think that certainly fits into the definition of harm,” Gwynne said. “That is child abuse.”
Despite being a primary stakeholder, Gwynne said she had not been consulted on the proposed changes.
In 2014-15 more than 17,000 reports of suspected child abuse were received by DCF, almost tripling the rate of five years earlier. More than 2,000 cases were substantiated – found to include the harm or risk of harm to a child – at an increase of 23.1% on the previous year.
The majority of cases related to instances of neglect, which included a lack of food or clean clothing; homelessness; not being provided with necessary medical or healthcare; inadequate supervision; the presence of dangerous things in the child's environment; not sending a child to school; or “constantly ignoring a child's need for attention and how they feel or failing to spend time and listen to a child”.
However the NT children's commissioner noted in its most recent annual report that incidents of other types of abuse had also risen.
New Policy Could Jeopardize Funding For Foster Children
by Joleen Chaney
OKLAHOMA CITY - A new proposed policy could eliminate special services for children in foster care in Oklahoma.
Many services would fall under the umbrella of the policy, including counseling for some of the state's most vulnerable children.
"Once you become fully aware of the problem and fully aware of what these kids are going through, you can't not support it,” Cindy Lee, Halo Project director, said. “So we just tell stories."
And this one is Katy's.
"We just fell in love with her right away,” Laura Arbetello said.
Katy was born prematurely and was in and out of hospitals and foster care the first year of her life. Laura Arbetello and her husband Michael took little Katy in when she just 13 months old and jumped at the chance to adopt her.
"She didn't have a stable foundation. Everything was uncertain, unstable,” Laura Arbetello said. “ So her behavior started showing that."
The Arbetellos didn't know what to do. They went to the Internet for help from other foster and adoptive parents and were referred to the Halo Project. The program is 10 weeks of intensive outpatient therapy for foster and adopted children.
"Basically what we're seeing is a lot of really young kids with complex developmental trauma which means that they are having all kinds of behavioral issues, emotional issues,” Lee said. "It's neglect. It's physical abuse. It's sexual abuse."
Funding for the project comes from private donors as well as the state, but soon Medicaid may not cover the costs and funding will be cut by 35 to 45 percent.
"We shouldn't have to ask for private dollars to serve our most vulnerable population,” Lee said.
"I think it's awful,” Arbetello said. "Because we've seen what it can do, and how it can work."
Katy finished therapy last week.
"She is a totally different kid than she was before we started. Completely different,” Arbetello said. "She went from biting, hitting, scratching, kicking, choking."
Now, she behaves like a different child.
"She's loving. She's compassionate, Arbetello said. ”She has empathy now."
Fruits of intervention, something every child in the system should have the opportunity to experience.
"Every one of them is different, and they don't have a voice,” Lee said.
One this family hopes is not taken away.
Forty-four families have gone through Halo since it was established in September 2013. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) may enforce a policy that would eliminate licensed behavioral health professionals in independent practice from billing Medicaid for the services they provide. This includes all counselors in private practice and group practice.
Attorneys, author, bishop weigh in on how to prevent sex abuse by clergy
by Al Knauber
Some say preventing future sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic clergy may depend on ending the requirement for celibacy and allowing women into the priesthood.
But if that's not likely to happen any time soon, then strict screening and psychological testing of those seeking ordination might be the best way to prevent future crimes by clergy against children.
These differing perspectives come in the wake of confirmation by the bankruptcy court of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, in March that settled a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reorganization plan for the Diocese of Helena.
The judge approved a nearly $21 million plan to compensate the roughly 380 people who said they were sexually abused by Catholic priests and the Ursuline Sisters.
The bankruptcy court's action comes after claims against the diocese were filed in 2011 by those who said they had been sexually abused.
The Associated Press reported in March 2015 that the majority of allegations were against Jesuit priests at the Ursuline Academy and the St. Ignatius Mission in St. Ignatius.
The abuses ranged from rape and fondling to perpetrators taking sexual photographs of children, which began in the 1930s and continued through the 1970s, according to court documents cited by The Associated Press.
Attorneys for victims and an outspoken former priest offered little optimism for ending child sexual abuse by clergy without changes in the priesthood.
“As soon as they get good priests in there, the problem will change. When you get rid of the celibacy requirement and allow priests who can be married, have families of their own, you're going to see a lot less child sexual abuse,” said Craig Vernon, who with Lee James, represented some 270 people in the bankruptcy and reorganization plan.
“And I think that's probably what the membership would like to see, but you're speaking to a non-Catholic,” Vernon said.
James shared that assessment and said, “In the larger picture, I think what would be most persuasive is to see changes, fundamental changes in the church, that are designed to help assure that child-sexual abuse along with other problems don't occur in the future.”
In addition to allowing priests to marry and ordaining women, James said lay people need to be put in positions of power over priests.
“Because, after all, for centuries clergy has had an exclusive lock on power in the Catholic Church over lay people,” he continued.
“And what our cases illustrate is they blew it. They used that power in ways that were wrong and inappropriate, not only the abuse itself but generally speaking, when you find these cases it's cover-up, it's abuse of power,” James added.
Diocese of Helena Bishop George Leo Thomas doesn't dodge the accusation and said, “I think the Catholic Church did blow it. But we're not alone in that. It's no consolation. That's why back in late '80s and '90s I was adamant in the archdiocese of Seattle and here that this culture of privilege and secrecy and internal governance is a big mistake and why the community has to absolutely be involved in this kind of oversight.”
When the diocese in Seattle faced claims of sexual abuse, it turned to the community, Thomas said, and created a committee that tapped the county prosecutor's office, mental health professionals, parents, law enforcement and those involved in social work to help lead it through the crisis.
Thomas said he relied on those experiences when he was assigned to the Diocese of Helena in 2004.
“We have a review committee in our own diocese here that helps to guide any decisions that I make. Part of it is directed toward policies. I want to make sure that our policies are very consistent with civil and criminal law.”
“It's a high level group and they ask very poignant questions of me, and our commitment obviously is to ensure that we do very careful screening and evaluation of seminarian candidates, that we require psychological testing of anybody that's in seminary candidacy. People that are in any kind of ministry, volunteer or otherwise, we do background checks and fingerprinting,” Thomas said.
“If I get any kind of a complaint involving violation with a minor then our first contact is law enforcement.”
Training to avoid trouble
A.W. Richard Sipe, 83, comes from a devoutly Catholic family, according to his website biography. He's also the author of several books, the most recent is “Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: A Decade of Crisis, 2002-2012.”
He spent 18 years as a Benedictine monk and a Catholic priest where he was trained to deal with the mental health problems of priests, his biography noted.
Sipe said he also taught in seminaries from 1967 to 1996.
“The bishops have put out a lot of different words and documents about (sexual abuse). And in a sense the documents in themselves are positive and some of the steps they take are positive in terms of being more careful about who they hire, being more sensitive to victims and victims' claims,” he said.
“However, basically nothing has changed in the education of clergy that I know of that would change the propensity of priests to abuse.”
The education of those priests, Sipe continued, “has not changed at all.”
Among Catholic priests, 6 percent did get involved sexually with minors, he said of his research.
“The problem can no longer be denied,” Sipe said. “The problem has not gone away. And the problem will not go away because of the system.”
A lack of training in sexual abuse prevention would have been the case in prior decades at seminaries, Thomas said, but the men that the diocese has at four different seminaries do receive training to avoid risk and sexual abuse.
“Also when they come into the diocese, I require the recertification, participation recertification, in Virtus training even though they've been through it in the seminary. … For everbody. I'm doing everything humanly possible,” Thomas said.
Sexual abuse, Thomas said, "it's a societal problem. It's endemic. It has to be recognized as a societal issue, not a Catholic Church issue.”
“Our numbers are sadly, any abuse by a clergy person is deeply damaging, there's no question and the violation of trust is terrible. But our numbers are sadly no different than the rest of American society, probably 4 percent over a 50-year period. One case is too many, but the profile sadly is the same with other white American males.”
Challenging the system
Sipe takes aim at the system in the Catholic Church that produces priests and asked, “What is it in the system that allows, that educates the choosers that produces men who have a propensity for sex with minors?”
He offers his opinion.
“The church favors men who are psycho-sexually immature. That is, they are men who have adolescent idealism, who have enthusiasm, who have that willingness to identify with the system or with authority,” Sipe said.
“In some ways they're much like young recruits going into war. These men who are invincible, who have no responsibility, who are taken care of and the church fosters them.
“Of course if you move up in the system, you can only exist if you have certain sociopathic tendencies, that is that your conscious is not developed as an individual, responsible conscious. It is the conscious of the system that takes over.
“And don't forget that priests have responsibility or have control, so to speak, over sin. They are the ones that forgive sin and define sin. And so they're given all this power and at the same time they're faced with this internal problem of priests sexually acting out,” Sipe said.
Thomas has a different view of how to govern a diocese and select those who are ordained here.
“The seminarians we having coming forward in the Diocese of Helena are a bit older, these are all post-college graduates,” he said.
“I take very seriously the screening, the psychological testing, the formation reports, family history. I know each of the seminarian candidates individually and very well by the time they're ready for ordination. It's a very lengthy process. It's five or six years post-college through the seminary process.”
“So I am a little tougher in that world than maybe many bishops. I'm not into the numbers game, I'm into the quality,” he said.
“I depend very heavily on the style of collaborative leadership where the laity, women and men, work hand-in-hand with me in the overall direction of this diocese.
“So there's a real sense of collegiality, open governance, transparency. I think the thing that Sipe is referencing is the old system of clericalism, which is based on entitlement and clerical privilege.
“I mention secrecy, wink and nod in terms of prosecuting these cases, sometimes collusion with police agencies in yesteryear. And that is a recipe for disaster,” the bishop said.
“The crisis in the Diocese of Helena, even though the cases are decades old, has also been highlighted by the crisis on the national front and on the international front,” Thomas said.
“All I do is say in my own shop, the Diocese of Helena, is we're working very hard to assure the laity that we're doing everything humanly possible to prevent further abuse and to insure a healthy, balanced atmosphere for the kids.
“So we've got a credibility issue that's going to take a long time to mend.”
And while the nonmonetary provisions of the diocese's bankruptcy settlement and reorganization plan required listing the name of all alleged perpetrators, Thomas said he didn't seek to differentiate between those accused and credibly accused.
“The only way to regain credibility is through transparency and truth telling,” Thomas said.
Considering Sipe's criticism, Thomas suggested there is a greater threat to the Catholic Church.
“I think that the bigger danger is the culture of secrecy and clericalism. I think if you want to look at a system where there has been dis-ease, it's the clericalism culture. It is closed. It's hermetically sealed. Those are really big problems,” Thomas said.
“I think having the active involvement of the laity in the wider community, law enforcement, the social-work community, to me that's the corrective -- opening windows, bringing in light and air and the active advice of very informed people.
“That is what dispels the clericalism and secrecy culture. To me, at least, that's been my experience in Seattle as well as here,” he said.
Vow of celibacy
Sipe said his long-term research concluded that at no time are more than half of Catholic priests observing celibacy.
“Mandatory celibacy, the fact of requiring a man to promise celibacy before he is ordained a priest is a travesty, and I think is the cause of a great deal of sexual hurt and sexual perversion,” Sipe said. “No question about it.”
“There's a great deal of sexual activity from the top down. You see, if celibacy were practiced on that level, you wouldn't have any problem down here in the younger priests practicing,” Sipe said.
“If celibacy is the issue then you've got a whole another problem because the research that I'm familiar with shows that over 80 percent of sexual abuse takes place in the context of marriage and family,” he said.
“So it would be a big leap to say that celibacy is the cause.”
“I think there is a fundamental issue that has to change across not just the church, but I would say in school systems and in nonprofits, and that is a culture of secrecy, where in our case over the years known offenders were removed from point A to point B.
“And the secrecy, the very poor decisions, those kinds of things have to be removed from the culture of secrecy where laity are actively involved in decisions … having very highly-informed lay people involved in every step of the process from the selection of candidates, the supervision of candidates for priesthood, assisting the diocese in making good decisions around who is selected for leadership,” Thomas said.
“In our case women and men and laity and clergy work hand-in-hand and have for decades in the Northwest.”
Idaho attorneys Vernon and James say the vow of celibacy deeply affects an individual.
“It's more than just sex,” James said.
“You're asking an individual, a man, to live their life, a lonely life with no confident, no one close to them who will be with them for their adult life, to share their life experiences with, to speak to in troubled times, to share their life concerns, their worries.
“So they are in a situation where they are in a potentially psychologically disabling situation where people who are allowed to have intimate, emotional and personal relationships, and again I'm talking not just about sex, something way more than sex. The person in the middle of the night that you can wake them up and roll over and wake them up and say I'm really stressed, I'm worried.”
“When a priest is alone, they can't do that,” James said.
So they live this life of loneliness and it can create very unstable situations that the experts like Sipe and others can talk about, he explained.
“My personal belief is until they adopt change like we had recommended, I think it will continue because who is going to go into the priesthood?” asked Vernon. “Who wants to take a vow of celibacy?
“And history has shown us that the vow of celibacy really does not work, that most priests don't keep their vow of celibacy and it's easier to make little kids not talk than it is a housekeeper, a fellow priest or a nun.
“And so I don't believe that there's going to be fundamental change. It's going to be harder because it's more out in the open, maybe priests will be more careful because there's more risk that they're going to get caught,” Vernon continued.
“Until there's fundamental change, I think we're still going to see this problem.”
Thomas doesn't share their view on the cause for sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church.
“The culture of secrecy and entitlement is probably the lay equivalent of clericalism and that can happen with public school teachers, it can happen with the various denominations, with 4-H or whatever. It puts power over the safety of children, and I'm just not there.”
“We're doing everything humanly possible” to see it doesn't happen again, he said.
“I can't say never but we're sure giving it our best.”
“We're using all the resources that we have at hand in the best way,” Thomas said and added, “At the end of the day I'm asking the Lord to ensure that I'm doing the right stuff.”