National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery


NAASCA Weekly Highlights

EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day we bring you articles from local newspapers, web sites and other sources that constitute but a small percentage of the information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse and recovery from it.

We present articles such as this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
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Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.

We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.
Recent News - News from other times

April, 2016 - Week 2
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a retired Registered Nurse from Ohio.

Los Angeles

Protest Planned at Whole Foods 365 Opening in Los Angeles: CEP Linked to Alleged Child Sex Offender

by realnancylevine

For immediate release:

A protest is planned to take place at the May 25 opening of the first Whole Foods 365 store in Los Angeles, in response to Whole Foods co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey's link to an alleged child sex offender. The protest is supported by the National Association for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA).

On December 25, 2015, The New York Times reported Whole Foods Market co-CEO John Mackey‘s affiliation with alleged child sex abuser, former rabbi Marc Gafni:

“He [Gafni] added, ‘She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.'”

“A co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a proponent of conscious capitalism, calls Mr. Gafni ‘a bold visionary.' He is a chairman of the executive board of Mr. Gafni's center, and he hosts board meetings at his Texas ranch.”

More than 100 rabbis authored a petition demanding that Mackey and Whole Foods sever ties with Gafni.

Mackey's only response, posted on his Whole Foods blog, is that his relationship with Gafni is “strictly personal.” It includes a link to Gafni's website and their seven-part video series.

According to an April 6 report in the Forward, a spokesperson for Gafni said Mackey's term as board chair had ended but, “There was no break between Mackey and Gafni.”

Mackey has been widely criticized for his affiliation to Gafni by experts in business, academia, and survivor advocacy work.

David Clohessy, Executive Director, SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) emailed:

“At first glance, the movie  Spotlight  is about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups in Boston. But a troubling and accurate sub-text throughout the film is that any number of people were alerted to the crisis but chose, for various reasons, not to pursue it. I hope Whole Foods co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey sees the movie and recognizes it as a call to action.”


Time: Wednesday, May 25, 10am – 3pm

Place: Whole Foods 365 Store:  2520 Glendale Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90039



Get involved to help end child abuse

by Tracy Fitzsimmons

Every 10 seconds in our country a report of child abuse is made.

On average, five children will lose their lives every day as a result of child abuse.

Child abuse in our community continues to occur at alarming rates, with drastic ramifications on the well-being of children, families, and society.

Abuse and neglect in its many forms must be stopped, and during the month of April we raise the flag to draw attention to this tragic reality.

Olive Crest has been fighting to stop the cycle of abuse and transform the lives of at-risk children and families since 1973. With the help of generous and compassionate donors and other community members, over 70,000 lives of children and families have been transformed.

Right now, Olive Crest serves nearly 3,000 at-risk children and their families each day throughout California, Nevada, and the Pacific Northwest.

Each day, Olive Crest encourages individuals and organizations to get involved to help prevent child abuse. It is critical that continual efforts be made to make resources, treatments, and family support available that will bring healing to hundreds of hurting kids.

April is an important time to recognize the critical role that parents, families, and communities play in protecting our children.

To get involved, go to the Olive Crest website at or call (800) 555-CHILD. Resources for those in need of help, or who find themselves struggling with a volatile family situation can reach out and call (800) 4-A-CHILD.



Remains identified as those of Texas teen missing since 1997

by The Associated Press

Human remains found in a Houston pasture are those of a 17-year-old girl who disappeared in 1997, the Harris County medical examiner's office said Friday.

The remains of Jessica Cain, who disappeared after dining with friends, were identified through DNA analysis, said Audrey Carter, an investigator with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

A convicted kidnapper who might be linked to other violent crimes pointed investigators to the location of the remains. Investigators dug for more than three weeks in a rural pasture on the edge of Houston before finding the remains on March 18.

William Reece, who is serving a 60-year sentence for a 1997 kidnapping, assisted authorities in the search. Reece, 56, also recently led authorities to remains identified as those of 20-year-old college student Kelli Cox, who had been missing from Denton in North Texas since 1997.

Reece's attorney, Anthony Osso, has said his client ultimately hopes to avoid the death penalty by cooperating with authorities.

Reece faces first-degree murder and kidnapping charges in Oklahoma for the slaying of 19-year-old Tiffany Johnston, who was abducted from a car wash northwest of Oklahoma City in 1997. He was also previously named the prime suspect in the April 1997 abduction and killing of a 12-year-old girl in Friendswood near Houston but has not been charged.

Cain, from La Marque, 50 miles south of Houston, had been missing since her abandoned car was found on Interstate 45 near the Village of Tiki Island, a Bayfront community across from Galveston Island.

"While this news brings confirmation, it also brings new sorrow to Jessica's family, friends and those in law enforcement who have mourned her loss," Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady said in a statement.

Charges will be forthcoming once the investigation is completed, Roady said.

Reece was sent to prison in 1998 for the May 1997 Houston-area abduction of Sandra Sapaugh, who told authorities Reece forced her at knifepoint into his truck after first feigning to help her with a flat tire. Sapaugh escaped after jumping from the truck.

Reece had been temporarily released from state prison into local custody to help with the searches for both Cain and Cox.

Reece has not spoken to law enforcement about any other cold cases, though Osso said he expected agencies with similar cases might want to approach Reece eventually.



Why Santa Rosa County's child abuse numbers are rising

by Aaron Little

MILTON — April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness month, and two cases the Santa Rosa Kids' House are investigating emphasize what the organization's executive director, Keith Ann Campbell, says:

“Any kind of abuse sees no lines. It's everywhere.”

The first case involves a female graphic designer, Kimberly Seevers, of Jay, who was charged with sexual battery of “juvenile males,” according to her arrest report — once last November and again April 12.

The second case involves a logistics brokerage owner, Christopher Traffanstead, from Gulf Breeze, arrested April 7 and charged with sexual assault and lewd and lascivious behavior on a victim between 12 and 16 years old.

Both alleged abusers have different genders and come from different parts of the county, Campbell said.


Calls reporting child abuse last year to the SRKH totaled roughly 2,500; this year, calls have already topped 1,000, Campbell said, adding she doesn't believe there's a rise in abuse, but there is an increase in reporting.

“I like to say it's because of awareness … (People) are just learning, ‘Hey, this is wrong,' and reporting it now,” Campbell said.

However, she also noted the national statistic for sexual abuse of youths is one in five, while those in Santa Rosa County are one in 19.

Florida, she said, is consistent with the national average, Campbell said.

“One thing everybody should know is we are all mandatory reporters — every adult. If you see something, it's always best to report it. It's better to be careful than let something slide through.”


In the Seevers and Traffanstead cases, there were roadblocks to reporting.

In the Seevers case, Campbell said, “During our investigation, we found out boys had been in that situation but didn't think anything was wrong.”

She said young males tend to congratulate each other instead of recognizing the situation as dangerous. “A 15-year-old boy is a victim, whether he knows it or not,” she said.

Multiple times in the Traffanstead case, the detective prompted the victim to describe the alleged abuse, and the conversation was difficult.

Campbell said she grew to understand this kind of difficult disclosure during a conference when a presenter asked the audience members to recall the details of their first sexual experience, then tell them to the stranger next to them.

“A lot of people don't want to come forward,” she said.


Child Abuse Prevention Awareness month covers all youth-targeted violence.

In Santa Rosa County, Campbell said, there is a lot of neglect, and a lot of children removed from drug-laden environments. However, she said, the county's south end, particularly Gulf Breeze and Navarre, reflects most of the 1,000 calls her office receives, and the trend was physical abuse.

She said a significant number of cases come from parents who don't understand what abuse is. Florida statute allows for spanking, she said, but anything causing bruising could indicate abuse. “It depends on what kind of bruising and where,” she said.

Campbell said the SRKH nor the Department of Children and Families want to separate children from parents.

For parents who conflate discipline with abuse, Campbell said, “DCF will work with that family and send them to classes for free about what is discipline and what is abuse.

“We're not here to take kids from families, but (to) protect.”



Sharing Knowledge About the Rise In Child Abuse

by Stacie Wirmel

The Regional Victim Crisis Center reports the number of children being sexually abused in Taylor County is on the rise. The workers there are hoping to bring awareness to the community.

Tonight at the Art Walk the RVCC displayed their "Walk of Knowledge" to share with the community about this rising trend.

This walk is to share information about child abuse and sexual abuse.

"To show the true effect of what it looks like when a child leaves home," said RVCC Violence Prevention Director, Lori Bunton.

She says almost 2700 children have been abused here in Abilene and Taylor County.

"This just kind of gives a symbol of the drama that happens," added Bunton.

Each shoe in the "Walk of Knowledge" represents a child removed from the home last year after a report of abuse was made.

"Generally, when a child is removed," explained Bunton, "they don't even get to take their shoes."

Teaming up with the RVCC to help these child abuse victims is the "Guardian's of the Children" motorcycle organization.

"We go to court with them," stated the Sergeant at Arms, Lil T. we do things with them during the year."

They even offer protection from the perpetrators.

"if they just need somebody to talk to they always have somebody they can call," said Lil T, "and talk with about their problems."

With both these organizations working to spread awareness they are hoping for a positive outcome.

"The more people that report," stated Lori Bunton, "when they suspect child abuse, the more children we're protecting."

Which is the main goal of the RVCC and the "Guardian's of the Children," to protect these victims.

"It makes me feel wonderful that I can actually help children get through problems that should never exist," added Lil T.

The truth is these problems do exist and this is the reason for the "Walk of Knowledge."

"These are our children, these are the individuals who are going to make a difference in our world tomorrow," said Lori Bunton. "We come from a very strong religious based community and I think we all have caring hearts. I think we cannot just ignore it and think that it doesn't happen here. It happens everywhere."



Amigos for Kids turns 25 while working to prevent child abuse, neglect


The idea was born of friendship— and tragedy. Confronted with the horrific torture and beating death of a little boy known as Baby Lollipops, a group of young Cuban-Americans discussed how best to help abused kids in Miami.

The four Miamians came up with an idea: form an auxiliary unit of Children's Home Society to help raise awareness of the problem. Today, 25 years later, Amigos for Kids has helped thousands of children, educated countless parents, sponsored yearly public campaigns and reached north to help students in two Broward schools.

Yet, despite the variety of programming and quality of outreach— it was a 2015 Children's Trust Program of the Year recipient — Amigos seems to be best known for a summer party. Its annual fundraiser, Miami Celebrity Domino Night in June, attracts celebrities of all ages and a veritable who's who of Miami's young Hispanic elite.

“One of our biggest challenges,” said Amigos CEO and President Rosa Maria Plasencia, “is letting people know that we are not just about that one party. We're an organization that works every day for children to have a good childhood in a violence-free home. It's not just about a domino night and it's not just about a toy drive. It's really about the children.”

It's always been about the children and about the desire to focus community attention on the need to prevent child abuse by educating and helping families. But back in 1991, when the organization was just getting started, the young founders had little experience and virtually no money to pursue their mission. One of them, Jorge A. Plasencia — now CEO of República, a nationally recognized advertising and communications company — was 17, a high school junior who would end up serving as the nonprofit's chairman for more than a decade.

During the group's first year, it helped 55 kids in foster care, sponsoring a toy drive after Hurricane Andrew had decimated Miami-Dade. The wish-specific drive — children ask and are granted two requests— now serves 1,500 kids.

“The drive is the same, but what the kids want now has changed,” Rosa Plasencia said with a chuckle. “All of them want tablets these days.”

Over the past quarter-century, as Miami has grown and become more diverse, the all-volunteer Amigos has branched out from its first toy drive. In 1994, in an effort to reach more people with information on preventing child abuse, Amigo began hosting fairs around South Florida. It launched a back-to-school drive to provide book bags and school supplies to students. Then in 2004, it kicked off what would become an annual Blue Ribbon Campaign for April's Child Abuse Prevention Month (“There is no excuse for child abuse”) and opened an after-school program at Jose Marti Park in conjuction with the City of Miami Parks and Recreation Department. By 2008 it had started a parenting program for parents in Little Havana to promote positive parenting and provide service options for families.

In the years since, Amigos has focused on expanding its outreach to more families. The after-school program, for example, began with 60 kids and now serves more than 100. Plasencia is hoping to include middle-schoolers soon. “At that age, they really need a place to go,” she said.

The Amigos Strengthens Families & Communities Program now also has a “Nurturing Families” initiative that aims to strenghten the parent-child bond through educational sessions. Even participation in its Domino Night has more than doubled.

Plasencia, a cousin of co-founder Jorge Plasencia, began working with Amigos as a volunteer, serving on the board before being tapped to run the organization. Her current board includes some community heavy-hitters, many recruited by Jorge Plasencia: Pedro Capo (of El Dorado furniture stores), vice-chairman Nicole Valls (of the restaurant company Valls Group), WTVJ anchor Jackie Nespral, Univision TV anchor Pamela Silva Conde, Related Group President of International and Strategic Projects Lissette Calderon, TV celebrity chef Ingrid Hoffmann, marketing executive Roxana Fernandez and other well-known Miami professionals.

Attorney Victoria San Pedro, 27, is the youngest member of the board. Her mother, the late Ofelia San Pedro, served on the board for many years, and San Pedro and her brother grew up volunteering for Amigos events. Her favorites are the after-school program at Jose Marti Park (her mom was a former deputy schools superintendent who helped put it together) and the toy drive.

“These children ask for socks, for shoes, for things that we take for granted,” San Pedro sasid. “I remember one child asking for a bed so his mom wouldn't have to sleep on the floor anymore. It makes me appreciate every little thing I have, from the shoes I'm wearing now to the fact that I can drive into work today.”

Like its board, Amigo's corporate sponsors are equally influential, from Voya to TotalBank to Ford Motor Company, UPS, Greenberg Traurig and cruise lines Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

Citing the “unacceptable statistic” that between four and five children die of abuse or neglect every day, Plasencia says the organization's mission is far from done.

“Remember the outrage over Cecil the lion [mistakenly shot by an American hunter] last year?” she asks. “Well, why don't more people show that kind of outrage over the issue of child abuse and neglect? We have to feel that outrage. We have to be so angry that we say, ‘I want to do something about this and I want to do it now.' ”


Amigos for Kids annual Blue Ribbon Awareness Campaign commemorating April's National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April 18: Amigos For Kids and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Division of Student Services host the 2016 Blue Ribbon Awareness Event at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium. School board members and elected city and county officials will be on hand for drama and dance routines, bands, and other activities. Prevention poster contest finalists will be announced, and artwork will be displayed on

April 18 and 19: At sunset, Miami-Dade College will illuminate in blue its National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower in downtown Miami in support of Amigos For Kids mission to prevent child abuse

April 19: Amigos For Kids will host the 2016 “There's NO Excuse for Child Abuse!” Blue Ribbon Awareness Walk and Candlelight Vigil at Jose Marti Park




Programs can teach adults about child sexual assault

by Bridget McAlonan

Talking about childhood sexual abuse can be uncomfortable. Some parents might not know where to start. “What words should we use?” “If we talk about sexual abuse with children, will that make it more likely to happen?” “What if I haven't figured out my own childhood trauma?” “But my plan to keep my child safe from sexual assault is just to keep them away from strangers.”

We have many misconceptions about sexual abuse and assault. Those misconceptions feed our collective discomfort and can make these discussions ineffective.

The educators at Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services offer developmentally appropriate sexual assault prevention programs for students from pre-K (sometimes younger) to adult. Our elementary school programs focus on helping young children understand personal space, how to ask an adult for help and how to be a proactive bystander. We also teach children to talk to a trusted adult if they experience anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

It is important to understand, however, that we need to do more if we are going to prevent sexual abuse from occurring. Adults, and particularly parents, need to assume the responsibility for prevention by learning how to talk to their children, having accurate information, and assessing relationships that are present in their children's lives.

“Parents in the Know” is an eight-hour course designed to help supportive adults understand the implications of childhood sexual assault, feel more comfortable talking to children about developmentally appropriate pro-healthy sexuality, and become engaged as a pro-active bystander regarding sexual assault. This is all taught in four two-hour sessions using dialogue, role plays and strategic games.

Throughout all the sessions, addressing boundaries is key — specifically in understanding, recognizing and promoting healthy behaviors between parent (supportive adults) and children as well as helping parents to recognize questionable behaviors in adult interactions with children.

We know that sexual abuse lives in secrecy and fear. The reality is that one-in-four girls and one-in-six boys are victims of sexual assault before they reach 18 years old. Through discussion and dialogue, participants begin to understand that when children have healthy and logical boundaries with the adults in their world, they feel safer.

Appropriateness of adult-to-child interaction is discussed throughout the course. Too often, parents and supportive adults focus upon alerting children to “stranger danger” as a way to keep abuse from happening. While some childhood sexual assault is perpetrated by strangers, the 2005 National Crime Victimization Survey stated that 73 percent of all sexual assaults were perpetrated by someone known to the victim. In those instances, perpetrators use “grooming” tactics to gradually accustom the child to more and more intrusive behavior. By focusing on appropriateness of boundaries and behaviors, parents and supportive adults can better recognize and intervene in questionable adult-to-child behaviors.

One key activity in the first session is placing types of adult/child interactions in “zones.” A green-light behavior zone would be a type of interaction that would be OK with a specific adult. A yellow-light behavior zone would be a cautious interaction and a red-light behavior zone would be an unsafe interaction. For example, while getting a hug from a mother might be a green-zone type of interaction, a hug from a stranger would be a red-zone interaction.

Parents would most likely know to intervene in that hug from a stranger, but need to learn to recognize interactions that fall in that “yellow zone” — behaviors that may create some risk for their child. The key objective is to help supportive adults distinguish between what are appropriate adult-to-child behaviors and to recognize when those boundaries are at risk of being crossed.

Perhaps this all sounds overwhelming, but it is designed to give people tools to aid them in talking about childhood sexual assault and strategies and skills to keep their children safe. Each piece of dialogue, each game, each role play is a step toward prevention. And with each step toward prevention, we can begin to undo misconceptions about sexual assault and create safer childhoods for all.

Currently, the educators in Androscoggin County are facilitating “Parents in the Know” at New Beginnings and, during the month of May, at Hillview Community Center in Lewiston. We have plans to offer more groups this summer and fall.

For more information on those groups, call Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services at 207-784-5272.

Bridget McAlonan is the education coordinator for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services.



A Survivor Of Child Sexual Abuse On Why He Chose To Speak Up About It After 16 Years

by Abhik Mukherjee

I was three when I was sexually abused for the first time, and it continued until I was 21.

One of my worst experiences was in Class 6 in a well-reputed school in Kolkata. Every day, I would be forced into the bathroom where one boy would cover my mouth while the others took turns to sexually assault me. This continued for about two weeks till I finally spoke up and complained and one of my perpetrators was suspended. I finally felt safer in my school. But this was not to last for long. I was again abused by a different set of boys on my way back from school in the school bus.

During this phase of my life, I did certain things that I shouldn't have. I lost all hope and attempted suicide. A major problem with male sexual abuse is that it is not socially accepted and people sometimes make extremely insensitive comments or pass over-simplified solutions to a much deeper issue. Some of my closest friends made fun of my abuse making me suffer even more.

Recently, things have changed though and I have found a lot of support. I am extremely lucky that I have understanding parents who helped me survive; unfortunately, most children in our country don't find anyone to rely on. Back then, I could not share my trauma with anyone, not even my parents, even though I knew they were there for me. I could only tell them a few years later. It was difficult to accept that I had been abused. When I told my mother about this, she gave me the emotional support I needed. It helped that she was a Psychiatrist. I sought professional help from a counsellor during my counselling course. It was only after these personal counselling sessions that I have been able to accept my abuse and dared to talk about it publicly. It took me 16 long years to come out of my shell and I never reported the case to the police, being uncomfortable in opening up about my abuse to strangers.

A study by the Ministry of Women and Child Education in 2007 revealed some shocking statistics about child sexual abuse in India. The study was based on a questionnaire sent out to 12,447 respondents. The children belonged to 5 different categories including those who belonged to a family environment, schools, institutions, and work. Some of the major findings are listed below:

• 53.22% of the respondents had reported one or more forms of sexual abuse

• Among them 52.94% were boys and 47.06% were girls

• Delhi reported the maximum figure of sexual abuse amongst boys with 65.54% respondents

• Gujrat reported maximum figures of sexual abuse amongst girls with 63.41% respondents

Such outrageous statistics reveal the need for age appropriate Personal Safety Education in school curriculums so that students and teachers can identify abuse and know how to deal with it appropriately. This includes teaching students to differentiate between “Safe touch” and “Unsafe touch”. Children should be able to open up to their parents (something I could not do for two years but should have). Schools must take responsibility to avoid such scarring incidents at all cost and children should be taught self-defence tactics to protect themselves in such circumstances.

Being sexually abused as a child has made me stronger and it is because of what I went through that I decided to be a counsellor so that I can help others and heal myself. Being a survivor, I can empathise with other survivors and can facilitate coping strategies for them. From the next month, I will be starting Kolkata's first Child Sexual Abuse Support group in collaboration with Pranaadhika Sinha Devburman and Dr. Rima Mukherj, a Psychiatrist who runs an organisation called Crystal Minds. This group will provide survivors a space where they can share their experience of abuse in a supportive environment. In the future, I plan to do a course in Drama Therapy and specialise in sexual abuse counselling so that I can help survivors of abuse in a novel and structured manner.


North Dakota

Fresh approach to childhood trauma means different treatment, new hope

by Archie Ingersoll

Fargo — For children, the wounds of a traumatic experience can run deep, and the scars can linger for years. This has long been intuitive to people who work with traumatized kids.

Now there's a growing body of research that shows how these experiences can derail a child's normal brain development, increasing the chance of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse.

There's even a study that suggests a link between childhood trauma and adult health and behavioral problems like cancer, emphysema, addiction and attempted suicide.

In light of this evidence, many public and private agencies in the Fargo-Moorhead area and elsewhere are revising their approach to helping children who have suffered trauma, a wide-ranging term that can include physical or sexual abuse, a serious car crash, a grave medical illness, a natural disaster, community violence, severe neglect or the death of a loved one.

Yet despite changing mindsets in places like schools, juvenile courts and mental health facilities, psychologist Steve Wonderlich of Fargo says traumatized children often receive generic mental health treatment, not treatment that specifically addresses their trauma.

"Quite frankly, I think there's a lot of suboptimal care of traumatized kids, and that's what we're trying to remedy," he said.

In 2006, Wonderlich helped start the Treatment Collaborative for Traumatized Youth, an initiative aimed at teaching mental health professionals how to treat traumatized children. So far, the collaborative has trained about 300 such professionals across North Dakota, he said.

'I can't wish'

Trauma can affect all aspects of a child's life. It can cause intrusive thoughts, emotional numbness, problems in school and in relationships, self-esteem issues and a hopeless worldview.

It's this lack of hope that troubles Heather Simonich the most.

Simonich, who has counseled traumatized children and led training sessions for the collaborative, recalled the case of a 16-year-old boy who had survived what she described as profound maltreatment.

While counseling him, she asked what he wished was different about his life, and after thinking for awhile, he said, "I can't wish for anything 'cause if I wish for something I certainly know something bad will follow."

The trauma the boy had experienced, Simonich said, had stripped him of his childhood innocence. "For this young boy, there was just nothing he would even bother to wish for or that he could imagine could be different," she said.

Simonich said the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction contracted her to create a curriculum for educating elementary school teachers about trauma. She said staff from Fargo Public Schools are among those she's trained to teach the curriculum.

In North Dakota and Minnesota, teachers must regularly receive a certain number of hours of mental health training as part of their continuing education requirements. It's through this training that Moorhead's public school teachers learn about childhood trauma, said school district official Duane Borgeson.

If a student shows signs of post-traumatic stress, Borgeson said, a teacher can alert what's known as a student support team, which usually consists of a counselor, psychologist, social worker and special education teachers. This team can help diagnose students and steer them to the right treatment, he said.

'The good news'

During treatment, kids work through their trauma with a counselor who helps them tell their story. With younger kids, this can require the use of dolls or puppets to explain what happened, Wonderlich said.

The narrative that emerges is shared with the child's family, and the counselor helps the child develop skills to manage their reactions to the trauma. Because relatives are sometimes the source of trauma, anyone who perpetrated violence against the child is excluded from the treatment process, he said.

Of the kids who receive treatment, 70 percent have dramatic reductions in their reactions to post-traumatic stress, Wonderlich said. "The good news is we have good treatments that seem to work well and help these kids to get a lot better," he said. "We just need to figure out how to find the kids and then get them the treatment."

Simonich said not all traumatized kids need trauma-focused mental health treatment. Two-thirds of them manage to bounce back without intervention, she said.

"Most children who experience traumatic events are extremely resilient," she said, noting that factors like poverty and discrimination can compound the stress of trauma.

'The last place'

One facility with therapists trained to treat trauma in Fargo is the psychiatric residential treatment center run by Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, a nonprofit group. The center has 16 beds for kids in grades seven through 12, who in most cases have suffered abuse, neglect or another form of trauma, clinical director Christy Wilkie said.

A decade ago, it was common for residential treatment facilities around the state to physically restrain unruly kids or sequester them in locked rooms if they were trying to hurt themselves or others. But as the center in Fargo has become attuned to the effects of trauma, Wilkie said, it's moved away from those practices. "You're creating more trauma by treating kids that way," she said.

Wilkie said staff now use what they know about each kid's background to verbally de-escalate aggressive outbursts. "We've actually taken our seclusion rooms and turned them into quiet areas so the kids can use them to calm down," she said.

Instead of a seclusion room, the center now calls it a sensory room. Where the décor was once spartan, the space has been filled with oversized pillows, a board of colorful lights, a stuffed rocking chair and other things to engage the senses.

In 2009, the North Dakota Youth Correctional Center in Mandan started making similar changes by limiting the use of handcuffs and not resorting to isolation to punish kids, who often have traumatic backgrounds, said Lisa Bjergaard, head of the state Juvenile Services Division.

"The last place that you want a young person who's struggling with those issues to be is off by themselves," she said.

However, Bjergaard acknowledges that some trauma is unavoidable at the correctional center.

"I'm pretty sure that having to come to a correctional center is pretty traumatic, so I'm pretty sure we are contributing to further traumatization no matter how hard we try not to," she said.

District Judge Donovan Foughty, based in Devils Lake, N.D., said that as a judge, he tries to keep traumatized children with their families whenever possible. Foughty said he also makes an effort to put services in place to help such kids, but that's sometimes difficult.

"We have a lack of services for childhood trauma just in the rural areas," he said.

Historical trauma

Dr. Donald Warne, chairman of the public health department at North Dakota State University, said emerging research supports the notion of historical trauma. This means that atrocities committed across a population, such as American Indians or Jews, caused stress that may have altered the expression of genes, negatively affecting the health of subsequent generations, he said.

"There's some sort of impact of historical trauma on current health issues across a number of populations," said Warne, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe in South Dakota. "The science still needs to be expanded in this area, but early evidence points to that activity."

Citing a Justice Department report, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said native children experience post-traumatic stress at the same rate as veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Heitkamp said her work to bring attention to the problem of childhood trauma at the federal level has included sponsoring a bill that would create a commission on native children. The Senate unanimously approved the bill, and it's been introduced in the House.

Heitkamp believes the problem demands a broad educational campaign much like the one deployed to curb tobacco use.

"We spend a lot of time talking about what are best practices in trying to respond to nicotine addiction and how to get people not to smoke, and we have had incredible results," she said, pointing out that, like the tobacco issue, resolving childhood trauma would save not just lives but also health care costs.



Foster children deal with loss of most important things

by Kristina Wilder

Imagine five slips of paper.

Write one of the most important things in your life on each of those papers. Family, home, friends, your pets, your church. …

Now, imagine those things ripped away from you, suddenly, without a lot of explanation, or at least not one you understand.

How would that feel?

That is how children taken from their families and put into foster care often feel.

“I do that exercise with my CASA volunteers,” explained Sue Lagermann, director of Floyd County's Court Appointed Special Advocates. “I have them write the things they love most on those papers, then I walk around the room and take two from some or all five from others. I don't say why, I just do it.”

CASA is a nonprofit program that trains volunteers to advocate for the best interest of abused and neglected children who are under the jurisdiction of the Floyd County Juvenile Court.

As she walks around the room, Lagermann said she often gets upset reactions from people.

“One time a lady got very mad, I could hear her asking ‘Why did she take all of mine?'” Lagermann said.

When Lagermann explains the point of the lesson, she said she sees people catch on quickly.

“I think sometimes it is hard to imagine what a child taken away from their family goes through,” she said. “Even in the worst of situations — no matter how abusive the situation — those children love their parents. That is the home they've known.”

Currently, Floyd County has 403 children in foster care.

To compound the problem of leaving their families, 69 percent of those children are living outside of the county because Floyd County does not have enough foster homes to house its children.

“We have children all over the state,” said Lagermann. “It is hard on everyone. If they were able to stay here, they would at least be at their school, with their teachers, their friends, they could visit their church. It means they are dropped into a situation that is completely foreign to them.”

A lot of children placed under the care of the Division of Family and Children Services are also often taken away from siblings, Lagermann added.

“For some of those children, their siblings are their parents,” she said. “In cases of neglect, many times we find that an older brother or sister was the stable force in that child's life.”

The distance puts a burden on DFCS caseworkers and CASA volunteers as well.

“It makes it harder to visit the children, counsel them,” Lagermann said. “It makes family visits harder as well.”

One of DFCS workers' main goals is to try to reunite the family, according to Floyd County DFCS Director Lindsey Howerton.

“It's all about family support and preservation,” Howerton said. “We are now serving 350 families, trying to help parents and get them back with their children and keep them together.”

Reasons behind the removal of a child are not always simple, she added.

According to statistics from Georgia Child Welfare Measures, in Floyd County between October 2014 and September 2015, 116 children were removed for neglect, 85 because the parents were abusing drugs, 91 for inadequate housing, 34 for abandonment, 28 for abuse and 22 because their parents were in jail.

“I would say that 80 to 85 percent of our removals are initially because of neglect,” Howerton said. “However, that is not always the end of the story, because sometimes once we remove the child and earn their trust, we find out about other issues such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse.”

The reasons behind these problems stem from what Howerton calls a “triangle.”

“The triangle of issues we have in this community is a high poverty rate, high substance abuse rate and a high rate of mental health issues,” she said. “A lot of times it is not just one issue.”

The problems tend to cycle around as well, spreading across generations.

“One of my first cases, she was 15 years old, in YDC,” said Lagermann. “She'd been put in there because she performed a sexual act on a school bus. I had no idea what to say to her, but I visited her.”

Lagermann said she and the young woman sat together and ate the girl's favorite candy, Butterfingers. After she was released, Lagermann found out that she'd had a baby at 16.

“By then, she'd moved to Macon,” said Lagermann. “I visited her and took the baby to put it up for adoption for her because she knew she couldn't take care of it.”

Years later, Lagermann met up with her again, this time in court with three young children and pregnant. The young woman was having her parental rights terminated. “I begged them to give me this case,” Lagermann said. “I tried to help her, but her rights were terminated. Then I met her again, with two more children, same situation.”

Then, last summer, Lagermann received a call from her. “She's pregnant again, but she is going to church,” said Lagermann. “She is living in Atlanta with her mom who is out of jail now.”

Lagermann said the young woman's mother had been placed in jail for pimping her daughter out, but the two had managed to make peace.

“I just hope she is OK,” said Lagermann. “She sounded good, like she had made a change. She always just wanted someone to love her.”



How medical professionals are teaming up to fight bullying

by Molly Rosbach

YAKIMA, Wash. -- If a seventh-grade boy gets shoved by a classmate in the hall every day, he might opt to take a more circuitous route to class or make sure he keeps in sight of teachers.

He also might lie awake at night worrying about the classmate's threats, develop abdominal pain and headaches from the stress, and beg to stay home every morning.

When such social and emotional issues manifest as medical symptoms in kids, doctors are teaming up with families, behavioral health consultants and teachers to keep the kids healthy and in school.

“Bullying is something I bring up at every well-child check,” said Dr. Amanda Lee, a pediatrician at Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic in Toppenish. “It's been a very big issue in our community.”

Yakima's three community health clinics have made a big push in the last few years to integrate mental and behavioral health with medical services. Behavioral health specialists and medical practitioners are housed in the same building, facilitating a “warm handoff” between providers.

That way, if a doctor thinks a patient may benefit from counseling, he or she can walk down the hall and connect them with a behavioral health provider, all in one appointment.

Early identification vital

The importance of mental health and its impact on physical health is popping up even earlier. Providers say it's especially critical to identify problems in children and adolescents before they cause long-lasting emotional damage.

“We don't look at the child anymore and say, ‘Your stomach hurts; I'm going to figure it out and fix this'” by relying solely on medical tests, pediatrician Dr. Roy Simms said during a discussion on childhood trauma at Davis High School on Monday.

In the past, he said, kids might get sent for multiple X-rays or show up repeatedly in the ER. Now, he said, “We engage this right away, to teach kids that the trauma you bring to that visit is in part why you're there.”

Behavioral health consultant Mary-Virginia Maxwell works with Simms at Community Health of Central Washington's Yakima Pediatric Associates, and spends three days a week visiting schools in four Central Washington counties, including Yakima, through special education funding.

She works with kids, teachers and families on the impact of bullying and other childhood trauma, sometimes using a score sheet of “Adverse Childhood Experiences,” or ACEs, to assess problems.

Students are asked if they have ever suffered physical, verbal or sexual abuse from a family member; gone hungry; or felt unloved or unsafe at home.

Such traumatic experiences are often the source of aggressive or inappropriate behavior at school, which can lead to suspension or expulsion. But shutting kids out of the system only exacerbates the problem, Maxwell said.

“With kids that are continuing to have these problems — they're exhausting kids; they're exhausting schools; they're exhausting families,” Maxwell said.

When she works with kids to learn why they act the way they do, she can start identifying solutions.

“I can come in and say, ‘This is how I think we can shift these behaviors in this child,'” she said. By using those strategies at home and in school, “We saw kids with anger problems, anxiety — that we could help them immediately and get them back into school quickly.”

When symptoms like nausea, headaches, change in appetite, self-isolation, depression and anxiety show up repeatedly with no clear reason, Lee said, she thinks of bullying.

In severe cases, stress can lead to self-harm or suicide.

Giving parents a tool

Group Loop, a coalition of school nurses, counselors, farm worker pediatricians and behavioral health consultants in the Lower Valley, meets every couple of months to discuss multi-disciplinary and preventive approaches to kids' health concerns.

“Really, looking at environment is integral to what we do every day,” Lee said. “Exploring their home environment, exploring their school environment, identifying any red flags that might arise in either of those and understanding how those social situations will affect a child's behavior and ultimately affect their health is really a big part of pediatrics.”

Lee said they hope to give parents tools to identify and address problems as soon as they occur.

Courtney Valentine is one of two behavioral health consultants at the Toppenish clinic. She teaches breathing and relaxation exercises to help kids focus and calm down from extreme stress.

For example, she tells kids to imagine eating a raisin: How does it feel against their fingertips? What do the ridges on the fruit look like? How does it smell? How does it taste?

“It helps you to just be more grounded and in that moment,” she said. “A lot of time when we're worried, it's about things that may happen in the future. Or if we're sad or down, it may be about things that happened in the past. But when we're mindful in the present, we're just more attuned and aware of it.”

“It's one wonderful way to help kids cope with difficult feelings and help them to have a way of feeling better, have a way of focusing and calming themselves down,” she added.

Teaching kids to cope is only one step, she said. Stopping the bullying or stressful behavior so a kid doesn't have to cope with it in the future is paramount.

But a challenge in doing that is rebuilding trust: Often, Valentine said, the child has tried to confide in a teacher or other adult in the past but the bullying wasn't addressed.

Both physical and relational aggression are “equally destructive,” and occur across genders and age groups, she said.


Cyberbullying “has made it more of an extensive and pervasive problem,” Lee said. “Before, bullying tended to be limited to school; the playground during recess. Now it can happen anywhere — kids are accessible; they're on their phones, they're connected in one way or another almost 24/7.”

The kids who do the bullying also suffer, Lee said, although their problems tend to be more latent: Studies have shown that bullies grow up to have higher rates of incarceration, lower rates of employment and less stability in relationships.

Although the emotional problems facing kids are seemingly ubiquitous, Dr. Simms said the increasing marriage of medical and behavioral health care makes him optimistic.

“I think that health care providers like myself have learned that working in tandem with a teammate who's in the mental health arena gives me something I can fix,” he said. “I think that's where we need to go in health care. I don't know how well that's going to happen, or if the payers are going to pay for that.”

Reimbursement is tricky, but in the past few years payers and policies have started recognizing the benefits and potential cost savings of integrated care, Community Health CEO Dr. Mike Maples said.

Schools are seeing benefits, too, Maxwell said: Schools in Yakima, Cle Elum, the Lower Valley and beyond have added in-house mental health professionals.

“There is so much good going on in this Valley right now. You're just seeing this awareness increasing, and we are not going to wait for these children to fail,” Maxwell said. “We're getting on it now. I'm very hopeful — I see good work across everything.”

Extra vigilance required to protect kids with disabilities from bullying

The challenge of identifying and preventing bullying and other emotional trauma for kids with disabilities is even more fraught.

“Lots of times they're more vulnerable to be bullied, and the kids that are nonverbal don't really have a way to communicate that or express that,” said Cindy Myers, an autism coach and consultant at Children's Village and the clinical supervisor for the behavioral assessment team.

Kids with special needs who are being bullied might start having tantrums about having to go to school, or come home in obvious distress.

“It really worries parents,” Myers said. “‘We don't know what's happening'; ‘Our child can't tell us.' Even kids who are verbal tend to be kids that aren't speaking up to teachers, either.”

Those with disabilities, already outside social groups, may isolate themselves even further, she said.

They might even misbehave intentionally to avoid going out to recess, where there's not as much adult supervision. Or they might get really clingy with the teachers who are outside. Some lash out at other kids.

The physical symptoms of bullying are the same, regardless of whether kids have disabilities. They develop headaches and stomachaches; they may even stress themselves to the point of vomiting.

But finding out the source of the problem is harder.

“They can't always tell you the story in sequence so it makes sense,” Myers said. “We end up doing more detective work, try to do some observation when the kids aren't aware that we're doing observation.”

Bullying also might look differently in kids with disabilities. Autistic kids in particular, Myers said, may not be able to differentiate between friendly teasing and problematic bullying.

She had a case years ago where kids at school figured out that their autistic classmate would repeat whatever they said. They got him to repeat cuss words, which then got him kicked out of class.

“This wasn't something he initiated; this was him copying other kids in an attempt to have some friends,” Myers said. “We have to help kids understand that there are things they can brush off and ignore, and then there's a time where you have to say, ‘OK, ignoring isn't OK because this isn't a safe situation.”

Special needs kids may inadvertently be bullies themselves if they struggle to control their feelings and lash out. “For our clients, it's teaching them a way to communicate something so that they don't need to lash out,” Myers said.

Children's Village staff work with teachers and school counselors to offer social skills training for the classroom, but for the most part, Myers said, schools have good bullying curriculum.


NOTE from MJ: Although not specifically about child abuse, this is a good article

Critical lessons from Holocaust survivors

by Richard Kyte

Every spring for the past 10 years, Viterbo University has held a workshop on teaching the Holocaust. The workshop features scholars, teachers and, most notably, survivors.

Studying the Holocaust is psychologically challenging, and one might think that the most difficult part of the workshop would be meeting survivors. After all, in their presence the abstract becomes concrete, the statistics become human.

But most find that it is just the opposite. The survivors are what makes studying the history bearable. Without them, it would be all darkness and no light. The survivors I have met over the years have been, without exception, light bringers. Yes, it is difficult to hear their stories but, at the same time, it is inspiring. Their very presence testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome immense pain and loss.

This year the workshop featured Magda Herzberger, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bremen and Bergen-Belsen.

When her family arrived at Auschwitz after a three-day journey in a cattle car, she found herself standing on a railway platform next to her father and uncle. She could see in the distance smoke and flames coming from the chimneys of Birkenau. Her father, sensing that they were about to be separated, leaned over to her and said:

“My child, my dear daughter, remember to follow the path of love, forgiveness and tolerance no matter what happens. . . . Hang on to the three strong pillars of life: faith, hope and love.”

Then her uncle, who had been giving her fencing lessons, added: “Remember what I always told you. Pain increases our endurance. We have to tolerate pain in order to survive and to maintain our emotional strength and not fall apart under any adverse situations we may encounter.”

Then the SS guards formed them into lines and marched them forward for selection: right to the work camps or left to the gas chambers. She never saw her father and uncle again.

Yet they left her with a great gift: words that helped sustain her through the physical and psychological trials she would face in the coming months, words to which she attributes her ability to survive the camps.

No one knows for sure why some people are destroyed by serious adversity while others manage to survive and even flourish, but the Harvard Center on the Developing Child has identified four crucial factors common to children who demonstrate resilience.

A stable and committed relationship with an adult.

A feeling of confidence in one's own abilities.

The ability to regulate one's behavior and attitudes.

Faith and hope rooted in cultural traditions.

These are precisely the traits that can be seen in Magda Herzberger, and in the lives of so many Holocaust survivors, and I believe it explains, in part, why the survivors' stories resonate so powerfully with middle school and high school students today.

During the workshop a teacher expressed concern about one of her students, a young girl from a family of refugees. She has been listening to the angry talk on television and radio, and to the taunts of her classmates, voicing resentment and disdain for immigrants. She lies awake at night, fearful that someone might break down the door to her home and incarcerate her family. The teacher asked: “What can I do to reassure her?”

That is a hard question to answer. When we study the Holocaust, we learn that the unimaginable did happen. Can we tell her, with confidence, “That will never happen in the United States?”

I thought of what Joseph Uemura, my former teacher and mentor, might say. In 1942, he was 16 years old when his family was taken from their home in Portland and placed in an internment camp in Colorado.

Our first moral obligation to children in our communities is to keep them safe, to make sure that the streets are free of violent crime, that the air, water and food are free of toxins, that their homes are safe shelters, free of abuse, and that the laws are applied fairly and free of prejudice.

That requires electing competent public officials who embody wisdom and integrity, people who do not put their own pride, well-being, or their party before the public good, people who do not seek to elevate themselves by exploiting citizens' fear and ignorance.

Our second moral obligation is to provide children with the skills to overcome adversity, because no matter what we do, there are times when we are powerless to protect them. At those times, when children have to face some harsh reality on their own, they will need resilience.

If they are fortunate, they will have had some wise and supportive adult in their life — perhaps a parent or an aunt, perhaps a pastor or a teacher — someone like Magda's father and uncle to nurture in them the virtues of faith, hope, love and self-reliance.

The first obligation to children is carried out on the societal level; the second is carried out on the personal level. Both are vitally important.

Richard Kyte is director of the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership at Viterbo University. He also is a member of the Tribune's editorial board.



Grieving dad says his 12-year-old boy was killed by bully at school, not accidentally

by Fox News Latino

A 12-year-old boy lost his life earlier this week during soccer practice at school – and his parents are blaming a fellow classmate.

Dominick Gallegos collapsed and died Tuesday afternoon at Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School, in Colton, California.

His parents say his chest was stomped by a school bully prior to losing consciousness.

School officials told them that Dominick lost consciousness after running into another student, according to what the father, Joel Gallegos, told a KTLA reporter on Wednesday.

Katie Orloff, a spokesperson for Colton Joint Unified School District confirmed the student's death and said a crisis team was provided to the school.

According to Colton Police Officer, Todd Smith, detectives were sent to the hospital and have ruled out any type of assault or physical injury that may have taken place at the school.

However, the district's spokesperson told The Sun newspaper that “the particulars of this situation are being investigated by law enforcement at this time.”

Dominick's father said he spoke with his son's friends, who witnessed the incident and was told his son was kicked by another student.

They told him his son had slipped picking up a soccer ball and another student, who has a reputation for being a school bully, stomped his son's chest twice and Dominick passed out.

“We were playing soccer, and he slipped to the ground. Then he got stomped and kicked in the stomach,” said Brian Salas, 11, as quoted by The Sun. “We all ran over to shake him.”

Brian said teachers then came running and performed CPR.

“They told us to get off the field, but we kept watching,” he said. “Then the bell rang.”

The father said he asked his son's friends if Dominick had a problem with the other boy prior to the incident, but the friends said, "No, that's just the way that kid is.”

"I don't know where the teachers were," Gallegos said to KTLA. "Someone should have been watching those kids."

Gallegos and the boy's mother both said their son had no health problems and recently had a physical.


Abused? You Can't Work at These Churches

Church job seekers are being asked if they were sexually abused as children based on the false belief that victims will become abusers. The worst part—this discrimination is legal.

by Zack Kopplin

Abused? You Can't Work at These Churches

Church job seekers are being asked if they were sexually abused as children based on the false belief that victims will become abusers. The worst part—this discrimination is legal.

Hundreds of churches, including The National Community Church (PDF) in Washington, D.C., the Shalom Mennonite Fellowship in Arizona, Nazarene Churches (PDF) in Ohio, and Church on the Rock (PDF) in Missouri all ask applicants some variation on: “Were you a victim of abuse or molestation while a minor?”

Even potential janitors at Trinity Preschool in Texas are asked this question (PDF).

The Faith Assembly of God in New York mentions that, “answering yes, or leaving the question unanswered, may not automatically disqualify an applicant for youth or children's work.”

Ferris Hill Baptist Church of Florida says, “Individuals who have such a history [of sexual abuse as a minor] should discuss their desire to work with preschoolers, children or youth with one of the pastoral staff prior to engaging in any volunteer service” (PDF). Park Row Christian Academy, in Arlington, Texas, asks abuse victims if they are willing to use “church resources to seek healing in this area of your life?”

Some ministries don't stop at past sexual abuse.

The Ark-La-Tx Crisis Pregnancy Center, an anti-abortion clinic in Bossier, Louisiana, also evaluates applicants on their “submission to authority,” and asks them, “When do you feel sexual intercourse is morally permissible?” (PDF)

Houston megachurch Lakewood asks volunteers: “Have you ever been involved in a cult or the occult (witchcraft, satanism, psychics, horoscopes, etc)?”

The National Black Home Educators organization recommends local chapters vet officers by asking them, “Have you indulged in any form of pornography in the past 2 years? If so, please explain.”

The Trail Life troop, a Christian leadership program for young men at Grace Covenant Church in North Carolina, asks employees: “Have you ever been convicted of, accused of or practiced homosexuality?” (PDF)

While the Catholic Church is known for its scandals (with 3,400 reported to the Vatican between 2004 and 2014), Protestant churches have been struggling with their own sins. The decentralized nature of Protestant churches helps keep individual scandals from going national, unless they involve outsized figures like Josh Duggar (the ex-reality TV star who admitted to molesting his siblings and neighbors) and evangelical minister Bill Gothard who resigned from his ministry amid accusations he harassed or molested dozens of his followers.

Despite the lack of public attention paid to Protestant sex abuse, church insurance companies took notice.

“It is very significant to observe that a number of church insurance companies are reducing significantly the insurance coverage they provide for child abuse or molestation, and in some cases are excluding it entirely,” Richard Hammar, the Senior Editor of Christianity Today's Church Law and Tax Review wrote in Ministry Magazine, in January 1991.

Hammar put a question about childhood molestation in a sample employment application included in his book, Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse in Your Church.

“I included this question on the form because of a ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court in 1991 (just months before the kit was published) finding that a church was responsible for the molestation of a young child because it failed to ask the molester (a nursery worker) whether or not she had been molested as a child,” Hammar wrote in a blog post. (He did not respond to a request for comment.)

In Broderick v. King's Way Assembly of God, justices found the church liable for sexual abuse by employee Shirley Gilman, who had been abused as a child.

“King's Way did not interview Gilman or conduct a background check,” the court's decision read. “Nor has it offered any evidence that Gilman's past sexual abuse did not affect her competency,” meaning that the court believed Gilman's abuse could have caused her to abuse children. To support that opinion, the court also quoted a 1989 study on sexual abuse, saying, “being sexually victimized as a child is a common experience for adult sex offenders.”

By 1998, Hammar's questionnaire was included in sample volunteer application forms (PDF) made by Lifeway Christian Stores, a major Baptist bookstore chain. That year, Lifeway's representative for its Bible studies division told the Baptist Press: “All people who have been abused do not become child abusers, but almost all child abusers have been abused themselves.”

This is not true, though. As a 2001 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry found, “The data supports the notion of a victim-to-victimiser cycle in a minority of male perpetrators, but not among the female victims studied.”

And according to the author of the 1989 study cited by the Alaska Supreme Court, justices and churches are misusing her work.

“That is a very old paper and based upon a clinical sample that came to our program at the University of Michigan and all were intrafamilial sexual abuse cases,” Professor Kathleen Faller told The Daily Beast. “Therefore, the sample is not relevant to clergy cases.

“Moreover, since most offenders are men and most victims are women, the hypothesis that a major contributing factor to sex offending is a history of sexual abuse does not make sense.”

Again, the sex abuse questions are liability, not science. Anna Bryant, a public affairs officer with State Farm Insurance, told The Daily Beast she could find nothing in their policies that would recommend churches to ask about past sexual abuse. (Bryant also said church insurance is “not a big line of business for us.”)

Insurance agencies that specialize in covering churches were less cooperative. One company, Church Mutual refused to comment, calling its recommendations “proprietary.” Several other companies, including GuideOne, GuideStone, and Brotherhood Mutual would not comment. Still, these companies produce publicly available materials on preventing sexual abuse and nothing in these materials suggest that churches should ask whether people had been abused as children.

The sex abuse questions are likely legal because churches are not totally bound by non-discrimination laws.

“Under the ministerial exemption, religious institutions are allowed to violate employment-discrimination law when hiring and firing their ministers,” said Greg Lipper, a lawyer for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “Not everyone who works for a church is a minister, but the exception applies to employees with significant religious responsibilities, including clergy and religious-school teachers.” So asking the janitor about their past abuse might be prohibited, but asking the Sunday School teacher is fair game.

Legal or not, it's wrong to force abuse victims to relive the trauma in job interviews.

Boz Tchividjian, founder of the Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), an organization dedicated educating churches on preventing sexual abuse and investigating allegations of abuse in churches, said it opposes churches asking these “illogical and “triggering” questions.

“Such information has no bearing on whether the person is a danger to children,” he said. “All it does is shame and stigmatize the applicants who are survivors.”

David Clohessy, the president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called the question “offensive,” lacking scientific evidence, and a violation of privacy.

“Survivors should be able to decide when, if, and to whom they will share this information,” he said.

The questions aren't just wrong, they're simply dumb.

“If a predator is looking for a way to get to kids, he would very likely lie and say never abused,” Clohessy said. “So all it would really do is screen out people, who through no fault of their own, are victims of horrific crimes.”

Secular childcare providers are not asking their employees if they were sexually abused. There's a better way to prevent sexual abuse than digging to find out if someone was abused.

In a speech to the Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, Tchividjian outlined some best practices for churches, including educating parents, working with law enforcement to design policies, getting professional help for people attracted to children rather than “just reading scripture,” and also doing extra digging into public records and old newspaper articles for information on applicants that a background check may have missed.

Tchividjian also suggested educating kids on sex to help them become more comfortable reporting abuse.

“If the sum total of your communication to your kids, or your congregation, about sex is just don't do it, you're not doing a good job.”

Churches must recognize that “sexual abuse is prevalent in all facets of society, including their own,” Tchividjian said, recommending that churches embrace a change in culture to seek to protect the abused and seek justice against the abuser.

“If what's driving you to develop and implement a child protection policy to protect the kids in your own church is to limit your own liability, you're going down the wrong road,” Tchividjian said.



Time limits for reporting sexual abuse are wrong. Scrap them

by Andy Kopsa

After this month, victims of pedophile priests in the Catholic church will no longer be able to find justice – at least, not in Hawaii or Minnesota, two states that extended the statute of limitations (SOL) after a renewed wave of allegations came to light in 2013. This is yet another perfect example of our country's willful ignorance about rape and sexual abuse.

Why are there SOLs in these cases at all? There shouldn't be.

It's already impossible in most other states for victims of rape and sexual assault within or beyond the bounds of the church to gain justice, since SOLs vary wildly from state to state but are often impossibly short. Alabama, to offer just one example, gives victims above aged 16 three years to file a criminal complaint in the case of felony sexual abuse. (Civil SOLs are comparatively longer and easier to pursue; criminal cases must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, while civil suits hinge on the lower bar of providing a preponderance of evidence.)

Some states allow cases to be filed beyond the SOL deadline if definitive DNA evidence is found. It should be noted Alabama isn't one of them, but they aren't alone. States have similar windows, and stratify abuse into categories like “forcible” rape or rape with the “threat of harm”. Threat of harm? Rape is itself harm.

Meanwhile, there is a staggeringly unacceptable backlog of untested rape kits in America, as well as loads of research showing that it can take years for victims to feel ready to come forward with their stories.

I had a conversation with Marci Hamilton, a professor at Cardozo School of Law, last year about this very issue. I asked her what on earth keeps SOLs in cases of sexual assault from being expanded or abolished. Victim-blaming, essentially.

“The only argument lofted against liberalizing the statute of limitations against child sexual abuse offenders,” according to Hamilton, is that, “it will increase the likelihood of false claims.” While false claims are concerning, Hamilton notes, that argument doesn't hold water. “There are very few false claims as an empirical matter,” she told me.

The same can be said for adult victims of rape – especially women. While there have been a couple of high-profile rape allegations in recent months that fell apart upon scrutiny – the Rolling Stone story, and the Duke Lacrosse scandal – generalizing that women lie about rape all the time is a canard that's easily debunked. Only 2–8% of rape or sexual assault claims are false. To be crystal clear: that 2–8% comprise claims when the accuser knew for certain that the accused was innocent, and assaults are often much less clearcut.

And that's 2-8% of reported rapes. Most go unreported. Limited SOLs and abysmal conviction rates do nothing to foster a safe environment for victims to come forward.

The revelations of rampant sexual abuse and cover-up in the Catholic church brought more to light than the crimes themselves. It helped the public start to understand how survivors process their abuse, and hopefully to understand the deep trauma inherent in sex crimes. Survivors of any age will come forward at different times. Not every victim is ready or even able to come forward due to threats from their abuser, severe physical and psychological trauma and numerous other factors.

We need statute of limitation reform of both criminal and civil SOLs. Expanding SOLs will not solve the rape crisis, but they can be a vital part of a societal and systemic overhaul of how we talk about rape, treat victims of rape and mete out punishment to the abusers. I have cautious optimism that there are better days ahead: Pennsylvania is trying to reopen a window for its victims, and more states are likely to follow suit.

Statute of limitation reform could be a tangible and relatively immediate start – with strong legislative leadership at the state and federal level – as part of a broader strategy to encourage reporting, promote understanding of rape in a real way, and hold rapists and pedophiles to account. Hawaii and Minnesota ending their SOL extensions goes in the wrong direction.



Airman tells painful story, hopes to help others

by The Xenia Gazette

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — It can be very difficult to talk about sexual abuse, and even more challenging when one experienced it as a child. But an Airman at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is determined to be open about what happened to her in the hopes that others with similar experiences may join her in healing or beginning to heal.

Senior Master Sgt. Nikole Messer, superintendent, Command Promotions and Evaluation, Directorate of Manpower, Personnel and Services, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, entered the Air Force 20 and a half years ago and describes herself as a “passionate personnelist” because she loves working with people in the course of performing her duties.

Messer permanently changed station last June from Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, to come to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, but she is not new to the area. She is originally from Dayton, and was 6-years-old when she was molested by a trusted adult.

She acknowledges her life was negatively affected for decades. It wasn't until 2010 when she watched an Oprah TV series that things began to change. During the show, a particular quote resonated with her: “Forgiveness is when you look back and you stop saying, ‘What if',”

Messer said, “‘What if this did not happen to me?'”

She took a good, hard look at her personal life — affected by two divorces, parenting two sons alone and having little to no self-respect. She began to understand she couldn't change what had happened to her as a little girl, but could respond in a positive way.

“I made the determination that I needed to find forgiveness for this person who did this to me, realizing that it had affected me all of those years,” she said. “I thought I was wasted goods. The thing that is most important to a woman had already been taken.”

Raising her sons to be respectful gentlemen, Messer focused on achieving her goal of forgiveness and respecting and loving herself as a woman for the first time in her life.

“I am sharing my story in an effort to let people know they are not alone,” she said. “Whether we wear a military uniform or not, we all come from somewhere, with both positive and negative influences in our life, shaping who we are.”

A resilience trainer since shortly after her 2010 epiphany while stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Messer said she likes to remind people that going to the base's Mental Health Clinic and utilizing available resources “is OK, and there's no judgment — I've done it and here I am — standing, happy and prosperous.”

Finding Loves

A large part of her happiness stems from finding the “love of her life” in 2011. Her soul-mate also is stationed atWright-Patt.

“He's my best friend and knows everything about me, and likewise,” she said. “But that could not have happened if I had not found the love for myself. It's the most important piece.”

Messer said her husband is her wingman who helps calm and support her, especially when she is preparing to conduct resilience training and tell her story. A few weeks ago they drove by the house where she was molested, and she found she was not traumatized or fearful as she had been before.

“When I walk into a room now, I walk with my head held high,” Messer explained, knowing that she used to keep her head low and her gaze even lower. “I walk with my head held high because I am happy with who I am.”

Amazingly, she said learning how to accept, overcome and communicate what happened to her “has been a great experience, and it gets better each time I can talk to a group about it,” she said.

Often people respond by talking or emailing her to share their own stories.

“That's what the resilience program is all about: everyone helping each other to come out on a positive note so we can feel that love for each other,” Messer said.

A better Airman

Messer feels like she is a better Airman now with the lessons she's learned. In her current position she maintains an open door policy that encourages easy communication, even about tough topics, no matter what they are.

While she still has nightmares, she feels better when she can connect with and listen to others. She says she has more empathy for others and no longer places blame on other people for what happened to her.

“I've learned I deserve good things, and no matter what has happened in the past, it doesn't define me,” Messer said.

Physical fitness is important to her as it brings peace while she runs or works out. She builds spiritual resilience and centers herself, she said, through experiencing nature and favorite music.

“I don't have any regrets,” Messer said. “By coming out and saying my story, that's my path and it's brought me to the person I am today. I'm not perfect, but I'm OK with me. I was strong enough to pull myself through this, obviously utilizing the resources I had available. But it took [a lot of] years to come to this point.”

Her personal mantra? “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and carry on.”

She'd like to tell other survivors and everyone: “You are worth it. You have a purpose. You're good enough.”

Story courtesy of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.



Using data to predict child abuse

by Lauren Silverman

Doctors at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth are used to treating cases of abuse. Dyann Daley, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Cook Children's, remembers a tiny toddler who had been kicked by his father in the stomach. “We didn't know exactly what the injury was when he came into the operating room," she said. "But he had come into the hospital awake.”

Although doctors tried to keep him alive, the injury just wasn't survivable. He bled to death during surgery. "It was an emotional time because of the type of injury he had and how close he was in age to my own children,” Daley said.

In 2013, more than 1,500 American children died from abuse and neglect. That's the most recent national info available. Last year in Texas, the Department of Family and Protective Services announced 170 children died. Tarrant County, which includes the city of Fort Worth, has one of the highest rates of abuse in the state. Dyann Daley, who runs Cook Children's Center for Prevention of Child Maltreatment, says no one really knows why.

"Some people say we're better at catching it or better at reporting it," she said. "I've worked in a number of children's hospitals in Texas and also in other places in the United States. And I've never seen as much physical abuse as I see here.”

Daley has been on a mission to train doctors and nurses to recognize the signs of abuse early – like suspicious bruises or marks. But detecting abuse is hard. Especially for infants who may not interact with teachers or nurses familiar with the clues.

What they'd really like to do is prevent it. So they're experimenting with “big data” technology that could help predict neighborhoods where kids are most likely to be abused.

It's known as predictive analytics. “This technology has been used to predict where shootings would occur and other types of violent crimes, but no one had applied it to domestic violence, like child maltreatment before,” Daley said.

So here's what Daley's team did. First, they collected data on things like poverty, domestic violence, and aggravated assault. Then, they crunched the numbers using free predictive software invented at Rutgers. It's called “Risk Terrain Modeling.” It spit out a forecast for likely locations of child abuse in Fort Worth.

“Amazingly, we were able to capture 98 percent of the cases that occurred in the future," Daley said.

In other words, the technology identified specific locations in advance, actual blocks in a neighborhood, where cases of abuse would occur.

Predictive analytics is a huge market – it's part of a big data industry valued at $27 billion a year. And it's only recently that these tools are being put to work by nonprofits and local governments. U.C. Berkeley graduate student Darian Woods studied how predictive technology is being used across the world. So far, he said there have been some positive examples, in places like New Zealand, Allegheny County in Pennsylvania and L.A. County in California.

One success story he highlighted is that of Hillsborough County, Florida. After a rash of child homicides there, the government boosted the number of social workers and used predictive analytics to pinpoint the most urgent cases of abuse. Since then, for those under court-ordered protection, the number of child homicides has been zero.

Woods warned that could be an anomaly. But even if predictive technology does pan out, there are thorny ethical questions that come with using statistics to judge whether children are safe.

He said researchers have to be careful about reinforcing racial inequities and targeting specific communities. For example, if one of the risk factors the models take into account is whether the child is cared for by a single mother, and more single mothers live in communities of color, "then maybe the model might target communities of color more," Woods said. "And so that may lead to more social workers being sent out and more children being taken from homes from those communities."

Neglect and abuse, Woods pointed out, also happen in wealthy communities, places that might not be flagged in traditional risk modeling.

In Fort Worth, Daley wants to use predictive modeling to target resources, not people. Knowing where the risk clusters are provides an opportunity to align prevention services in the areas that need it most.

Her team has big plans for this big data experiment. The next step – use the same predictive software to forecast abuse hot spots in the state's largest cities.




Child abuse statistics called 'alarming'

by Jerry Ward

As chair of the board of Kosair Charities and as a grandfather, ending child abuse and neglect in this community is not only important to me personally, it is a mission of Kosair Charities. In 2014 in Jefferson County, 303 kids experienced physical abuse, 2,564 experienced neglect, 95 kids were sexually abused, and in 2013, 15 children died or nearly died due to abuse and neglect. And, we know not all child abuse gets reported, so in reality, these numbers are likely higher. If these numbers don't stop you in your tracks, I'm not sure what will. It is alarming.

We, at Kosair Charities believe that everyone, including you and me, have a role to play in ending child abuse. That's why we formed the Face It® Movement to end child abuse in 2013 and that's why we continue to work with community partners to forge ahead to prevent and end abuse in our community. We are committed to ending abuse and are in it for the long run.

Kosair Charities is proud to partner with more than 20 agencies in Jefferson County with the sole focus of making our community abuse free. We are also proud to be partnering with First Lady Glenna Bevin to move Face It to a statewide focus and make a bigger impact.

We know child abuse rarely just “happens.” It is the result of building frustration or children being in unsafe situations. The Kosair Charities Face It Movement is working to ensure caregivers and neighbors know what to look for and how to help because protecting children from abuse is an adult responsibility.

As a mom or dad, we encourage you to talk with your children about safety in various situations they will find themselves and what is acceptable and not from other adults. Also, raising a child can be extremely stressful; it is OK to ask for help through programs such as HANDS home visiting or to ask a trusted friend to watch your children for an afternoon so you can have a break.

As a community member, you can talk to your neighbors and help others learn more about child safety and the signs of abuse. Volunteering to help your friends and family who are raising children or at a local nonprofit agency can make a real difference in preventing abuse.

Most important, if you see something, say something. In Kentucky, anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect is required by law to report it by calling (877) KYSAFE1 or visiting

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and a good reminder of the role we all have to play in facing and ending abuse. But let us not only think about child abuse in April. The truth is, child abuse and neglect happen all year round and we need to work to end it every day. We will not stop until no single child is a victim of the tragedy of child abuse and we hope you will join us in that journey. For more information, visit Face It. End it.

Jerry Ward is the chairman of the board of Kosair Charities.



House votes to repeal ‘spiritual treatment' exemption to child-abuse law

by Richard Locker

NASHVILLE — The House gave final legislative approval Thursday to a bill repealing a controversial 1994 law that was at the center of a long court fight over the 2002 death of a Loudon County child whose mother refused medical care in favor of "spiritual treatment" and prayer.

The bill repeals the "spiritual treatment" exemption to Tennessee's child abuse and neglect statute. The exemption was intended to provide a shield from child abuse and neglect prosecution for parents and others if a child "is being provided treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone, in accordance with the tenets or practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner" of the church or denomination in lieu of medical or surgical treatment.

The repeal bill, Senate Bill 1761, is sponsored by Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, a cardiac surgeon, and Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, a lawyer. It won unanimous Senate approval in March and an 85-1 vote Thursday in the House and now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam, who's expected to sign it into law.

The exemption came into play less than a decade after its enactment, in the 2002 death of Jessica Crank, 15. Her mother Jacqueline Crank was a follower of Ariel Ben Sherman, who conducted religious services under the name of the Universal Life Church in a rented house in Lenoir City.

Jessica became ill with what was diagnosed later as Ewing's Sarcoma. Her mother and Sherman declined, after an initial visit with a chiropractor and later a walk-in clinic, to pursue doctors' urgent referrals to hospitals for treatment. After the child's death, her mother and minister were indicted on child neglect charges. Both were eventually convicted after courts ruled that Sherman's group was not a "recognized church or denomination" covered by the exemption.

Sherman died during appeals. But the mother's conviction was finally upheld by the Tennessee Supreme Court in February 2015, in a ruling that also held the spiritual treatment exemption is not so vague as to render it unconstitutional.

Briggs and Farmer introduced the bill this year in an attempt to repeal the exemption. Briggs cited his experience with a similar case years ago, when he was a general surgeon in another state and teen boy was brought to see him with a ruptured appendix. His parents initially opposed surgery on religious grounds but later agreed to treatment.

The bill was backed by a Kentucky-based group, Children's Healthcare Is Legal Duty (CHILD), that works for repeal of similar spiritual treatment exemptions across the country. Its president Rita Swan issued a statement thanking lawmakers for repealing the exemption in Tennessee.

"CHILD believes all parents, regardless of their religious belief, should have a legal duty to obtain medical care for their child when necessary to prevent serious harm," Swan said. "Courts have never ruled that parents have a constitutional right to abuse or neglect children in the name of religion, and Tennessee should not give them a statutory right to do so."



Sharing Knowledge About the Rise In Child Abuse

by Stacie Wirmel

The Regional Victim Crisis Center reports the number of children being sexually abused in Taylor County is on the rise. The workers there are hoping to bring awareness to the community.

Tonight at the Art Walk the RVCC displayed their "Walk of Knowledge" to share with the community about this rising trend.

This walk is to share information about child abuse and sexual abuse.

"To show the true effect of what it looks like when a child leaves home," said RVCC Violence Prevention Director, Lori Bunton.

She says almost 2700 children have been abused here in Abilene and Taylor County.

"This just kind of gives a symbol of the drama that happens," added Bunton.

Each shoe in the "Walk of Knowledge" represents a child removed from the home last year after a report of abuse was made.

"Generally, when a child is removed," explained Bunton, "they don't even get to take their shoes."

Teaming up with the RVCC to help these child abuse victims is the "Guardian's of the Children" motorcycle organization.

"We go to court with them," stated the Sergeant at Arms, Lil T. we do things with them during the year."

They even offer protection from the perpetrators.

"if they just need somebody to talk to they always have somebody they can call," said Lil T, "and talk with about their problems."

With both these organizations working to spread awareness they are hoping for a positive outcome.

"The more people that report," stated Lori Bunton, "when they suspect child abuse, the more children we're protecting."

Which is the main goal of the RVCC and the "Guardian's of the Children," to protect these victims.

"It makes me feel wonderful that I can actually help children get through problems that should never exist," added Lil T.

The truth is these problems do exist and this is the reason for the "Walk of Knowledge."

"These are our children, these are the individuals who are going to make a difference in our world tomorrow," said Lori Bunton. "We come from a very strong religious based community and I think we all have caring hearts. I think we cannot just ignore it and think that it doesn't happen here. It happens everywhere."



Rise in child abuse statistics

by Chantelle Navarro

It was a different kind of Rockstat meeting Thursday morning, one ending with a powerful message from the City's Administrator, Jim Ryan. He was speaking on the subject of domestic violence, child poverty and the difficult topic of child abuse.

"The real tragedy is the amount of child abuse neglect that occurs in Winnebago County, it's not just Rockford, it's Winnebago County," said Ryan. "We by far have the highest rate in the state of Illinois."

New police figures showing that serious crimes related to domestic violence in Rockford is also a growing problem. Rising from 662 incidents in the first three months of last year to 704 incidents over the same period this year. Violent crimes related to domestic violence are up as well. Ryan also says that if Rockford is to be a top 25 city by 2025, we need to focus on the youth in the community.

"We're not going to be a top 25 community when we lead the state in child abuse neglect...the least of these," said Ryan. "We're not going to arrest our way into a prosperity because we arrest them and as we note far too often-they come back."

Ryan says that there are too many kids in Rockford that are growing up in difficult circumstances.

"We need to address the root cause problems in our community related to child abuse and neglect if we are really going to deal with the crime problem long term," said Ryan.

Fire Chief Derek Bergsten has seen young kids struggling with drugs and alcohol. His department responds to 911 calls daily on the issue.

"The drug issue is all across the board, you know 15 years old up to 70 years old," said Bergsten.



New protocol to unify sexual assault response

by Pam Chickering Wilson

JEFFERSON — Getting sexual assault victims to come forward can be a challenge in itself. Yet in the past, how each victim was handled depended on the investigating agency,

Already traumatized by the assault, many sexual assault victims historically have chosen to disengage, or felt too discouraged to carry their case forward at all.

A new protocol, developed over the past few years and signed by every law enforcement agency in Jefferson County and multiple other stakeholders Tuesday, aims to unify the response, starting with immediate and ongoing medical and advocacy services for the victim.

The just-adopted Jefferson County Sexual Assault Response Team adult and adolescent protocol lays out the responsibilities and roles for each affected entity, detailing proven “best practices” at each level in order to assure the best and most effective outcomes for sexual assault victims and the community as a whole.

On Tuesday, representatives from numerous community agencies gathered at the Jefferson County Courthouse to sign the new protocol. They included all of the local law enforcement departments, the state Department of Corrections, Jefferson County Human Services, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the School District of Jefferson and People Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse (PADA).

“We are one of the first protocols to include a school district,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ.

“Basically, this protocol outlines best practices for each department in handling a sexual assault case to make a more victim-centered community response to these assaults,” added Elizabeth Champion, PADA director.

A representative of each agency signed the document, signaling that entity's agreement to train staff and implement procedures in their organization in keeping with the new protocol.

The 50-page document lays out the roles of law enforcement, community advocates, prosecutors, the sexual assault nurse examiner, the Department of Corrections, Human Services/Child Protective Services, and the schools.

Each entity has its own section within the protocol. The end of the document lists numerous resources that exist in this area related to sexual assault.

The process began in 2009, when the existing, Watertown-based Community Coordinated Response Team expanded to include the entire county.

The idea was to create a multidisciplinary approach to sexual assault in Jefferson County, starting with the development of the SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program at Fort Memorial Hospital.

Happ said that PADA worked with the District Attorney's Office and other agencies to make sexual assault exams available at the local hospital.

“Otherwise, victims had to go to Madison, and some may decide not to go forward with it,” Happ said.

“I remember many meetings at Fort HealthCare just trying to get the SANE program going,” the district attorney added.

Sarah Chesmore came to Fort HealthCare in 2012 to start the SANE program there.

The training required for that position is significant, Happ said. She added that the investment in making this service available locally was vital to making the whole project a success.

The addition of the SANE position in Fort Atkinson has made a difference, Happ said, noting that in the last year, 31 people were referred to the local SANE nurse, and 25 exams subsequently were performed.

As they moved forward, the coordinated Sexual Assault Response Team then worked together to create a “memorandum of understanding,” which was signed in 2013 by all of the county police chiefs and representatives of Human Services, Fort HealthCare, PADA and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

“The memorandum of understanding was basic, but it was a good start,” Happ said.

In 2014, PADA obtained a Department of Justice grant to have a consultant work with the team to expand the breadth of its working protocol and to align it with “best practices,” as well as to recruit additional community stakeholders.

PADA took the reins in this process, referring to the statewide SART protocol developed by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The process of refining and defining the local protocol took around a year. Serving as the local consultant was Jeanie Kurka Reimer.

Champion said that it's important to spread the word about the development of this protocol for three reasons.

First, it shows the extent of collaboration among agencies in this community. Second, it raises awareness that sexual assault is a significant problem in this county. Third, it gives victims a sense of hope regarding the criminal justice system, which has historically been a traumatic area for victims to navigate, Champion said.

“This is a really big step for our county in dealing with victims of sexual assault,” Champion said as she introduced the signing event Tuesday.

“It incorporates the best practices into internal policies, making sure that we have a consistent, victim-centered response across the county,” she said.

“Thank you to everyone who gave so much time and energy to this process,” Champion said. “It is great for our community. It is great for our survivors.”

Happ said that during the process of developing this protocol, some of the faces around the table have changed, as new police chiefs and agency directors came in. However, one thing has remained the same — the commitment by county stakeholders to support victims of sexual violence and to hold perpetrators responsible.

Coordinators said they expected that the county would see more victims coming forward as a result.

They pointed out that the assaults already are taking place, but hopefully more people will feel it's safe to report them, and more of the perpetrators will be identified and stopped with the implementation of this unified, tested response protocol.

Watertown Police Chief Tim Roets said that all of the local departments should be using these tested and effective methods, and this protocol document puts these “best practices” into writing.

“It mandates a professional, consistent and predictable response to sexual assault,” Roets said.

“We have one opportunity to interview a victim, one opportunity for evidence collection, one opportunity for scene analysis. We've got to do it right,” he said. “We have one opportunity to provide appropriate help for our victims immediately.”

The Watertown area saw an increase in sexual assault/domestic abuse complaints after that department and its Watertown-area team zeroed in on the issue, Roets said.

“I attribute that to the fact that victims knew they'd be treated seriously, that there would be a professional response,” the Watertown police chief said.

Roets commended all of the attendees at Tuesday's signing for their commitment to the issue, calling it a “wonderful turnout,” with all departments represented.

“We have done a great job so far, but we can do a better job going forward, thanks to these efforts,” he said.



Psychology student's life story inspires others toward recovery

by Julianna Ress

Fifty-seven-year-old psychology junior Virginia Hoffman's life experiences have led her to San Diego State, where she is now using her past to fuel her future.

Hoffman describes her youth in Texas as turbulent. Her parents divorced when she was 3 and she was subsequently put into foster care. She lived in three different foster homes and, at age 6, was physically abused by her foster parents.

Following her experiences in foster care, Hoffman was moved to a Christian children's home where she experienced verbal abuse.

“Often in my life, I was told that nobody wanted me and nobody loved me,” she said. “I took that to heart and I believed all that.”

Hoffman wanted to go to college after completing high school, but she was discouraged after being told by counselors she was not smart enough. She eventually turned to drugs, alcohol and overeating to numb the pain from the abuse she endured.

“In my mind, I was thinking I was getting back at the people who hurt me, but all I was doing was hurting myself,” she said. “I turned to bad people who I thought I belonged with, but I didn't. I still felt lost and alone and unloved.”

Hoffman's habits led to medical, social and mental issues. During this time, she experienced sexual abuse and was immersed in a constantly unstable environment.

She cites her daughter and son as her motivation to better herself.

“My kids are the ones who kept me going,” she said. “I was trying to give them everything I didn't have as a child — love and support.”

Hoffman's involvement in church and The Salvation Army led to her period of recovery. She lost 150 pounds and has now been sober for 18 years.

The first pastor Hoffman met through The Salvation Army was Vicky Esqueda, who has watched Hoffman transform her life throughout the years.

“(Hoffman) has progressed beyond what anyone would have expected,” Esqueda said. “Her drive, motivation and perseverance through many bumps in the road have only made her stronger and more determined to graduate and help others.”

Hoffman did not value education in her youth, but when she eventually became a caregiver, the woman she took care of encouraged her to go back to school.

“(She told me) I was very smart and I would be a good counselor,” Hoffman said.

She initially took correspondence courses through Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma before coming to San Diego and earning three associate's degrees at Grossmont College. She then transferred to SDSU and currently holds junior status.

“Instead of staying at home feeling sorry myself, I (wanted to go) back to school,” she said.

She has also become vice president of Aztecs for Recovery, an organization for SDSU students to come meet with someone who will listen and help them overcome struggles with personal issues.

The age gap between Hoffman and her fellow classmates has not had a significant impact on her college experience because her children have helped her to be more in touch with younger generations.

“Nine times out of 10, I'm the oldest person in my class,” Hoffman said. “Some (students) will come to me for advice. I look forward to giving them advice, hoping that my experience will keep them going and keep them from giving up.”

Hoffman hopes to graduate in the fall of 2017 and become a counselor.

“I'm hoping that I can direct abused children to connect with people who will help them instead of bring them down,” she said.

Hoffman wants to guide abused children to help them understand they are not at fault and their abuser is the one making poor choices.

“I'm hoping that as I start helping abused children, I can help them make better choices instead of turning to drugs and alcohol,” she said.

Esqueda foresees a bright future for Hoffman as a counselor as she can draw on her past experiences to relate to those in need.

“Growing up in (foster homes), feeling unloved, seeking love from the wrong kind of men, making food her best friend, living on welfare, turning to alcohol and overcoming every one of those difficult times makes her a more compassionate person who truly understands what others are going through who are seeking help, hope and direction,” Esqueda said.

Hoffman also plans to write a book about her life story in order to help adult survivors of child abuse.

Hoffman said she is happier and healthier than she has ever been, and she no longer believes one needs drugs or alcohol to have fun.

“I was able to overcome all that hurt and bitterness, and to be where I am today, I am grateful,” she said.


North Carolina

Help build a community that fights child abuse

by Julie Schroer

As April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I want you to hang in there with me and to think about child abuse. Or do I? It is two sides of the same coin.

The reality is that it is not a topic that most people want to think about. And if you have thought about child abuse, it may be because at some point child abuse has affected you, your family or maybe your friends. If you haven't thought about child abuse, it's possible that you have not been faced with knowing that a child you love has been hurt. So, given those options, I choose this: think about abuse now so that each day we as a community and nation just might see fewer kids and families forced to think about abuse.

From the national view, approximately 185,000 kids were physically or sexually abused in 2014. That is an enormous number of kids. The Child Advocacy Center of North Carolina reports 7,706 cases in 2014. It is easy to think that these kids are somewhere else, but Haywood County has been in the top five of North Carolina's counties for the past 25 years in abuse reports. KARE, Haywood County's Child Advocacy Center, received more than 200 reports in the same time period. More than 98 percent of those Haywood County children knew their offender.

Numbers tell a story and are important to frame the expansiveness of child abuse. However, when you listen to a child tell you they are being hurt by someone they know and probably love, or when an elementary school child explains about a “secret game” they are made to play, the numbers become unimportant. Taking care of that child becomes paramount.

We are fortunate in WNC to have people and organizations dedicated to the physical and emotional healing of these children and the prosecution of those at fault. But how do we as a community start to make a change in lives of kids? Each person 18 years or older is a mandated reporter in North Carolina. That means that if you have a reasonable suspicion that abuse or maltreatment is taking place, you are obligated to report it. It does not mean you have to know for sure. Also, it does not mean you have to investigate. Just report it.

I know the next question. “But what if it isn't true?” And to that I say what if it is true? What if the child will go home to the abuser tonight? Your report can absolutely change a child's life. Leave the investigation to those that are trained to do so. Ending the abuse should be your goal.

Let's get on the front side of it. Talking to each other and demanding of our society that abuse is not acceptable are key to ending child abuse. And an even better way is to model behavior that is acceptable for our children. Abuse is often generational; learned behaviors from our parents. While it is not guaranteed that a child of an abuser will become an abuser, it is more likely. And if you think kids don't learn behaviors from their parents, next time you are in a restaurant just watch the 3-year-old at the table next to you taking selfies with a cell phone.

Talk to your kids and the kids you know. Teach them what an unsafe touch is. Finding the language to speak to kids about unsafe touches doesn't have to be scary or difficult. Any touch that hurts, makes you uncomfortable or gives you a “funny tummy” feeling is unsafe. Teach kids that their private areas are “between your knees and your nose where your bathing suit goes.” Teach kids that if they are being hurt or touched unsafely to follow these three rules: “Say No, Get Away and Tell a Trusted Adult.” Teach them again and again, even when they roll their eyes. Make it a conversation they can bring to you if they need.

In any room of people it is likely there are survivors of child abuse. And it is possible that there are offenders as well. So I ask you to think about child abuse and help build a community that prevents abuse when it can and a community that responds, with every resource available, to abuse when it must.

Julie Schroer is the executive director of KARE (Kids Advocacy Resource Network). (



Advocates talk about fight against child abuse


The month of April is National Child Abuse prevention month, and the Cameron County District Attorney's child abuse prosecution unit is dedicated to prosecuting cases of child sexual abuse.

Brandy Bailey, unit supervisor for the Cameron County District Attorney's Office, heads the child abuse prosecution unit, which includes prosecutor Omar Saenz.

The unit established by Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz in July 2013 focuses on the most egregious sexual abuse cases within the county, including any child sexual abuse case with a child under the age of 14, Bailey said.

Bailey explained that the unit specializes in dealing with children, because dealing with a child in the court system is different than dealing with an adult.

“We take the time to meet with every single child involved in a case we are prosecuting to make sure that we lessen the trauma of what has already happened as much as possible,” Bailey said.

Bailey said sexual abuse cases involving children are especially difficult to prosecute due to a number of factors.

“The majority of the time the perpetrator is someone within the home, and someone else in the home wants to keep it silent because they're afraid Child Protective Services may get involved, their children may be removed from the home or losing income if the perpetrator is jailed,” Bailey said.

These factors can affect the collection of evidence, Bailey explained.

“By the time we find out about the case, we don't have DNA evidence or proof of physical trauma or injury because the child's body has healed,” Bailey said.

In many cases, Bailey said, “Kids recant because they saw the chaos it created in the home, and they feel bad for speaking up in the first place.”

According to Bailey in 2015, 971 children were interviewed at the CameronCounty children's advocacy center. That number includes victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect and children that witnessed violence in the home. However, the majority are victims of sexual abuse.

Bailey said the unit frequently works with law enforcement officials and with Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cameron and Willacy counties volunteers.

CASA Executive Director Richard Alaniz said the organization recruits and trains community volunteers to be sworn in by the court and speak on behalf and in the best interest of children victimized by abuse and neglect. Volunteers get to know the child and speak to everyone involved in the child's life, including family members, teachers, doctors, lawyers, social workers and others, Alaniz explained.

“No child should grow up being scared of the people raising them, but we can all help in the effort to break the cycle of abuse, one child at a time, “Alaniz said.

Alaniz said CASA is assigned cases from the court involving children from infants to age 18, with the responsibility of representing the best interests of one child or set of siblings while they are in foster care.

“The new CASA volunteers become an independent voice for children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. The focus of CASA is to find a safe, nurturing and permanent home for these children as soon as possible,” he said.

Bailey said the community can help reduce the number of cases of abuse by recognizing the signs and helping a family that might be stressed out.

“If you are feeling overwhelmed, seek out help, or if you see parents or caregivers who are overwhelmed, provide relief for that parent, and if you see children with signs of abuse report it,” she said.

Bailey said CPS keeps reports of abuse confidential.

“When these children become adults, that is when you see the repercussions. Unfortunately, some children that have been abused go on to be abusers and create a cycle of abuse if they don't get help,” Bailey said.



What parents should talk to their kids about to prevent child abuse


Therapist Korinne Bouwhuis is helping us understand what you need to talk to your kids about to prevent child abuse.

1. Start Early, Building from Basic Safety Foundations to Body Safety

Personal safety teaching follows from a continuum of every day safety skills. We teach our kids safety almost automatically on so many things, from knowing phone numbers and addresses, to crossing the street safely, and recognizing stranger danger. Kids follow our lead and treat body and personal safety topics as natural as any other areas of safety if, as parents, we can make it part of our regular conversation and teaching topics.

2. 'Say No, Run, Tell'

This is a universal response to a variety of unsafe behavior, activities, or people. Great to internalize across safety issues. This quick, programmed response can work for kids being approached with anything from playing with matches, to illegal activity, pornography, and abuse. For an added layer of safety, sometimes we need to also teach, tell, and keep telling until the problem stops. Also, encouraging children to do any part of that response that they are able. If they couldn`t say no, or get away, telling is still a great response.

3. Each Person is the Owner of Personal Body Space and Who or What is Safe

Teach kids to listen to their own sense of what feels right and good and what does not. This is often described as the 'uh-oh feeling' in school education programs.

Also teach them some basic boundary rules that can be repeated and echoed to in their minds if they are confused. Great mantras for this beginning at young ages are 'Nobody touches my private body parts except to keep me clean and healthy,' 'Private body parts are those parts of the body that are so special we keep them covered even when we go swimming,' and 'We don`t keep secrets, only surprises.' At older ages, the mantras might be along the lines of 'No means no,' and 'Would I want my friend to be treated this way?' or 'Should a friend keep quiet about something like this?'

While it is often necessary to teach kids about who IS NOT safe, as is the case with stranger danger or internet and social media activity, parents should avoid telling children who IS safe. This potentially leads to confusion or creates a barrier to disclosing abuse as most often the abuser is a person who is within the family or very close to the child and family who is mistakenly trusted, and unknowingly considered safe. Allow the child to identify their own safe adults at any age.

4. Always Glad to Know and Ready to Help

The first questions of parents or caregivers I meet with in situations of abuse are always along the lines of, 'Did I handle it okay?', 'What should I say?', or 'How am I supposed to respond if my child tells me about the abuse?' The answer, again, is something we should all pre-program in our minds should the situation arise, and it`s not that complicated: 'I`m glad that you told me, I am going to help you.'

It is also important to promise our children, at any age, that they will not be in trouble if an unsafe or inappropriate situation does occur, even if they think they are in some way partly responsible for it. The promise is that they will never be in trouble if they call for help or exit from an unsafe situation, and that you will always be glad to receive that call and be able to help.

This inhibits the ability of others to blackmail and manipulate our youth luring them further and further down a path of danger. Often abusers threaten victims that they will let others know 'what you have already done.' It is a shaming process to coerce victims into further abuse. We need a loud and clear message that our youth are loved and valued regardless of what has happened to them and that we are on standby to help no matter the circumstance. In this way, we can empower victims to get distance from the cycle of abuse.

5. Where There is Help, There is Healing



Training sessions teach parents and educators how to spot child abuse


Through community training sessions, the Child Abuse Council of the Quad Cities is giving parents and teachers the tools they need to fight child abuse.

Lindsey Hornbaker, who leads the community education programs, knows that child sexual abuse is hard to talk about.

She also knows those conversations are vitally important.

“What we find is that it's only about 5 to 10 percent of the time that kids are going to come forward to talk about sexual abuse or to disclose that it's happened to them,” said Hornbaker.

That's why the Child Abuse Council offers training sessions to teach adults how to talk with their children. The programs also focus on the warning signs of child abuse, and how adults can get potentially-abused children the help they need.

“Most of the time, signs of sexual abuse are going to be behavioral in nature — kids who have sexual behavior problems, who knew a caregiver or were close with a caregiver and no longer want to be near that caregiver. You may see physical signs, but most of the time, it's going to be more emotional,” said Hornbaker.

In Rock Island County, Illinois, and Scott County, Iowa, the number of children abused or neglected is enough to fill 20 school buses each year. However, leaders at the Child Abuse Council also point out that abuse is 100 percent preventable.

“It's really, really important that kids get help soon. The sooner they get help, the less likely that trauma's going to follow them for the rest of their lives,” said Hornbaker.

In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, WQAD News 8 is partnering with the Child Abuse Council to help put an end to the violence.

To donate, visit:!donate/ceut

You can also text SAFE to 50155.

In addition, on Thursday, April 21, 2016, we will be holding a social media telethon. Watch the WQAD Facebook page for more information.



Pennsylvania Catholics face hearing in child sex abuse case


Pennsylvania prosecutors will lay out their case on Thursday against three former leaders of a Roman Catholic order accused of endangering hundreds of boys by putting them in contact with a priest they knew to be a sexual predator.

The preliminary hearing for Giles Schinelli, 73, Robert D'Aversa, 69, and Anthony Criscitelli, 61, on felony charges of endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy is expected to last much of the day at the Blair County Courthouse in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

Each is a former leader of the Franciscan Friars, Third Order Regulars, Province of the Immaculate Conception based in Hollidaysburg. Prosecutors accuse them of enabling the sexual predations of Brother Steven Baker, a member of their order who committed suicide in 2013.

"They acted to protect the institutions they led rather than the children and family they served," according to the grand jury presentment which recommended charges. "Moreover, they could have prevented additional victims."

The grand jury heard evidence that Baker molested over 100 boys at Bishop McCort Catholic High School in Johnstown, where he was an athletic trainer, after telling the boys they needed massages for sports injuries.

Each defendant was accused of putting Baker in jobs where he had contact with boys, despite knowing he was a pedophile, and of failing to report him to police.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced charges against the three last month after previously releasing a companion grand jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse of children by priests in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in west central Pennsylvania.

No prosecutions of individuals named in that report were possible, Kane said, either because they had died or the statute of limitations had expired.

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children. It would also retroactively extend from age 30 to age 50 the cutoff for child sex victims to file civil suits, and allow governmental entities to be sued in cases of gross negligence.

The bill still requires approval by the Pennsylvania Senate. Governor Tom Wolf will sign the bill if it reaches his desk, a spokesman said.

"We are going to go to the hearing and hear what the (prosecution) has to say," said Robert Ridge, lawyer for D'Aversa. Lawyers for the other two could not be reached for comment.



Judge weighs bid to dismiss child sex abuse claim against Cosby

by Reuters

Lawyers for comedian Bill Cosby and a woman accusing him of sexually abusing her as a child were due to face off in a California courtroom on Thursday over a defense bid to dismiss her lawsuit for reasons related to the statute of limitations.

Cosby, 78, whose career and public image as the model American family man have been shattered by mounting allegations of sexual misconduct, lost a previous bid to fend off the same lawsuit on similar grounds last year.

His accuser in that case, Judy Huth, now in her 50s, sued Cosby in December 2014, alleging that he plied her with alcohol and molested her during an encounter at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 1974, when she was 15.

Cosby has called Huth's account a fabrication and asserted that her case against him grew out of a failed extortion attempt.

Huth is one more than 50 women who have come forward over the past two years to publicly accuse Cosby of rape and other forms of sexual abuse. Most involve incidents said to have occurred a decade ago or more, too long to be criminally prosecuted, or even litigated in civil court.

But authorities in Pennsylvania charged the entertainer in December with sexually assaulting a woman in 2005. And at least nine other women - eight of them in Massachusetts - are currently suing Cosby for defamation, claiming they were smeared by his public assertions that their allegations of sexual wrongdoing were false.

Huth, however, filed her suit under a California law allowing victims of childhood abuse to sue beyond the statute of limitations if, within the last three years, they have realized they suffered from psychological damage that previously was repressed.

Cosby's lawyers have countered that Huth's claim fails to meet that test, saying she "unsuccessfully tried to sell her story to the tabloids nearly a decade ago."

"This fact belies the allegations in the lawsuit that (Huth) only just discovered the basis for her claims within the past three years," defense lawyers argued in their court filing. According to Cosby's lawyers, Huth sued the comedian only after unsuccessfully trying to extort him for hush money.

Cosby's lawyers also have sought dismissal of Huth's complaint on grounds that she lacked the required certification from mental health professionals to support her claims.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Craig Kaplan was expected to hear arguments from both sides and possibly render a ruling on Thursday.



"Justice for Victims Act" Passes Senate Public Safety Committee


The Senate Public Safety Committee today passed important bipartisan legislation by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that seeks to end the statute of limitations for rape and related crimes in California. Specifically, SB 813 aims to ensure justice for victims and survivors of felony sexual offenses by allowing the indefinite criminal prosecution of rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation, and sexual penetration.

Current California law generally limits the prosecution of a felony sexual offense to only 10 years after the offense is committed, unless DNA evidence is found which then offers a victim additional time.

“I introduced the ‘Justice for Victims Act' earlier this year for a simple reason: It will help to ensure that rapists and sexual predators are not able to evade justice simply because of a shortened statute of limitations,” Senator Leyva said. “Survivors of sexual assault should always have the ability to seek justice in a court of law, even years after the alleged crime was committed. SB 813 reinforces California's commitment to standing with women, as they represent the vast majority of victims of rape and sexual assault. This critically important bill would not change the burden of proof, though it would simply offer victims more time to come to terms with the horrible crime committed against them and then build up the courage to the authorities to seek justice. I would like to thank San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos, California Women's Law Center Executive Director Betsy Butler, Assemblymember Mike Gipson, women's rights attorney Gloria Allred and all SB 813 supporters for standing on the side of justice for victims.”

According to the United States Department of Justice, only two in 100 rapists will be convicted of a felony and spend any time in prison. The other 98 percent will never be punished for their crime.

SB 813 has already received strong support from a bipartisan group of legislators, including principal coauthors Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson), Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Carpinteria) and Assemblymember Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood), as well as coauthors Assemblymember Rocky J. Chávez (R-Oceanside) and Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale).

“As a Principal co-author on Senate Bill 813, I am proud to support this legislation,” noted Assemblymember Gipson. “Sexual assault is one of the most personally invasive crimes that can be committed against someone leading to deep pain and life-long trauma. When we think about the emotional pain that is held by the survivors of sexual assault, it is only made worse by the knowledge that you are helpless in receiving justice. SB 813 is long overdue, but will serve to ensure that if these crimes happen in the future, the state of California will have an effective remedy for the survivors who deserve closure. I serve as a proud male ally on this issue.”

As a bill co-sponsor, the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office continues to offer strong support to ensure success of this public safety legislation that will assist victims in California.

“I was pleased to testify today in support of SB 813 since it ensures that rapists are held accountable for their actions,” stated San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos. “Now that this historic bill has passed the Senate Public Safety Committee, I look forward to continue working with Senator Leyva in the months ahead to make sure that this bill is enacted into law.”

The “Justice for Victims Act” is co-sponsored by San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos and the California Women's Law Center (CWLC) and supported by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, California Police Chiefs Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, Crime Victims United of California, End Rape SOL, National Association of Social Workers, among others.

Following the Senate Public Safety Committee hearing, Senator Leyva held a press conference to discuss the outcome of the hearing and next steps.


United Kingdom

How can we stop child sex exploitation in Rotherham now?

by Sarah Champion

THE GOVERNMENT has been accused of undermining attempts to combat child sexual exploitation after a plea for extra resources to help the victims of the Rotherham scandal was rejected.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) had asked Home Secretary Theresa May for funds to pay for independent sexual violence advisors as part of their Operation Stovewood investigation.

The Labour MP for Rotherham, Sarah Champion, has stressed that the money would have created a new system to stop young women in Rotherham having to go through the harrowing ordeal of recounting evidence of abuse several times.

The rejected bid and cuts of 825 police staff in South Yorkshire over the next four years has left Ms Champion deeply concerned about the Government's commitment to helping Rotherham move forward from the discovery of widespread sexual abuse of children and young women over a 16-year period.

Speaking in the House of Commons, she said: “The National Crime Agency's application to the Home Office for support for Rotherham's 1,400 victims of child abuse was rejected.

“How are we meant to bring down child sexual exploitation when the Government are cutting police resources?”

The bid had asked the Home Office to fund a new service called Fusion to help victims, and to support health services within the ongoing investigation.

Some of the money would have helped women now in their 20s and 30s who are coming forward as witnesses.

Mrs May said she was confident that the NCA is well resourced and Rotherham remains a priority.

She added that the Government has also protected police budgets, after the precept paid by taxpayers is collected.

In response to Ms Champion, she said: “We have also made money available to the national policing lead precisely in relation to the issue of child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation, and ensured that the National Crime Agency has the resources it needs to be able to do that job.”

She also referenced the Government's decision to commission the Goddard report, a national inquiry into child sexual abuse in part motivated by the Jimmy Savile scandal, was further evidence of action.

A National Crime Agency spokesperson confirmed it had not been successful in getting the support requested but said its work would continue.

A statement said: “The Government has indicated that additional funding for agencies in Rotherham to support victims and survivors coming forward as a result of Operation not available.”

Ms Champion said: “The reason we needed that support was for adult victims to help them rebuild their lives.

“Many have children now and are trying to hold down jobs as well as come to terms with their abuse.”

Without the Fusion service, women will still be required to give evidence multiple times.

Rotherham Council and three regional health services had all backed the NCA's bid.

Meanwhile, an 18-year-old man who intimidated a victim of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham ahead of the trial against his father and cousins has been banned from contacting her.

Kaleem Ali, of Clough Road, Masbrough, Rotherham, left the woman “crying and shaking” and fearing for her safety after he approached her and her children as they were stuck in traffic. He was sentenced today by Rotherham magistrates after he was found guilty of witness intimidation at a trial. Ali's father - Qurban Ali - and cousins - Arshid, Basharat and Bannaras Hussain - were jailed earlier this year by a judge who heard how 15 women were subjected to a catalogue of trafficking, rape and violence.

Mark Hughes, prosecuting, told magistrates that Ali approached the woman in March last year as she was in her car with her children. Ali addressed the woman and one child by name and appeared to start taking photographs of them on one mobile phone while using another to make a call.

Ali was handed a 12-month community order, a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement, a 12-week curfew and a three-year restraining order preventing him contacting the woman. He was also ordered to pay £360 costs.



Child abuse hides in plain sight

by Olivia LeVoy

A 5-year-old boy is playing with a plastic truck when his father comes in furious after work. The father can't find his wife and takes his anger out on his son with his fists.

This is the reality many kids face these days.

April marks Child Abuse Prevention Month to acknowledge the importance of working together to prevent child abuse.

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, statistics from Child Maltreatment 2014 report estimates 646,261 children in all 50 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were victims of child abuse/neglect. About 1,580 children died as a result of abuse/neglect.

Approximately five children die from child abuse and in the U.S., more than four children die from child abuse and neglect daily, according to

President Ronald Reagan proclaimed April to be the National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a tradition that has carried on to this day according to the Children's Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Safe Horizon states one in 10 children suffers from maltreatment. One in 16 children suffers from sexual abuse. One in 10 children witnesses family violence.

Safe Horizon states in 2012, 48.5 percent of abused children were boys while 51.2 percent were girls. However, 57.6 percent of child fatalities due to abuse and neglect were boys.

Approximately 2.9 million child abuse cases are reported in the United States according to Safe Horizon.

Sixty percent of child abuse reports come from teachers, law enforcement and social services. Safe Horizon breaks it down reporting 17 percent comes from teachers, 17 percent from law enforcement and 11 percent from social services.

One in four victims of shaken baby syndrome dies, and if they survive, they'll suffer from serious health issues including bleeding in the eye or brain, spinal cord injury and rib and bone fractures, according to Safe Horizon.

Child abuse survivors younger than three have suffered from depression and withdrawal symptoms. They are more likely to show anti-social behaviors according to Safe Horizon.

Safe Horizon states 25 percent of teenage child abuse survivors will experience teen pregnancy. Eighty percent meet the criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder by the time they are 21.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found 46 percent of homeless youth escaped physical abuse at home and 17 percent left sexual abuse.

Fifty-nine percent of child sex abuse and neglect survivors will be arrested as a juvenile, 28 percent arrested as an adult and 30 percent are more likely to commit a violent crime according to Safe Horizon.

As adults, child abuse survivors will suffer from a wide variety of health issues caused from the abuse. It can also cause them suffer from psychological and behavioral issues and alcohol and/or drug abuse within their lifetime, states Safe Horizon.

Not only does child abuse have a physical or mental barrier to a survivor, it's also expensive.

Safe Horizon states approximately $124 billion annually in the U.S. goes to the health care to treat child abuse survivors, child welfare and protection, law enforcement and legal fees, special education costs and unemployment/underemployment costs.

Unfortunately, the battle of preventing child abuse is long from over.

In my opinion, these statistics are alarming and more needs to be done.

Children are the future, and if we aren't taking care of future generations then I'm scared of what will happen.

The Center for Disease Control states, “preventing child maltreatment means influencing individual behaviors, relationships among families and neighbors, community involvement and the culture of a society.”

The CDC believes “effective programs that focus on attitude change and on modifying policies and societal norms to create safe, stable, and nurturing environments. We need to implement effective prevention strategies to stop child abuse and neglect before it happens and to foster commitment to social change.”

The Children's Bureau states different ways to help in preventing child abuse.

We can promote child and family well-being.

Bring awareness to our communities and have tools to maintain a child abuse prevention message within our community.

Maintain prevention programs by keeping them up-to-date with rules, regulations and scientific research.

Evaluate prevention programs.

This month I believe we have the chance to bring more awareness to child abuse prevention than in years past.

We have this amazing tool known as social media. One post about child abuse prevention is better than none.

If we don't stand up for the children, who will?



Inspiration, solutions provided at Prevent Child Abuse conference

by George Myers and Cara Ball

Howard Superior Court Judge William Menges, who manages the county drug court, and Howard Circuit Court Judge Lynn Murray, who presides over juvenile cases, both began their remarks with statistics concerning the relationship of drug addiction and child abuse. Some displayed recent progress while others highlighted a persistent problem.

The judges were among many speakers in Kokomo Tuesday for the Howard County Prevent Child Abuse Annual Conference, held at Oakbrook Church.

After questioning the efficacy of current drug addiction treatment, specifically the Howard County drug task force, Menges said the death toll from overdoses in Howard County was up 80 percent from 2014 to 2015. In contrast, there were six overdose deaths in Howard County through the first quarter of 2016, which, if a similar rate continues, will result in a 35 percent drop, according to Menges.

Those numbers, however, don't tell the whole story. From Jan. 1 to March 1, ambulances in Howard County made 61 overdose-related calls, roughly one per day, he said.

According to Menges, a number of those lives were saved by Narcan, an opioid antidote now carried by many of Howard County's first responders.

“We obviously can't treat somebody if they die, so we've made some good progress on keeping people alive and getting them into treatment,” said Menges, who also pointed to the possibility of Howard County establishing an in-patient treatment facility.

One thing Narcan can't reverse, though, is the abuse suffered by children of drug abusers and other addicts.

In Indiana specifically, more than 25,000 reports of child abuse and neglect are substantiated after investigation every year, resulting in more than 68 cases each day, according to Murray, who also spoke about Howard County's own situation.

“Today, we have 220 children in Howard County who have been determined to be children in need of services,” she said. “That means there have been substantiated child abuse or neglect that has occurred to which they are actually in the court system. In 2015, there were more children removed by [Department of Child Services] and determined to be children in need of services than ever before.”

In August alone, DCS removed 27 children from the care of their parents in Howard County, she added.

Overall, more than 75 percent of the abuse or neglect cases were the result of parents or caregivers abusing controlled substances, noted Murray.

While those cases are ultimately reported to DCS, such action usually isn't taken until a parent has been incarcerated or hospitalized, which can create more of a burden for at-risk youth and adults.

It is then up to the parent to earn back custody of their children.

“The parent is offered services, drug treatment opportunities at no cost to them through the CHINS case,” said Murray. “For those parents who succeed in attaining sustained sobriety and stability, they are reunited with their children once it is determined that it's safe to do so.

“But for those parents that do not, they lose out on reunification, upon a determination it is no longer in their child's best interests. Even in the successful cases, those children are adversely affected. They have suffered neglect and abuse before removal.”

With those adverse effects continuing into adulthood, Murray said as many as two-thirds of drug abuse treatment patients report they were abused or neglected as children.

It is with events like Tuesday's conference that many in the community hope to reverse the trend, including Barb Hilton, director of Prevent Child Abuse of Howard County, which is a branch of the Family Service Association.

Hilton was one of three people to receive the annual Imagine Award, which is given by the FSA to people whose work has altered the lives of local children and families. The other two were Patrick Webb of the FSA Prevent Child Abuse Howard County Advisory Board and Sue Bond of Kokomo Urban Outreach.

“We are about primary prevention, so we are trying to reach everybody with education and help them learn something they can do to prevent abuse before it happens,” she said. “The numbers are really high, and when I've talked to our department of DCS, they feel like almost 100 percent of cases of child abuse and neglect have some factor of drug abuse involved in the family.”

It is with education and widespread community support that Howard County can begin moving in a positive direction, Hilton continued.

“One of the No. 1 reasons for child abuse is lack of parent knowledge,” she said. “They don't know what the child is capable of at a certain age as far as discipline and what they should be able to remember, so they get frustrated. Learning that helps prevent child abuse.”

Speaking alongside the judges and Hilton were Dr. LaMarr Darnell Shields, “change agent” and CEO of the Cambio Group, and Scott Watson, licensed clinical addictions counselor and founder of Heartland Intervention, Inc.

While both speakers worked largely as motivational speakers for both the personal and professional lives of those in attendance, Watson spoke after the event about the correlation between drug and child abuse.

“It's not always just the time in which someone is under the influence,” he said. “A lot of times with the addiction, we find there is a lot of time securing the drug, using the drug and recovering from the drug, and in a lot of families that impacts not only the quality of care but the ability to care for folks.

“We also see situations where we get pregnant ladies that are using substances and we have kids that are born addicted. But really, when we see all these statistics, it's easy to become jaded. We have to realize, for every one of those statistics, we are talking about a person. ... We have to make sure we see it as families, individuals and communities.”

Watson also said higher levels of care and treatment programs need to be offered to addicts without health insurance or a disposable income.

"Just because you're an addict or an alcoholic and you don't have commercial health insurance or you don't have access to really, really good amounts of money, that should not be a sentence to an alcoholic or drug-related death," he said.

Notes of Wisdom

In the evening, the conference focused on inspiring youth to stay away from drugs and other abusive behavior by first understanding their own value. Hunter Smith, former NFL player for the Indianapolis Colts turned singer and songwriter, brought that message.

“There is a difference between being important and being valued,” Smith said while addressing the crowd. This lesson was taught to him by his former coach Tony Dungy who was very good at seeing the value in each player, Smith said.

That made a difference in Smith's life long after retiring from football.

“People who think that they are important based on their ability … they lose that importance when that ability to do something is gone,” Smith said.

He touched on how drug use can spawn from depression and feelings of inadequacy. Smith made a point to note he had never been a drug user. However, one of his band mates had bouts with drug and substance abuse in the past. Through his story, Smith gained insight to how drugs are used to fill an empty void in a person's life.

What kept Smith away from the temptation of drug use, even as a teenager and young adult who played football at the University of Notre Dame before being drafted to the Indianapolis Colts, was believing in his purpose and understanding that there was so much more for him to achieve in life, he said.

“When people understand their value, they are able to find a purpose with their life that is undergirded by that value,” Smith said. “I was so consumed with that purpose, so consumed with what I was doing and the fulfillment that it brought, that I didn't need any kind of false solace or anything brought about with a drug. I didn't need to escape.”

As a husband and father of four, Smith said his advice to a younger generation is to keep seeking out that purpose. And to parents who play a pivotal role in a child's confidence and understanding of their own value, to nurture and confirm that value. This will keep youth from seeking acceptance through peer pressure.

“The best advice I can give to parents would be to see your children as valuable, as a real gift from God, and to treat them as such,” Smith said. “Teach them that their value to you isn't contingent upon their ability. It isn't contingent upon their accomplishments. And if parents do that, I believe you'll see a higher rate of children coming out and understanding their God given talent and God given value.”



Victim of child abuse seeks civil recourse after alleged abusers' death

The bill was filed by Rep. Diana DiZoglio of Methuen

by Andy Metzger

BOSTON (STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE) – A man who said he was sexually abused by a now-deceased priest, and a former priest, who said he was fired for speaking out about sex abuse in the church asked lawmakers Tuesday to eliminate the civil statute of limitations for child abuse allegations against the dead so that victims can seek damages from their estates.

Bassam Haddad, who said he is 43 and married with two boys, told members of the Judiciary Committee he was abused as a teenager by a priest at St. Joseph's in Lawrence who was then transferred to Lebanon, where he died in recent years.

“We can't do anything now,” Haddad told the committee. He said, “We're trying to get this law moved so we can go after their estate.”

Robert Hoatson, a former priest and co-founder of Road to Recovery for survivors of sexual abuse, joined Haddad, and said the church had fired him after he testified about sexual abuse to New York lawmakers. Hoatson, who said he worked at Catholic Memorial High School and raised alarms about Monsignor Fred Ryan around 1982, said he was at the hearing to support Haddad.

Hoatson said he was fired from a position directing schools in Newark, N.J. in 2003 after testifying before lawmakers in New York.

Mitchell Garabedian, the high-profile attorney who helped bring to light the practice of shielding predator priests within the Catholic Church, said a judgement against an alleged pedophile “provides validation” and “a degree of dignity” for their victims.

“Any bill that allows survivors of sexual abuse to seek civil relief in a meaningful way will assist survivors in trying to heal and gain a degree of closure,” Garabedian told the News Service.

Garabedian said the bill would eliminate the one-year statute of limitations after an alleged pedophile dies to bring a lawsuit.

Advocates for survivors of sexual abuse made a gain in 2014 when lawmakers extended the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse, allowing victims to file suit up until the age of 53.

Garabedian said due process rights within the court system “offer protections” for defendants even after they have died and are no longer able to defend themselves.

“A plaintiff has the burden of proof in civil cases,” said Garabedian, who said the accuser would be cross-examined and the estate of the deceased would be able to “raise defenses and conduct discovery.”

Mike Riseberg, president of the Massachusetts Defense Lawyers Association, declined to comment before closely studying the bill.

Haddad said he had consulted Garabedian about his alleged abuser, Ross Frey, and Garabedian told the News Service Frey “was a serial pedophile who sexually abused many innocent children.”

Garabedian said it is likely not a coincidence that Frey went to Lebanon, a country without an extradition agreement with the United States.

The bill was filed by Rep. Diana DiZoglio, of Methuen, at the request of Haddad, who told lawmakers about the trauma he endured.

“I couldn't even tell you how many times I tried to commit suicide as a kid and in the last couple of years because of this,” Haddad said. “It has destroyed my life. Please, we're asking you to help us out.”

Haddad said the legislation would not be of much use to him and would be for “all the other victims.”



Child Sexual Abuse: Enough Is Enough

by Bridget Turcotte

LYNN — Local agencies that work with children are teaming up to say “enough is enough” with sexual abuse in the city.

After seeing one too many cases involving issues stemming from childhood sexual abuse, James Carrigan, a Lynn attorney, organized a group of nonprofit agency directors to help combat the problem.

Birgitta Damon, executive director of Lynn Economic Opportunity; Dianne Kuzia Hills, executive director of My Brother's Table; St. Mary's School; The Lynn Housing Authority; Catherine Latham, superintendent of Lynn Public Schools; and All Care VNA are working with Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children, on what they call a preventative movement.

The group will host training workshops April 27 and 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the City Council Chamber.

The goal of the movement, dubbed the Enough Abuse Campaign, is to train child care workers to recognize the signs of sexual abuse, Carrigan said. As an introduction, Bernier spoke with representatives of several organizations about the campaign Tuesday afternoon at City Hall.

She presented a slideshow of research gathered from various agencies, including that one in 10 children have been sexually assaulted, 90 percent of cases are never reported and 39 million Americans have been victims of childhood sexual abuse.

Sexual abusers use grooming tactics to make sure kids won't tell, she said. Often times they spend up to a year gaining the trust of their victims.

“We realize we are really dealing with a silent epidemic across the country, across the state and in our communities,” Bernier said.

LEO, a childcare agency, has seen a 300 percent increase in mental health referrals, according to Damon. While it can't be said that the referrals are linked directly to sexual abuse, the jump to 27 referrals this year from nine is something to be concerned about, she said.

“We, as child care providers at LEO, are compelled to do all that we can to prevent sexual abuse,” Damon said.

The movement involves a three-pronged approach: prevention, prosecution and treatment, Carrigan said.

“I represent a lot of people, particularly women who were sexually abused as children,” he said. “It has lifelong effects. I see a lot of it in women in their 30s. They bury it, it gets repressed, and (then) they have an event in their life that brings it all back. It could be (something like) a car accident.”

Victims often have difficulty going to work, seeing their friends, have nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, can't concentrate, or have difficulty meeting people, Carrigan said. He hopes to find a way to recognize signs in children before they become problems for them as adults and prevent the sexual abuse from happening in the first place.

The Training of Trainers workshop will include a series of informational videos, seminars on healthy and unhealthy behaviors, educator boundaries, yellow and red light behaviors, modeling good communication, empathy and accountability, and several other topics.

Guest speakers will include Lt. Marie Hanlon of the Lynn Police Department's Sexual Abuse Unit and a representative of the Lynn Community Health Center's Mental Health Department.

Participants can pre-register for the workshop by calling 781-309-5619.



Child Abuse ans Neglect in Cullman County

Child abuse and neglect do not begin and end in April

by Amy Leonard

CULLMAN - Every ten seconds in the United States a child is abused or neglected. In the time it took the average reader to finish the first two sentences of this article, two to three children will have endured horrors that most of us cannot imagine.

In Cullman County, 980 reported cases of child abuse and neglect were investigated last year. The population of children in the entire county is just under 20,000. By those numbers, five percent of children in Cullman are victims of reported abuse. Five percent of the children in our community. That's just the reported cases.

What about the unreported cases of child abuse and neglect that occur every day right under our noses?

“Child abuse is one of the hardest things to know about. You can see the bruises a lot of times on a child, but the perpetrator wants to keep things a secret. They want to make sure that nobody knows what's happening, so they'll either threaten the child, threaten to harm someone the child loves and even a child's pet can be used as leverage to keep the secret,” shared Javon Daniel, executive director of Cullman Caring for Kids.

April of each year is recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month throughout the country. Locally, the month is commemorated with many events and media spotlights to help spread awareness and honor the lives of children lost to abuse and neglect.

Cullman Caring for Kids, with their dream and mission of “no child will ever be abused, no child will go to bed hungry, no infants will ever be shaken in anger and the cycle of abuse will be stopped” strives each day to provide support for children and families to prevent abuse and education for citizens to recognize abuse and neglect when it's happening to the little ones in our lives.

Cullman Caring for Kids defines physical abuse as any non-accidental physical injury or pattern of injuries inflicted or caused by an adult, parent, guardian, or any other person. Physical abuse can include striking, kicking, burning or biting the child, or any action that results in a physical impairment of the child. Indicators of physical abuse include, but are not limited to, bruises and welts, fractures, burns and scalds, abdominal injuries, head or brain injuries, lacerations and abrasions, bite marks, multiple injuries (old and new), history of injuries and any injuries to very young baby. While some of these injuries can occur by accident, child abuse should be suspected if the explanations do not fit the injuries. A child who is consistently withdrawn or overly aggressive, who complains of soreness, wears inappropriate clothing for the weather or who is a chronic runaway may be a victim of abuse.

“(Physical) abuse is any time a child is hurt to the point that they have a lot of bruises, need medical attention, have burns, spiral fractures of the arms where a child has been grabbed and the arm twisted, using an instrument that can cut the skin or leave bruising like belt buckles, cords or clothes hangers. That is the physical abuse of a child,” said Daniel.

The legal definition for the sexual molestation of a child is an act of a person (adult or any person who is older than the child) which forces, coerces or threatens a child to have any form of sexual contact or to engage in any type of sexual activity. Sexual abuse includes both touching and non-touching offenses such as provocative language or behavior. In its most extreme forms, it includes sexual intercourse and its deviations. Sexual abuse also includes indecent exposure, exposure to pornographic material and masturbating in front of a child. Physical offenses include fondling, making a child touch an adult's sexual organs or any penetration of a child's vagina or anus by any object that does not have a valid medical purpose. The sexual exploitation of a child for the purposes of prostitution or use in pornography is also a criminal offense.

“Sexual abuse is any touching of a child when the adult is trying to be aroused or to arouse the child.”

Emotional abuse is commonly defined as a pattern of behavior that can seriously interfere with a child's positive emotional development. It is the systematic tearing down of a child. These harmful behaviors can include constant rejection or terrorizing of a child, refusal to provide basic nurturing, refusal to get help for a child's psychological problems, failure to provide the physical or mental stimulation that a child needs to grow and exposure to domestic violence, drug abuse or criminal activity. Children who are constantly shamed, terrorized, humiliated or rejected suffer as much as children who are physically abused.

“Emotional abuse is when a child is put down. ‘I didn't really want you. You're no good.' Those kinds of horrible, horrible words,” said Daniel. “Physical wounds will heal. Emotional abuse leaves scars that will never heal. You can't tell a child that they're worthless all of their life and expect them instantly to accept that they're worthwhile, special and awesome, which they all are.”

Neglect is defined as a failure to provide necessary food, shelter, medical care, supervision, or education to a child under the age of 18. Neglect also includes an absence of love, security and stimulation that is necessary for positive parent-child relationships to develop. Neglect can be physical, emotional/psychological, educational or medical.

Long-term effects of abuse include diminished mental health including lifelong battles with depression, anxiety disorders, struggles with substance abuse and increased rates of suicide. Over 75 percent of adults who report experiencing physical abuse as children have battled a mental illness in their life.

That's in the cases when the child lives to see adulthood. Not all victims are that fortunate. The yearly average of child abuse deaths in the United States is well over 1,500, meaning that five children a day die as a result of child abuse or neglect in this country. Thirteen of those deaths happened in Alabama last year.

All we know of the Alabama children who died last year from child abuse and neglect are their names.

Samantha. Joseph. Caley. Tyleah. Isabella. Timothy. Bennett. Jamarion. Michael. Alania. Jadarrius. Lia. Aaliyah.

“It's never a child's fault. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that a child can do to deserve to be abused in any way. If abuse is happening to a child, it is because of the adult, not because of something the child has done. The child is never to blame.”

If we take a moment to reflect on a time when we, ourselves, were expecting a child, anticipating the birth of a little one in our family or the arrival of a new godchild, we can recall the excitement when the baby's name was decided. A name for a new, miraculous life is shared with joy and, in the South, the monogramming and embroidery begin! Our names mean so much.

All we know are their names and that they died as the direct result of abuse and neglect.

Samantha. Joseph. Caley. Tyleah. Isabella. Timothy. Bennett. Jamarion. Michael. Alania. Jadarrius. Lia. Aaliyah.

I wonder what they dreamed of being when they were grown? Did Alania know every word on the “Frozen” soundtrack? What was Joseph's favorite food? Did Isabella play T-ball like the kids at the park by my house?

Questions roar in my head as I read their names. How did no one know these kids were being hurt? Why didn't someone do something? Surely someone saw bruises. Could someone have made a phone call that could have saved one of their lives or all of their lives?

If you see something, say something. Call 9-1-1. Call the Department of Human Resources at 256-737-5300. Call Cullman Caring for Kids at 256-739-1111. Say something.

The 13 children whose names we know will be honored on Wednesday, April 13 from noon-1 p.m. with a prayer walk and balloon release. The walk will begin at the Cullman County Courthouse and will end at the top of the parking deck at Cullman Savings Bank where balloons will be let go and prayers will be lifted.

The Safe Kids Expo will be held on April 16 from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at Sportsman Lake Park. Hosted by Brooks' Place, Cullman's Child Advocacy Center, the event will provide invaluable information and tools to keep your child safe and protected. Lots of fun and activities will be available for the kids.

We are grateful for the events of Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month and their effectiveness in bringing to light the staggering reality of abuse and neglect. The more we know, the more effective we can be at protecting the children in our community.

But, child abuse does not begin and end each April. Children are abused every minute of every day of the year and we, the staff at CullmanSense and The Cullman Tribune, are committed to working hand-in-hand with local advocacy agencies on behalf of the victims of these horrendous crimes.

It's the least we can do.

For more information, visit:


Victim Blaming: Childhood Trauma, Mental Illness & Diagnostic Distractions”?


In preparing this blog, I asked a friend and colleague, Matt Britts, who works with traumatized youth for her input. He sent me the response below, a response that yet again left me dismayed with the ways in which so many services end up failing people with mental illness and trauma histories. His response left me asking the same questions I have asked myself many times before:

Why, despite the fact that the vast majority of people diagnosed with a mental illness have suffered from some form of childhood trauma, is it still so difficult to talk about? Why, despite the enormous amount of research about the impact of trauma on the brain and subsequent effect on behaviour, does there seem to be such an extraordinary refusal for the implication of this research to change attitudes towards those who are mentally ill? Why, when our program and others like it have shown people can heal from the effects of trauma, are so many people left with the self-blame and the feeling they will never get better that my colleague writes about below?

I recently had a conversation with a sixteen-year-old client about the origins of her "mental illness". Or, to put it more accurately, I recently held my tongue and denied this young woman an explanation as she cried and helplessly demanded, why? Why was she suffering when no one else in her family had a history of depression? Why couldn't she manage her emotions, except by cutting herself? Why was she so filled with self-hatred and pain that the only solution she could see was suicide? Why her? What's wrong with me, she repeatedly asked. She asked, and I couldn't point to the sexual and emotional abuse she had been subjected to because of deep-seated organisational fears that the mere mention of childhood trauma would open a Pandora's box of further distress. Further dysfunction, probably further diagnoses.

Despite the very large advances that have been made in combating the stigma surrounding mental illness, the stigma of childhood trauma still looms silently in the background. In the 1950's, Bowlby and Ainsworth began the attachment research that would eventually demonstrate the key role our early infant relationships play in shaping all our future ones. The most important point being that insecure attachment to primary caregivers becomes an enduring interpersonal pattern of dysfunctional relationships that persist throughout the lifespan. In 1998, Felitti et al. published the first peer-reviewed paper describing results from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Almost ten years ago, this seminal research analysed data from over 8000 adult participants to demonstrate an undeniable link between childhood trauma and adulthood risk of suicide, depression, alcoholism and drug abuse (Felitti et al., 1998). Since then the body of literature on the subject has grown exponentially. Data from the ACE study has also provided evidence for a dose-dependent relationship between exposure to childhood abuse and poor adulthood mental health outcomes (Edwards, Holden, Felitti & Anda, 2003). More recently, a longitudinal study in New Zealand showed similar relationships between childhood sexual abuse and mental health outcomes, psychological well-being and socio-economic status (Fergusson, McLeod & Horwood, 2013). Notably, 95% of the participants who experienced sexual abuse involving penetration reported, at least, one adverse mental health outcome, compared to only 56% of participants that did not experience sexual abuse in childhood (Fergusson et al., 2013).

Yet all these scientific advances would appear to have had little impact on the deeply flawed mental illness discourse that is so omnipresent among the general public and scientific community alike. We still live in a society where many believe that hitting a child is an appropriate form of discipline. When these children hit another child on the playground, we don't call it a learned behaviour. We call it a conduct disorder. When these children grow up and physically abuse their spouses, we call it an antisocial personality disorder, an intermittent explosive disorder. The same is true of the child subjected to emotional abuse or neglect. When they inevitably fail to function adaptively within relationships, to regulate their own emotions or develop a coherent sense of self, we don't ask 'what happened to you?'. We ask 'what's wrong with you?', consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and conclude what is wrong is a form of innate characterological dysfunction termed borderline personality disorder. By the way, the prevalence of childhood trauma exposure within borderline personality disorder patients has been evidenced to be as high as 92% (Yen et al., 2002). Within individuals diagnosed with psychotic or affective disorders, it reaches 82% (Larsson et al., 2012). Individuals with psychiatric illnesses and a history of trauma also appear to display significantly higher functional impairment than the remainder of the sample (Cotter, Kaess & Yung, 2015).

This is a conversation that has been suppressed since Freud very briefly suggested the neuroses and hysteria he saw in his clients were a result of familial sexual abuse. In response to immense professional pressure, Freud reformulated his ideas into more socially palatable theories that essentially blamed the victim. The psychology of the 19th century had the Oedipus and Electra complexes as a convenient distraction from uncomfortable truths. Today's psychology has antisocial, narcissistic and borderline personalities. Today's solution should be readily available in a model of trauma-informed care that addresses the core issue behind the symptoms. Because questions of causation aside, the fact remains that individuals diagnosed with mental illness who receive treatment for their traumatic childhood experiences improve more than those who don't (Bohus et al., 2013; Roberts, Roberts, Jones & Bisson, 2015; Van Minnen, Zoellner, Harned & Mills, 2015).



California weighs changing rape statute after Cosby claims

by Mike Leury

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —The California Legislature is advancing a bill driven in part by prosecutors' difficulty in pursuing sexual assault charges against Bill Cosby.

SB813 would eliminate the state's 10-year statute of limitations on rape and child molestation charges.

"When only two in 100 rapists are actually convicted and go to jail, maybe we're doing something wrong," the bill's author Connie Leyva, D-Chino, said. "No one is ever raped by accident. It is intentional and it harms these victims."

Previous versions failed years ago in the Senate Public Safety Committee. But the new bill by Leyva passed the committee 4-0 on Tuesday after testimony by witnesses including lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents 30 of Cosby's accusers.

Several of his accusers told senators they are unable to bring charges now because they didn't come forward years ago.

Casey accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her but can't sue because the statute of limitations for her assault is up.

"I can attest to the fact that once the act that is committed against one's physical body is over -- there is just beginning a body of pain," she told the senate committee. "The psychological and emotional damage done to me was immeasurable."

Lili Bernard said she was a guest star on the Cosby Show when she was raped.

"He endeared himself to me. [Cosby] lifted me up," Bernard said at the committee hearing. "And when he gained my total trust, he trafficked me across state borders enslaved me by surreptitiously slipping drugs into my blood and then he raped me."

Janice Baker-Kinney said she was a bartender at Harrah's in Reno when she went to a party and was sexually assaulted by Cosby.

"All of us knew there was nothing we could do, but we knew there was something we had to do for future victims," Kinney said.

Cosby has consistently denied sexual abuse allegations made by dozens of women around the country. Some of the claims date to the 1960s.

Opponents of the bill said it is emotionally reactive and based upon headlines.

"We want to make sure that the innocent are not put in our prisons and victimized merely for the sake of 25 years later someone coming forward for whatever motivation they might have," spokesperson for Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety Matt Gray said.

Several other states are considering similar bills.



Rebranding for Childhood Trauma NFP

by Eisha Gupta

A major Not For Profit organisation for adult survivors of childhood trauma has rebranded into the Blue Knot Foundation to encourage new conversations around trauma – on the heels of the Royal Commission inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) is a specialist organisation that was set up more than 20 years ago to work with adults who had experienced childhood trauma. The rebrand is part of their message to move away from “just surviving to that of hope and optimism that recovery is possible,” according to President and Director Dr Cathy Kezelman AM.

“We know anecdotally [that] people recover with the right support. We also know now from research that people can absolutely recover. We want to create that message. Blue Knot Foundation is a softer name and will enable us to have those important conversations,” she said.

“Our organization is very keen to obviously acknowledge people who have experienced child sexual abuse, but also to acknowledge people who have experienced childhood trauma more broadly. [For example] when they grow up in a domestic violence situation, or situation with community violence, and if they have a parent with a mental illness or parents who abuse substances.

“The change from the ASCA to the Blue Knot Foundation is to represent the fact that people can experience many forms of trauma in childhood not just different forms of abuse and neglect.”

The organisation said the discussion around rebranding has been in the making for many years but the decision to change it was made over a year ago, according to Kezelman.

“We had a brand that had very good awareness in the sectors we work like the mental health sector but we are seeking to reach the general community more broadly. We are hoping that this name will help spread the message into the general community as well as also get support from corporates and philanthropic organisations,” she said.

“This is a time where this is in the public consciousness. We are very keen to shine a light on abuses and other forms of trauma not just within institutions, the home and the family, but really talk about these issues more broadly.”

The foundation will take on an extended role in providing training to legal personnel, including magistrate judges, when handling cases of childhood trauma and interacting with survivors.

“We are providing training for legal personnel to help understand childhood trauma and the way it presents, their reactions and the risk of triggers to avoid re-traumatising. We also help lawyers to look after themselves better when listening to traumatic stories all the time,” she said.

“One of the recommendations of the Royal Commission's [redress] report in 2015 was around the need for survivors to meet with institutional representatives and get an apology or whatever they are seeking. That training will help the institutional personnel in how to better respond and what to expect when a survivor may come to them – to understand their anger and to help them to respond as well as they can and to support in what is a difficult process.”

Kezelman admitted that people may take some time to digest the rebrand of an organisation that has been around for a long time but was optimistic about it becoming a household name.

“We have had very positive feedback about our rebranding and we are hoping that they will continue to see our organisation as a specialist organisation who they can trust. We want to become a place that delivers great training, that has really followed evidence based resources, and that is open to people who have experienced all sorts of childhood trauma and are more inclusive.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Help and support is available from the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 or visit the Blue Knot Foundation website:



University of Alberta and Little Warriors to release Be Brave Ranch clinical results next week

by Morinville News Staff

Nineteen months after it opened and seven months after its first year of operation, the University of Alberta and Little Warriors are set to release the results from the first clinical trials performed at the Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch.

The ranch, opened Sept. 27, 2014, is the only facility of its kind to offer intensive, dedicated and multi-modal treatment to child sexual abuse survivors (aged 8 to 12). The program provides child survivors with access to a range of individual and group therapies and treatments in a residential setting alongside peers who have experienced similar trauma.

“The Be Brave Ranch was built to give every child the opportunity to grow into a happy, healthy adult,” said Little Warriors Founder and Chair Glori Meldrum in a release Monday. “Our transformative intervention model uses an intensive approach to target the long-term impacts of child sexual abuse and to help restore what was taken from these children and families. We are so proud to share the initial clinical results from our first year of operations.”

Be Brave Ranch's programming was developed under the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry with a team led by Dr. Peter Silverstone and supported by Dr. Jacqui Linder, an expert Traumatologist at City University of Seattle.

The University will announce their findings Monday, Apr. 18 at 10 a.m. at the Oborowsky Degner Seminar Hall in the Li Ka Shing Building.


North Dakota

Lura talks about child abuse and prevention

by Tom LaVenture

Buchanan, N.D. — A Carrington pageant contestant is bringing the message of child abuse awareness and prevention into North Dakota schools.

“My father used his hands for hitting me,” said Rhonda Lura, who will compete in the Mrs. North Dakota International pageant in January in Fargo.

Lura brought her platform of “Speak up! Stop Child Abuse” to students at Pingree-Buchanan Elementary School in Buchanan on Monday. She handed out color sheets of crowns and tiaras, provided by Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota, to let kids know that they are “kings and queens of their own bodies.”

Lura said that if someone touches his or her body in a bad way he or she needs to speak up and tell that person to stop and reach out for help. Coloring helps get kids into conversation, she said, recalling a 5-year-old Mandan, N.D., boy who talked about an abusive home.

“He said, ‘Daddy tells me I deserve it,'” she said.

Lura told the kids that it is important to recognize when a sibling, neighbor or classmate is being abused and to speak up for him or her when he or she can't. Even then adults don't always want to get involved or rationalize the behavior as the result of stress or temporary hardships, she said.

“But that's not fair to a child,” she said. “That child's our future.”

Lura said she was 33 and in her own Bible study group when she realized it was time to deal with her past when she was an anorexic teen who was abused again by her husband in her first marriage. The question was “who am I?”

“That's one question I was never able to answer,” she said. “I always would be somebody that everyone else wanted me to be. I didn't have a backbone and I didn't have a voice.”

It was time to reflect, heal and get past this, she said. God gave her a voice and to be blessed she needed to do something with it, she said.

Lura is the owner of Sugar Rush Boutique in Carrington. She and her husband, Brock Lura, live on a rural Carrington farm where they raise three sons, who are 18, 16 and 12, and one 9-year-old daughter.

Lura created her class with Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota, a nonprofit organization based in Fargo. Lura also organized the first Super Hero 5K Run/Walk events in 2015. This year's events will be held on Aug. 6 in Fargo and on Aug. 27 in Bismarck.

Prevent Child Abuse America, a national chapter, reports that in 2010 there were 9,500 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect in North Dakota — nearly double from 2000.

“In 2014 there were 1,616 cases in North Dakota where a child had to be removed,” Lura said. “We don't know the exact number but we do know it was higher in 2015 and continues to rise.”

Pingree-Buchanan Elementary School Principal Terrie Neys said kids need to know about the resources available to them at school. A level of trust is important for kids to reach out to people in the school to communicate their concerns, she said, and Lura helps to foster that trust.

“Kids are very truthful and they will often say things in counseling and then we attempt to follow up,” said Jim Nyland, school counselor. “You have to be careful in weeding through it all to get to the truth. You start with the comment and then try to expand on it and look for physical signs that they have been abused.”

Psychological abuse is also destructive for kids trying to establish self-esteem and a positive self-image, he said. It is all undone if they are made to feel worthless by people they trust.

“Saying, ‘You're stupid and dumb,' and being told that every day by people they trust and love,” Nyland said, “when they grow up they are going to have major psychological issues and trauma will manifest itself as an adult.”

Adult problems linked to childhood physical and mental abuse range from frequent job changes, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, becoming an abuser and suicide, he said. Abusing a child has ramifications decades later, he said.



Child abuse victim beats the odds and overcomes his past and now tries to inspire others

by Lauren Wilson

CLEVELAND, Ohio - To be young, 21-year-old Charlie Horton has had a very successful career so far playing soccer.

“I decided to forgo college and play professionally, and I spent the last three seasons in England playing in the championship and premier league,” Horton said.

He now plays major league soccer back here in the states, but before all his great success, Horton had a dark past that most people don't see.

“My sister and I grew up in England. My parents got divorced and we were both abused as young children,” Horton said. “It was violent, it was difficult…I didn't tell my friends about, I didn't tell people about, and I kind of kept it hidden.”

He said his father, who at that time was a priest, was relentless in his abuse and he and his sister being so young made things all the more difficult to get help.

“You can't expect a 5 year old to put his hand up in the air and say I have an issue, and you feel trapped…this is a person that usually is supposed to be taking care of you…and their doing the opposite,” said Horton.

His story is among the six million stories that occur each year.

“The impact of child abuse is devastating, and most children do not get help like therapy when they're young," said Linda Johanek, CEO at the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center, who also advocates for victims of abuse through her work.

“We provide both crisis intervention for those who need immediate help as well as long term. Our society needs to invest more resources, but also we need to do an awareness campaign.”

And that's where Horton and his family found refuge and help from their situation.

“We've been helped by such great people that deserve the recognition for what they did,” said Horton.

There's now a special rec room at the facility dedicated to Horton's family and story of overcoming. He told me, he hopes by sharing is story, he can let others like him know, there ‘is' a way out.

“It's not something I'm afraid to talk about because, my family's so much better off. It does get better, but what's really, really important is that you get the help you need.”

A civil protection order was issued by Ohio courts for Horton and his sister against their father years ago. And with April being child abuse awareness month, the domestic violence and child advocacy center will be holding multiple events throughout the month to raise awareness on this issue.



One call to statewide child abuse hotline can save a life

by Lyle SmithGraybeal

At age 9, Fiona met her abuser: her mother's new boyfriend.

“He was drinking a lot and started being mentally and sometimes physically abusive toward me, picking on me for little things, or even nothing. I did my best to avoid him, but if I couldn't, he would just start yelling at me.”

Quickly, the abuse changed in type and severity.

“I was set a rule that I only ever went into the kitchen for food, at certain times. If I missed that slot, I went without — but I was too afraid to go downstairs in case he chased into the kitchen after me as he always did. Bawling at me, backing me into the corner until I was whimpering and crying, he would just laugh at me and walk away, satisfied by my distress.”

Thankfully, Fiona's abuse never became physical; she eventually received help from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, from which her story is borrowed. But so many children do not have such a favorable outcome.

An average of 31 children experience child abuse or neglect in Colorado every day. Thanks to the 208,999 calls from concerned Coloradans reporting suspected child abuse and neglect in 2015, social services agencies throughout Colorado assessed the safety and well-being of 48,836 children and youth and discovered that 11,462 children and youth experienced child abuse and neglect (Colorado Department of Human Services Division of Child Welfare).

From 2007-2013, 202 Colorado children died of abuse or neglect (Washington Times, April 18, 2014). Fiona is far from alone in her experiences.

You can help United Way of Weld County end abuse, especially during April, which is child abuse prevention month. 1-844-CO-4-KIDS is a statewide hotline for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect. Offered by the Colorado Department of Human Services, Coloradans are asked to use this phone number to help at-risk children and youth.

“There is a growing understanding in our community that we all play a role in keeping our kids safe,” CDHS Executive Director Reggie Bicha said. “An ongoing public-awareness campaign was established so that individuals can better learn to spot the signs of child abuse and neglect. The 1-844-CO-4-KIDS hotline is integral to that campaign, so that community members know what to do when they spot those signs. One call can save a child.”

The hotline directly links callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to the appropriate call-taker among the state's 64 counties and two tribal nations. Counties have historically received and handled reports of child abuse and neglect. That has not changed. Counties remain on the front lines when it comes to this critical role. The hotline was built to streamline the process.

“With this statewide number, the community has easier access to report concerns about a child's safety and well-being,” said Robert Werthwein, CDHS' director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families.

Callers who are unsure of the county in which the child is located, speak a language other than English or Spanish, or are deaf or hard of hearing are directed to a certified call-taker at the Hotline County Connection Center for assistance. All reports of suspected child abuse and neglect remain confidential.

The 1-844-CO-4-KIDS hotline has allowed CDHS to capture critical information that it had not previously been able to track on a statewide basis. That data includes numbers of calls received, call volume, call duration, speed of answer, wait time, call transfers and call abandonment rate, which is critical to ensuring calls across the state are handled quickly and appropriately.

Along with organizations across Colorado, this month United Way of Weld County is bringing special attention to ending child abuse and use of the 1-844-CO-4-KIDS hotline. We hope you will join us.



Tougher fatal child-abuse sentence passes during Maryland General Assembly

by Tamela Baker

ANNAPOLIS — The maximum sentence for child abuse resulting in death has been expanded, but the issue went almost down to the wire as the Maryland General Assembly neared adjournment Monday.

Having survived lengthy conference committee debate over the weekend, the measure was approved as part of the omnibus Justice Reinvestment Act passed by legislators Monday evening.

Del. Brett R. Wilson, R-Washington, had filed a separate bill to raise the maximum under Justice's Law from 40 years to life, but the bill was killed in the House Judiciary Committee.

But when the Justice Reinvestment Act — a measure designed to redirect the state's criminal justice system to provide more treatment for drug offenders and reserve prison space for more violent criminals —reached the House floor for debate, Del. C.T. Mitchell, D-Charles, offered the new maximum as an amendment to the bill.

With differing House and Senate versions of the act, a conference committee of 10 delegates and senators met over the weekend to reconcile the bills. Although some committee members opposed the Justice's Law amendment, it was included in the end.

The Justice Reinvestment Act was approved unanimously in the Senate Monday, but several delegates — including Del. Neil R. Parrott, R-Washington, and Del. Mike McKay, R-Washington/Allegany — voted against it.

Parrott, who sponsored the House version of Justice's Law when it was first enacted in 2012, said his opposition was not due to that amendment but because of other parts of the bill, including provisions for early release and removing mandatory minimum sentences.

Most local bills were approved before the midnight deadline Monday, but a number of individual bills local legislators had filed were destined to die in committee.

Parrott's bills that never got out of committee included measures requiring voter identification; prohibiting access by minors to obscene materials in public libraries and schools; requiring that more highway-user funds be returned to local governments; requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote; and prohibiting extending the time limit for food-stamp benefits for able-bodied adults without dependents.

Likewise, several measures filed by Sen. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, to reform the tax code and the state pension system died in committee.

Some local successes

Serafini had better luck with a bill to expand deductions for contributions to college savings plans to allow each person who contributes funds to the plan to claim deductions.

Currently, only the account holder can claim the deduction. The legislation becomes effective July 1 and applies to the 2016 tax year.

Bills filed by Serafini in the Senate and by Parrott in the House to restore the ability of seminaries and religious colleges to offer general education courses also were approved.

Currently, religious schools exempt from state accreditation are prohibited from teaching general education courses. The new legislation becomes effective July 1.

Meanwhile, Wilson watched several of bills to amend the state's criminal code go down in flames, but he had some success with others.

Legislation to prohibit retaliation against jury members or court officials was approved, and a bill to re-criminalize using marijuana in public passed in the House but stalled in the Senate.

Del. William J. Wivell, R-Washington, also had mixed success this year.

A relative newcomer to the legislature after having been appointed last spring to fill a vacancy, Wivell only filed a handful of bills.

He had success sponsoring the House bill to give disabled veterans in Washington County a property-tax credit, but his other bills were killed in committee.

However, one of them was similar to a bill proposed by Del. Peter Hammen, chairman of the House Health and Government Operations Committee.

That measure would require health insurers that “experience rate” a large employer's

health plan to disclose the “aggregate incurred claims” of the group to the employer when it offers new premium rates.

Wivell, who also is business manager for Saint James School near Hagerstown, said the information had been provided to him in the past when he was settling on renewal rates for the staff there — but had been told since then that insurers were no longer required to provide it.

They will be now. The Hammen-Wivell bill was approved and becomes effective June 1.



Adult clubs join fight against sex trafficking

by John Croman

MINNEAPOLIS -- Adult nightclub owners are partnering with federal investigators in the fight against sex trafficking.

The US Dept. of Homeland Security is offering training sessions to help club workers recognize signs of sex trafficking victims, and guard against efforts by traffickers to target performers as potential victims.

"It is a unique partnership, but it's one that's worked across the country," Eugene Eugene Paulauskas, the acting deputy special agent-in-charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Minnesota, told KARE.

"And it really serves to get the word out to club owners and people who are working in these establishments, people who will be able to see first hand and identify victims of trafficking in clubs."

Traffickers sometimes recruit in clubs, but more often attempt to get their victims hired by clubs as employees or independent contractors, according to Michael Ocello, the president of VCG Holding Corp., which owns nightclubs in several states

"Human trafficking is a scourge on America today and it's across every segment of employment that you can imagine," Ocello told KARE. "So we think that every industry should step up and try to educate their people to know what to look for, and how to react."

In 2010 Ocello founded the group Club Owners Against Sex Trafficking, or COAST, with the aim of creating an "army" of employees who know how to detect and report suspected trafficking.

"We have to recognize that we're a potentially high risk business, as are hotels, restaurants and certain agricultural businesses."

He said traffickers are very controlling of their victims, and try to isolate them so that they don't form friendships with coworkers. They also control their key documents, when it comes to the hiring process.

"When a young woman applies for a job the first thing we're looking at is, do they control their identification? Because a lot of times traffickers will hold that identification as a means of controlling that person," Ocello explained.

"Does that person get to speak? Or does the trafficker seem to want to step in and do all the speaking and kind of control what's going on?"

Rick's Cabaret International, which owns three clubs in Minneapolis and 46 nationally, required all of its Twin Cities employees to attend a training seminar put on by COAST and Homeland Security.

"We vet people rather intensely before they work for us, whether on an independent level or on an employee level," Kevin Arrowood of Rick's Cabaret International told KARE. "So we don't have a huge issue with recruitment in our clubs."

But he said the training is something that can help his employees recognize possible trafficking victims anywhere they are, not just on the job at a nightclub.

"If you can recognize an indicator, wouldn't you want to make a difference and say something? That's the backbone behind this. It has nothing to do with the adult industry per se, but it has very much to do with just humanizing society."



State troopers trained to spot sex trafficking on major Utah highways


Millions of people drive on Interstate 15 everyday, but did you know the vehicle next to you could be used for sex trafficking?

According to Utah Highway Patrol, it has become a serious problem and they are focusing their attention on long-haul truck drivers because UHP says truck drivers are responsible for 80 percent of drug trafficking on the interstate so because of that, there is a presumption that they are involved with sex trafficking as well.

"Something like that is not easy to spot," Sgt. Steve Salas with UHP said. He also said the initiative to train and spot indicators of sex trafficking was started by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

"Officers have to be proactive and find the crime," Salas said.

He said traffickers could be disguised as a family or even a group of friends traveling across the country.

"There's a variety of different cases. You may have children that are being exploited or maybe pimped out that are being transported from let's say Denver, Colorado to Las Vegas and traveling through our state. Then you have children who are homeless or runaways that come from broken families that are approached and transitioned into prostitutes by pimps from some of these larger cities."

Through special training, troopers are being told and shown how to spot the signs of sex trafficking.

"We want to make the officers aware of it, and if they do see it, we want them to recognize it and try and pursue it."

For example, they are told that when they pull someone over to be observant to their surroundings and ask themselves questions as they look around the vehicle.

Are the children wearing provocative clothing? Are there condoms in the vehicle? Are they giving the male in the car a nickname?

"P, Daddy, Boyfriend, those are the more common ones you're going to hear."

Salas said lots of the girls won't have identification on them, making it difficult to get an accurate name or birthday.

"The number one thing that we would like officers to do, if they see a child that maybe looks unkempt or un-cared for, and they are under 18, we want them to run that child through our local dispatch to make sure they're not wanted, missing or a runaway."

Troopers are told if they see a scenario similar to this, they should somehow separate the adults from the child and try to conduct an interview to help clarify questions or concerns.

"These children are not going to approach you. They're not walking into the police station and asking for help," Salas said. "These females are being beaten, being raped and within a year they've basically lost their personality; It's a horrible crime."

Salas said some in the trucking community have been caught for crimes like transporting narcotics, identity fraud and transporting stolen property.

"The trucking industry is a huge industry and the majority of the traffic moving on our interstate on a daily basis is commercial vehicles. So it's an assumption on our part that they are involved in this."

But because there are so many people traveling to Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, troopers are looking at every vehicle as a possible carrier.

"I-15, I-70, and I-80 corridors are huge drug corridors coming from all your drug sources from around the United States," Salas said.

If someone is caught attempting to commit the crime of sex trafficking, they could see prison time.

"If a suspect is charged federally, that person can look anywhere from three years to life in prison, depending on the circumstances."


Fighting sex trafficking: behind the app helping the FBI bust pimps

by Angela McCormack and Tom Tilley

In her college dorm room on a Saturday night, 21-year-old Emily Kennedy trawls through hundreds of online ads offering up women for sex.

The ads are posted publicly online, and they're endless. Emily's trying to find patterns in ads posted by pimps in the illegal sex trade - consistent phone numbers, spelling mistakes, syntax, phrasing; any clues to link handfuls of ads together. It's 2011.

By 2016, those nights spent at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have paid off.

Emily's senior thesis research has become the basis for Traffic Jam, a piece of software that finds patterns in ads posted by pimps. Those patterns now help detectives - even in agencies like the FBI - to figure out who's behind each post.

Traffic Jam has helped detectives rescue hundreds of victims of human trafficking in the US, Emily Kennedy tells Hack.

Taking on the illegal sex trade

Deciding to fight the human sex trade isn't the most conventional hobby for a college undergrad. But Emily Kennedy tells Hack she was inspired from a young age to do something about human trafficking - after seeing the work of a youth leader at her church, who was rescuing minors from the red-light district in Cambodia.

The stats paint a pretty grim picture of how the illegal sex trade flourishes in the United States. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, their hotline received 22,795 cases of human trafficking between 2007 and 2015.

That's over seven human trafficking cases reported every day.

Emily started researching the illegal sex trade in America by going online - and beginning to “think like a detective”, she says.

“Most sex trafficking in the US masquerades as prostitution, and because pimps want the broadest audience for their ads, they tend to stay on the public web, because it's the most mainstream; it's the fastest, easiest way to get buyers.”

“What I didn't know when I first started the research at my university is that there's tens of thousands of these ads per day.”

How the software works

Tracing human traffickers - who often change up their mobile phone numbers to dodge authorities - is a matter of following “breadcrumbs” left online, Emily says.

Basically, Traffic Jam sifts through masses of data online, and matches up subtle consistencies. Names and phone numbers might change all the time, but spelling, grammar and syntax can become like an online fingerprint for the people posting these ads.

One ad isn't much use to a detective who's trying to catch a human trafficker. But once a group of ads are linked together, a clearer picture emerges - shedding light on how, when and where a certain pimp might be operating.

“We gather data from these websites every day, and then when a detective is searching for a specific person, they may search by contact information, or a phrase in an ad,” Emily explains.

“We've learnt over time that pimps have ways of throwing off law enforcement. They change their phone number over time.

“And that means you may be missing hundreds of ads that could be evidence in a case against this pimp. So we use machine learning, and what it basically does is it can track the pattern of this group moving over time. Even when they change their contact information like their phone number.”

Catching pimps with a smartphone

Traffic Jam has been adapted for tablets and smartphones, making the technology even more accessible for detectives following human trafficking cases.

“We know that hundreds of victims have been rescued [with the help of Traffic Jam], and those are just the ones we know about. So a lot of the federal agencies that we work with, it's kind of funny, but sometimes they can't even give us the details - but they tell us to keep the innovations coming, because it's going really well.”

In a testimony posted on Traffic Jam's website, a detective from the Oregon's Sheriff Office says Traffic Jam is one-of-a-kind.

For Emily, Traffic Jam's successes are invaluable. “One of the stories that sticks out in my mind the most was hearing about a sex offender in the US who had been traveling a lot, pimping minors. He had evaded law enforcement for over ten years. And because of the machine learning that we do, that ability to connect pieces of information, the detective told us that we were the only reason he was able to ultimately capture this guy. That kind of stuff makes me really excited.”

Every rescued victim counts

Emily admits that the scale of America's illegal sex trade, and the amount of data that comes with it, can sometimes be disheartening.

"The victims are the reason we are doing this. And back when I started this project in 2011 I said that if we could help with one person being rescued, that all the work would be worth it. And I still very much believe that.”

Traffic Jam has high hopes of expanding, and plans to develop new ways of catching the most elusive pimps of the trade.

“Our goal has at least been to keep the detectives on par with what's going on, to catch the low hanging fruit - the ones who are not as savvy, the pimps who are easier to catch. But as we've done this work more, we've seen the guys who are smarter, and it kind of fires you up. Those are the guys we want to catch.

"I think we're at the point now where we're really wanting to understand what the next frontier of this crime is, and then just be pushing that frontier technologically.”




Sex offender checks boost public safety

Those who commit sexual acts upon children are among the lowest of the low.

They prey on the defenseless and the weak. Sex offenders have a twisted mentality that most of us will never understand.

Those who commit these acts deserve to have the book thrown at them, and when they are released back into the public they must be monitored closely because statistics show that many of these offenders will attack innocence again.

In Bowling Green, 62 people are on the sex offender registry, which may be accessed online through the Kentucky State Police website.

We are fortunate in our community to have a police department that conducts sex offender compliance checks. The Bowling Green Police Department conducts compliance checks twice a year on every sex offender living in the city. Police check everything from addresses where the registrants are supposed to live to all other stipulations, such as living a certain distance from a school or day care, limited or no internet access and other restrictions.

We're glad that the police do these checks to ensure that sex offenders are in compliance with the terms of their release. The BGPD understands the public's concerns when it pertains to sex offenders and it should be credited for seeing if these offenders are in compliance.

This week, police checked nearly 50 registrants and made one arrest. Police, with the help of the Department of Homeland Security, arrested a lifetime sex offender registrant who is accused of advertising tutoring services on the Craigslist website.

Patrick H. Hicks was arrested and charged with three counts of failure to comply with the sex offender registry. He also allegedly had two unregistered email addresses. Part of his compliance requirements are that he registers all of his email addresses with probation and parole.

Police are unsure exactly what the advertisement offered, but it is cases like this that show the importance of police officers making these checks on registered sex offenders.

Not only do police do these checks twice a year, the department also responds if someone calls in about an offender who is not in compliance. The Warren County Sheriff's Office also answers these complaints and conducts regular compliance checks as well.

We are very lucky to have two fine law enforcement departments that are looking out for our citizens and our children in conducting these checks and checking in on offenders who are not in compliance.

It's very much appreciated because people with kids and even those without need to know if there is a sex offender in their neighborhood and if they are in compliance.


New York

N.Y. Senate Democrats to push bill to help child sex abuse victims seek justice against predators, public institutions


ALBANY — State Senate Democrats are introducing a bill that would not only eliminate the time limits for child sex abuse victims to bring criminal or civil cases, but also make it easier for them to sue public institutions like schools, the Daily News has learned.

Sponsored by Senate Democratic Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Sen. Brad Hoylman, the bill would be the most comprehensive in the Legislature in making it easier for victims and law enforcement to go after predators.

"This is a crucial step to ensuring that all victims of child sex abuse get their day in court and that the predators at fault are held criminally and civilly responsible," said Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers). "We must protect victims no matter where or when the heinous crime took place."

The legislation borrows components from several bills that are already out there to address the issue.

But it also goes further by doing away with a requirement that kids abused at public institutions like schools or the foster care system file an intent to sue the government entity within 90 days of the incident occurring.

The Catholic Church has argued the 90-day requirement is unfair since current law gives an adult who was abused as a child up to the age of 23 to bring a lawsuit against religious organizations, the Boy Scouts and other private and non-profit institutions.

The Senate Democratic bill would do away with the time limit for adults abused as children to bring civil lawsuits as well as existing timeframes to bring criminal cases against child predators.

And it would open a window to give those who can no longer sue under current law a year to bring a lawsuit.

"No issue has greater urgency than providing justice to survivors of child sexual abuse and exposing the perpetrators of these abominable crimes by lifting New York's obsolete statute of limitations in both criminal and civil cases," Hoylman (D-Manhattan) said.

He has been the prime sponsor of a separate piece of legislation with Assemblywoman Margaret Markey that would eliminate the statute of limitations for a child sex abuse victim to bring a lawsuit as an adult while also including the one-year window for past victims to sue. But that bill does not treat public entities the same way.

Hoylman said his new omnibus bill with Stewart-Cousins "creates a single standard for both private and public institutions and will help child sexual abuse survivors achieve their day in court."

The bill, like those before it, faces a tough road, especially since it is being introduced by the Democratic minority that has little control over what legislation makes it to the Senate floor for a vote.

In addition, key provisions of the bill, while favored by victim advocates, have been vehemently opposed by major groups.

The church is vehemently against the one-year window giving victims in cases where the statute of limitations has expired under current law a year to bring a lawsuit, claiming it could bankrupt religious groups and organizations like the Boy Scouts.

Meanwhile, the last time a lawmaker sought to remove the requirement that sex abuse victims file an intent to sue a school or other public entity within 90 days of the incident was in 2009.

But Markey removed the provision two years later after strenuous opposition from groups representing school districts, mayors and counties.

One Assembly Democratic source fears again going after the public institutions could serve as a "poison pill" that will doom the legislation.

Markey, who has been the Legislature's lead advocate for years to make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice, had not seen the latest Senate Democratic bill on the issue, her spokesman Michael Armstrong said.

But Armstrong said that "having the conversation is probably a healthy thing."

Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the Catholic Conference, was also unfamiliar with the new legislation.

"We'd have to take a look at the bill before we comment," Poust said. "There's all sorts of ways to address the issue of child sex abuse and we're open to looking at any possible solution."

A Senate GOP spokesman had not seen the bill and had no comment.

But a Republican insider noted that the Democrats were in charge of the chamber in 2009 and 2010 and did not pass the Child Victims Act.

That included then Sen. Eric Schneiderman, who chaired the powerful Codes Committee where the measure came up for a vote and died, the GOPer said. Schneiderman, now the attorney general, recently sent a letter to legislative leaders in both houses urging they pass a bill that would extend or eliminate the time limit abuse victims have to bring criminal and civil cases.

Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, said the Assembly Dems will have to review the new bill before commenting.

Whyland said he does expect Heastie and his members will discuss before the legislative session ends in June whether to move any bill addressing the child abuse issue. The Assembly passed the Markey bill four separate times, but the last time was in 2008.


New York

N.Y. Senate GOP 'too busy' to fix child-rape law as key Republican says changing statute is unfair to perverts


ALBANY — The roadblock to justice for countless sex abuse victims in New York is the continued handiwork of Senate Republicans more concerned about the rights of pervs than their accusers — or too busy to even consider reforms.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan through his staff wouldn't even discuss the matter this week despite repeated requests from the Daily News.

“We aren't going to discuss it until after the (state) budget is settled,” Flanagan spokesman Scott Reif said in an email.

But several Senate GOPers told The News this week they have little appetite to change the law requiring child victims of sex abuse to seek legal recourse before their 23rd birthday.

Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, a retired Syracuse lawyer, said the current law strikes a fair balance.

“I believe that there's a purpose for a statute of limitations,” DeFrancisco said. “The further back the case is, the more difficult it is for anybody to defend themselves. Witnesses are gone. That's why a statute of limitation is there.”

That goes for both criminal and civil cases, he said.

The News, in a series of recent stories, has detailed cases from foster homes, schools and the sports arena where victims have been unable to seek legal recourse because of New York's statute of limitations.

Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu, 59, a foster dad in Suffolk County, was charged last month with abusing seven children, at least one as young as 8. He hosted as many as 140 kids in the last two decades. Investigators believe there were more victims, but they couldn't press charges because the statute of limitations had expired.

State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) earlier this week told The News he doesn't see an “impetus” to moving the bill this year, though he didn't rule it out completely.

But history suggests a vote is highly unlikely this year.

Three times in the past decade the Assembly has passed a bill sponsored by Queens Democrat Margaret Markey that would not only make it easier for victims to sue, but would also grant a one-year window for those whose statute of limitations had expired to bring a civil lawsuit. The last time the bill cleared the Assembly was in 2008.

But under pressure from the Catholic Church and other religious organizations, the Senate failed to take up the matter each time. Republicans, who control the Senate, don't see that changing this year.

The Markey bill is sponsored in the Senate by state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat who as a minority party member has virtually no power to bring the bill to the floor without a Republican sign-off.

“It's the right thing to do,” Markey said of passing the legislation. “It's about protecting children and victims who have been abused.”

Markey told The News she believes Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will allow her bill to come to the floor for a vote in her chamber before the legislative session ends in June.

Heastie, immersed in budget talks, had no comment. His spokesman, Michael Whyland, was noncommittal.

“As with any bill, it is something we would discuss with the members of our conference,” Whyland said.

Assembly Democrats in recent years have been split over the issue. Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) introduced a competing bill that would allow future cases related to child sexual abuse to be filed until a person is 28, as opposed to the current 23. His bill, which has the support of the Church, does not provide for a one-year window for lawsuits in cases where the statute of limitations has expired.

Responding to a Wednesday Hoylman column in The News pushing for passage of his bill, Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, called on the senator to revise the legislation.

The Church not only fears that allowing cases where the statute of limitations has expired to be brought would cause financial ruin for religious groups and nonprofits like the Boy Scouts, but also is unfair since public institutions like schools and foster care agencies are not affected.

Current state law requires victims to file a notice of intent to sue a government entity within 90 days of the incident occurring.

“I implore you to amend your bill on this subject to include all childhood victims: Your bill does not address those who have been abused in the public schools,” Donohue wrote.

While Hoylman supports treating private and public institutions the same, he said “it would be wrong to hide behind the issue to block legislation from being passed.

“We should do everything in our power to give all survivors of child sexual abuse their day in court, as well as get predators off the street and behind bars,” he said.



Justice for sex-abuse victims dividing lawmakers

by John Finnerty

HARRISBURG — Amid outrage over hundreds of cases of child sex abuse committed by priests, lawmakers are now divided over how much time victims should have to seek justice.

A proposal to lift the time limit for prosecution of sex-abuse crimes, in current form, only looks to the future but does nothing for victims of long-ago crimes.

Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks County, calls it a "slap in the face."

Rozzi, himself a survivor of sex abuse by a priest, has led efforts to eliminate statutes of limitations. He plans a proposal to allow victims of old crimes to sue their abusers, he said, which will bring forward victims “from every corner of the state."

Debate is unfolding in the aftermath of a grand jury's finding that priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese abused hundreds of children, over four decades — actions that were covered up by church leaders.

Those crimes happened too long ago to bring sex-abuse charges — in criminal or civil court. Legal limits depend on the age of a victim, who may seek criminal charges until they turn 50, and make civil claims until age 30.

The House proposal removes the age limit for criminal charges and allow victims to press a civil claim until age 50. But it would only apply to new cases. The House Judiciary Committee approved the measure by a 26-1 vote on Tuesday.

David Hickton, the U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh, has said he is considering racketeering charges against church officials who covered up the abuse.

But Rozzi said lawmakers can allow victims in the diocese to seek justice, regardless of what the U.S. attorney does.

Barring old claims rewards the church for successfully covering up crimes until statutes of limitations passed, he said.

“Now that we have this information, we have to make it right,” he said.

Different direction

Controversy over what should happen is dividing lawmakers who are normally close allies.

The Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance is among those backing Rozzi's effort.

"All victims of childhood sexual abuse should be afforded an opportunity for justice," wrote Angela Liddle, the group's CEO, in a memo to lawmakers.

Lifting the time limit on criminal charges won't just force the church to confront its old sins, Rozzi said. Other churches and youth groups will be on the hook, as well.

Still, Rozzi said, the strongest resistance seems to be coming from the church or its supporters.

Rozzi's fellow Democrat, Rep. Bryan Barbin, also wants to change the proposal — but from a different direction. He said the state should allows victims to sue state and local agencies for negligence in covering up crimes or protecting child predators.

School districts and state agencies are now immune to lawsuits — a protection that Penn State didn't have as a state-funded but independent university. The state's flagship university has paid close to $93 million to 32 sex abuse victims of Jerry Sandusky, former assistant football coach, according to budget documents.

Barbin said he also plans to propose safeguards to ensure that old abuse claims have merit. Those include requiring victims obtain “certificates of merit” from mental health counselors. He may also propose a requirement that victims demonstrate that they sought counseling before age 30, if filing a claim as an older adult.

Rozzi said those suggestions are unnecessary and "muddying it up."

“He's making more hoops for victims to go through. It could kill the legislation," he said.

Conflicting proposals

Rozzi may have reason to be concerned, said Cathleen Palm, executive director of the Center for Children's Justice, in Berks County.

Allowing claims against schools and government agencies might force lawmakers who would otherwise reflexively support the bill to take a longer look, she said.

Rozzi said a similar amendment derailed a Colorado effort to allow victims of old sex crimes to file lawsuits. Catholic lobbyists there pushed lawmakers to drop immunity protections for schools and government entities, he said.

Barbin said he's not trying to torpedo the proposal, and he's not working just to advance the cause of the church. Barbin said he's talked to people on all sides of the issue, including attorneys from the Catholic Conference.

Lifting the immunity for schools and government agencies is important, he said, because victims shouldn't be treated differently depending on where a predator worked.

“I can't worry about what Mark (Rozzi) thinks,” he said. “I'm trying to figure out what is the best thing to do to protect the most people.”

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference doesn't oppose getting rid of the statute of limitations, said a spokeswoman, but giving new life to old cases is another matter.

“We are concerned about potential amendments that would retroactively nullify the civil statute of limitations that could lead to the closure of parishes, schools and ministries of today's Catholics, who are in no way responsible for abuse that occurred decades ago,” said Amy B. Hill, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Conference.

In Delaware, a similar retroactive law led to lawsuits against more than half of the parishes in the state, she said. Those cases were settled as part of an agreement between the Wilmington Diocese and 124 victims.

The settlement — which included stipulations for significant changes to improve child safety in the diocese — was worth $77 million, according to the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse. Survivors received $75,000 to $3 million, depending on severity of the abuse.

Access to justice

Other advocates said any progress to stretch out the statute of limitations is welcome, as long as the debate doesn't completely derail the legislation.

Palm, of the Center for Children's Justice, said removing the limit for future cases “is an important step forward."

"It is worth recognizing the big deal it is to say, in the future, prosecutors and victims will not be denied an important tool to achieve justice, healing and promote public safety," she said.

But David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said removing a "window" on when charges may be pursued ensures that "sometimes, even decades later, wrongdoers may be held responsible for endangering kids, hiding predators and deceiving parents.”

“Bishops pretend clergy sex crimes and cover-ups are somehow ancient history. They aren't," he said. "The three most important and chilling words in the Altoona grand jury report are these: ‘Nothing has changed.'”

State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria County, said victims of sex abuse in his area should get the same access to justice as those in Delaware.

About 300 people have called an attorney general's hotline to report they are victims of sex crimes committed by priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.

Burns said three victims of sex abuse in the diocese have approached him but insisted that they won't alert authorities unless the law is changed.

“Do we want victims in the shadows?” he asked.

Abuse has ruined lives, he said. Victims have tumbled into alcoholism and drug addiction. Some may have been reluctant to engage in normal relationships because of the abuse.

In some cases, he said, victims committed suicide.

“It's mind numbing the chaos this has caused,” he said.



Get involved now to help prevent child abuse

by Phyllis Barkhurst, Sid Johnson and Jeff Todahl

Every ambitious goal needs a firm foundation. To meet 90by30's goal of reducing child abuse and neglect in Lane County 90 percent by 2030, we believe it is essential to first understand child abuse-related community attitudes, public opinion and local social norms.

A desire for that crucial baseline knowledge was the impetus behind the Child Abuse Prevention Climate Survey, which was designed by researchers at the University of Oregon's Center for the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect and administered to a randomly selected and statistically representative sample of Lane County residents.

The information captured by the survey is providing the foundation on which to build a locally generated child abuse prevention plan. Survey results showed that 38 percent of Lane County women and 31 percent of men reported that they were neglected, abused or both in childhood. Translated across the population, that suggests as many as 100,000 Lane County adults experienced child abuse or neglect.

With clear evidence about the long-term impact of child abuse and neglect across the lifespan, we can clearly state that the reality of child abuse and neglect affects all of Lane County in very real ways, every day.

Other findings from the study found that 98 percent of local residents believe that adults “should do everything we can to ensure that all children in our community are safe.” And nearly 90 percent believe there is a role for every person, neighborhood, group and organization to prevent child abuse and neglect.

These data provide a basis for a great deal of hope: While child abuse continues to be a very significant and complex problem, residents believe that there is a shared value in preventing it and in developing a plan to do so.

As part of this path forward, Lane County residents in the survey indicated they would support fully an effort to reduce child abuse and neglect — provided that they were sure that it is likely to be effective; uses resources responsibly; includes credible leadership; is a local, community-based effort; and includes nonjudgmental attitudes toward parents and families.

These are clear messages to organizations working on child-abuse prevention regarding what it will take for community members to become active and involved in local efforts.

These are messages that 90by30 is taking to heart as we move forward.

The findings relate well to the reasons for annually proclaiming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month nationally, statewide and locally. The first goal of the prevention month is to draw attention to the reality that child abuse and neglect remain a problem: Close to 5,000 cases of child abuse are reported annually in Lane County. The next goal of this annual prevention month is a call to action — to create ways for individuals and groups to be part of the solution.

Our local goal for this year's prevention month is to continue to add to the sheer number of individuals and groups joining in local efforts. It is only with a critical mass of people working together that we actually will make major shifts and significantly reduce child abuse and neglect in our communities.

With almost 100 percent of local residents sharing a belief that it is our responsibility to keep children safe, it is up to local organizations to continue to provide a way for people to act on that value and join in local efforts. To that end, a consortium of local groups, including 90by30, got together this year to kick off a new collaborative approach to reducing child abuse and neglect.

To learn about Child Abuse Prevention Month activities and to see a wide array of volunteer opportunities across Lane County, please go online to Get

Phyllis Barkhurst is the director of the 90by30 Initiative and co-director of the Center for the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect. Sid Johnson is the former president and chief executive officer of Prevent Child Abuse America. Jeff Todahl, an associate professor in the Counseling Psychology and Human Services Department of the College of Education at the University of Oregon, is co-­director and director of research of the Center for the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect.



Child Abues & Neglect: A Big Public Health Problem

by Matthew Peddie

One of the biggest public health concerns in Central Florida is child abuse and neglect. That's according to one of the non-profits that deals with the problem.

In Osceola County, there were more than 3,000 reports made to the state's Department of Children and Families' hotline in 2015.

But executive director of the Osceola County Children's Advocacy Center, Joy Chuba, said child abuse and neglect is significantly under-reported.

“So the scope of the issue is much larger, and unfortunately it's an issue that can breed in secrecy, and that's why during the month of April it's really important to talk about, that child abuse and neglect is one of our largest public health concerns when we look at what the prevalence is,” said Chuba.

Chuba said people can take action to help prevent child abuse- by volunteering with a children's group, acting as a mentor or becoming a foster parent.

“They can do something as simple as talk about the issue and help support parents if they're struggling, can volunteer with a children's group, be a mentor, be a foster parent.”

Neighboring Orange County has the second highest volume of abuse reports to the state's Department of Children and Families' hotline: 14,000 reports in 2015.

Orange County will hold a workshop on prevention and treatment strategies today.


TLC Promotes Child Sexual Abuee Prevention Month As They Continue To Push New Duggar Series


(PSA on site)

TLC recently created a PSA for Darkness to Light, an organization that helps adults “prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.” TLC will be airing the PSA throughout April in honor of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention month; however, not everyone is happy about ad noting that TLC has shown blatant disregard for sexual abuse victims by continuing to give the controversial Duggar family a platform to the public despite sexual abuse in the home, and what many consider an irresponsible response to the discovered abuse. Interestingly, while TLC is pushing the Darkness to Light PSA, they are also pushing the new Duggar series that focuses on the Duggar siblings.

TLC re-posted an ad that they created for Darkness to Light on their Facebook page proclaiming their support of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention month.

However, this isn't the first time that TLC has coordinated with the organization. Just last year TLC called upon Darkness to Light as a means to damage control after it was revealed that the Duggar's oldest son Josh had molested his own sisters. Many called for the Duggars to immediately be removed from the TLC lineup but the network was not so quick to end their long-standing relationship with the mega family. Instead, TLC opted to use the situation as a way to promote child sexual abuse awareness and utilized the Duggars in a spotlight piece on sexual abuse.

“Over these past weeks, TLC has consulted regularly with leading victims' rights and advocacy organizations in the U.S., including RAINN and Darkness to Light, to discuss how to use this moment to address the issue and make a positive impact. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is not an isolated issue; it affects many children and families around the world. To that end, we are partnering with both organizations on a multi-platform campaign to raise awareness and educate parents and families about the issue. In the first phase of this initiative, TLC will work closely with both groups and with the Duggar family on a one-hour documentary that will include Jill and Jessa and other survivors and families that have been affected by abuse.”

The piece contained very little of the Duggars which pleased most sexual abuse advocates, but many felt the network let down sexual abuse victims when the refused to keep the Duggars off of the air. While formally cancelling the 19 Kids and Counting program, it was evident that TLC was not willing to cut all ties with the family, as they continued to work closely with the Duggars on the sexual abuse program and eventually a “three-part” series called Jill & Jessa: Counting On, featuring the newlywed Duggar daughters, Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald.

After testing the waters with the three-part series, which focused on Jessa Seewald's birthing of first child Spurgeon Seewald and Jill's move to Central America, the network quickly picked up the show in the form of a full-blown series. However, instead of keeping the focus on Jill and Jessa despite leaving them in the series name, the network has shifted gears and is using the program to highlight each Duggar sibling.

This has left many wondering exactly where TLC stands with regard to sexual abuse, as the network has seemingly monetized the Duggar girls' abuse by teasing at their response to the scandals by having tear-filled promos for the latest series. Following the latest push for the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Month by TLC, many people have taken to vocalizing their disdain for the network's handling of the Duggar family. One commenter said that the spot is a slap in the face to sexual abuse victims, as the network is supporting the “most vile and bigoted family in the USA.”

“This is being portrayed as a slap in the face to all sexual assault victims. You keep spporting the most vile and bigoted family in the USA… yes, the Duggars and their offsprings, and yet you tout your support of CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH…. Are you kidding???? The only way you will show your support of CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH is to announce that you have cancelled any show in the future associated with the Duggar, Seewald, or Dillard families! [sic]”


Witnessing domestic violence can have lasting impact on youths, even if they aren't abused

by Lois M. Collins

When Roger Lockridge has to ponder what he should do as father to his 3-year-old son Roger Wayne, he asks himself what his own father would have done.

Then he usually does something else.

Lockridge is a childhood domestic violence (CDV) survivor. Now 34, the Dawson, West Virginia, man often saw his mom and dad fight. The last time was when he was 10 and his mom said she was leaving and taking the kids. The man held his wife, his kids and their grandmother at gunpoint for nearly 90 minutes, until he felt they were so intimidated that he could go outside and disable the car. He was drunk and about to pass out, Lockridge says. Lockridge's mom called police.

For four months, mom and kids lived in a domestic violence shelter, where they got therapy and practical assistance as his parents divorced.

Although his mother was physically abused, not him, Lockridge lived in the shadow of domestic violence — just like 15 million American children today and an estimated 400 million adults who lived with it as kids, according to Brian F. Martin, CEO and founder of the Childhood Domestic Violence Association.

"It's surprising that it's not discussed more," said Martin. "Most people don't know what childhood domestic violence is. It's when you grow up in a home where there's violence between parents or toward a parent, perhaps by a significant other."

Some experts call it "child witness to violence," a name Martin said fails to capture the damage it inflicts.

He knows. Growing up, he saw his mother's boyfriend beat her. It took him years to get over the idea that he, a little boy then, should have stopped it.

Naming and assessing

Experts have struggled with what to call it when children witness violence at home, said Martin. It's not the same as child abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse or emotional abuse, though some of the children experience those, too. Martin numbers CDV among "about 10 adversities researchers say we can experience in childhood homes. … If you have one, you usually have more than one. … This is the one they don't talk about or fully understand."

CDV encodes what he calls a "series of negative beliefs" in the child's self-concept.

In a 2012 presentation, Betsy Groves, founder of the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center, said witnessing domestic violence teaches children no place is safe, no one can protect them and adults are vulnerable. Those children say their fear leads to aggression.

Children are not equally affected by seeing domestic violence, but it's a "particularly toxic form of trauma" for them; witnessing it may psychologically traumatize a child as much as being the direct victim, she said.

A UNICEF report found "children who live with and are aware of violence in the home face many challenges and risks that can last throughout their lives," including greater risk of being abused, increasing harm to the child's physical, emotional and social development, and a good chance it will kick off generational violence.

Martin said a researcher told him "who we believe we are is decided before we ever have a chance to choose. Then the brain finds evidence of what it believes is true." Martin felt like a "very weak coward" for not stopping the assaults on his mother. As he grew up, he said his mind found evidence to support it.

Feelings of guilt and shame kill willpower, he noted.

Among ways Martin said CDV strikes:

• Health. "The leading 10 causes of death are linked to these homes. It ages your DNA," he said. He notes those people are six times more likely to kill themselves, 50 times more prone to addiction and 74 times more apt to be violent. While most won't be violent, their lives don't go the way they want, either.

• Emotional. "It's very hard to find happiness if you believe terrible things about yourself," Martin said.

• Relationships. "The best predictor of whether you will be in a violent relationship is whether you grew up in one. No one addresses that. It's like trying to reduce the incidence of lung cancer without addressing smoking," he said.

"Silence is a problem, along with judgment from those who didn't experience it, who say to just get over it. … The first step is knowing what it's called, then seeking to understand it. Then you need to share it with someone who you know cares about you. It's amazing what those three steps can do."

Lingering legacy

"There are times still when I lack self-confidence, though I am an accomplished writer and recently bought my own home," said Lockridge. "I think that stems from my experience as a kid."

CDV never completely stopped affecting Lockridge, who has spoken publicly about it many times and wrote his story for Martin's book "Invincible: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up with Domestic Violence and the Truths to Set You Free." "I did not want my wife and children, if I was going to be blessed to have any, to experience this," he said. "It shapes how I conduct myself as a husband and as a father. Everything I have seen my parents go through, I try to do the exact opposite.

"Both my parents were alcoholics; I've never tasted alcohol. My dad bounced between jobs and when he was unemployed, mom had to carry the load. My wife doesn't have to work. If she wants to get a job, she can, but she doesn't have to," he said. Of his little boy, he adds, "I hope when he's an adult, he will tell others how great a dad he had."

Years later, after his dad finished rehab and stopped drinking, he re-established bonds with his children, a year before he died. Lockridge said not all of his siblings had the same experience or memories of a violent family life that he did. "My younger brother has no negative memories of my dad and my baby sister has no memories of him at all," he noted, because of their age when the family split. Older half-siblings were grown before his parents got together.

The UNICEF report said all children need a safe home environment and to know that "there are adults who will listen to them, believe them and shelter them." They also need routines, support services and to learn domestic violence is wrong. An important aspect of that is learning nonviolent conflict resolution techniques.



Adverse Childhood Experiences a priority of county health officials

by Marissa Harshman

Throughout her childhood, Delena Meyer encountered social and human services from every angle.

She's the daughter of an addict who died from AIDS. She went through child protective services and the foster care system. She was a teen mom who gave up a child for adoption. She married, and divorced, young. She was a single mom. And she struggled with emotional issues.

She was on the “stereotypical trajectory of a troubled life,” she said.

But eight years ago, Meyer learned that she wasn't the only one touched by Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. Far from it.

Research shows 62 percent of adults have at least one such traumatic experience. About 42 percent of Washington high schoolers have three or more.

“It's not just some of us,” Meyer said. “It's all of us. It's just a matter of flavor and degree.”

Clark County Public Health has taken notice of the impact of ACEs and made it a top priority. Meyer has joined the department's efforts, becoming a part of the ACEs Action Alliance dedicated to creating a trauma-informed, resilient community.

“Public health made it not just a focus but the No. 1 health priority because there is not an area that it doesn't touch,” Meyer said.

Long-term impacts

Adverse Childhood Experiences are potentially traumatic events that occur before age 18 and impact long-term mental and physical health. Examples of ACEs include emotional, physical or sexual abuse; physical or emotional neglect; loss of a parent due to divorce, death or incarceration; living with a mentally ill or drug- or alcohol-addicted family member; or being exposed to violence.

A groundbreaking study in 1985, the ACE Study, followed 17,000 Kaiser Permanente patients in San Diego. The study showed that exposure to ACEs can increase the risk of a variety of physical, mental and behavioral problems later in life, including teen pregnancy, alcoholism and drug abuse, depression, heart and liver disease, multiple sexual partners, sexually transmitted diseases, intimate partner violence, suicide attempts and unintended pregnancies.

The study found that those with four or more ACEs — deemed a “high” ACE score — compared with those who have no ACEs, are seven times more likely to be alcoholic; seven times as likely to have sex before age 15; and twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer.

The study not only revealed the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences but also the multi-generational impact of ACEs. Parents with two or more ACEs were found to be eight times more likely to have conditions that create ACEs for their own children, according to the study.

The study, for the first time, provided a “clear and undeniable link between childhood trauma and health risk factors, chronic disease and mental illness,” said Cyndie Meyer, program manager with Clark County Public Health.

One thing the study did not do, however, was explain why those traumatic experiences had such a profound impact. But, in the years since, additional research has shed light on that connection.

Toll on brain

Childhood exposure to traumatic events impacts neurodevelopment, which leads to social-emotional and cognitive adaptations. Those adaptations lead to the risk factors for disease, disability and social problems.

For example, when a child is living in fear, his survival mechanism will take over, flooding his brain with cortisol and adrenaline, Cyndie Meyer said. The cortisol and adrenaline alter brain development, she said.

Likewise, if a child is neglected or not stimulated, certain areas of his brain don't develop normally, Cyndie Meyer said. If a healthy child's brain pathways resemble a full, spring tree with lots of branches, a neglected child's brain looks more like a bare, winter tree, said Joan Caley, a member of the ACEs Action Alliance.

But just because a child is exposed to traumatic events, even numerous ACEs, that does not mean he or she is destined to be plagued by emotional and behavioral issues, chronic illness and early death, Cyndie Meyer said.

“Just one strong, caring relationship with an adult can counter that,” she said.

And that's an important piece of public health's work — not only preventing ACEs but mitigating the impact on the multiple generations of adults living with high ACE scores.

The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington awarded Clark County Public Health a three-year grant — $50,000 for each of the three years — for ACEs prevention work in Battle Ground. Ultimately, health officials hope to extend efforts to the rest of the community, Cyndie Meyer said.

In February, public health hosted a training session on ACEs for 200 school district employees from two Battle Ground schools. The district plans to conduct the training at all of its other schools in the next year, Cyndie Meyer said.

Working with partners

Health officials are also working with medical providers, faith groups, the police force and businesses in Battle Ground. The pilot project will train medical providers to screen for ACEs and business owners how to become trauma-informed organizations. The Battle Ground Police Department has already trained its officers in ACEs and how they impact brain development.

The goal with the project, Caley said, is to identify the available resources in the community and the gaps that need to be addressed.

“We don't have everything we need in this community right now,” she said.

One area that needs work is supporting parents once they are informed about ACEs, said Delena Meyer.

“It is absolutely traumatizing to tell a person what their childhood has done to them and not give them the resources to mitigate and minimize that,” she said.

Delena Meyer was 28 years old when she learned about ACEs. For the first time, she was able to differentiate between life situations that were the result of her decisions and those caused by the decisions of others.

“I no longer felt ashamed for things that were not my choices,” Delena Meyer said.

Instead, she was able to move on from the things she couldn't control and take ownership of the things she could.

“I had the epiphany, I wasn't crazy and I wasn't broken,” Delena Meyer said. “My brain had unequivocally been affected.”

“I had already beaten the odds for people like me,” she added. “It showed me that everyone is like me. It took away the otherness.”