South County: Silenced voices speak through quilt
by Jerri Anne Hopkins
The world is full of voices, each with its own unique story to tell. But too many of these voices are silenced, unable to tell their stories because of violence, fear, sadness, or simply being ignored.
Geri Finio, a custom embroidery artist in Edgewater and a survivor of childhood abuse, wanted a way to use her embroidery to help these lost voices be heard.
"These are stories that society doesn't like to listen to, like they can't hear them or don't know how to respond to them," Finio said. "People carry scars that you can't see and, if we can't see them, we don't talk about them."
She started by making a quilt for Silenced Voices, a support group for survivors of domestic and child abuse. The quilt combined embroidered representations of the thoughts of abuse survivors and some of their words to give inspiration and hope to other survivors.
For her second quilt, she worked with the Anne Arundel County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Inc., which advocates for abused and neglected children who are involved in juvenile court proceeding through no fault of their own. Twelve child volunteers currently in foster care, supported by their counselors, chose fabrics whose colors and patterns were meaningful to them. They then traced their hands on one piece of fabric.
As CASA volunteers talked with their children about their experiences in foster care, they made a note of what each child said.
"Sometimes these children can't come right out and say how they are feeling, so art is a good way for them put it all out there and begin the healing process," Finio said.
Finio then combined the hands and other fabrics into an arrangement of 12 panels, selected other fabrics for the borders, added embroidery to compliment each child's hand and thoughts, and combined the whole into a finished quilt.
"It's important for these children to realize that what happens to them as children doesn't have to define them as an adult," Finio said. "Any child who sees the quilt while it's on display in the CASA office will see that there are others who share similar experiences and there is always hope for a brighter future."
CASA staff were invited to Finio's home for lunch and for the 'unveiling of the quilt.'
"It was truly an emotional experience," said Rebecca Tingle, executive director for Anne Arundel County CASA Inc. "The project was in the works for well over a year, and we are so grateful to Geri for her vision and her passion for what we do."
Those interested in viewing the quilt, or learning more about the work of Anne Arundel County CASA are encouraged to contact Tingle at email@example.com or 410-267-7877 ext. 6. To make a donation in support of the program, visit www.aacasa.org .
Finio collaborates with artists, interior designers and private clients, tailoring designs to meet individual needs. She works out of her home studio by appointment only. For more information, visit her website at www.studio187.net.
Deidre and Jerry Matthews: Horrifying Monkey-bite Child Abuse Case-Mom Locked Girl In Dog Cage In Feces Filled Home, Cops Say
by Jonathan Vankin
Adoptive dad Jerry Matthews and mom Deidre were named Oklahoma Department of Human Services' Adoptive Parents of the Year in 2006. But on Wednesday of this week, Jerry Matthews agreed to testify against his wife in a horrifying child abuse involving monkeys who bite children, a dog cage prison, and a home filled with exotic animals — and their feces.
But by turning against his now-estranged wife, Jerry Matthews of Jay, Oklahoma, avoided spending the rest of his life behind bars. On Wednesday, July 7, he was slapped with a life sentence after pleading no contest to the multiple child abuse and neglect charges, according to a report in The Grand Lake News newspaper.
Jerry Matthews, 65, will remain free, however, because in exchange for his testimony against his 48-year-old estranged wife, Deidre — formerly of Jay, but now living in Independence, Missouri — Delaware County, Oklahoma, District Attorney Kenny Wright recommended that the whole life sentence be suspended, and a judge agreed.
Deidre Matthews is due back in court on July 25 and could now face a life sentence herself for the crimes she is accused of committing against the nine children in her care.
And to make the stomach-churning case even more infuriating, one of those children has filed a lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, according to Courthouse News. The lawsuit names several Delaware County DHS workers and Deidre and Jerry Matthews themselves — claiming that someone in the DHS tipped off Deidre and Jerry before visits by DHS inspectors who were sent to their home on 17 different occasions to investigate abuse reports.
According to a police affidavit, as well as allegations in the lawsuit, the Matthews kept a menagerie of animals including “11 lemurs, marmosets, coatimundis, raccoons, donkeys and other animals,” and would punish the children by allowing monkeys to bite them, often severely.
After one extremely deep monkey bite, the lawsuit alleges, Deidre Matthews refused to take the victimized child, identified only by the initials G.M., to a doctor for treatment.
Instead, Deidre Matthews, who has no medical training, “gave G.M. at least six shots of a veterinary grade nerve block to deaden the affected area and then stitched up the wound using the needles and string that she used to perform C-sections on dogs.”
Other forms of punishment inflicted by Deidre Matthews, the police affidavit says, included stabbing an 8-year-old repeatedly with a diabetic needle, after the child found a discarded syringe and pretended to give herself a shot.
On another occasion, an 8-year-old was badly bitten on the face by a dog, and rather than take the child to a doctor, Deidre again attempted to stitch the wound by herself. Eventually, in that case, she did take the child for proper medical treatment.
She would also lock one of her adopted daughters in a dog cage overnight, because she said that she could not control the child otherwise.
Jerry Matthews disapproved of locking the girl in the cage, but did nothing to stop it because, according to the affidavit, he felt that when his wife “got something into her mind, there was no reasoning with her, so he just went along with it.”
Children were also beaten to the point of bleeding, then held out of school until their injuries were no longer visible, and often starved of food and water for days at a time, the affidavit said.
Jerry Matthews will remain on supervised probation for life, and is no longer permitted to be around children.
“These children suffered horrific abuse at the hands of Jerry and Deidre Matthews,” said attorney Darren Cook, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the children. “DHS let down these children. They were to protect the children, and for whatever reason, they alerted the Matthews.”
Judge: Doctor accused of not reporting child abuse can't be sued
by Kristine Guerra
A doctor accused of not reporting suspected abuse of a child who was later killed cannot be sued for medical malpractice, a Marion County judge ruled.
Dr. Chris Loman was facing a lawsuit accusing him of not informing the Indiana Department of Child Services that one of his patients was being abused at home, as required by Indiana law. One-year-old Jayden Noel had a cut on his upper lip and bruises on the right side of his face when Loman examined him in July 2011.
He was beaten to death six months later.
The boy's father, Jerraco Noel, sued Loman and other defendants in March 2013, a little more than a year after his son's death.
In his ruling issued last month, Marion Superior Judge Timothy Oakes cited another medical malpractice lawsuit against a physician who, like Loman, was accused of failing to report and diagnose suspected child abuse. The Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed the case because Indiana law does not allow private parties to sue for failure to report abuse.
"At the end of the day, the claim brought by Jerraco Noel is not recognized under Indiana law," Oakes wrote.
Richard Moore, Loman's attorney, said he believes Oakes ruled the way the law allows him to.
"The court of appeals has already handled it in the same way," Moore said of the case.
Noel's attorney, Mike Woody, said he plans to appeal the ruling, and he believes the law should be changed so that doctors are not given immunity for not reporting abuse of children.
"Doctors who commit malpractice by not managing child abuse appropriately should be subject to being held accountable just like they are for any other acts of medical negligence," Woody said. "The most important thing is that when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of child abuse, child safety has to be the primary concern."
Woody likened the situation to failing to diagnose cancer.
"If a doctor misses child abuse when there are signs or symptoms of child abuse ... as a result, there's no intervention," Woody said. "The child is later killed by the abuser."
Jayden was killed Jan. 17, 2012, when he was left in the care of his mother's then-live-in boyfriend, Ryan Worline. Neighbors heard repetitive thumping noises from the couple's Indianapolis apartment, according to court records. When the boy's mother, Chelsea Taylor, returned home from work around 10 p.m., she saw the boy sleeping in his bedroom.
She found her son unresponsive the next day. The boy had a fractured skull and likely died the night before.
Six months earlier, Taylor and her mother took Jayden to Major Hospital in Shelbyville, where Loman examined him. According to the hospital's report, a toy had been accidentally dropped on the boy's head. Loman was "somewhat concerned" about the level of bruising, the report states, but he "(does) not feel at this time a state of abuse exists."
Noel later filed a complaint with DCS, which cleared both Worline and Taylor of abuse allegations.
Worline is now serving a 55-year prison sentence for murder.
Taylor said in an affidavit that if Loman had told her that her son's injuries likely were caused by abuse, she would not have left Jayden alone with Worline.
Taylor was convicted of neglect of a dependent and was sentenced to four years in prison. Last year, the appeals court threw out her conviction, finding that prosecutors failed to present enough evidence that she knew of her child's injuries and did not immediately seek medical help.
Under Indiana law, someone who fails to report suspected child abuse can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Noel also sued Taylor, Worline, DCS and Major Hospital.
Oakes on Tuesday issued a ruling in favor of Major Hospital, which Noel also accused of failing to report child abuse. The other cases are pending.
Laws passed to improve reporting of child abuse
by Colin Spence
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two newly passed laws are looking to improve the reporting of child abuse in the Ocean State.
One requires the Department of Children Youth and Families to disclose deaths and injuries in state care within 48 hours.
The second law requires schools to contact DCYF if they think a child is being sexually abused by someone at the school.
Reports must also be sent to state police and local law enforcement.
Her story proves we all can help prevent child abuse
by Andrew Hershberger
In 1973, Elkhart resident Ruth Gattman started asking questions about child abuse in her hometown. She started holding meetings and speaking to medical experts, law enforcement, school officials and others about the issue. Her work led to the formation of the programs that are the foundation of CAPS today, more than 40 years later.
Every year in June, CAPS holds an auction event to raise much-needed funds to keep our child abuse prevention programs running smoothly. This year's auction on June 10 marked 40 years since Elkhart County appointed its first coordinator of child abuse prevention programs, Daryl Abbott, in 1976. Abbott would go on to be the President/CEO of CAPS for about three decades.
At the auction, we honored one of the women who essentially brought the idea of child abuse prevention to Elkhart County, Ruth Gattman. She and her husband, Dr. G. Beach Gattman, have lived here in Elkhart for many years and she was kind enough to share her story with us as we researched the beginnings of CAPS. She had come to a CAPS open house a few years back and was taking a tour of our building, but at that time, we didn't know what a huge role she had played in our creation.
Once she started talking about those days and those people who helped save so many children over the years, we didn't want her to stop. It quickly became clear she would be the perfect honoree for the CAPS Friend of the Child Award, which we give to people and organizations who are leaders in the effort to improve the standard of living for children in Elkhart County through volunteerism, advocacy, action and support for the mission of child abuse prevention. Ruth's story is the golden example of what the Friend of the Child is all about.
Ruth was a Registered Nurse and member of the AMA Women's Auxiliary in 1973, when she attended a conference and learned about the growing scientific research on child abuse and its negative effects. She and a fellow Auxiliary member, Carol Benson, started a community group to find out what could be done about abuse here.
At the third meeting, Abbott, at the time a caseworker at the local department of welfare, brought along some statistics on injuries to children in Elkhart County. He found that, for the year prior, there were more than 250 incidents that could be defined as abuse or neglect involving more than 600 children.
Over time, more community members, business leaders and public servants started to engage with the group, but there was still no actual money to do anything with. Ruth said she started asking the local United Way to help fund research and programs to prevent abuse. The United Way got involved by forming a task force on child abuse prevention. Charles Owens, an executive at Miles Laboratories, was appointed to lead the group, which would also include Ruth and several of the key members of the group she had formed.
Many hundreds of meetings, hours of work, and about two years later, the task force recommended a local child-focused organization, the Child Health Society of Elkhart, hire a child abuse prevention program coordinator. Ruth was part of a committee to interview applicants for the job and she said the committee interviewed more than 20 people as part of their process.
They used a point system, unbeknownst to the applicants, to rank the qualifications and characteristics of the potential hires. Daryl Abbott, the caseworker from the department of welfare who had been helping the task force with its research, was invited back for a second interview based on his score. Abbott's eventual appointment completed the work of the task force.
But it was Ruth, a self-described ordinary citizen, who made that work possible. Without her pursuit of the facts about how many children were being harmed by their parents, guardians, relatives, neighbors, and strangers; without her inquiries into the services already available to families; without her determination to fill the calendar with public meetings and make connections between law enforcement, educators, the medical community, and ordinary citizens like herself, CAPS wouldn't even exist.
We are grateful for Ruth and for the thousands of individuals who have made Elkhart County a better place to be a child over the last 40 years. As we like to say, we can all do something to prevent child abuse. Ruth's story proves just how much can be done.
Andrew Hershberger is the Communications and Brand Manager at CAPS. Learn more about CAPS programs at www.CAPSElkhart.org or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CAPSElkhart
The solace of revenge: how I plotted to murder my childhood abuser
David Holthouse struggled for years with the aftermath of being raped. His story became a hit play, Stalking the Bogeyman. As it opens in London, he revisits his experience for the last time
by David Holthouse
For a dozen years, I've waited for someone to ask me this question: was I really going to kill him? Was I really going to shoot down in cold blood the man who raped me when I was seven years old? I know the answer, but no one has ever asked. This is my story. It isn't easy to tell.
In the fall of 1978, when I was a little boy, growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, the teenage son of family friends raped me in a basement during a dinner party. In my bad dreams, I still hear the sound of his unsheathing the samurai sword he terrorised me with. I feel my face being crushed into the black plastic of his waterbed mattress by the pillow he clamped over my head to muffle the cries of pain.
Right after he was finished, the rapist threatened to gut me with a fishing knife if I ever told anyone. I kept the rape a secret for the next 25 years. First I did so from shock and denial, then fear that he'd carry out his threat. As years passed, I kept it secret out of shame, because I didn't want my family to know, and because I didn't want to be stigmatised or pitied.
My parents continued to socialise with the mother and father of the rapist almost every weekend throughout my childhood. I saw him at least 100 times after the night of the rape. For years he made obscene gestures at me when no one was looking, and tried to get me alone. He stopped when I reached adolescence. I saw him less and less often, then not at all.
At no time did I repress the memory of the rape. For most of my life, it's been a part of me, and the space it occupies is rarely friendly. But as I entered adulthood in the 1990s, I felt I had that space under control, after years of practice in walling it off and keeping it under constant guard. The bogeyman roamed that space, rattling his chains from time to time, but for the most part he did not intrude upon my daily life. I seldom thought of him and only from a safe distance throughout university in California and the early years of my career in journalism. All together he was quiet for more than a decade.
Then in 2003, while employed as a reporter in Denver, Colorado, I discovered that the man who'd raped me when I was seven lived in a nearby suburb.
With that news, the bogeyman got loose in my head. The nightmares began, along with flashbacks of the rape. You know that adrenaline spike you feel when you almost fall but catch yourself? My body and mind felt like that all the time.
My thought processes became irrational yet precise. I calculated. The close proximity of the rapist felt to me like a mortal threat. So I decided to neutralise the threat. I decided to kill him.
I've read that people who are suicidal experience a sense of calm once they begin the actual planning of the act. It was the same for me with murder. I felt much better once I was taking action to protect myself in a way I'd been unable to when I was a child. That's how I thought of it anyway. Off and on for months I followed the bogeyman, clocking his routines, learning his ways. I bought a 9mm semi-automatic pistol with a fitted silencer. I set a date.
Whenever I doubted my course of action I justified it to myself by imagining his other victims, past, present and future, because very few rapists of children have just one. And I told myself that he deserved it for what he had done to me. That it was my right.
God or fate intervened. My parents found a childhood diary I'd kept in which I recounted the rape and named the rapist. My mother called his parents in a rage. After a quarter of a century, my secret was out.
Two realisations were immediate. The first was that getting away with the murder I'd plotted for most of a year was no longer a good bet. The second was that I wanted to write my story instead, to place my faith in the pen over the sword. I sent my rapist a letter demanding a meeting. To my surprise he agreed. We met on a crowded street in downtown Denver. In my backpack were a hidden recording device and a loaded pistol. I left the silencer at home. Both of us were so nervous we trembled. He apologised with every other breath, and swore that he'd never hurt another child before or since hurting me. The recording device captured his words. The pistol stayed in the pack. Our long overdue conversation became the ending of the essay I'd already started to write.
That essay, Stalking the Bogeyman, was first published in Westword, the Denver alternative weekly where I was a staff writer, in May 2004. Later the same month it was republished by the largest daily and weekly newspapers in Alaska, my home turf.
I began having “it happened to me, too” conversations. There have been hundreds since. Friends and strangers disclose to me their own childhood sexual trauma suffered at the hands of coaches, priests, teachers, team-mates, fathers, brothers, men, always men. I summon empathy. I bear witness. I answer questions. Often they ask, have I found closure? Often I lie and say yes.
When Stalking the Bogeyman was first published, I expected to enjoy a lightning bolt of catharsis. Isn't that how it's supposed to work? You tell your dark secret and feel better, like taking a pill? Not so much, it turns out. The process, for me, is far more gradual. I've lost faith in closure. But I still believe in the pen and the power of story. On that I have never wavered.
Six years ago, which was also six years after I first told my story in public, I agreed to read Stalking the Bogeyman for millions of listeners of the radio programme This American Life. One of them was the artistic director of a New York City theatre company, which led to the story becoming a play. It premiered in North Carolina in 2014. The following year it had a critically acclaimed run Off-Broadway. A touring production just finished in Alaska. Its London premiere is on 13 July.
I agreed to put my story on stage because doing so challenges the silence, the sickening silence, that has been the norm for so long around childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault. It's a pervasive evil whose perpetrators thrive in silence. They feed upon innocence, shame and fear, but they rely upon silence to keep doing what they do, and not just the silence of their individual victims, but also the silence of collective denial, the uneasiness of even discussing the topic.
In the United States there has been a slow-motion catastrophe of children being sexually assaulted at epidemic levels. This has emerged from the shadows at last after a spate of high- profile scandals forced acknowledgement and the rise of social media gave survivors a megaphone. It seems to me from afar that a similar raising of awareness is under way in the United Kingdom.
I am gratified that my story is being used in both nations to help provoke difficult but necessary dialogues about childhood sexual assault and its psychological aftermath, which cascades through decades in different ways for every survivor.
For me it meant plotting a murder. I used to think my impulse to kill the man who'd raped me was strange, or at least uncommon, in the same way that when I was a child, I thought my being raped was a freak occurrence. I no longer believe either is true. There are more than 5,000 unsolved murders in the United States every year.
Handguns are ubiquitous in my country, along with the myth of the vigilante folk hero, settling righteous scores beneath a cloud of gun smoke. It's not much of a stretch for me to imagine that what I was planning, others have done. Homicide investigators look for motive, and many survivors of childhood sexual assault never tell a soul.
During the first three years after Stalking the Bogeyman was published in Colorado and Alaska I received five emails from different, encrypted addresses in which the writers claimed to have tracked down and killed the rapist who'd violated him or her long ago, when he or she was a child. One email included a photo of a gravesite puddled with fresh urine.
The emails were sent in such a way that I could not reply. That was fine with me. But I was not displeased to receive them. I was heartened. I was glad. I was grateful. I liked thinking of these killers out there, justified and free. I liked thinking of them getting away with it.
At the time, a decade ago, a strong part of me still regretted not carrying out the murder. People kept telling me how lucky I was that my parents found that diary, how I wouldn't have been able to live with myself, how the guilt would have been too much to bear. Maybe. I'll never know. But I'm certain that raping a child is no less a crime than murdering a child rapist. Because I still feel the mattress and hear the sword.
I wonder a lot of late whether I've hurt or helped myself in the long run by putting the worst experience of my life on public display. I'm confident I've done right by the greater good, but I'm starting to fear the personal cost of ripping the scab off, over and over again. I plan to disengage from advocacy work and future productions of Stalking the Bogeyman after London this summer. I intend for this piece to be the last I ever write on the subject of childhood sexual assault, or my story in particular.
Two versions of myself are frozen in amber in Stalking the Bogeyman . One is a traumatised little boy. The other is a rootless young man, steeping himself in malice. I have a lifetime of practice with emotional detachment where the boy is concerned. Long ago I made him a place, much like I did the bogeyman, except I made it with gauze instead of barbed wire, more comfortable, but separate all the same. The little boy occupies the stage only at the beginning of the play. Most times I'm in the audience, I have no trouble with him.
The young man is different. The bulk of my story is told from his point of view. A 31-year-old version of me, drunk on vengeance, defined and guided by his darkest experiences. There is no barbed wire or gauze between me and him. He rattles me, because he feels too close. I remember too well what it felt like to plot the murder of the man who raped me when I was seven.
It was cold and black. It was calm like space is calm. Was I really going to kill him? Yes, I was. I like to believe it's better I didn't.
Understanding the behavior of cutting
by Dr. David Schopick
It is estimated that 1 in 200 girls have cut themselves at some point in time, and that for as many as 3 million American young people, cutting is a serious problem. Even more disturbing is the fact that cutting is the sign of other underlying issues. It signifies a cry for help, but often that cry is not heard because family members are unaware that cutting is taking place.
What is cutting?
Cutting involves self-inflicting cuts on one's skin, usually on the wrists and arms, but it can be inflicted on any part of the body. It is a behavior that tends to escalate, and when that happens, cutting may progress to body parts that are less visible (to avoid detection), such as on the inner thighs. The severity of the cuts can range from superficial scratches to permanent disfigurement with keloid formation and even life-threatening injuries.
Why do young people engage in cutting?
Researchers say that 85 percent of those who cut say they do so to relieve tension. Young people are often under a lot of pressure from various fronts and they feel unable to handle it. Cutting is an unhealthy coping mechanism that helps them manage stress and other negative feelings. Ninety-four percent of those who cut report emotional relief after doing so; endorphins are released into their bloodstream when they cut and they experience pleasure. Some people say they even feel a high when cutting. This high is why cutting often becomes addictive. Those who cut find themselves having to cut deeper as time passes in order to experience that sense of relief.
Cutting is not done to gain attention. It's usually done in private, and most cutters feel their habit is a shameful secret that they do not want discovered. The more they cut, the more ashamed they feel, and thus the more they feel the need to cut in order to banish the negative feelings. Cutting creates a cycle of self-loathing and self-abuse.
Who engages in cutting?
Cutting usually starts between the ages of 10 and 16. About 60 percent of cutters are female, but 40 percent are male.
What are signs someone may be cutting themselves?
Cutters rarely ask for help on their own, and will often deny the behavior even when confronted with proof. Some signs to look for are:
— Wearing long sleeves in all types of weather.
— Unexplained bruises or cuts.
— Breakdown in communication, secrecy.
— Mood swings.
— Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
— Carrying unnecessary sharp objects.
— Poor school or work performance
— Loss of interest in activities.
What are some causes behind cutting?
People who cut have often been victims of bullying or suffered sexual, physical or emotional abuse or neglect. They may also have eating disorders, severe anxiety, major depression or be bipolar. There may also be a history of mental illness in the family.
Cutting is a way for young people to gain a sense of physical control over emotional pain. As mentioned before, cutting helps them manage strong feelings that they don't know how to cope with, such as anger, anxiety, guilt, shame, frustration, loneliness, self-hatred, numbness, emptiness or alienation. It provides a release. It also helps them alleviate stress. Cutting can serve as a distraction from their emotional distress.
The pre-teen and teen years can be very traumatic as kids start dealing with relationships, figuring out how to fit in, face increasing pressure with schoolwork and exams, engage in more competitive sports, and deal with the challenges of getting into college and choosing a career. These changes are stressful enough, but if there are also issues on the homefront, then a child may feel completely overloaded and lost.
What are the dangers of cutting?
On the physical front, cutting does increase the risk of infection and deep cuts can lead to disfigurement or permanent injury. On the mental health side, the risks are higher as cutting often signals an underlying mental health disorder, such as anxiety, depression, being bipolar, or personality disorders that should be treated. Cutting can also lead to, or be accompanied by, other concerning behaviors such as eating disorders and drug use, which again can be influenced by mental health issues.
People do not usually commit suicide by cutting. However, those who cut are at greater risk for committing suicide because they often suffer from depression or anxiety.
How can cutting be treated?
The first step is to approach the child. Try not to show shock or pass judgment, and avoid showing great pity. Simply reach out with compassion and explain that you understand what this is about and that it's time to get help. They need not feel this way any longer. A mental health professional can help cutters learn how to tolerate negative emotions and find healthy ways to deal with them. Breathing exercises, listening to music, writing in journals, and exercise are all tools that can be used to deal with stress in a healthy way. A mental health professional can also help identify any possible underlying mental health issues or other disorders and provide a treatment plan for those as well. Psychiatric medications can be helpful by treating the underlying mental health issues, or by directly reducing the sense of reward that comes from cutting. Cutting can be treated with time, patience and support.
Can anything be done to prevent cutting?
Yes, steps can be taken to help ensure that your child does not embark on cutting. First, acknowledge that your child does face legitimate stresses, concerns and emotional ups and downs. Make time to talk with them regularly about what is going on in their lives — not just their homework or sports, but on a personal level — what are their worries and fears; do they feel pressured about something? Really listen and don't minimize their feelings or concerns.
It's also important to let kids know that you are always there for them — unconditionally, and that they can always come to you no matter what the situation. If they are upset and not inclined to talk, try to spend time with them doing an activity — going to a game, heading out for a hike, or catching a movie. The important thing is to spend time with them, and the more time you spend, the more likely it is that they may open up.
Help your child build a strong support system with friends and relatives and through their school, church and community.
When kids feel well supported, they also feel stronger in their self-worth and more capable of dealing with life's ups and downs.
‘Like a little war': Snipers shoot 11 police officers during Dallas protest march, killing five
by Michael E. Miller, Travis M. Andrews and Tim Madigan
At least five Dallas law enforcement officers were killed and six wounded Thursday evening as a protest over recent police shootings was interrupted by chaos.
After a peaceful march, the downtown suddenly exploded into violence at around 9 p.m. local time when gunshots echoed through the streets, sending protesters and police officers alike scattering for cover.
Four Dallas Police officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer were killed by “snipers” perched atop “elevated positions,” officials said. At least one civilian was also injured.
Videos circulating on social media showed an individual with an assault-style rifle shoot a police officer in the back at point-blank range.
A gunman, believed to be the same shooter, then engaged in a violent, three-hour standoff with SWAT officers, police said.
At around 4 a.m. central time, CNN reported that the gunman had died. Police have not yet confirmed he is dead.
Three other suspects were also in custody, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said during a press conference before the standoff's end. He said police were also investigating a suspicious package left near the site of the shootings.
“The suspect that we are in negotiation with that has exchanged gunfire with us over the last 45 minutes has told our negotiators that ‘The end is coming' and he is going to hurt and kill more of us, meaning law enforcement, and that there are bombs all over the place in this garage and downtown,” Brown said.
During the press conference, Brown said he wasn't sure if there were more suspects at large. “We still don't have a complete comfort level that we have all the suspects,” he said.
The police chief said he was also unsure of the motive for the mass shooting, which was the worst attack on law enforcement since 9/11.
Brown said he believed the four suspects were “working together with rifles triangulated at elevated positions at different points in the downtown area, where the march ended up going.”
He said it was unclear if the suspects were somehow connected to the protest, but added that detectives were investigating that possibility.
At a press conference from Warsaw, Poland, Friday morning, President Obama called the attack “vicious, calculated and despicable.”
“I believe I speak for every single American when I say we are horrified over these events,” Obama said.
He called on Americans to “profess our profound gratitude to the men and women in blue” and to remember the victims, in particular.
“Today, our focus is on the victims and their families,” Obama said. “They are heartbroken. The entire city of Dallas is grieving. Police across America, a tight-knit family, feels this loss to their core.”
Amidst protests, police heroics
On a night that began with a protest criticizing police, the chief praised the heroism of his officers.
“I've never been more proud of [being] a police officer and being a part of this great, noble profession, seeing the courage, the professionalism and just grit to stay on scene, looking for suspects, knowing that we are vulnerable,” he said during the press conference. Brown said officers had run toward gunfire to help one another and civilians.
Several people said officers helped save them, including one man who said an officer pushed him out of the way as shooting began. Bystanders captured footage of cops dragging fallen comrades out of the line of fire. Cameras also captured police officers choking back tears for their fallen colleagues. One officer appeared to brace himself against his SUV as grief overcame him.
“So many stories of great courage,” Brown said.
Mayor Mike Rawlings said it was “a heartbreaking morning” and called for unity.
“We as a city, we as a country, must come together and lock arms and heal the wounds we all feel,” he said.
The incident came on a night when protests raged nationwide over the fatal police-involved shootings of two black men earlier in the week.
On Tuesday morning, Alton Sterling was fatally shot by police in Baton Rouge. Less than 48 hours later, Philando Castile was fatally shot by an officer in Minnesota. Video footage of the killings or their aftermath spread quickly on social media, spurring widespread anger and renewing a debate over race and police departments' use of deadly force.
As in other cities across the country, protesters gathered in downtown Dallas just before 7 p.m. for a march from Belo Garden Park to the Old Red Courthouse.
For two hours, roughly 800 protesters marched peacefully, chanting and waiving signs. Their route took them past JFK Memorial Plaza, the site of President John F. Kennedy's 1963 assassination.
Just a few blocks from the spot of the infamous shooting, another was about to begin.
‘That's where the war began'
As dusk settled over the city, bullets suddenly began flying, the crack of high-powered ammunition cannoning off of skyscrapers and across downtown Dallas.
Terrified protesters scattered in all directions as startled cops gazed up in search of the origin of the shots.
Lynn Mays said he was standing on Lamar Street when the shooting began.
“All of a sudden we started hearing gunshots out of nowhere,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “At first we couldn't identify it because we weren't expecting it, then we started hearing more, rapid fire. One police officer who was standing there pushed me out the way because it was coming our direction … next thing you know we heard ‘officer down.'”
Undercover and uniformed police officers started running around the corner and “froze,” Mays said. “Police officers started shooting in one direction, and whoever was shooting started shooting back.
“And that's where the war began.”
The shooting appears to have been heaviest around El Centro College, near Market and Main Street.
Protesters who had come to speak out against violence by police now suddenly found themselves in the crosshairs of violence apparently aimed at police.
Renee Sifflet, a mother of three teenagers who attended the rally and march, said she lost track of one of her children during the ensuing chaos.
“I brought them here for a positive experience, something they could say they were part of when they're older, ” she told the Dallas Morning News. “Then it turned negative.”
Robert Rodriguez, 30, was passing through Dallas with his 14-year-old son. They weren't part of the protest but happened to be passing by it with the windows down when they heard four shots ring out. There was a pause and then a continuous volley for many seconds.
“Like a little war,” he told The Washington Post.
Bullets sparked off of DART train tracks and smacked into walls of buildings behind their Yukon Denali, Rodriguez said. He circled the block and saw gunman dressed in camouflage, firing a long gun from his hip at officers. Officers crouched by a building returned fire. One cop car screeched to a halt and its driver started firing as he stepped out.
The gunman didn't appear to be hit because he continued to run and fire, Rodriguez said. He then turned another corner away from gun battle.
“It was very intense,” he said. “My only thought was to get somewhere safe and get my son out of the line of fire.”
He said he saw a wounded female officer walking down the street holding her arm, being supported by another officer.
Stanley Brown, 19, was downtown near El Centro when the shooting began.
“You could hear the bullets whizzing by our car and hitting the buildings. A bullet missed our car by six feet,” he told The Post. “We pulled into a garage and got out of our car and the bullets started hitting the walls of the garage.”
Brown ran around the corner of a building to take cover, only to see a gunman running up the street.
“He was ducking and dodging and when police approached he ducked into El Centro,” he said. He saw a SWAT team rush the college building, enabling five people to escape.
“An officer looked back at us and yelled that it was a terrorist attack,” he said.
At least one protester, identified as 37-year-old Shetamia Taylor, was shot at the rally.
Her sister said Taylor was at the protests Thursday night with her four sons. Theresa Williams told the AP that when the shooting began, Taylor threw herself over her sons. She was shot in the calf and underwent surgery early Friday. Williams also said two of Taylor's sons became separated from their mother in the stampede for safety but were later reunited.
While most protesters ran for cover, a few turned their cameras from the demonstration to the chaos unfolding around them.
One man, identified as Michael Kevin, got so close to the El Centro parking garage, where much of the shooting took place, that officers ordered him to move back.
‘It looked like an execution'
In perhaps the most shocking footage to emerge on the horrific and highly televised night, a gunman was filmed sneaking up behind a police officer and shooting the cop several times in the back at point-blank range. It is unclear if the officer survived.
“It looked like an execution honestly,” Ismael DeJesus, who took the video from an apartment building, told CNN. DeJesus said he thought the gunman, who carried an assault-style rifle, was wearing body armor as he appeared to get shot and keep going.
The gunman then holed up inside of El Centro's garage, according to police. Dozens of cop cars surrounded the building as officers crouched behind their vehicles.
As he engaged in a shootout with officers, police took three other suspects into custody.
Two suspects were seen climbing into a black Mercedes with a camouflage bag before speeding off. They were apprehended in the Oak Cliff area, a suburb of Dallas.
The third suspect, a woman, was taken into custody near the El Centro garage.
Chief Brown said the three suspects were being interrogated but, as of 12:30 a.m. local time, had not provided information on the motive behind the brazen attack.
Even as Brown spoke to reporters, the fourth suspect was engaged in a standoff with police.
At around 1:26 a.m., there was “a loud boom and what sounded like shattering glass” near El Centro, according to Dallas Morning News reporter Robert Wilonsky.
At around 4 a.m. local time, CNN reported that the gunman holed up inside the garage was dead. Police have not yet confirmed the death and details remained murky Friday morning.
‘Our hearts are broken'
As the violence appeared to be winding down early Friday morning, the toll of the carnage was only beginning to emerge.
One thing that was clear, however, was the high cost on law enforcement.
Only one of the killed police officers had been identified as of early Friday morning. DART identified its fallen officer as 43-year-old Brent Thompson. He joined in 2009 and was the first DART officer killed in the line of duty in the agency's 27-year history, according to a tweet.
“Brent was a great officer,” DART Chief James Spiller told MSNBC. “He has served admirably.”
Thompson had just married a fellow DART officer two weeks earlier, CNN reported.
“As you can imagine, our hearts are broken,” the agency said in a statement. “We are grateful to report the three other DART police officers shot during the protest are expected to recover from their injuries.”
Their names are Omar Cannon, 44, Misty McBride, 32, and Jesus Retana, 39.
Tela Strickland, McBride's 14-year-old cousin, reacted with “shock” to news that her relative had been shot in the stomach and shoulder.
“I am so tired of seeing shootings in the news,” she said. “When you see your own family in the news, it's heart breaking.”
Dallas Police did not immediately identify its officers injured or killed in the attack.
Three of the department's officers were in critical condition Friday morning, the Morning News reported.
Family members and friends of victims took to social media to share updates and prayers.
Many said they were proud of the dead or injured officers.
As the crisis unfolded Thursday night, Facebook activated its safety check feature, allowing people in the area of the shootings to let friends and family members know they were safe.
Cities across the country also expressed support for the victims.
Cleveland's Terminal Tower was bathed in blue light to support the fallen officers.
As dawn broke over Dallas Friday morning, the city remained in mourning.
Outside Baylor University Hospital, doctors, nurses and medical personnel lined up outside the hospital around 6 a.m. local time to honor and shield from public view two police officers whose bodies were led out on gurneys, CNN reported. Beyond them, a line of police officers saluted their fallen colleagues.
Much of downtown Dallas would remain blocked off on Friday, Mayor Rawlings said during the press conference. He asked citizens to allow police officers to do their jobs.
“We've got to support our police force and [let them] do their job,” he said, “to make sure we get to the bottom and the root cause of all of this.”
Minn. governor says race played role in fatal police shooting during traffic stop
by T. Rees Shapiro , Lindsey Bever , Wesley Loery and Michael E. Miller
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Following a fatal police shooting in a quiet suburb that rapidly rippled across the nation, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said in no uncertain terms that Philando Castile ended up dead during a traffic stop at least in part because he was black.
Dayton's Thursday-afternoon remarks came after fatal encounters between police and black men seized the eyes of the nation on consecutive days — and hours before a protest over those shootings was interrupted by bloodshed, as snipers shot and killed five police officers and injured six others in downtown Dallas.
The explosion of violence in Dallas came on a night when protests raged across the country over the fatal police shootings of two black men, less than 48 hours apart.
First was the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge early Tuesday morning — captured on video by a bystander. Then, on Wednesday evening, Castile, a 32-year-old school cafeteria manager, was killed in Falcon Heights, where his distraught girlfriend broadcast his final moments in real time on Facebook.
On Thursday night, Minnesota state officials named Jeronimo Yanez as the officer who shot and killed Castile during the traffic stop near St. Paul. The state agency investigating the shooting said that Yanez and Officer Joseph Kauser, who have both been with the St. Anthony Police Department for four years, were on administrative leave.
Yanez approached the driver's side of the vehicle driven by Castile and during the interaction, “discharged his weapon, striking Castile multiple times,” the agency said in a statement. Officials also said a gun was recovered at the scene.
“Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver and the passengers, were white?” Dayton said nearly a day after Castile was killed. “I don't think it would have. … I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists.”
It was a forceful declaration from the white governor of a mostly white Midwestern state, almost two years after a white police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, in Ferguson, Mo. — a death that launched a national movement against police violence and unprecedented scrutiny of police use of force.
Dayton, a Democrat, said the Wednesday-night shooting here was “beyond the pale.”
“Nobody should be shot and killed in Minnesota … for a taillight being out of function,” the governor said. “Nobody should be shot and killed while seated still in their car. I'm heartbroken.”
As blood soaked through Castile's shirt Wednesday night, his girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, began broadcasting live video to her Facebook page, saying on camera that her boyfriend was legally licensed to carry a firearm and was reaching for his identification when the officer started to shoot.
“He killed my boyfriend,” Reynolds said in the video posted on her Facebook page. Castile died late Wednesday night in a Minneapolis hospital, a family member told The Post.
“He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm,” she said in the Facebook video, which was ultimately viewed by millions.
President Obama, speaking in Warsaw ahead of a NATO summit, called for greater urgency on police reform as he added his voice to the national outrage over fatal police shootings this week.
“What I can say is that all of us as Americans should be troubled by these shootings because these are not isolated incidents,” the president said. “They're symptomatic of a broader set racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”
Obama praised the Justice Department for opening a federal civil rights investigation into Sterling's death and noted that Minnesota's governor has called for a federal investigation in that case.
“When people say black lives matter, it does not mean blue lives don't matter. All lives matter,” Obama said. “But the big concern is that the data shows that black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents. This isn't a matter of us comparing the value of lives, this is recognizing that there is a particular burden is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens and we should care about that. We can't dismiss it.”
Hundreds attended a Thursday-night vigil for Castile at the Montessori school where he had worked.
His mother, Valerie Castile, told the crowd that black men “are on the endangered species list.”
Following a boisterous march to the governor's mansion, where demonstrators strung yellow crime-scene tape along the iron-pointed fence, Dayton moved through the crowd to meet Castile's mother — and to apologize.
The dramatic meeting represented the first time she had heard from the governor since her son was killed.
A chaotic scene unfolded late Thursday near the scene where Castile was shot and killed. About 100 demonstrators blocked traffic at an intersection near the site, moving nearby construction materials into the roads.
Cars honked as the protesters shouted, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
Dayton said earlier Thursday that he asked the White House for a federal investigation into the shooting. FBI Director James B. Comey, testifying before Congress on Thursday, said he was briefed on the fatal encounter and added that he “would expect we'll be involved.”
In the meantime, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the state agency investigating the shooting, said it was conducting initial interviews with witnesses as well as the officer. Authorities on Thursday did not immediately release the identity of the officer, a member of the St. Anthony Police Department, who fired the fatal shots, though St. Anthony officials said this officer was placed on leave.
“This is a tragic event and our communities are committed to working with the BCA and other agencies to fully investigate all aspects of this incident and will share as much information as possible as the process moves forward,” the village said in a statement.
In a statement Thursday night, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety offered additional details about the shooting and its aftermath, reporting that Yanez, the officer who shot Castile, requested an ambulance. They also said that they have collected several videos of the shooting, though none from body-worn cameras on either officer.
“Interviews with witnesses are ongoing and several videos, including squad car video of the incident, have been collected as evidence,” the department said in a statement said. “St. Anthony Police Department officers do not wear body cameras.”
Reynolds told reporters Thursday morning that she and Castile were on their way home when he was shot. He had just gotten a haircut for his upcoming birthday, she said, and then they had gone grocery shopping.
The two were pulled over for a broken tail light.
Reynolds said the officer came to the window and instructed them to put their hands in the air. He then asked to see Castile's license and registration, which, Reynolds said, Castile kept in a thick wallet in a pants pocket.
“As he's reaching for his back pocket wallet, he lets the officer know: ‘Officer, I have a firearm on me.' I begin to yell, ‘But he's licensed to carry,' ” Reynolds said. “After that, he [the officer] began to take off shots: ba ba ba ba. ‘Don't move, don't move!'
“But how can you not move when you're reaching for license and registration?” Reynolds said. “It's either you want my hands in the air or you want my identification.”
A spokesman for the Hennepin County sheriff said that under state law, that office could “neither confirm or deny if someone had a permit to carry.”
In the video broadcast live, Castile can be heard moaning and appeared to lose consciousness as the officer shouted expletives in the background in apparent frustration.
“Ma'am, keep your hands where they are,” the officer yelled at Reynolds. “I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hands up.”
“You told him to get his ID, sir, his driver's license,” Reynolds responded. “Oh my God. Please don't tell me he's dead. Please don't tell me my boyfriend just went like that.”
Authorities did not provide details about the encounter during early morning news conferences.
Castile's family members and friends said Castile was a “good man” who supervised the cafeteria at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School.
“He's gone,” Castile's sister, Allysza, told The Washington Post through tears.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), whose district is about two miles from the scene, told CNN that the shooting was not an isolated incident.
“There is a systematic targeting of African Americans and a systematic lack of accountability when police use excessive force,” Ellison said. “This is a national problem. It's deeply disturbing. And it has real life effects.”
In both the Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights shootings, cellphone video footage of the incident or its immediate aftermath quickly circulated on social media, fueling anger and protests over the police officers' actions.
Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, told CNN early Thursday that she first found out her son had been shot when she heard her daughter start to scream while watching the video on social media.
“I was like, ‘What's going on? What's wrong with you?' ” the mother told CNN.
She said she rushed to the scene of the shooting but was stopped by police.
“I just wanted to know where my son was because I didn't want my son to die alone,” she said.
She said she assumes her son did have a firearm with him because “that was something that we always discussed” but that he had a license for it. She said she always taught him to “comply” with law enforcement.
“The key thing in order to try to survive being stopped by the police is to comply,” she told CNN. “Whatever they ask you to do, do it. Don't say nothing. Just do whatever they want you to do. So what's the difference in complying and you get killed anyway?
“I made sure my kids understood the difference in being law-abiding, and that the police were there to help,” she added. “I never once in my life have thought that my son would actually be killed by the persons that are supposed to protect and serve him.”
Within hours of the incident, a crowd had gathered and candles were burning at the site where Castile was shot. When authorities later removed Castile's car, angry protesters tried to block the tow truck, according to KARE reporter Melissa Colorado. As vehicle was towed away, the protesters chanted “murderer.” Protesters then gathered outside the Minnesota governor's mansion, chanting “Philando Castile.”
Reynolds, Castile's girlfriend, said that in the moments after the shooting, she was trying to stay calm for her 4-year-old daughter, who was in the car when the officer opened fire. But it was her daughter, she said, who provided comfort.
“My daughter told me stay strong, and that's what I had to do. My daughter told me, ‘don't cry,' and that's what I had to do. My daughter prayed for me,” Reynolds told reporters Thursday, adding: “She knew that he was gone before I knew, and she said, ‘Mom, the police are bad guys. They killed him and he's never coming back. He's never coming back.”
She added: “They took a part of my heart, they took a part of my soul. He had no probable cause to take my boyfriend away from me. … They took him away and now they have to pay. I will not be able to sleep until I get justice.”
“And even after justice this will never go away,” she added.
Later, at an NAACP news conference outside the governor's mansion in St. Paul, Dayton emerged and addressed Reynolds and Castile's uncle.
“I can't tell you how sorry I am that this is terrible tragedy forced upon your family,” he said.
“I don't want you guys to say you're sorry,” Reynolds responded. “I want justice.”
Dayton, speaking over shouts, responded: “You will get justice. You deserve justice. You will get justice.”
The governor then left the NAACP gathering.
Clarence Castile, Philando's uncle, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that his nephew had worked in the J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School cafeteria for 12 to 15 years, “cooking for the little kids.” He said his nephew was “a good kid” who grew up in St. Paul.
St. Paul Public Schools said in a statement that Castile graduated from Central High School in 2001 and went to work the next year in the district's nutrition services department, eventually stepping into a supervisory role.
“I am deeply sorry for his family and for their loss,” Superintendent Valeria Silva said in the statement. “He's worked in SPPS for many years and he graduated from our district, so he was one of our own.”
Philando Castile's Facebook page says he attended the University of Minnesota, though the school said Thursday that it has no record of anyone by that name attending the school as a student or working there as an employee.
Police in St. Anthony, a village outside of Minneapolis, seemed almost as stunned by the killing as was Castile's family.
Sgt. Jon Mangseth, interim chief, said the shooting was the first he could remember in the department's history.
“We haven't had an officer-involved shooting in 30 years or more. I'd have to go back in the history books, to tell you the truth,” he said during a news briefing at the crime scene. “It's shocking. It's not something that occurs in this area often.”
Mangseth said details of the shooting were still unclear.
“As this unfolds we will release the information as we learn it, and we will address concerns as we are made aware of them,” he said early Thursday, adding he had yet to see the Facebook video, which he had only learned about from members of the media. “As we learn more information we will release that in a news release.”
Mangseth said he believed the officer involved in the shooting had “in excess of five years” on the police force.
The interim chief did not add any more details during a second news conference early Thursday, except to say that the driver had died and that a gun had been recovered from the scene.
By mid-afternoon Thursday, the department had yet to release additional information, instead referring questions to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
From her video, Reynolds appears to have begun recording seconds after her boyfriend was shot, just after 9 p.m. local time. (The footage appears to have been flipped when it was uploaded to social media sites, mistakenly suggesting Castile was the passenger in the car when, in fact, he was the driver.)
The video startled police reform advocates, who expressed a mixture of frustration and fatigue.
“Philando Castile should be alive today,” DeRay Mckesson, a prominent member of the Black Lives Matter movement who worked in nearby Minneapolis, wrote in a text message.
“I don't know what else to say,” Mckesson said of the video. “He should be alive today. He is not alive because a police officer murdered him in cold blood.”
Castile is at least the 506th person shot and killed by police so far in 2016, according to a Washington Post database that tracks such shootings.
He is one of 123 black Americans shot and killed by police so far in 2016, according to the database. About 10 percent of the black Americans shot and killed were unarmed at the time of the shooting, while about 61 percent were armed with a gun.
Castile's death came 234 days after two police officers in nearby Minneapolis fatally shot Jamar Clark, an unarmed 24-year-old black man whose death sparked fierce protests in the city.
A county prosecutor said in March that the two officers involved would not face criminal charges because they believed Clark was trying to grab one of their guns, and the Justice Department has since said that those officers won't face federal civil rights charges, either.
Clark was one of 990 people shot and killed by on-duty police officers during 2015, according to The Post's database documenting police shootings. He was one of 12 people fatally shot by officers in Minnesota last year.
A review by the Minneapolis Star Tribune conducted last year found that since 2000, at least 143 people have been killed by police in Minnesota and no officers have been charged in any of these deaths.
Wednesday's shooting occurred in a middle-class neighborhood of wood-and-stucco homes with generous yards next to the site of the Minnesota State Fair and near the University of Minnesota's agricultural college. A busy intersection nearby is home to restaurants popular to residents of Falcon Heights and the neighboring suburb of Roseville.
It's a desired location for homeowners because of the close proximity to both Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The video begins in jarring fashion, with Castile covered in blood, staring toward the car ceiling.
“Stay with me,” Reynolds pleads.
“We got pulled over for a busted taillight in the back,” she explains to the camera as the officer can be seen aiming his handgun at the dying driver.
Reynolds continues to film even as a second officer orders her out of the car.
“Where's my daughter?” Reynolds asks. “You got my daughter?”
An officer can be seen in the distance holding Reynolds's child.
“Face away from me and walk backwards,” the second officer orders.
He then tells Reynolds to get on her knees. As her daughter cries in the background, handcuffs can be heard tightening around Reynolds's wrists.
“Why am I being arrested?” she asks.
“Ma'am, you're just being detained right now until we get this all sorted out, okay?” the second officer responds.
“Wow,” Reynolds says as the camera tilts upwards towards the evening sky. “They threw my phone, Facebook.”
As an ambulance draws nearer, its siren growing louder and then suddenly stopping, Reynolds grows more frantic.
“Please don't tell me he's gone,” she screams. “Please Jesus, no. Please no. Please no, don't let him be gone, Lord.”
Someone, possibly the officer who shot Castile, can be heard cussing in the background.
“He was reaching for his license and registration. You told him to get it sir! You told him,” Reynolds says. “He tried to tell you he was licensed to carry and he was going to take it off. Please don't tell me boyfriend is gone. He don't deserve this.”
The screen goes black.
“Please Lord, you know our rights Lord,” Reynolds says, apparently praying.
“You know we are innocent people, Lord. We are innocent people.”
At one point, an officer can be heard talking to Reynolds's daughter.
“Can you stand right here, sweetie?” a male officer says.
“I'm gonna get my mommy's purse,” the girl says, her face flashing on screen as she picks up her mother's still-recording phone.
“Is that your phone?” the male officer asks.
The video then cuts to Reynolds sitting in the back of a squad car.
“Don't be scared,” she tells her daughter, before addressing the camera.
“My daughter just witnessed this,” she says. “The police just shot him for no apparent reason, no reason at all.”
“It's okay, Mommy,” the little girl says, as her mother sobs. “It's okay. I'm right here with you.”
“Y'all please pray for us,” Reynolds says at the end of the video. “I ask everybody on Facebook, everybody that's watching, everybody that's tuned in, please pray for us.”
St. Pete police get out into community to strengthen relationships
by Candace McCowan
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — When police officers come in contact with the citizens they serve, it's often in a time of need, or trouble. But in St. Petersburg, the police department is trying to change that.
“A lot of people think community policing you should have a specialized unit, and that is where we lose what we really need to do. Community policing should be 550 officers that are doing that and all that is the park walk and talk,” said Chief Anthony Holloway.
Chief Holloway has taken his approach to community policing, beginning with the Clearwater Police Department and then at the St. Petersburg Police Department, when he took over as chief in 2014.
“What you're going to find out when you do the park walk and talk, you get more positive contact than you get negative contact. Usually when you call us, you're calling because you have a problem. Now, just picture me getting out of my car and just talking to you when you're working in your yard and things like that, so it starts to bridge that gap,” said Chief Holloway
“What you'll find is people give us more information because they will tell us about that person speeding in their neighborhood or they'll tell us about something strange going on in their neighborhood. They'll feel more relaxed talking to us and that is what we want to do,” added Holloway, who is working to create a positive relationship between police and the community.
Region police look to community to prevent deadly shootings
by Sarah Reese
Several Northwest Indiana officials said Thursday it's painful to watch as the country grapples with two more deadly shootings by police officers, but they're hopeful that training, recruitment and expanded community policing programs will prevent similar events in the Region.
While she would never expect Gary police to be involved in events that appear on camera to be intentional, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said she also knows tragedy can happen anytime.
The fatal shootings by police this week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, are “very unfortunate,” she said.
“When you see activity in other jurisdictions where people are killed, that makes it more difficult for Gary police to do their jobs, because citizens become apprehensive,” she said. “And I understand that.”
Freeman-Wilson, who has testified before President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, said part of the reason Gary has not experienced the controversies seen this week and across the nation in recent years is training.
“But even before the training, it's the recruitment of people who really have a sense of service as opposed to just gladiating,” she said.
“What we try to convey is our objective is to protect and serve, to ensure everyone is safe,” she said. “Everyone includes citizens as well as officers. And that is of equal importance to us.”
Cedric Howard, pastor of Goodwill Baptist Church in East Chicago, said while the men killed this week aren't Northwest Indiana residents, they're part of the larger African-American community.
When Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is asked about the Black Lives Matter movement and responds that all lives matter, “that is a slap in our face because white kids are not being killed like black kids are at the hands of police.”
Howard said his church regularly hosts a service to pray for the community, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at 5119 Indianapolis Blvd. Because of events this week, Howard and other members of the Twin City Ministers Alliance are planning a march after the prayer service. Marchers will walk three blocks north of the church on Indianapolis Boulevard to Chicago Avenue, where they will say another prayer for the community's young black men.
Black community members, Hammond police and city officials signed an agreement in December creating a Police and Citizens Advisory Commission following a controversial traffic stop that made national news and drew complaints about teens being ticketed for jaywalking. The settlement was mediated by the Department of Justice.
Hammond police spokesman Lt. Richard Hoyda declined to comment on the shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, because “there may be relevant information in each instance that is being collected and not currently available for public viewing.”
However, Hammond police recently have expanded their community policing programs, he said.
The department has regular Coffee with a Cop events, offers a youth basketball program at the Hammond Civic Center and various parks, reopened the Safety Village this summer and attends regular crime watch meetings. The department started a Facebook page, maintains a website with a crime map feature and accepts comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gary police recently started a Coffee with a Cop program and is continuing to focus on its Gary for Life initiative. The city also has block clubs, which work closely with neighborhood watch groups, and offers a Citizens' Police Academy, where residents have an opportunity to learn about police work.
East Chicago police soon will start taking applications for their fall Citizens Police Academy, which will run from Sept. 7 to Oct. 26. Applications will be available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 18 to Aug. 22 at the Police Department, Lt. Marguerite Wilder said.
Residents age 18 or older, city business owners and college students can attend the eight-week court, which will be offered on Wednesdays.
Community leaders, members say real reform key to stopping fatal police shootings
by Ben Billmyer
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Every time Jerry Harvey walks into his office at Kreative Minds in Augusta, he's reminded of the pain he felt three years ago.
His brother George Harvey was tasered to death following a fight with Richmond County Deputies.
"I live with it every day," Harvey says. "Every single day I think of my brother. And then I'm able to see the same officers just walk back out with their badge and their weapon and they're supposed to serve and protect. [The] sad part about it -- nothing's gonna happen behind it."
But the recent shootings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana make him and his family feel like they're living George's death all over again. While marches and protests carry on across the country, Harvey's personal experience makes him think violence isn't the answer.
"It should not take no protesting, no marching for the city to get all in an uprising, for buildings to catch fire because that's what's going to happen," Harvey says. "It's going to be on it for these past few days and nothing's going to come from it."
Aiken County NAACP President Phillip Howell says he and other leaders are disgusted after seeing the videos showing how the men died. But he says change both here in our neck of the woods and across the country starts with the men who hold all the power: the police.
"Obviously, the human element is always going to be a problem in situations like that," Howell says. "That's why the training and familiarity with different people, the different ways people are raised, being familiar with communities and community policing is paramount."
While Harvey and his family are still fighting for their brother George, he says it's never too late for the two families who just lost one of their own.
"Justice needs to be served for that family," Harvey says. "And we're not talking about money, I'm talking about that officer should've went to jail. that was murder right there. At the end of the day, there's no sense to it."
Baby Found in Dumpster Now in Serious Condition
LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -- A heartbreaking story of survival is unfolding after a Good Samaritan discovered an infant abandoned inside of a Lawrence trash compactor early Thursday morning.
Cindy Quick lives at the Country Club on 6th apartment complex near Sixth and Iowa streets. Quick says she was cleaning out a carpet cleaner at one of the dumpsters when she heard a baby crying just after 2 a.m.
"I started throwing trash bags out because I could hear her crying," she said.
Quick says the 9-month-old baby girl was buried under about four to five black trash bags.
"She had bug bites. She was crying. I mean, she was hysterical. She had red hair, her ears were pierced," Quick described.
Jerrad Jury says he heard Quick's cries for help and helped rescue the 9-month-old girl.
"She felt relief, the baby did," Jury said. "Just having somebody there."
Jury says he and a friend took one look at the baby's head injuries and rushed her straight to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
"She had dried blood on her nose and she had a pretty good bump on her head," he said.
Now, the child is in serious condition at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
The Lawrence apartment complex where the infant was found is filled with families who woke up to police lights and pandemonium, all surrounding a trash compactor where the infant was rescued.
"We don't know at that point if the baby was dead or if the baby was alive," said Sara Dooley, whose curiosity quickly turned to panic.
Lawrence police refused to answer questions about the infant's parents and what could have motivated someone to leave a child inside the steel compactor.
"Lawrence police detectives have contacted the family and they are actively investigating the case. Due to the sensitive and serious nature of this case, we will not be providing any further information at this time," Sgt. Amy Rhoads said.
Neighbors say a man who was fighting with the infant's mother is the one who put the baby in the dumpster.
"The mom and the dad were arguing which seems to be an everyday kind of event with them," Dooley said.
Another neighbor, who knows the infants parents, mournfully stood by his own children trying to reason with what happened.
"I feel really bad. I'm just glad that they got found the baby, and it is still alive to get the baby to a hospital to have a chance," he said.
Police have contacted the child's family but refused to say if they were suspects.
"I hope that they get justice for that baby, that is my biggest concern that they have justice for this baby near my family out of here," Dooley said.
After the rescue, advocates remind the community that no one has to abandon a baby. In Missouri and Kansas, parents can take a child who is 45 days old or younger to a Safe Haven and not face prosecution.
"Anybody who finds themselves in a desperate situation, there is an alternative to abandoning a baby. No one ever has to abandon an infant. They can take the baby to a Safe Haven location," said Anne Biswell, communications coordinator for Mother and Child Health Coalition.
Safe Haven locations in Missouri include hospitals, ambulance, fire or police stations, maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers. In Kansas, those locations include hospitals, police or fire stations and city and county health departments. Those locations are Safe Havens when staff are present.
Child sex abuse victim: 'Speak up ... until you find somebody who listens'
by Lex Talamo
Sophia Herron was sexually abused by a family friend at the age of 13.
Plagued by feelings of guilt and shame, she didn't tell anyone about the abuse until confronted by her parents. They took her to The Gingerbread House — Shreveport's child advocacy center that conducts forensic interviews of children who allege sexual abuse. A forensic interview verified Herron had experienced abuse, and the awareness helped her parents stop her abuse. ?
Herron, who now works as a child welfare specialist at The Gingerbread House, said she probably wouldn't have said anything about the abuse until later in life if her parents hadn't stepped in. Her story highlights a tendency of how many child victims won't disclose their abuse until later in life, as well as the importance of adults reporting suspected abuse.
A child's testimony is a critical part of verifying abuse, as physical evidence is used to verify child sexual abuse in only 10 percent of cases, according to research published in the Juvenile and Family Court Journal.
But research shows that getting a child to tell truthfully — or at all — can be tricky.
Delayed disclosures and fear
During her abuse, Herron didn't start acting out. Her grades didn't drop. But she started withdrawing from her friends and making excuses for why she couldn't leave the house.
The change in her behavior was enough to concern her parents. They read her journal and became alarmed when they learned their daughter "had fear of" a particular individual.
"I never disclosed in my writings what happened, but I disclosed that there was a particular person I never wanted to be around. So when they read that, they knew something was not right," Herron said. "They wanted to know what was going on and making me so fearful, so uncomfortable. I'm so grateful my parents were nosy."
Children surveyed in a 2006 study cited fear as their No. 1 reason for not coming forward. Children identified fears of being removed from their homes, of breaking up their families by causing shame and embarrassment for their family members, of being blamed and of being called names by schoolmates.
A majority of children won't disclose their abuse for months or even years after it happens. A study of 400 children showed that 248 — or 74.9 percent — did not disclose their abuse within a year of it happening, and close to 18 percent of those children still had not confessed five years after the abuse occurred.
Denying abuse and recanting
Herron said many of the children interviewed by The Gingerbread House are too young to comprehend what has happened to them or that sexual abuse by a caregiver is wrong. But the older ones understand.
" When kids come in here, some of them do get it, and they're very fearful or terrified," Herron said of the children she works with at The Gingerbread House."Kids are like, 'Oh my gosh, I just told this big secret' and they're sad, they're upset."
Herron said having her parents' encouragement helped give her the courage to speak with a forensic interviewer and that community support helped her tell her story later, as an adult.
But many children, particularly those who have been abused by a parent or relative, fear their allegations will bring embarrassment or shame or even break up their families. Because of these fears, children often will deny the abuse happened — particularly after visiting with family members and especially if the family does not support the child's testimony, according to a 2006 study by Erna Olafson, from the University of Cincinnati's Department of Psychiatry, and Judge Cindy Lederman, from the Miami-based Juvenile Justice Center.
Children who 'recant'— or say the abuse never happened after an initial disclosure — often are lying the second time around. An article from the Child Abuse and Neglect Journal reported a study where 25 percent of children recanted in abuse cases verified by physical evidence.Various studies show that recanting occurs in 4 to 22 percent of cases involving verified child sexual abuse.
Herron knew her parents supported her decision to tell because they were the ones who made the referral to the Gingerbread House, where she learned the abuse wasn't her fault.
"My parents put a stop it it. We went to law enforcement and reported it. I was able to talk to a forensic interviewer and go through that process of understanding that it was not my fault and I didn't do anything to deserve that," Herron said. "But it was really hard for a 13-year-old to understand, to see someone you cared about hurt you so badly."
A study from the Journal of Interpersonal Violence reported only 17 percent of children who lacked family support ended up disclosing verified abuse— compared to 63 percent of children whose parents believed them or supported them telling.
"Will they believe me?"
Herron had wanted to tell her parents about the abuse for a long time, but she was afraid they might not believe her.
"I told them the truth, and that was really hard," she said. "You always have that little side of you that wonders, 'Will they really believe me, and will they take it seriously? Will they honestly do something to stop it?'"
Bridget Lee, who works with a juvenile mentoring program in Shreveport, said children she's worked with often first disclosed their abuse to parents or caregivers. Their response to a child's confession has a huge impact on whether the child will be willing to testify again, Lee said.
"Whether they're telling their mom, 'Your boyfriend, husband or cousin touched me,' people don't want to believe that about their family members. But to brush it off lets a child know she's not believed," Lee said. "So if her mom doesn't believe her, why would she tell her teacher at school, her probation officer, the police?"
Believing reports can be particularly difficult for the youngest victims of child sexual abuse because disclosures often include bizarre details. In one study, 15 percent of children aged 4 to 9 included implausible details related to their abuse, such as "having been abused aboard rocket ships, having been abused by the Wizard of Oz, having been stabbed all over the body." The study's experts said this type of disclosure might indicate that the child had experienced especially severe physical or sexual abuse.
Children "adding" details of additional abuse, following their first confession, is also a common trend psychiatrists call "incremental disclosure." At initial interviews, children might only tell a forensic interviewer they had been touched— whereas in subsequent interviews, they reveal the actual extent of the abuse was much worse.
Lee said that regardless of what a child discloses, the most important thing for adults to do is to believe them and leave the actual investigating to the appropriate officials.
"Letting them know that you believe them and that you will fight for them is huge," Lee said. "One of the worst things that can happen to a girl is for her to ask for help and then not to be believed."
Louisiana's mandatory reporting laws
Though some may fear repercussions from reporting child abuse to authorities, those who do not can face criminal consequences.
Under Louisiana's "Mandatory Reporting Law," those classified as "mandatory reporters"— including health practitioners, teachers, child care providers, film processors and law enforcement — who "knowingly and willfully fail to report" cases of abuse or neglect can face fines of up to $500 and imprisonment for up to six months. Those penalties increase to $3,000 and three years of imprisonment for failure to report child sexual abuse or physical abuse that results in serious injuries.
Louisiana's mandatory reporters also include members of the public over the age of 18 who witness sexual abuse of a child. Failure to report can result in fines of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of up to five years.
In Louisiana, sexual abuse of a child involves everything from fondling to forcing the child into pornography, sexual intercourse or prostitution. Cases of childhood sexual abuse can be prosecuted until the victim is 48 years old. There is no deadline for prosecuting cases of aggravated rape, which the law defines as having sex of any form with a child under the age of 13.
In 2015, Louisiana's DCFS reported a total of 604 investigations involving substantiated child sexual abuse, which resulted in 716 verified child victims of sexual abuse. The Shreveport region— which includes Sabine, Red River, Natchitoches, DeSoto, Caddo, Bossier, Webster, Claiborne, Bienville and Jackson parishes— accounted for 86 of those investigations and 98 total child victims.
The department's data represents only a slice of the actual abuse in the state, as DCFS data reflects only childhood sexual abuse cases where a parent, caregiver, or individual related to the child is the abuser. All other cases are handled by law enforcement.
Herron said all adults should be mandated reporters.
"If you have your gut feeling that something's going on with a kid, you should get involved because sometimes they don't have a voice, and sometimes they don't know how to tell," Herron said.
A message of hope
Herron said her greatest joy in working with children at the Gingerbread House is knowing that she can help put a stop to the abuse they are going through.
She had the following message for victims of child abuse.
"You're not alone. It's not a club anybody wants to join, but it really happens and there are people out there that will believe you, support you, and help end that abuse," Herron said. "Speak up, and keep telling until you find somebody that listens to you."
More Survivors Speak Up:
An interview with Sophia Herron
Shreveport Chef: "I was a Sex Slave"
Artist shares dark past
Victim: I was 4 when my dad started trafficking me
Warning signs of potential sexual abuse in a child:
Has difficulty walking or sitting
Suddenly refuses to change for gym class or participate in physical activities
Reports nightmares, bedwetting or shows a drastic change in appetite
Demonstrates mature or unusual understanding of sexual behavior
Becomes pregnant or contracts an STD at a young age, particularly before age 14
Quickly becomes attached to new adults in his or her environment
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
IMPORTANT NUMBERS: To make a report of suspected child abuse
(855) 452-5437 Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services 24/7 hotline
(318) 674-2900 The Gingerbread House
1-800-244-5373 Prevent Child Child Abuse Louisiana
(318) 675-2170 Caddo Parish Sheriff's office
(318) 673-7300 Shreveport Police Department
(318) 965-2203 Bossier Parish Sheriff's office
(318) 741- 8611 Bossier City Police Department
East Asia's pornography trade and abuse of human rights
by Caroline Norma, RMIT
The history of the Japanese military's wartime sexual enslavement of women still plays on the mind of East Asia. Japanese leaders make it hard to forget. Most recently, deputy foreign minister Shinsuke Sugiyama told the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women that his government knew of no documents confirming the forcible wartime recruitment of so-called ‘comfort women'. The refusal of Japan's leaders to admit legal liability or pay reparation to victims makes military prostitution a continuing backdrop to the diplomatic relations of East Asia.
The refusal to admit to sexual abuse in the past is also mirrored in an ongoing inability to recognise and confront troubling sexual norms and present-day sexual abuse. As Japanese historian Hajime Imanishi says, ‘The sexual standards and culture that envelop [Japan] developed over the course of history'.
East Asians continue to be reminded of the history of sexual slavery. Pornographic products produced in Japan and exported to countries in the region today constitute a continuing statement of the sexual ‘standards and culture' maintained by some Japanese men, and supported by many other male populations in the region.
Japan's pornography industry emerged in the 1960s. It now releases over 20,000 pornographic films a year with an annual turnover of US$2–4 billion. It is an industry the Tokyo-based NGO Human Rights Now describes as ‘almost wholly unregulated'. It cultivates a domestic operating environment geared to its commercial activities, with ‘junior idol', ‘modelling' and chakuero (non-nude sexualised film) businesses grooming local young women for recruitment.
The industry exerts significant influence on mainstream Japanese society and culture, including among children. For example, a 2005 survey of 10,000 high school students by Asahi Shimbun found that one-third of male students had seen pornographic manga pictures before the age of 12 and nearly 20 per cent had seen a pornographic film. Similar figures for the age group were not recorded in Australia until 2013, well after that population had access to the internet. Today, Jake Adelstein and Angela Erika Kubo see Japanese society as exercising ‘surprising tolerance for sexual exploitation of young children as entertainment' and, as a result, ‘Japanese “entrepreneurs” at home and abroad are … major producers of child pornography in the world market'.
Within this world market, the countries of East Asia are particular export targets. International relations scholar Hiro Katsumata writes that ‘the spread of Japanese cultural products can be considered an “East Asian” phenomenon'. These products include those of the sex industry, which are produced by pornographers who violate the human rights of local Japanese women and girls, as documented by Tokyo-based groups like the Anti-Pornography and Prostitution Research Group, People Against Pornography and Sexual Violence, Lighthouse and Human Rights Now.
This documentation includes the almost unreadable accounts that emerged in the criminal prosecution of employees of one pornographic studio, Bakkii Visual Planning in 2007. In this case a number of men were charged with seriously injuring women in the making of pornography. But even the survivors of the bulk of pornography production that does not reach Japan's courts report serious violations of health and safety, sexual abuse and forced participation in harmful sexual activities. These abovementioned groups now coordinate legal and welfare services for victims fleeing pornographers who use extortion and violence to keep them in the industry.
Products produced on the basis of these kinds of human rights abuses are exported to the countries of East Asia that were subject to the prostitution entrepreneurship of Japanese men. This entrepreneurship included not just military development of so-called ‘comfort stations' during wartime, but also pre-war civilian development of legalised brothel districts.
The capacity of pornography to exert transnational cultural influence was first noted in 2006 by feminist theorist Catharine MacKinnon, in relation to US-produced pornography: ‘the international pornography traffic means that American women are violated and tortured and exploited through its use … [and, as a result,] misogyny American style colonizes the world … [q]ualities characteristic of but not unique to the United States—including common and casual sexual violence and racism … [are now, through pornography] promoted throughout the world as sex'.
In 2011 Laura Miller noted that the Japanese government's ‘Cool Japan' international marketing campaign drew on misogynistic themes. ‘When I see the MOFA's [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] version of girls and popular culture', wrote Miller, ‘as well as much of Cool Japan as advocated by global otaku, I cannot quite escape the feeling that I endured a stroll through a Kabukicho corridor [Tokyo's largest red-light district] where numerous touts beckon one into an array of sleazy clubs and bars'.
More than a sexualised image of Japan, however, documented evidence of sexual abuse of the country's women and children is exported abroad. This trade has a long history. By the early 1980s, the Japanese publishing industry was exporting pornographic products to its East Asian neighbours. Japanese pornography found its way to Taiwan in the mid-1980s, when illegal cable TV operators broadcast manipulated Japanese adult videos. In South Korea, in 1980, 28,000 offensive violent or obscene comic books from Japan were confiscated by authorities.
By all accounts, Japanese pornography continues to flow into Taiwan. In 2013, Taiwan's supreme court refused to grant leave to a Japanese pornographer to pursue copyright claims over piracy activities by local Taiwanese pornography distributors, in spite of lost earnings for the company reaching an estimated 1 billion Taiwanese dollars (over US$30 million). South Korean society, to a lesser extent, now faces the same influx of pornographic material after import bans on Japanese cultural products were fully lifted in 2004. Chyng Sun and colleagues note that pornography production in South Korea is heavily policed, and so most products consumed in the country are ‘imported from overseas, primarily from Japan'.
On the Chinese mainland, authorities mostly interdict the internet transmission of pornography into the country, so pornography imported from Japan is not found there in large volume. Yet there is evidence of disk-based Japanese products being illegally smuggled into China via Hong Kong.
The violation, torture and degradation of Japanese women and girls that is transmitted to East Asia via pornography exports set a standard for sexual mores in the region. This standard was similarly instituted within the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere during the years of the China and Pacific wars, if through different means.
Knowledgeable commentators around the world now condemn the historical wartime military prostitution system as an institution of female sexual slavery, but the contemporary activities of Japanese pornographers are as yet to be similarly judged. While Japanese pornographers are pimping their countrywomen to the men of East Asia in this way, their home-grown pornography acts as an enticement to transnational fraternal complicity in sexual abuse, and therefore silence about gendered crimes in the region's history.
The Faces of Child Abuse
by Christy Hart-Harris
After working so long in the area of child abuse, you never forget faces. Some of the faces, when you first see them, you know they are suffering. Some of these faces show you so much, without even saying a word. These faces show fear, anxiety, pain, and tiredness. These faces long for love, for acceptance. However, some of these faces don't show the pain. These are the faces never show that they are being hurt at home. These faces hide the pain and suffering. All of these are faces of children who have suffered from child abuse and neglect. These are the faces that, as a community, we need to bond together to protect.
As a parent, I want my children to become aware of their surroundings, both the good and the bad. I want them to see the joy in a day full of sunshine, but at the same time I want them to realize that our world needs help. I want them to know that their world is not the only world around them. I want them to be aware that sometimes others need support. I want them to know that there are students that they may go to school with that haven't eaten since they left school the day before. I want them to know that there are others that may have been abused the night before and just can't make it through the day very easily. I want them to know that there are ways to help people in our community that need support and assistance. They need to know that, even though they are just teenagers, they can make a difference in someone's life.
I believe that we can start young and teach our children to believe that they can change our community. Child abuse is not something that anyone enjoys talking about; however it is something that needs to be discussed. We need to teach our children that child abuse is not something that we, as a community, will tolerate.
Statistics here in Branch County are very depressing. In fact, Branch County has twice the state average of cases of child abuse and neglect. What can we do as a community to lower these statistics? Educate and report. As parents, let's talk to our youth about child abuse. Talk to them about what they can do to help others if they see something that makes them uncomfortable. Keep that open door policy so, if they see something that they feel is abuse, they know they can turn to you knowing that you will help.
And as adults, please don't turn your back. Please think about those faces of abuse. The faces that are begging for that one person to stand up for them. Think of a young child that doesn't have a voice to get the help that they need. They need you to be that voice. All it takes is one call to 911 when you feel that something is just not right.
Please take a moment to drive by the Branch County Coalition Against Domestic Violence on Michigan Avenue in Coldwater during the month of July to visit the Healing Hill of Hope. In fact, please don't just drive by, pause at the end of the drive-way. On the front lawn are flags that represent children in our county that have been abused sexually, physically or emotionally. It's quite overwhelming. This display was a collaborative effort with the Early Bird Exchange Club, The Branch County Substance Abuse Task Force, Coldwater Township Sunrise Rotary, Coldwater Noon Rotary, the Great Start Collaborative, and of course the Branch County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. As you look at these flags, please take a pledge to protect the children of our community. Take a pledge to honor these children represented by helping those that are suffering in silence. All it takes is one phone call. Be the difference in their lives
Charlotte #1 in NC for sex trafficking
by Rachel Brown
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On average, 78 victims across North Carolina are sex trafficked each year.
Starting this fall, sex trafficking will be addressed in seventh and eighth-grade classrooms across Charlotte.
“We have an issue in our city, and we have to do more,” said Executive Director of Present Age Ministries Hannah Arrowood.
Arrowood is working tirelessly to stop the sex trafficking of young girls and boys across our city.
“Charlotte is actually the number one city in the state of North Carolina for human trafficking,” she said.
Since 2007 there have been 343 known cases of sex trafficking statewide, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
Arrowood said it is important to know the vast majority of these victims were not kidnapped by their abuser.
“Often times these girls are going willingly to meet their perpetrators,” she explained.
It happens after meeting, chatting and building a relationship with these strangers on the internet through social media websites.
Five-hundred new ads are posted soliciting sex in Charlotte every day.
Arrowood said many of the women in the ads are not women at all, but rather trafficked teenagers and young girls.
Each day they are forced to have sex with multiple men.
Now, lawmakers are working to try and prevent future kids from falling victim. Senate Bill 279 requires local boards of education to address sex trafficking prevention and awareness.
Arrowood said she and her agency will team up with DSS and CMS in the fall to teach courses to seventh and eighth-grade students.
“We're excited to partner with school systems and give their teachers, material, curriculum that they can actually use that we're learning from the survivors we work with,” she said.
CMPD said it will be holding an event in the coming days to talk with the community about the issue.
'CHiPs' actor Erik Estrada becomes Idaho reserve cop
Estrada plans to work with the police department in protecting children from internet predators
by Lisa Dayley Smith
ST. ANTHONY, Idaho — The man famous for his many years as a motorcycle cop on the hit '80s TV series "CHiPs" is now a reserve police officer in a small town in southern Idaho.
St. Anthony Mayor Neils Thueson swore Erik Estrada into office on Saturday at City Hall in this town of 3,500 people. Estrada plans to work with the police department in protecting children from internet predators.
Estrada arrived on Saturday where he spent the afternoon with police officers and their families at the city park. After Thueson swore Estrada in as a reserve police officer, Estrada spent the rest of the afternoon at the high school at a meet and greet where he had his picture taken with residents of all ages.
Estrada has spent the past decade working with various law enforcement departments in keeping kids safe online. Following his induction, Estrada said how important it is to teach children what not to do while on the web.
"Education is the best protection especially on the internet. Children should be educated in how to handle a chat room. Don't give out personal information. Certainly don't give out your mother's or father's name or what school you go to. Don't ever accept gifts," Estrada said. "Certainly don't ever go meet someone you've been chatting with. They're not who they are. If they send a picture, that isn't them."
Even in conservative and generally safe St. Anthony, there are still threats to children, Police Chief Terry Harris said.
"I think that this brings to the surface that (internet crime) happens in smaller communities. Everything that happens in the big cities, happens here," he said.
Estrada's team is developing various programs such as software that will record children's pictures at various angles. It will also provide other information such as a child's medical needs. The information will be readily available for police should a child come up missing.
"The first 72 hours is a very crucial time to recover a child," Estrada said.
Estrada chose St. Anthony as small rural communities prove more willing to quickly join forces with his organization. In larger cities, there is too much red tape and too many bureaucrats involved in trying to reach the mayor and police officials, he said.
"What happens in a big city — there is a tremendous amount of politics involved," he said.
In St. Anthony, after just a few emails and telephone calls, city officials quickly and eagerly welcomed Estrada into the police reserves.
"We got everybody on board immediately, so we don't waste his time. In a larger city, it could take weeks," Harris said.
Estrada and his organization made contact with Harris about six weeks ago via email. As Estrada has continually warned, you can't trust everybody on the web. Harris, having worked as a police officer for many years, thought the email was one big hoax. Before responding, he did some detective work and learned that the email was legitimate. He later got in touch with Estrada and told the city council about Estrada's plans.
Harris later met with the city council where he announced Estrada's visit. Of course, not everyone in town believed Harris. Social media lit up with many saying it was indeed a joke. More than once, Harris heard that he "was full of beans." In the meantime, he sallied forth making plans for Estrada's visit.
Estrada's addition to the city will prove beneficial to the city's police department, he said.
"We're talking a long-term partnership. I expect it will run for the next two or three years. He's a great guy. He's going to be a great part of the team," Harris said.
Estrada grew up wanting to become a police officer thanks to his mother's friendship with an exceptionally good police officer. Yet, during high school, he got the acting bug after he signed up for drama when he became interested in dating a young woman.
After Estrada told his mother of his change in plans, he promised her that, if acting didn't work out by the time he was 30, he would return to New York and become a police officer. The cutoff to do so was 32 years of age.
By the time Estrada was 27, he landed the role of California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello. He continued in that role from 1977 to 1983, making it possible to support his mother, who hasn't worked since that time.
"I've been taking care of her for 35 years," he said.
Following "CHiPs," Estrada continued acting, but later became a reserve officer in Muncie, Indiana. To avoid attention, he worked nights as an officer. He later came in contact with law enforcement officers who spent the day working against internet predators. What Estrada witnessed sickened him so much that he decided to form a foundation to help educate and protect children from internet enticement.
Estrada says that all his dreams — from crime fighting to acting — have all come true.
"I wanted to be a cop first and then I became an actor and then became a cop on TV. The TV thing allowed me to become a reserve officer in Indiana. I became a real cop," he said. "How many people have that kind of blessing? I've been blessed that way. I've been lucky."
Police: DC woman used ice cream, popcorn to lure child sex assault victims
by Sarah Simmons
WASHINGTON - Police have arrested a D.C. woman after they say she used ice cream and popcorn to lure children into her apartment where she sexually abused them.
Police arrested 42-year-old Larona Steele on Tuesday and charged her with first-degree child sexual abuse.
According to the police report, the sexual assault happened in the 3500 block of Clay Place in Northeast D.C. last month and the victims were all under 16 years old. Two of the victims told investigators that Steele forced them to have sexual intercourse with her along with oral sex.
The investigation revealed the woman offered the victims popcorn and ice cream to get them into her home. Once inside, she locked the door and forced them to perform the sexual acts on her.
Police said they believe there may be additional victims.
“Investigators believe that the suspect targeted juveniles, under the notion of selling them candy from her residence,” D.C. police said in a news release.
Anyone who has had past encounters with Steele or have information that could help with the investigation is asked to call D.C. police at 202-727-9099.
Training targets child sexual assault
by Zoe Schaver
Ninety percent of children who are sexually abused know their abuser personally.
The Darkness to Light (D2L) Initiative, which held a training Wednesday at the Chapel Hill Public Library, is an educational program that informs parents about the warning signs of child sexual abuse — and the chance their child might be harmed by someone they trust.
A documentary video shown as part of the training emphasized abusers can be charismatic and likable, may have jobs working with children and are not always male as stereotypes might suggest.
The training laid out a five-step process parents and caregivers can follow to maximize children's safety: learn the facts, minimize opportunity, talk about it, recognize the signs and react responsibly.
Meredith Stewart, director of child safety for YMCA of the Triangle, said listening when kids report abuse and making them feel heard and believed is crucial.
“I've worked with kids my whole life. Unfortunately, this issue has come up,” she said. “What I would do is, I would look right at them and I would say, ‘You're doing the right thing, you are so brave, thank you for telling me, I am going to do everything I can to help you and you are not alone."
Libby Fosso, who teaches at Chapel Hill's University Presbyterian Preschool and attended the training, said her daughter has a disability that leaves her unable to speak.
“When she's not with me, she's always with someone who I don't know very well, who's had a background check, but because of her disability, she's kind of a walking victim,” Fosso said. “We do the best we can to put our trust in people, which is sometimes very scary.”
Tom Clark, a human resources consultant for the Town of Chapel Hill and the presenter of the Darkness to Light training, said it's important for organizations to clarify policies and prevent adults and children from ever being alone together in one-on-one situations.
“When we did this training in the library, they realized that when they're sitting with kids in the book stacks, kids can be isolated,” he said. “They changed the way they operate, so they don't sit anymore on the floor in between bookshelves where kids can't be seen.”
According to the training materials, 80 percent of child sexual abuse happens in isolated, one-on-one situations.
The training video encouraged parents to be open with their children about what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate touching, to use clear terms for body parts so children aren't confused and to help children identify trusted adults who they can speak to if they ever feel uncomfortable in school or camp environments, for example.
“I would never, ever tell a child, ‘We're not going to tell anybody, this is our secret,'” Stewart said. “It becomes part of that cycle of dishonesty and them learning not to trust adults.”
Because North Carolina is a mandatory reporting state, Stewart said, any suspicion of abuse a caregiver has must be reported to the Department of Social Services or to law enforcement. The training emphasized that the signs may not be physical — instead, children may lash out behaviorally as a response to abuse.
Condra Jones works for UNC Horizons, a substance abuse treatment program for women and their children. She said the training encouraged her to be more frank about the realities of child sexual assault with her own 7-year-old daughter.
“I want to share a little more information with her about inappropriate touches and things of that nature,” she said. “I want to reassure her that she can talk to me about anything.”
Two men charged with sexual abuse of 10-month-old baby
by Simone Fox Koob
Two men extradited from Victoria over allegations they sexually assaulted a baby in NSW will remain behind bars after their case was briefly heard in a Sydney court.
The two men, both 50, were arrested on Tuesday in the Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe by NSW police, following an investigation by Victorian police into child pornography.
The men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, did not come up from the cells as their case was briefly brought before Waverley Local Court on Thursday morning.
Police say the men sexually assaulted a 10-month-old girl at her home in the Bathurst area in April 2015.
One of the pair was charged with two counts of sexual intercourse with a person under 10 years and the production, possession and sharing of child pornography.
The second was also charged with sexual intercourse with a person under 10, as well as further child pornography-related offences and use of a child under 14 years to make child abuse material.
The men did not apply for bail on Thursday and it was formally refused, meaning they will remain behind bars until the case returns to Central Local Court on Tuesday.
The court heard one or both men may make a bail application at that time.
Mother suing after young son left in solitary confinement for 11 months
by Chris Ramirez
Parents understand their children. They understand how much they require, how much attention they need, how their emotional support is almost entirely dependent on their family unit. A child's development requires socialization, interaction with adults and peers, hugs, kisses, praise, discipline and affection. Imagine removing all of that from a child's life for nearly a year.
After Christian Cook was left in solitary for 11 months, his mother, Kelly Cook, is now fighting for justice for him. Christian was 15 at the time, but his mother believes he actually had the emotional maturity of a 10-year-old. Christian was diagnosed with autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) before entering the Curry County Juvenile Detention Center in Clovis, New Mexico.
Because Christian is a juvenile, the records that contain the nature of his arrest are sealed. But his attorney, Matt Coyte, told KOB 4 Investigates that Christian was arrested in June 2013 on a non-violent offense.
Coyte believes that immediately upon entering the Curry County juvenile facility, the correction officers made a choice to put Christian into a solitary cell so that they wouldn't have to deal with his mental health needs.
“I was devastated,” Kelly Cook said. “I was very concerned about his care. He wanted me to rescue him.”
The lawsuit filed in federal court alleges that as time passed, Christian's mental health worsened and he started acting out by refusing food, flooding his cell and talking to himself underneath his bed. The suit alleges instead of providing Christian with the help he needed, jail staff punished him with more isolation.
“At one point, he thought he was going to die. I thought he was going to die,” Kelly said. “My kid was in desperation.”
While in isolation, Christian wrote in his journal. On one page, he wrote, “I am traumatized and scared of cops. I miss my mommy so much. Today I played cards and I miss my mommy. I think about her every day. I miss her so much.”
Around Christmas 2013, he wrote, “What I want for Christmas is my family. I love you so much. I know it's not Christmas yet, but that's what I want.”
Later he wrote, “I feel like I have been neglected and abused. They drugged me and put me on lock-down. It hurts my heart. I cry. I am disabled.”
KOB reached out to Curry County's administration. County Manager Lance Pyle refused an on-camera interview to answer questions about the allegations and instead sent the following statement:
“Curry County has not been served with a copy of the complaint and summons. KOB TV did provide a copy of the lawsuit to the County. The two (2) individuals named as defendants in the case (Sandoval and Martin) are no longer employed with Curry County. Curry County's practice is not to comment on any pending litigation. Curry County will investigate the allegations and once served, will respond to the complaint.”
Christian's health deteriorated so dramatically in 11 months, he was eventually moved to a mental health hospital in Utah. Soon after, his criminal charge that put him in the juvenile detention center was dismissed.
“No child should ever be treated the way my kid was treated. Ever. Never,” Kelly Cook said. “He's not the same kid anymore. He doesn't love life. He's so afraid of everything. He's afraid to do anything normal kids do.”
Kelly and Christian's lawsuit aims to change policy at New Mexico's jails that house children so that no child is left in solitary confinement again.
In fact, the United Nations in 2011 determined the practice of solitary confinement is considered in torture and should especially never be used on children or the mentally ill.
Earlier this year, President Obama banned the practice of placing children in solitary confinement in federal facilities.
And in 2015, New Mexico Youth and Families Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson testified to a state legislative panel that her department never uses solitary confinement for children in its custody.
Astonishingly, the Curry County Juvenile Jail has been sued at least once before for its overuse of solitary confinement. In 2012, Curry County paid $450,000 to Orlando Salas for leaving him in a solitary confinement cell when he was 15. He alleged that guards taunted him by urinating on him and forced him to endure horrifying mental abuse.
Vulnerable and exposed: Patients sexually abused by doctors in every state
by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Even in a post-surgical haze, Erin Vance could tell what was happening in her hospital room was very wrong.
As Vance awoke, her anesthesiologist was leaning over, kissing her lips. Then he took her hand, and pressed it against his penis.
“It's OK,” she says the doctor told her. “This is just how we wake you up.”
Vance's experience illustrates the broad phenomenon of sexual abuse by physicians documented in a nationwide investigation by The Atlants Journal-Constitution.
The newspaper discovered a stunning array of misconduct in every state. Doctors raped, fondled and molested patients of all ages, including some with life-threatening illnesses. They made lewd comments during intimate medical examinations and seduced psychiatric patients. They groped and violated patients during contrived procedures that served no clinical purpose.
Again and again, doctors received little or no punishment for their unethical, sometimes illegal behavior, the Journal-Constitution found by reviewing disciplinary records from state medical boards. Many of these doctors continued to practice medicine; some continued to violate their patients.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained and analyzed more than 100,000 medical board orders relating to disciplinary action against doctors since Jan. 1, 1999. Among those, the newspaper identified more than 3,100 doctors disciplined after being accused of sexual misconduct; more than 2,400 of those cases involved patients.
Neither number is close to all-encompassing. Medical boards settled an unknown number of cases through confidential orders, and experts say patients report only a tiny fraction of doctors' sexual transgressions.
Reported or not, sexual misconduct by trusted practitioners causes lasting trauma for patients.
“There is no more deeply personal betrayal than this,” said David Clohessy, the executive director of SNAP, a support and advocacy organization for people sexually abused by priests, doctors and other authority figures. “It's a betrayal on a physical and emotional and psychological level, all at the same time.”
Shame, Clohessy said, inhibits many victims from reporting abuse.
“They feel like, ‘I did something wrong; I should have jumped up and screamed and I didn't. Somehow I sent the wrong signal, gave him the wrong idea, or maybe I shouldn't have worn that particular dress or that particular outfit.'”
Last winter, the host of a Spanish-language radio show in Atlanta, Brenda Bueno, began hearing privately from listeners who said they had been groped by Dr. Jose Rios, a pediatrician in Chamblee, Georgia. But many of the women resisted filing charges, Bueno said, because they were undocumented immigrants and feared deportation. Others, she said, worried their husbands or boyfriends would think they had “provoked” the doctor's advances.
“Some of them were more afraid of their husbands … than of law enforcement authorities,” Bueno said.
At Bueno's urging, several women finally went to the police. They said Rios had inappropriately touched their breasts or buttocks, offered to pay them for sex, or made other sexual advances during their children's appointments.
“One time he told me to sit my child on my lap so he could examine him, and he brushed against my breasts,” one woman told MundoHispanico, a Spanish-language newspaper that, like the Journal-Constitution, is part of Atlanta-based Cox Media Group. “I thought it was an accident,” she said, “but he did it again another time that I went back, and he even gave me his private phone number so I could call him whenever I wanted.”
Authorities charged Rios with sexual battery and pandering, or soliciting sex for money. The charges are pending.
In Oregon, Erin Vance kept quiet about her abuse, wrestling with questions of whether it happened in a dream.
“How disgusting,” she recalled thinking. “Why would my mind be giving me that information when I was unconscious?”
She was watching the local news on television when she learned about the arrest of Dr. Frederick Field, her anesthesiologist at Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, Oregon. Vance went to the police, one of the 12 women who told authorities Field had abused them. After pleading guilty to 11 counts of first-degree sex abuse and one count of first-degree rape, Field received a 23-year prison sentence.
Two years before Field assaulted Vance, another patient had told a hospital administrator that the doctor fondled her nipples and placed her hands on his penis.
Field's prosecution and a separate lawsuit against the hospital further traumatized Vance. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and took a year-long medical leave from her job as a speech-language pathologist for the local school district. She wanted to write about her experience – and to distance herself from the hospital, just half a mile down the street from her school.
“People don't seem to understand,” Vance, 41, said. “They don't want to believe that they, too, are still vulnerable.”
Trauma Of Domestic Violence: 7 Ways It Alters Your Life
by Támara Hill, MS, LPC
Do you know someone who is (or have you been) the victim of domestic violence in some form (i.e., as a child, a parent, a spouse, etc)? Do you (or the person) remember what happened during the abuse? Domestic violence is more prevalent that most people believe it is. In fact, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that about 20 people, per minute, are being physically abused in their home by an intimate partner or spouse. Sadly, domestic violence is correlated with a higher prevalence of depression and suicidal ideations. As a therapist, my experience has been that domestic violence not only affects the adult in the home but also the child (or children) who witness the abuse in some way. A child who witnesses domestic violence is vicariously experiencing the abuse (i.e., experiencing the abuse without being directly influenced by it). Rarely does anyone walk away from domestic violence unscathed.
This article will discuss trauma but focus specifically on domestic violence while highlighting the ways domestic violence alters ones life.
It wasn't until I began engaging in multiple classes, seminars, webinars, continuing education programs, and certification programs on trauma that I learned just how prevalent domestic violence was. I always knew, as a therapist, that it existed. But I failed to realize that it was so prevalent that I could actually be living in a neighborhood, walking past, or interacting with a victim.
As a result, I recognize that there are multiple ways domestic violence affects a family but the most important changes include:
1 - The brain : Trauma affects the brain in various ways including levels of cortisol (i.e., a stress hormone that is secreted from a pea-sized gland in your brain). The pituitary gland is located in the middle of your brain and is “reactionary” to stress. When your brain “senses” stress or is in fight or flight mode, the pituitary glad releases the stress hormone cortisol which results in a variety of changes throughout the body. Your body is preparing itself to fight or flee from the threat or danger. When the threat of danger is gone, the fight or flight system is “turned off.” For children, adolescents, and adults who have experienced high levels of stress over a long period of time (such as is the case in families of domestic violence), the body's fight or flight response stays on all of the time, especially if the brain and body is hyper-vigilant to danger or threat. The repeated release of cortisol and a host of other hormones, can result in permanent brain changes. Young children, from infancy to toddler age, can exhibit delayed developmental milestones. Children and adolescents may begin to show antisocial tendencies such as oppositional behavior, delinquency, substance abuse, unprotected sex, and other similar behaviors. Adults may also show similar behaviors in addition to poor interpersonal relationships, poor boundaries, challenges with maintaining employment, and severe mental health disorders.
2 - Social environment : Individuals and families who are victims of domestic violence tend to isolate themselves from their family, friends, and society in general. It is as if the victim(s) feel so beat down by the abuser that they cannot enjoy life anyone, feel confident, or self-assured. Others often retreat into a world of embarrassment, guilt, fear, and emotional imprisonment. Children and adolescents who witness repeated domestic violence (i.e., vicarious trauma) may begin to seclude themselves from their friends and peers including other adults like teachers. For many of the clients I have worked with in the past who were victims of domestic violence, their most dreaded reality was to be confronted by neighbors or others in society who may have heard the violence occurring or who may witness physical signs of abuse such as bruises.
3 - Emotions/Affectivity : Victims of domestic violence are not only suffering from guilt, low self-esteem, and embarrassment but also fear, uncertainty, and labile emotions. Most abusers require not only anger management classes but psychiatric treatment and counseling. As a result of untreated mental health conditions or behavioral problems, the abuser is often switchable in moods and may exhibit various emotions throughout the day, week, months, or even years. This is why domestic violence is so tricky for victims. It is difficult to determine what mood the abuser may be in from one minute to the next. Because of this, victims are often emotional themselves and switchable in moods and behavior. Consider how you would be if you constantly changed your thoughts and feelings based on how the abuser was feeling and treating you from one moment to the next.
4 - Temperament : Trauma can certainly change one's temperament. A baby who is generally pleasant and calm may become more colicky, irritable, and reactive if he or she is in an environment of constant trauma. For example, consider how an infant would feel if everything in its environment is peaceful until he/she hears mother crying and screaming while the father curses at her, yells at her, and physically assaults her. The infant will most likely become emotionally unstable due to the changes in its environment. If a woman is pregnant, the stress hormone (cortisol) including other hormones will be released during a violent event. These hormones can certainly alter physiological processes in the developing fetus.
5 - Life perspective : Many of my previous young clients (ages 5-11) all exhibited changes in the way they viewed their lives and life in general after the abuse. Whether the abuse was experienced directly or indirectly did not matter. The victims expressed changes in the way they viewed others and their motives, the way they viewed therapists or people of authority, and even the way they saw their parent(s), friends, or extended family. I had a wonderful 6 year old boy some years ago who not only experienced physical abuse at the hands of his father, but overheard the sexual, verbal, and physical abuse of his mother. After about 1 year of engaging him in trauma-informed therapy he said to me “I just don't trust anyone but you. I don't even trust my mom because she let the abuse happen to me too.” My heart has never been the same after this confession.
6 - Ability to learn & grow : If I had to live with trauma every day of my life with little to no help from the outside world, I would most likely lose motivation and energy for life. What's the point in trying if no matter how hard you try you end up suffering anyhow. Many victims of domestic violence give up on life and don't see any purpose in trying to develop their abilities, learn, or grow. The future appears grim to youngsters, especially if the adult victim of the abuse stays in the abusive relationship, uses drugs or alcohol, or has no ability or desire to leave the relationship.
7 - Ability to trust and form positive attachments: As stated above, many victims have trouble trusting others after the abuse. The traumatic experience takes such a biological, emotional, and psychological toll on the victim(s) that building healthy trust and relationships with others may seem impossible. That is why trauma therapy is often suggested to be the only help for victims of domestic abuse.
Obama, Biden won't visit colleges ‘insufficiently serious' about sexual assault: report
by Jessica Chasmar
President Obama and top administration officials will reportedly no longer visit universities whose leaders they consider “insufficiently serious” about sexual assault on campus.
The president, the vice president, their wives and other members of the Cabinet will not visit institutions that fail to pursue sexual-assault allegations or punish perpetrators, officials told The Washington Post in a report published Sunday.
Vice President Joe Biden said he would like the federal government to “take away their money” if a college fails to change its ways, the Post reported.
His comment comes almost one month after he wrote an open letter to a survivor of sexual assault at Stanford University.
“I am in awe of your courage for speaking out — for so clearly naming the wrongs that were done to you and so passionately asserting your equal claim to human dignity,” the vice president wrote. “And I am filled with furious anger — both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth.”
Mr. Biden told the Post that the issue of campus sexual assault has always been important to him. He said he spoke to Mr. Obama before they won the White House in 2008 and requested a staff to work on violence against women, the Post reported.
“He said, ‘Okay.' He knew how strongly I felt about it,” Mr. Biden said, adding that over time Mr. Obama focused more attention on the issue, the Post reported.
“He always thought it was an awful abuse of power. But as his daughters grew, he became more explicitly focused on it,” Mr. Biden said.
Why the sex offender registry isn't the right way to punish rapists
by Dara Lind
There are two parts to any criminal sentence for any crime involving sex.
There's the standard sentence: prison time or probation. As soon as the first sentence ends, the second one begins.
After getting released from prison, an ex-offender has to sign up for his state's sex offender registry. If he moves to another state, he'll have to sign up there too. Depending on the state and the seriousness of the crime, his name, picture, and information will be publicly listed for all to see — permanently.
It might seem like an appropriate punishment for someone like Brock Turner, who received only a few months in prison for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman earlier this year.
But the sex offender registry wasn't designed to punish people like Brock Turner. It wasn't designed to punish people at all.
The registry was designed for "sexual predators" who repeatedly preyed on children (at least according to the fears of 1990s policymakers). The purpose was supposed to be not punishment but prevention. The theory: Sexual predators" were unable or unwilling to control their urges, and the government could not do enough to keep them away from children, so the job of avoiding "sexual predators" needed to fall to parents.
In other words, it's a 1990s tool with a 1990s sensibility. If criminals can't control their criminal urges, law-abiding citizens must modify their own behavior to prevent crime.
Twenty years later, the focus on sex crimes has shifted from sexual abuse of children to sexual assault and rape. The idea that criminals can't control their behavior has been replaced by attention to the cultural and institutional failures that allow rapes to happen and go unpunished; the idea that it's up to potential victims to change their behavior is usually criticized as victim blaming.
Yet the sex offender registry is still going strong.
It hasn't worked as a preventive tool. Instead, it's caught up thousands of people in a tightly woven net of legal sanctions and social stigma. Registered sex offenders are constrained by where, with whom, and how they can live — then further constrained by harassment or shunning from neighbors and prejudice from employers.
Some of the people on the sex offender registry have had their lives ruined for relatively minor or harmless offenses; for example, a statutory rape case in which the victim is a high school grade younger than the offender.
Others are people like Brock Turner — people who have committed serious crimes that are nonetheless very different from the ones the registry was supposed to prevent, and which the registry might, in fact, make harder to fight.
This happens often in the criminal justice system: Something designed for one purpose ends up getting used for something else. As usual, it happened because people can't agree on what society wants to do with criminals to begin with.
Is the point of the sex offender registry to punish people for what they've done? Or is it to ensure that they don't do it again?
Sex offender registries were designed to protect children from pathological "sexual predators"
The laws governing America's sex offender registries — the Jacob Wetterling Act and Megan's Law of the 1990s, and the Adam Walsh Act of 2006 — are all named after children who were victims of violent crimes. Adam Walsh and Megan Kanka were both raped and murdered by adult men; Jacob Wetterling was abducted and has never been found.
Those were exactly the scenarios the registries were supposed to prevent, by allowing not only law enforcement but parents and others to know if any sex offenders lived or worked nearby.
Like a lot of other "seemed like a good idea at the time" tough-on-crime laws, the sex offender regime was built in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton (who signed Megan's Law in 1996). And just as other tough-on-crime laws relied on stereotypes like the "child superpredator," laws like Megan's Law were designed to contain a stereotypical "sexual predator."
The "predator" panic had been raging since the early 1980s, when several communities around the US got caught up in allegations of widespread child molestation at schools, often after children "recovered" supposedly repressed memories. (Richard Beck's 2015 book We Believe the Children is a very good critical history of this period, if you're interested.) It thrived on the anxieties of middle-class, suburban parents — who didn't live in high-crime areas themselves (even during the height of the late-20th-century crime wave) but still didn't exactly feel safe.
According to the stereotype, sexual predators preyed exclusively and deliberately on children — and, most importantly, they were pathological about it.
"Sexual offenders are different," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said during the congressional debate over Megan's Law. "No matter what we do, the minute they get back on the restless and unrelenting prowl for children, innocent children, to molest, abuse, and in the worst cases, to kill."
In lawmakers' eyes, sex offenders could not be reformed. The only thing the government could do was help the public protect itself from them — depriving them the opportunity to commit future crimes.
Registries are not designed for rapists
It's worth noting that most sex offenses are still committed against minors (though that's partly because there are more crimes involving minors that count as sex offenses). But the definition of "sex offender," both legally and popularly, covers not just people who victimize children but a wide degree of crimes involving sex — including sexual assault and rape.
Regardless of what kind of sex offense is committed, though, all the perpetrators end up on the same list.
Some of the activists who inspired registry laws to begin with, like Nancy Wetterling (the mother of Jacob Wetterling), have since turned against them. Those advocates say they never intended for the registry to expand so far beyond child molesters — and that they certainly didn't intend for so many people to be registered for having consensual sex as teenagers, or for pulling down their siblings' pants as children.
But not everyone who's been caught up in the sex offender registry has committed a nonviolent or minor crime. Some of them are people like Turner — whose crime is arguably seen as more heinous to the public (or at least some members of the public) than it might have been when Megan's Law was passed 20 years ago.
Some may not think it's exactly tragic that Turner will end up suffering from unintended consequences because he's on the registry. That doesn't change the fact that the policy was designed for a totally different kind of case: Preventing a rapist from living near an elementary school doesn't prevent him from committing another rape. Nor does preventing him from working as a hearing aid salesman.
Even the backbone of sex offender registries — the fact that they're publicly available for community notification — makes sense in the context of serial child molestation, but not in the context of serial rape. Knowing what sort of adults live next door might help you protect your kid from getting kidnapped. But you can't Google your way to safety if — as Brock Turner's victim didn't — you don't know your assailant's name.
There's a way for law enforcement to monitor people after they've returned from prison, with individualized attention (and different conditions) for each individual case. It's called parole — and more than 850,000 Americans were on it in 2014.
Preventing someone from reoffending depends on what he's done and who he is. A one-size-fits-all registry makes that impossible.
Being a registered sex offender often means the public has a right to know who you are and where you live
Every state (as required by federal law) keeps a database of people living in the state who've been convicted of sex offenses. Every state puts at least some of that database online for the public to check.
States vary in terms of how many sex offenders are publicly listed and how much information is provided. In California, for example, someone who's committed "assault with intent to rape" (like Brock Turner) gets his name, picture, and the town where he's living listed on the site, but not his address or workplace. (Sex offenders convicted of more serious crimes in California, however, do get their addresses listed.)
In some states and cities, police officers are allowed or required to notify the neighbors whenever a sex offender moves into the neighborhood. When they aren't, neighbors often step in to do the job — and, often, encourage the person to move elsewhere. (It's theoretically illegal to use the sex offender registry to discriminate against sex offenders in things like housing or jobs, but there's an exception if you're protecting the safety of a "person at risk.") Offenders are also required to change their registration within a few days of moving elsewhere or changing jobs.
The federal Adam Walsh Act set a minimum period of time that offenders had to stay on the registry, depending on the seriousness of their offense. But plenty of states require offenders to stay on for longer — many of them for life.
That's all that's officially required, at least at the federal level. But because of concern about child predators — and the sex offender registry is such a visible, readily available tool — sex offenders also have to deal with a raft of "collateral consequences": restrictions they face above and beyond their official punishment.
Laws can make it impossible for sex offenders to find housing or get a job, years after they've completed their sentences
Because sex offenders are still characterized as child predators, states and cities commonly ban them from living within a certain distance of schools, parks, day cares, or "other place(s) children may gather," in the words of the Council on State Governments. (The same logic has led dozens of states to require GPS monitoring for sex offenders.)
As of 2010, 27 states had passed some form of residency restriction on sex offenders. Hundreds of cities have done the same.
These laws are a classic case of unintended consequences, especially in urban areas where it might be hard to find housing that isn't within 2,000 feet of anywhere children may "gather."
In San Diego, a federal judge ruled that a California residency restriction law was unconstitutional in 2015. Residency restrictions consumed "huge swaths of urban and suburban San Diego" (according to the district attorney's office). Restrictions covered more than 97 percent of "multifamily" housing like apartment buildings and long-resident hotels — the places where sex offenders, who often don't have families or earn enough to live in single-family homes, tend to live.
That's over and above the typical sorts of collateral consequences — laws restricting whom sex offenders can live with, where they can be licensed to work, and what sorts of benefits they can get.
States pass all sorts of restrictions like this on people with criminal records. Individually, they often make sense — or at least they aren't objectionable. The problem is in the aggregate: They end up making it much more difficult for ex-offenders to earn a living and reintegrate into their communities. And because the sex offender registry is right there in the public eye, it's more likely to be the target of collateral consequences than most.
In California, for example, there are 239 mandatory restrictions on sex offenders. Most, again, have to do with children: Offenders can't live with an adopted child (which can preclude them from staying with relatives), can't work in public parks, and can't enter school grounds without "lawful business." But they also can't live in facilities for the chronically ill, can't drive tow trucks, and can't sell hearing aids.
And, of course, it's legal for employers to refuse to hire sex offenders even when there's no law mandating it. In a 2014 study of sex offenders in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Texas, more than half of offenders said they'd lost a job due to their status; one said that he'd gotten a call from an employer telling him never to send them a résumé again.
The purpose of the registry is to use social stigma to buttress the law — which can often tip over into harassment
You don't need a sex offender registry to pass any of these laws (though the presence of a registry arguably encourages it). There are plenty of people who, after completing terms in prison, report to law enforcement on a regular basis, are monitored, and live under restrictions on where they can go and whom they can live with.
What makes the registry different is that it's public — you can't identify a parolee just by Googling him, but you can identify a sex offender. That's the entire purpose of the registry: it was supposed to give parents the tools they needed to protect their children in the face of a threat so (supposedly) rapacious that law enforcement couldn't be trusted to keep it at bay.
It's illegal for people to use sex offender registries for harassment. But they're encouraged to use them for social stigma.
The line is often crossed. The 2014 study found that more than 40 percent of offenders had been harassed in person; many had also gotten harassing mail or phone calls. Several offenders reported their families had been harassed or shunned. "People pick on my children," one respondent said. "They make jokes about me being an easy lay to my teenage sons."
But sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between harassment and a neighborhood protecting itself — just as the law says it's supposed to do. Take this one from February: A Mesa, Arizona, woman tried to start a halfway house for sex offenders, and her neighbors responded by offering to buy the house from her to keep the sex offenders out of the neighborhood; putting up "Sex Offenders, Felons and Pedophiles" signs pointing to the house; and siccing the county government on her for a licensing violation. Is that an unintended consequence, or the point of the law?
Registries don't do what they're supposed to
Policymaking is always a trade-off. The question is whether the benefits are worth the risks. The intended benefit of sex offender registries was supposed to be greater protection of children — with fewer opportunities for recidivist sexual predators to attack children, there were supposed to be fewer sex crimes against them.
That hasn't happened. The evidence on registries' ability to prevent sex crimes is mixed at best. The evidence that residential restrictions prevent sex crimes is nonexistent.
Few registered sex offenders go on to commit another sex crime — studies have estimated recidivism rates between 5 and 15 percent, which sounds high but is relatively low compared with other crimes. Barring sex offenders from living near children, for instance, doesn't stop the recidivists from recidivating. And most new sex crime convictions involve people who aren't registered sex offenders.
We know more about sex crimes now than policymakers did in 1996. The "stranger danger," child-focused predator isn't as common as people think. Sexual abuse at the hands of intimate partners and family members is far more common — and there's evidence that strict registry laws might make victims less likely to report their relatives as abusers, since they might not want the "permanent banishment" that entails.
The risks, on the other hand, have been huge. It's not an exaggeration to say that the combination of legal restrictions and social stigma destroys lives. Sarah Stillman wrote a New Yorker feature earlier this year that is a must-read if you want to understand the booby-trapped world in which sex offenders live:
One morning during her junior year, (Leah) DuBuc returned to her room from psychology class to find a yellow Post-it on her door: "We know you're a sex offender. GET OUT OF OUR DORM. You're not wanted here." She tore it up, and told no one. A few days later, as she sat in her room working on a paper for class, she heard a ping from her AOL Instant Messenger account. The sender was anonymous. "We know you're a sex offender," DuBuc read. "Get out."
She no longer felt safe in the dorm. But in order to rent her own apartment she'd need a decent income. She applied for jobs that interested her—working with the homeless, helping out an urban ministry—without success. Then McDonald's, Burger King, and Subway turned her down because of her offender status.
Sex offender registries don't prevent crimes. They simply punish them.
Registries put the burden on everyone else to protect themselves from rapists
More importantly, the way we think about rape now is nothing like the way people thought about child abuse two decades ago.
Sex offender registries were supposed to be necessary because sexual predators could not be controlled or rehabilitated. The best way to stop predation was for parents to control their own behavior (and their children's) and ensure they stayed out of harm's way.
That's exactly the kind of thinking anti-rape activists have tried to fight in other arenas. They think the onus ought to be on society and institutions to teach people not to rape — not on women to learn how not to get raped.
By punishing people who commit sexual crimes by putting them on a permanent list, critics like Allegra McLeod of Georgetown Law have pointed out, the law isn't just claiming that they're incapable of controlling their own sexual urges (which is exactly the same thing that many rape apologists say). It's also closing off "the varied array of other, more specific structural and institutional reformist responses that might better address the reality of sexual harm."
The existence of sex offender registries, critics point out, doesn't change the fact that police often treat rape survivors more skeptically than victims of other crimes. It doesn't address the failures of institutions (like universities and the military) to treat sexual assault cases with criminal seriousness. And it reinforces the very attitude that Turner, his family, and his friends demonstrated in the wake of his conviction: that a normal American man couldn't possibly be a rapist.
The real question: What's the goal for criminals?
When it comes to people like Brock Turner, though, the question isn't really whether registering him as a sex offender will prevent future rapes. The reason people tend to believe he ought to be on the sex offender registry is that he's done something very wrong and he deserves to be punished for what he's done.
That's an important function of the criminal justice system: setting norms by setting penalties for violating them. Discussions about criminal justice reform often focus solely on incapacitating and rehabilitating criminals — preventing future crimes — and treat "punitiveness" as a bad goal to have. But it's totally acceptable to believe that because rape is wrong, Brock Turner must be punished.
But just because the sex offender registry is better at punishing people than it is at preventing crime doesn't mean it's the right way to punish people, either.
It's too light a punishment. The fact that Turner will become a registered sex offender when he leaves prison hasn't stopped people from being outraged at how little time he's spending there. Prison is typically how people are punished for serious crimes in the US; if the purpose of punishment is to signal that someone's done wrong, not putting him in prison kind of undermines that.
It's also too harsh a punishment. Most people aren't sentenced to prison for life; their punishments are only supposed to last a certain amount of time. Having your life constrained and restricted even after your sentence is over might be a fact of life in our current criminal justice system, but that's not the way punishment is supposed to work.
What is the appropriate punishment for sexual assault — and when can assaulters get the chance to learn their lesson? What is the appropriate punishment for other sex offenses? And how can we effectively prevent rape? These are good questions. But they're different questions from each other. The sex offender registry, with its one-size-fits-all approach, has pretended to answer all of them — by, in reality, answering none.
Lawmakers tackle abuse, sexual assault
by Joey Hensley
The 2016 legislative session included passage of substantial legislation aimed at helping victims of child sexual abuse, child abuse, rape and domestic violence. This includes a new law to extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse from one to seven years from the date the child reaches age 18.
The legislation aligns Tennessee's criminal law regarding the time limit for starting criminal proceedings with the state's civil statute which defines the period in which a lawsuit must be filed to initiate a civil action in court. The new law seeks to ensure fairness to victims, the survivors of child sexual abuse, due to length of recovery from trauma taking years, not months, which current law implies.
Rape of a child
A law passed this year that adds aggravated rape of a child and rape of a child as offenses for which aggravated sexual battery is a lesser included offense. A lesser included offense shares some, but not all, of the elements of a greater criminal offense. Therefore, the greater offense cannot be committed without also committing the lesser offense. This legislation affords victims of child rape the same level of protection, with respect to available lesser included offenses, as is given to adult rape victims.
Statutory rape by an authority figure
A new law that increases the penalty for statutory rape by an authority figure has been passed. The legislation increases the crime from a Class C felony to a Class B felony if the victim is 13 to 18 years of age and if there is more than a four-year age difference.
Sexual contact by an authority figure
A bill to expand the requirements for the offense of sexual contact by an authority figure was approved during the 2016 legislative session. Under previous law, it is a Class A misdemeanor for a figure in a position of trust or supervision to engage in unlawful sexual contact with a person between the ages of 13 and 18 if they are at least four years older than the minor. A perpetrator could not be tried under this statute if the minor is younger than 13 years of age. The legislation closes that loophole and expands the offense to cover all minors.
Sex offenders / Unlawful photographing
Legislation was approved this year to add those who unlawfully photograph a person for sexual gratification to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Sex Offender Registry. The measure allows a judge to require, at their discretion, the defendant in a misdemeanor unlawful photographing in violation of privacy case to register as a sexual offender for up to 10 years. This is in addition to the punishment already provided for the offense and requires that the judge take into account the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense when deciding upon the punishment.
Severe child abuse / Statute of limitations
Legislation passed this year that extends the statutes of limitations for some of the more severe cases of child abuse. The law extends the statute of limitations to 10 years after the child reaches 18 years of age for aggravated child abuse, child neglect and endangerment.
Sexual assault / Stalking victims
The General Assembly approved legislation that would help provide victims of sexual assault and/or stalking with opportunities for housing relief. Under the previous statute, petitioners can be granted possession of residence or be provided other housing options, but victims of sexual assault and/or stalking were specifically excluded. This new law will allow judges to be more consistent in permitting protective allowances as with victims of similar crimes.
Domestic assault / Child abuse / Statute of limitations
The Legislature voted to add child abuse, neglect and endangerment, as well as domestic assault, to the list of offenses in Tennessee for which pretrial diversion is not permitted during the 2016 legislative session. These crimes involve perpetrators who are in positions of authority over the victims in the vast majority of cases. Pretrial diversion is the process in which the prosecutor halts the case against a defendant if he or she meets certain conditions like probation, counseling and community service, among others.
County leaders to update child abuse hotline
by Lauren Handley
Pennsylvania Auditor General DePasquale released a report, stating children's lives across the state are being put at risk because child abuse hotlines are not being answered.
If you call into Children and Youth Services in Bedford County to make a report, your information is recorded the old-fashioned way; it's hand-written on spreadsheets.
"What brought this about was the report from the ChildLine that there was 42,000 dropped calls last year when the new state laws all came out," said Bedford County CYS Administrator Lisa Cairo.
CYS in Bedford documents an average of 1,100 to 1,200 calls each month.
"My clerical staff right now are using very antiquated reporting by writing down the names whenever they call in and keeping a log that way," Cairo said.
The log then goes into a manila folder and is filed away. A new phone system will change the process.
"If you're handwriting things, things can be missed," Cairo said. "This way it will automatically come into the office and will be documented as soon as the phone is picked up."
The system also allows for a supervisor to join the line to help train new caseworkers. It can also automatically connect to 9-1-1 if necessary.
"We believe that this phone system will increase timeliness, even if a caseworker's actually out in the field," said Commissioner Chairman Josh Lang. "They will actually be able to take calls on their cell phones, which is an asset that the county has. Currently we provide cell phones to the caseworkers, but they can't take calls that are coming into this office specifically. So that will allow for that capability, as well."
The roughly $7,200 system will be paid for over a course of five years at no cost to taxpayers. The money is coming out of CYS's budget.
"As far as we know we have not dropped any calls but this will definitely be a safety net for Bedford County," Cairo said.
The new system will also help in updating the county's jury selection process, turning it, too, into an automated process. County commissioners said doing that alone will save the county up to $8,000 over the next five years.
Child abuse database not being checked by Department of Education
by Megan Wiebold
A central database for crimes against children is helping some employers, but the Alabama State Department of Education says they don't use it.
This comes on the heels of several arrests of school employees for crimes involving children.
The Alabama Department of Human Resources maintains something called the "Central Registry Clearance", which is a database of names of anyone that is "indicated" in a crime involving a child.
But those names are never seen by the Alabama State Department of Education when they're doing background checks.
"We can enter a person's name, and determine if they've ever had an indicated case of child abuse. Indicated of course means that it was substantiated,” says John Lyons, the Director for Child Welfare with the Department of Human Resources.
That means it's credible something like abuse or neglect occurred, but the person was never charged or convicted.
"It would not show up in that sort of a background check, not from our central registry, we would be the ones that provide that information,” says Lyons.
The Department of Human Resources processes thousands of these cases.
"Probably more often than not it does not involve a prosecution," says Lyons.
But the State Department of Education never checks that database.
"Not at this time. It is something that we've talked about, actually, within the last several weeks,” says James Ward, Associate General Council with the Alabama State Department of Education.
Individual school districts can run any applicants name through that database, and some do.
"It's something that we're exploring. I would like to, and I think it's just a matter of making sure we jump through the right hoops to do that,” says Ward.
In the current background checks, the Alabama State Department of Education runs fingerprints and any data through the FBI and the State Bureau of Investigation.
"We have a number of cases that are based upon just the factual allegations as opposed to a criminal criminal conviction, and it's actually one of the benefits of the way our laws are structured so that unlike some other states, in some states you have to have a conviction, for us, you don't have to,” says Ward.
The Alabama State Department of Education says their current background check process is extremely thorough, but always looking for ways to make those checks even more thorough.
Outspoken clergy abuse advocate found hanged at home
from Associated Press
EBENSBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania man who spoke out against clergy abuse after publicly identifying himself as a victim of a predator priest has killed himself, authorities said.
Brian Gergely, 46, was found hanged in his home in Ebensburg on Friday, Cambria County Coroner Jeffrey Lees told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Gergely went public in 2003 while suing Monsignor Francis McCaa and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, saying he was abused as a 10-year-old altar boy.
"It takes a great deal of courage to step forward, and even more courage to go public and give your identity instead of a pseudonym. Brian overcame that because he felt so strongly about the sexual abuse of children," said Richard Serbin, the Altoona attorney who represented Gergely said Tuesday. "Tragically, the demons he's been dealing with since he was molested by Monsignor McCaa finally won out."
Gergely and other plaintiffs settled their lawsuit against McCaa, other priests and the diocese in 2005. McCaa died in 2007.
McCaa was described as a "monster" in a state grand jury report released in March that criticized the diocese's handling of clergy abuse claims. He fondled altar boys whom he had told to go without pants under their cassocks, molesting them in a church sacristy, a rectory and even while taking their confession, the grand jury found.
Gergely gave numerous interviews in hopes of encouraging other abuse victims to come forward.
"I was standing in the sacristy and he pinned me to the desk. I was just a little guy," Gergely told The Guardian after the grand jury report's release. "My parents were patrons. They were going door to door raising money for the church. The community put Monsignor McCaa on a pedestal."
Gergely's funeral is Wednesday at Holy Name Catholic Church, the parish where he had been molested.
Biden and Obama rewrite the rulebook on college sexual assaults
by Juliet Eilperin
Last month, Vice President Biden penned a searing letter to the victim in a notorious Stanford University rape case. “I am filled with furious anger,” he wrote, “both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken.”
Biden's letter encapsulated the national outrage that erupted when the woman's attacker was sentenced to just six months in county jail. It was also a sharp reminder that one of the Obama administration's most ardent policy initiatives has been a concerted campaign to end the scourge of sexual assault on college campuses.
According to White House officials, top members of the administration — including the president, the vice president, their wives and members of the Cabinet — will not visit institutions whose leaders they consider insufficiently serious about pursuing sexual-assault allegations and punishing perpetrators. Biden said in an interview that he would like the federal government to “take away their money” if a college or university fails to change its ways.
As the administration nears its end, the urgency of some proposals has dissipated, but the focus on campus sexual misconduct has intensified: “Now's the time to put the pedal to the metal,” Biden said.
Already the efforts of this White House have dramatically transformed the way colleges and universities respond to allegations of sexual misconduct. The Education Department has 253 ongoing investigations at 198 postsecondary institutions into the handling of sexual violence. Hundreds of schools have taken steps to make it easier to report allegations and discipline offenders. Many schools have appointed a specific officer to receive complaints and have determined that a “preponderance of evidence” is enough to establish that misconduct occurred, a less rigorous evidentiary standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” that applies in most criminal cases.
The changes have also provoked criticism from some students and administrators, who see the federal involvement as heavy-handed and sometimes unfair.
One general counsel for a liberal arts college, who sought anonymity out of fear of federal retaliation, lamented that following the administration's approach can put those accused of sexual misconduct at a disadvantage since so many incidents involve “two individuals who are alone and behind closed doors.” That makes some of these cases “massively difficult to resolve,” the official said, adding, “We are committed to being fair and equitable to all of our students.”
The administration has also launched a public-awareness campaign, “It's On Us,” which encourages men and women to intervene before sexual assault takes place. More than 344,400 people have taken the White House pledge, and 530 schools in 48 states have active It's On Us chapters.
The administration's approach — through federal enforcement of civil rights protections and a campus-based advocacy campaign — was spurred in part by an emboldened group of survivors who have gone public with their complaints about their schools' unresponsiveness. But it also reflects the activism of Biden and President Obama, who became alarmed at the idea of rape as a fixture of college life.
Biden said he spoke to Obama about the issue even before they won the White House in 2008, requesting a staff to work on violence against women “within the office of the vice president,” rather than at the Justice Department.
“He said, ‘Okay.' He knew how strongly I felt about it,” Biden said, adding that over time Obama became more engaged with the issue. “He always thought it was an awful abuse of power. But as his daughters grew, he became more explicitly focused on it.”
Reports of campus sexual misconduct are on the rise, which academic and legal experts attribute to heightened awareness of the issue. United Educators, a firm that provides insurance and risk-management services to nearly 1,300 U.S. schools, found that reports of sexual-assault claims among its clients doubled from 2011 to 2013.
Kevin Kruger, president of Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, said his members have taken a harder look at how they treat allegations of misconduct and at why more students don't come forward to report violations.
“We had become a little complacent about thinking this is a societal problem, and we were not doing enough about it,” Kruger said, adding that survivors had “called out higher education and said, ‘You're not doing enough,' and they were right.”
The legal underpinnings for the current strategy lie in Title IX, a provision in a 1972 education law barring sex discrimination at schools that receive federal money. A 1992 Supreme Court ruling established the standard of rape as discrimination. The court ruled that a student in a Gwinnett County, Ga., public school was a victim of sex discrimination under the law after a teacher subjected her “to coercive intercourse.”
In 2001 the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights issued guidance that sexual harassment constituted a threat to students' ability to pursue educational opportunities.
In 2009 Obama appointed Russlynn Ali, a longtime advocate for students of color, to head that office. Ali was appalled by accounts that a 16-year-old was repeatedly raped and beaten in a courtyard outside her high school's homecoming dance in October 2009 in Richmond, Calif. Many witnessed the attack without calling police.
“I remember feeling like we had to do something,” Ali recalled. “Children were being raped at our schools.?.?.?. Of course we were going to use everything in our power to do something about it.”
At the same time, Biden asked his staff to compile statistics on violence against women in the United States to compare with data from before Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act he wrote in 1994. For girls and women 16 to 24 years old, he recalled, the numbers remained unchanged. “It was devastating,” he said.
Ali, working with White House staff, penned a “Dear Colleague” letter in 2011 informing school administrators across the country that sexual violence constituted a form of sexual harassment and that if they did not take sufficient steps to prevent and address sexual misconduct, they would be found in violation of Title IX and could risk losing federal funds. A 2014 White House task force report fleshed out the protocol.
Cari Simon, a lawyer who has represented dozens of campus-assault survivors, said aspects of the guidance, like accommodations to shield victims from subsequent harassment and trauma, were critical to avoid them going into “a downward-spiral path.”
But Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, calls the guidance overreach. He said he welcomed the It's On Us campaign but that the Education Department must make it clear that its “guidance does not have the force of law.”
More than 100 students have challenged some aspect of their school's adjudication process since the 2011 letter, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which promotes free speech and other liberties at colleges and universities. In one case, a student — “John Doe” — sued Brandeis University after his ex-boyfriend accused him of “numerous inappropriate, nonconsensual sexual interactions” during an almost two-year relationship.
In allowing the case to move forward, U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV wrote that reducing sexual assault was a “laudable” goal but noted that whether “the elimination of basic procedural protections — and the substantially increased risk that innocent students will be punished — is a fair price to achieve that goal is another question altogether.”
Catherine Lhamon, who succeeded Ali as the Education Department's assistant secretary for civil rights, said her office is “constantly in reevaluation over whether what we are doing is right” but that schools are legally obligated to ensure sexual violence does not undermine students' educations.
“Certainly, from 1992 forward,” she said, citing the year of the Supreme Court's rape ruling, “I have no sympathy for a frank abdication of responsibility for the students you are charged with educating and whose civil rights are being violated.”
When the civil rights office releases a voluntary agreement with an institution, it also issues its own “findings of fact.” Schools are briefed on the findings but do not see them in advance.
Terry Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education, called the civil rights office “a Court of Star Chamber, with arbitrary rulings, no rights for those under investigation and a secret process.”
In response, Lhamon said, “I appreciate that they would like to negotiate it, but it is not actually theirs to negotiate.”
Although the federal disciplinary guidance remains controversial, the campaign for bystander intervention that the White House launched in 2014 has won widespread support. Obama himself proposed the idea of involving men in ending sexual misconduct, according to aides.
Matt Hill had agreed to help launch It's On Us in September 2014 while serving as the student body vice president at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. About a month later, a friend called to say that she had been raped the night before at a campus party.
Hill said he asked himself, “Why, a month ago, as a male junior in college, did I not think this was an important issue?” The following April, he helped organize a 2,000-person campus rally where Biden was the featured speaker.
At a party that weekend, two sorority members he knew told him they had been raped. The women told him the Biden rally left them feeling “empowered and supported.”
And apart from the campaign, students have started demanding more accountability from schools. Kansas State University is being sued by two students, Sara Weckhorst and Tessa Farmer, who say they were raped at different fraternity houses, in 2014 and 2015, and now share the campus with their assailants because the university refuses to investigate sexual assault off campus. On Friday, the Justice Department filed two separate amicus briefs on the students' side, arguing their Title IX suits should go forward.
Zach Lowry, president of the interfraternity council there, is pressing the university to investigate those allegations and others. Kansas State gives his group reports of sexual misconduct so the council can decide whether to discipline any of its 24 member organizations, but the school offers no assistance in investigating the claims.
“It's like pushing these incidents aside and not dealing with them,” Lowry said. “I want to find out if these incidents happened.”
For his part, Biden continues to meet privately with women and men, in settings ranging from college campuses to a hallway at the Academy Awards. He ushers out most of his staff, and the men and women tell him their stories.
Laura Dunn, who founded the victims rights group SurvJustice and who filed a federal complaint against the University of Wisconsin in 2006, picketed the Education Department in 2013 for not doing enough to hold universities accountable. But she has also met with Biden twice and has advised the administration on its campus-assault policies for several years.
“I think the government heard us,” Dunn said.
Altoona man abused by priest kills himself just days after defeat of reform measure in bill
by Ivey DeJesus
He was 10 years old, the product of a devout Catholic family that worshipped at Holy Name Catholic Church in Ebensburg.
An altar boy, Brian Gergely should have been preoccupied with the task of assisting his priest with the rites of Mass. Instead, he was consumed with the idea of escaping the monster behind the black robe who sexually abused him in the sacristy and the confessional.
"I was standing in the sacristy and he pinned me to the desk. I was just a little guy," Gergely said during an interview in March with The Guardian , recounting the violent abuse at the hands of Monsignor Francis McCaa.
"My parents were patrons," Gergely said. "They were going door to door raising money for the church. The community put Monsignor McCaa on a pedestal."
As an adult, Gergely shared his story of abuse with others — from his high school biology class, where he first broke the news of his abuse, to national and international media covering the worldwide clergy sex abuse scandal.
On Friday, Gergely, 46, took his own life. He hung himself. His father found him.
His friends, other survivors of sexual abuse and victims advocates point to the fact that his death comes just days after the state Senate voted in favor of a bill that reforms the state's child sex crimes law.
Last week, the Senate stripped House Bill 1947 — by a 49-0 vote — of a measure that would have allowed victims of past abuse whose legal rights had expired to seek justice in the courts.
"It's a very hopeless feeling when you are floundering and you want to have someone believe you, someone external," said Kevin Hoover, who along with Gergely and scores of other boys at Holy Name, was abused by McCaa.
"You want to be able to go to the legal system and say this happened, help me bring these people to justice. To have those doors slam in your face when your trust has already been shattered by another system — that's a devastating and hopeless and helpless feeling."
In March, a grand jury report on an investigation into systemic child sex abuse of children by priests from the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese called McCaa a "monster." Investigators found he sexually abused 15 victims between 1961 and 1985.
Gergely's abuse began when he was 10. The abuse was still going on when he was attending Bishop Carroll High School.
"It's the physical death of the spiritual death that was done to us," Hoover said of his former classmate's death. "They have environment that allow these heinous acts to occur rather than dealing with it. It leaves these damaged souls in their wake."
House Bill 1947, which returned to the House this week for a vote of concurrence before making its way to Gov. Tom Wolf's desk, would widely reforms the statute of limitations. It would eliminate all criminal statute of limitations for such crimes in the future and widen the civil time limits on civil actions.
But the bill no longer offers a "look-back" measure that would have allowed past victims to sue their perpetrators.
Former friend and school mate at Bishop Carroll Michele Gonsman said Gergely was certain to have looked at the measure as a last hope for other victims. Gonsman described him as a "tormented soul," who in spite of going public with his abuse, never found peace and struggled throughout the years with drug and alcohol abuse.
"All he wanted was justice," said Gonsman, herself a survivor of child sex abuse by a neighbor. "They decimated the bill and he struggled and struggled, and he killed himself."
Judith Weiss Collins, a survivor of clergy sex abuse out of Allentown Diocese, said the defeat of the retroactive measure in the bill "took away all hope" for victims.
"It's the losing the hope that is so devastating," said Collins, who at 64, would not have benefitted from the look-back measure in the bill. "That was a hit. That was a huge blow to me."
Collins, who was abused for seven years as a child, and again as an adult, said that while she has never been suicidal, the idea consumes the mind of most survivors.
"Talk to anyone who has been abused and the suicidal idealization is always there," she said. "It's just wretched ... but loss of hope that is it ... knowing you can't do anything. That we can't do anything to gain back anything that was lost."
Gergely's attorney, Richard Serbin, said his client had been vocal and public about his advocacy on behalf of victims. Serbin on Sunday said that while Gergely would not have personally benefitted from the retroactive measure he was motivated by a desire to help others.
"People don't appreciate that every time a victim loses the opportunity to file a claim, you lose the opportunity to stop a child predator," he said. "Every time a sex abuse victim loses the opportunity to remove a predator from their access to children, when we take that right away, we take away the opportunity to identify a molester. It sends the wrong message."
Serbin said he last spoke with Gergely about 10 days ago. An Altoona-based attorney who has represented more than 300 victims of child sex abuse, said that for victims almost anything can trigger powerful memories and emotions, from a television program to a wedding at a church.
"Those triggering events can bring back the demons, the dark thoughts that they try to forget," he said.
In the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal out of the Boston Archdiocese, Hoover, Gergely and several others in 2005 settled a civil suit against the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, Bishop Joseph Adamec, and former Bishop Joseph Hogan. The suit claimed the church should have known about the abuse and was negligent. Gergely and the others won their suit, but filed a release waiving future rights to claim. The retroactive measure would not have allowed him to file another claim. Hoover said it would have accomplished something else.
"We won but that doesn't make the issues go away," Hoover said. "It helps reduce the amount of self blame."
Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, who spearheaded child sex crime laws reform legislation in the House, said he was heartbroken over the news about Gergely.
"This is why I'm so passionate about my legislation," said Rozzi, himself a survivor of clergy sex abuse. "Victims of childhood sexual abuse continue to endure immeasurable pain daily. Brian's suicide is just one example of how victims deal with their everyday struggle. Some are barely hanging on."
Rozzi, who in the House, had pushed for retroactivity in the reform legislation, said the defeat of the retroactive measure in the bill for victims "dashed their hopes of ever having their voices heard in a court of law."
"The removal of the retroactive statute was a devastating blow to many of these past victims," he said. "The Senators used constitutionality as the guise for the removal of that language. That decision should be left to the PA Supreme Court to make, not Senators pretending to be justices."
House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said Gergely's death was a "tragedy and terribly unspeakable that it came to that."
"Obviously with the retroactivity there were those who believe it was unconstitutional," he said. "That's where we have been for a number of years. But the fact remains that the Supreme Court has never specifically decided on these cases on retroactivity. The feeling was in the House let's get this done. Let's give the the victims a chance. Let's let the courts decide. The Senate obviously felt differently."
Miskin said he could not anticipate what the House will do with the amended bill.
Marci Hamilton, a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and the founder of CHILD USA, pointed out the scientific evidence that the incidence of suicide among survivors of child sex abuse is significantly higher than the general population.
"One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with the stress of statute of limitations reform in the state legislatures is the fragility and vulnerability of some of the survivors who bravely come forward," Hamilton said. "This is heartbreaking and a warning to society that there is much at stake in denying survivors justice."
Hamilton said the amended HB1947 "froze out" a generation of victims.
"They were informed repeatedly about the studies showing that these victims have a higher rate of suicide, PTSD, depression, and addiction," she said. "Those are irrefutable facts. The horrific part is that the Senators did it for greedy insurance lobbyists and the corrupt bishops who covered up for all of the Brians in Pennsylvania. Worse, he is not the only survivor struggling to keep his head above water after ten years of Pennsylvania lawmakers dithering and obfuscating."
The retroactive measure in the bill was widely defeated under the argument that reviving expired statutes of limitations violated the state's Constitution. That argument was made several times by a handful of expert witnesses at hearings, including state Solicitor General Bruce Castor, as well as Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R Jefferson County, who introduced the amendments to the bill, including the elimination of retroactivity
Opposition to the retroactive measure was mounted largely by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the insurance industry and several business lobby groups - all of which argued that the measure would be detrimental to their interests and singled them out unfairly.
Scarnati on Sunday said: "We empathize with all victims of child-sex abuse -- young and old -- and their families. We continue to work to provide an effective and permanent law that offers another important tool for prosecutors and protections for survivors of abuse and future victims."
He noted that under his amendment, HB 1947 expands the criminal and civil statue of limitations for child-sex abuse survivors. The bill provides those who have been abused in the past for whom the statute of limitations has not expired the ability to sue organizations until they turn 50. Those who are abused on or after the effective date of the bill will have until age 50 to sue organizations, and beyond that time will be able to sue individuals. Survivors will also be able to sue governmental defendants, if applicable, by lowering the standard from "gross negligence" to "negligence," meaning it is easier for survivors to seek recourse.
In a written statement, Amy Hill, spokeswoman for the conference said: "Words cannot express the sorrow that comes with the tragic loss of Brian Gergely. Brian and his family are in our prayers. We stress that help is available to all survivors of childhood sexual abuse. All 10 Pennsylvania dioceses financially cover the expenses of counseling or treatment services offered through local resources not affiliated with the Church. Anyone who is abused should immediately contact law enforcement and anyone who is struggling should contact their county's crime victim support services office, or a group like www.MaleSurvivor.org, www.1in6.org, www.rainn.org, and others."
Hill reiterated the details of the assistance provided by the church to sexual abuse survivors. The assistance that survivors receive through the dioceses, Hill noted, is directed by counselors and professionals independent of the church.
"We will pay for these services no matter how long ago the crime was committed and for as long as necessary," she said.
Hamilton urged lawmakers to make reform of the statute of limitations a "non-controversial pathway to healing and justice."
She urged the House to restore a retroactivity measure to HB1947.
More than three dozen states across the country have installed similar reforms.
"The sky has never fallen in a state that took this important step, and it won't in Pennsylvania either," Hamilton said.
Gonsman said she fears other victims like Gergely will succumb to the feelings of hopelessness.
"You have victims who are very fragile," she said. "A lot of them have been following the statute of limitations reform and hanging on every word, every hearing. I know they have to be devastated."
Hoover said he had a message for the General Assembly with regards to the reform legislation and the abuse of children: "This is terrorism. We have been terrorized and they are terrorists. They need to get strong on the church and do what is right and expand the ability for people to have a sense of justice. It's not going to solve emotional elements but you will have sense of justice....and it's on the record that someone believes us."
Gergely was the son of Esther and Jerry Gergely Sr. His sister, Brenda, and brothers, Jerry Jr. and Mark, are all of Ebensburg
Gergely graduated in 1988 from Bishop Carroll High School, where he was a star running back. He received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Edinboro University in 1992. He also is a graduate of the Applied Behavioral Analysis Institute of Pennsylvania and went on to pursue a career in the mental health field.
He was an advocate for victims of sexual abuse within the church, and wrote a book, "The Last Altar Boy: A Memoir," which was in the process of being published.
SC keeps spending to keep children safe, but abuse skyrockets
by Tim Smith
COLUMBIA -- Six-month-old Mason had a big smile that showed in his photo.
But in July 2015, his parents took the Laurens County boy to a hospital with severe head injuries. He was placed on life support but died the next day.
Authorities said his father had admitted to abusing the infant and he was charged with homicide by child abuse. The mother was charged with unlawful neglect of a child. The father eventually plead guilty and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, court records show. The mother pled guilty and was sentenced to 30 days time served.
Mason's death was among the more horrific examples of a pervasive problem in South Carolina that appeared to spike dramatically in 2015.
Despite millions more dollars being spent in recent years on the state's child welfare agency and the hiring of hundreds of workers to combat child abuse and neglect, records reviewed by The Greenville News show complaints and investigations of abuse and neglect have been on a steady march upward.
According to the state Department of Social Services, the number of complaints of child abuse and neglect received by the agency went from 27,370 in 2012 to 30,950 in 2014 and 40,463 in 2015.
The number of investigations in child abuse and neglect, meanwhile, jumped from 13,218 in 2012 to 16,501 in 2014 and 23,347 last year.
“We have a serious problem,” said state Sen. Katrina Shealy, a Lexington Republican who sits on a Senate committee with oversight of DSS.
The oversight panel has spent the past three years delving into the issue of child abuse and neglect and how the agency has handled such complaints. In a series of sometimes dramatic public hearings, senators heard testimony of children who were abused and died, of overworked caseworkers and severe staff turnover rates. A scathing report by the Legislative Audit Council in October 2014 found that thousands of the state's children were victims of abuse or neglect and some even died after DSS chose to refer their cases to community prevention programs instead of investigating them.
Since then, a new director of the agency has been at work making changes, the system for receiving child abuse and neglect allegations has been centralized in some parts of the state to include a toll-free number, and hundreds of caseworkers have been hired in an effort to reduce caseloads to a new standard.
DSS Director Susan Alford told senators last year that the spike then in investigations was largely the result of the partial installment of the new reporting system, called intake hubs, a regional system for receiving calls and reports of abuse and neglect. She told The News much the same in a statement issued Friday:
“From our review of the data, what we know is that implementation of intake hubs is producing what we want—an increase in calls received, and an increase in our screening of reports of abuse and neglect," she said. "We don't want to miss a report. What we have to be careful of is maintaining our staffing levels to support that increase—we need to assure we have adequate numbers of highly trained intake workers, to do timely and effective screening of incoming calls, and we need to retain enough caseworkers to manage increased caseloads. "
What's causing underlying problem?
DSS data offers some clues as to the exact nature of the problem. The biggest single type of investigation is neglect and risk of neglect, followed by physical abuse and risk of physical abuse, according to the data. Other types include sexual abuse, educational neglect, medical neglect and abandonment.
Among the reasons for children entering foster care last year, according to the agency, neglect was by far the most common, followed by physical abuse. Other major reasons included sexual abuse, family instability, and parental drug abuse. Spartanburg, Richland and Greenville were the top three counties in the state, respectively, for foster-care cases in which negelect was a reason.
Sue Williams, executive director of the Children's Trust of South Carolina, an organization which focuses on child abuse and neglect prevention, said it is possible that with the new DSS reporting system that more cases are being found than ever before.
“Maybe it's closer to the real number, which is a good thing that we are finding these kids and their families,” she said. “But then how do we get it where we're not always reacting? How do we help a community help a family and support them with what they need so it doesn't escalate to a report and a child that has been traumatized?”
Across the nation, she said, the levels of abuse in states are consistent. But in South Carolina, there have been dips and spikes, most recently spikes.
“I think the primary question is, if this is the true rate of abuse and neglect, what are the ways we can decrease these rates because we prevented them from happening, not just because we are missing them?” Williams asked.
A myriad of factors can contribute to abuse and neglect in South Carolina, experts say, not the least of which is poverty.
“We have a lot of people who are under-employed, who are struggling to make ends meet,” Williams said. “Tensions are high and they are trying to meet basic needs for their family. Neglect accounts for way more kids coming into the system and a lot of that can be related to the effects of poverty.”
According to the latest Kids Count profile for South Carolina, a look at some of the factors most affecting children, 27 percent of children in the state were in poverty in 2014, up from 22 percent in 2008. A third of children in the state have parents who lack secure employment. Only four other states have a higher percentage of children in poverty.
“This is a fundamental question: Are we saying these parents are maltreating their kids because they are poor?” Williams asked. “Sometimes you go and there's holes in the floor because there's no money to fix them.”
Research, she said, has shown that abuse covers all demographics. But there are factors which can help protect children.
Those include concrete support, such as food, clothing and shelter. “If you don't have the basic needs met, then you're always living in a sort of tension about how to pay the next bill, when the next meal is going to happen,” she said. “Kids go home Friday and they don't eat until Monday.”
Other factors, she said, include social connections, support for families so they know they are not alone; knowledge of child development by parents; and parental resilience, being able to pick yourself up after a setback or problem.
“Each one of those has to be in place,” she said. “What that tells us is, if we're having a spike, maybe those things in the community aren't there.”
Laura Hudson, a longtime victims' advocate who also serves on the state's child fatality review committee, said she is at a loss to explain why abuse or neglect remains so pervasive.
About 600-800 children in the state, 17 and under, die each year from all causes, she said. Of that number, about 160-200 deaths are referred to the State Law Enforcement Division for an additional look because the deaths are violent, suspicious or from an undetermined cause, she said.
DSS annually reports the number of children who die in abuse or neglect situations it has investigated. That number was 14 in 2012, 24 in 2013, and 22 in 2014, according to the agency, which is still reviewing data for 2015.
Reporting also on rise
Hudson said she is pleased there is more reporting to DSS of child abuse and neglect cases.
“I can't answer why we have so many cases,” she said.
She said there has been an increase in the number of child deaths reported to SLED and the number of deaths in which DSS was involved in some way with the family.
She said economics and the lack of a “traditional home with two loving parents” could be factors.
In South Carolina, 43 percent of children in 2014 lived in single-parent families, the third-highest percentage in the nation, according to this year's Kids Count report.
Shealy thinks both poverty and a lack of education play a role in abuse and neglect cases.
“But when you look at where some of the deaths are happening, those aren't necessarily poverty areas,” she said. “Lexington County has an issue. We're not a poverty area of this state. Aiken County has a problem. Spartanburg. Those are three areas that I am concerned about right now.”
She said in other areas, she is concerned incidents are not properly reported. She said she also is convinced some of the abuse is generational.
DSS officials believe the increase reports will eventually level out, much as they have in some other states that introduced the centralized reporting system. But they also expect more increases as they expand the new system to the entire state, which is one reason they asked for more workers in the current budget.
Williams said her organization is focused on ways to reduce the problem.
It helps fund prevention programs throughout the state, including those aimed at strengthening families and providing home visitation to new families.
Children's Trust also has been analyzing data from a survey of adults in the state on adverse childhood experiences. National research has found such traumatic experiences can increase the adult risk of substance use and abuse, depression, unintended pregnancies, obesity, heart disease and missed work days. For children, recurrent experience of or exposure to ACEs can also significantly impact the brain development, according to Children's Trust.
They also offer an indicator of abuse in the population.
According to the weighted survey, 15 percent of adults reported being victims of household physical abuse as a child, 13 percent reported being victims of some type of sexual abuse and 30 percent reported emotional abuse, defined as receiving an insult, put down or being cursed by a parent or adult in the home. According to the survey, 29 percent reported household substance abuse and 20 percent reported domestic violence.
Nationally, a higher percentage of adults reported instances of physical abuse but far lower percentages of emotional abuse, said Melissa Strompolis, director of research for Children's Trust.
She said the data is valuable for preventing abuse and neglect because many of the issues are related.
“We know there's likely to be other issues, such as substance abuse or mental illness or domestic violence or incarceration,” she said. “So for us we really wanted to take an approach in which we can prevent child abuse and neglect but we can also find a way to bring in our other partners so we can collectively increase child and family well-being.”
Children's Trust plans a summit later this year on the data to help communities develop their own plans of action to reduce adverse childhood experiences in their communities.
There have been some bright spots, officials say, in the battle against abuse and neglect.
The overall Kids Count ranking for South Carolina this year moved to its highest mark yet, 41st, with improvements especially in health, including a lower rate of child deaths. DSS has reported a number of improvements, including lower caseloads, reduced turnover and more caseworkers.
Williams said progress in the state is slow and will take a long time.
Sen. Tom Young, an Aiken Republican and chairman of the DSS oversight committee, said he believes the primary issue behind abuse and neglect is generational poverty.
“The states that annually rank high in that report from Kids Count are states that have an educated work force, more students graduating from high school on time and higher paying jobs than South Carolina,” he said. “Many problems we face in the state in this area are the result of generational poverty. The big picture is that improving the overall educational attainment of our state's citizens is critical to address issues related to abuse and neglect but also other problems that stem from generational poverty in South Carolina.”
Police tasked with watching sick online child abuse reveal horror of brining paedophiles to justice
by Paul O'Hare
Police tasked with watching sickening online child abuse to save victims and bring paedophiles to justice have revealed horrors of harrowing job.
Officers find it hard to escape the terror experience in one of the most difficult roles on the force.
Detective Sergeant Stewart Gailey ?said: “You often can't see any faces so it makes the investigation very challenging.
“The most difficult images to view are the ones where you can quite clearly see that the victims have been self-harming.
"From a personal perspective, they are the most upsetting.”
It's impossible to imagine what DS Gailey and his colleagues experience in order to rescue ?child victims and bring beasts to justice.
To get an insight into the nightmarish work, the Daily Record asked what was the worst thing he had encountered.
DS Gailey ?replied: “It's probably got to be videos of the sexual abuse of babies where you can hear them cry.
"Some are just months old.”
In the last two years DS Gailey has investigated offenders ranging from ?secondary-age schoolboys – for sending explicit selfies of fellow pupils –? to pensioners.
And ?the amount of material amassed by? prolific paedophiles ?takes the breath away.
In one case last year, a monster was found to have more than a million images.
DS Gailey added: “I am surprised at the number of offenders out there and by the number of people who are willing to view and distribute indecent images of child exploitation."
The priority for detectives in the Cyber Crime Unit is identifying victims.
They have to look beyond the child ?in the image or video ?for clues that will bring perpetrators to justice.
In one recent case, a 21-year-old suspect admitted secretly filming kids in the toilets of the youth group where he worked.
When the focus switched to his home in the west of Scotland, forensic experts joined officers for the search.
This innovative approach, which mirrors the treatment of major crime scenes, was devised by Police Scotland to fast-track the identification of offenders.
Three devices were found ?which contain?ed? 121 images.
Detective Inspector Andy McWilliam, head of the Cyber Crime Unit (West), said officers scrutinise footage to work out the child's age and identity?.?
He said: “We will look at their ethnicity, the landscape, clothing and anything in the background.
“In this case there was a flag on the bed the child was lying on and we were able to identify that it was Union Jack bedding.
“This allowed us to identify that it was the cousin of the offender, who we were investigating for other offences.
“The child lived in the same street as the offender and confirmed he had been sexually abused by this individual.”
DI McWilliam hailed the procedure developed by the team in Glasgow for a swift conclusion to the investigation.
He said: “The process was completely innovative and wasn't used anywhere else in Europe. We take the lab and the forensic staff out to scenes.
“Identifying offences on computers was cut from three months to one day.
“By developing that process and training our staff in those tactics we have been able to charge more than 1,700 individuals with offences involving the online abuse of children since April 2013.”
Forces across the UK have adopted the same techniques.
When a suspect has been identified as sharing indecent images, police and forensic analysts visit their home.
State-of-the-art equipment is? ?plugged into computers, mobile?s? and hard drives ??to ?scan for child sex abuse images.
In minutes, the technology can check if ?a device contains illegal material. Items are taken to the unit's? ?lab for further analysis and erased photos and video can be recovered.
DI McWilliam warned: “The days of offenders thinking they can delete images and not be traced are long gone. If you are going to look at such material, then we are going to catch you.”
Seized footage is fed into a database which collates all images and videos in the UK.
DI McWilliam said: “It allows us to identify victims more quickly. If we upload an image to the database, it will tell us if it has been seen anywhere else in the UK and alerts other units to look out for that child.”
Paedophiles often continue to deny their involvement when they are ?finally ?cornered.
DI McWilliam said: “They will typically say, ‘It's not me, it must be a video off the internet.'
?“We can say, ?‘Let's go to your bedroom.? The bedding is identical.? ?There is the flag used to drape around the victim. Your wallpaper is the same.?
“We aim to overwhelm them with the amount of evidence we have so they have no other option but to put their hands up to it.”
For more information, visit, www.thinkuknow.co.uk.
Raising Awareness of Child Sexual Abuse
by Paulo Salazar
TALLAHASSEE, FL. (WTXL) - A State organization is looking to raise awareness of child sexual abuse in Florida by releasing a video online highlighting startling statistics.
Lauren Book, a South Florida woman who was sexually abused as a child started the organization "Lauren's Kids" to spread awareness. According to the video, one in every three girls and one in every three boys will be sexually abused. Those involved with the program say, they hope to reach more people through the video. Book's mission is to help victims of child sexual abuse.
Chucha Barber the producer of "What if I Told You" campaign says, "We really wanted to make a statement about how its so important that we use all our available resources to make a difference for a very important cost."
"Lauren's Kids" has advocated for the passage of several Florida laws to protect children from sexual abuse.
Coulee Region counties see increased need for foster families
by Nathan Hansen
Since 2010, the Kast family of Westby, Wis., has provided a refuge for Vernon County youths.
In 2008, Brian, 45, and Melissa, 44, were married but were unable to conceive a child of their own. In 2010, they got their license to foster children and have had a number of children placed with them over the years, including their three adopted children: Briana, 11, Alissa, 8, and Kenny, 2.
Counties such as Vernon and La Crosse are seeing up uptick in the number of children needing to be placed in foster homes, as well as seeing the length of placement increasing. Abuse of methamphetamine and heroin is on the rise in western Wisconsin, according to human services officials in both counties, and children being placed in foster care are coming from families dealing with increasingly more complex problems, which take longer to sort out.
As a result, organizations such as the Coalition for Children, Youth and Families, a nonprofit adoption and foster advocacy organization, have started the Life Interrupted campaign to raise awareness of the need for foster parents willing to bring stability to children's lives.
“While parents are doing what they need to do for themselves, foster parents let kids be kids,” coalition CEO Oriana Carey said. “They make sure they are going to school, playing sports, thriving and growing.”
The organization is conducting a social media campaign to reach interested parents. The coalition also helps interested families with access to resources and training, as well as hosting conferences with fostering and adoption experts.
In Vernon County, foster care coordinator Marla Sutton said the average number of home placements each month has doubled from a low of eight in 2012 to an average 16 a month this year, with an average monthly cost of $31,000. The average length of a placement is six months to a year, which is longer than in the past.
La Crosse County is facing similar trends, said Lila Barlow, permanency resource unit supervisor. There are about 130 children in placement at any given time, she said, but only about 100 providers available.
“The math is not working out in our favor,” she said. “The last three years we have been seeing more kids but a decrease in foster homes.”
To become a foster parent, the Kast family had to pass interviews and background checks with staff at the Vernon County Human Services Department, as well an inspection of their home to ensure it met the safety and space needs of foster children. Families also must complete more than 36 hours of training within two years of getting a license, as well as continuing training to maintain it.
“Fostering is important to me,” Melissa said of the family's decision to open their home. “Kids don't choose to be born into these situations. Children shouldn't have to suffer.”
Working with children with behavioral or emotional problems, common among youths in foster care, can be a challenge Melissa said, and parents who look into fostering are leery of that. Counties such as La Crosse are increasingly offering child trauma training to help foster parents.
Because of their experiences with foster youths, the Kasts decided to adopt three of the children they fostered. While Wisconsin's primary goal is the reunification of the biological parent with their child, it is not always possible. The Kasts adopted Briana in 2011, then her sister in Alissa in 2012 and Kenny, who is not biologically related to his sisters, in 2016.
“Seeing our oldest child (Briana) go from someone who could not regulate her emotions at all to someone who has become caring and kind — it is just really rewarding to see the reaction in a child,” Melissa said.
Briana just started middle school and has joined band. She was a gazelle in the school's production of “The Lion King.” She and her sister Alissa were angry when they were first placed in foster care but are now happy with their new family — and all the snuggles and caring that come with it.
“I'm happy now,” Briana said. “Because Mom and Dad take care of me.”
Colorado human services offers free kinship adoption for relatives raising children
Colorado's free “kinship adoption” program has helped 30 families, a total of 41 children
by Jennifer Brown
The day her daughter-in-law called to say she couldn't take care of her children anymore, Maria Rodriguez immediately went to pick up the two baby girls.
“Three months passed. Six months passed. Nine months passed, and I knew they were mine for life,” Rodriguez said.
That was 11 years ago, when Rodriguez's youngest granddaughter was two weeks old and her sister was 1. Rodriguez and her husband adopted the girls last February through Colorado's free “kinship adoption” program, a partnership between the state human services department and a Denver law firm that does the legal work pro bono.
The program has helped 30 families, a total of 41 children, since its first adoption in 2012. Now state officials are hoping more grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings or family friends who are raising children they have not yet adopted will use the program to make their relationship legal.
“I think there are a lot of families out there that may be struggling,” said Jeannie Berzinskas, kinship care program administrator for the Colorado Department of Human Services.
“For a lot of these families, they don't start out wanting to raise these children. They want their children to return and parent them. They absolutely want to give them the benefit of the doubt and give them time to do that.”
But because of drug addiction, prison time or other reasons, some parents do not return.
“The kids start to look at their grandparents, or another relative, as their real parent,” said Karam Saab, an associate attorney at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, which is handling the cases for free. Formalizing the process, making the grandparents the legal parents, ensures the children have the right to inherit the family's property or Social Security benefits, he said.
More than 35,000 grandparents in Colorado are raising their grandchildren, about 67,500 children, according to the latest Census figures. Of those grandparents, about 40 percent have been caring for their grandchildren for at least five years.
To qualify for the free adoption program, a family's income cannot exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $48,500 for a family of four. The law firm will take the case if one parent is contesting the adoption, but not both. Families must live in Denver, Arapahoe, Adams, Boulder, Jefferson or Douglas counties.
Also, families seeking adoption through the program cannot have an open case with their local child welfare department. County human services' departments investigating an abuse or neglect case must determine a permanent placement for the child involved, so duplicate work by the law firm is not needed for those cases, said Katie Facchinello, communications manager for the state's Office of Children, Youth and Families. In the past year in Colorado, more than 5,000 children and teens were placed with relatives.
Besides inheritance benefits, adoption also provides emotional security for children and caregivers who might fear that parents they haven't seen in years will return suddenly and take them, she said. “Everything is good until it's not good,” Facchinello said. “You can relax.”
Attorneys are lining up at Kilpatrick Townsend, which specializes in intellectual property law, to handle the adoption cases as a change of pace from the “very technical and not emotional” patent law, Saab said. “These hearings turn into a celebration,” he said.
Program applications are available at the state human services department or by calling a county department.
Point of View
10 Ways Parenting Ruins Children
by Judy Carley
UNITED STATES—I'm only an ARMCHAIR WARRIOR , but these issues are crippling our communities, society, and culture.
I observed, studied, and learned from my mistakes. I've also been privy to the types of households I complain about, giving me a unique posteriori perspective that book knowledge will never be able to provide. Am I an expert? NOPE. But I'm sure going to take this opportunity to give my opinion anyway.
The premise of parenting should be as Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory states: children grow to display behaviors that are modeled after what they've OBSERVED.
Teachers across the country find themselves in a position where they have to teach children the simplest rights and wrongs, but when children go home the corrected behavior is not “maintained.”
Do as I say not as I do parenting doesn't work, even if rationalized with “at least I'm a better parent than I had” mentality.
If you haven't already messed up, read these 10 things that you can STOP from doing!
TEN. What's funny and WHAT IS NOT?
We've all been around them… People who do something disgusting in public, and then laugh like an adolescent.
You can usually blame the ‘humor' of parents or other major influences. Of course you can't watch reruns of Beavis and Butthead while a baby is confined to a swing, and then wonder why the child acts like a farm animal.
Laughing at inappropriate behavior reinforces it . The child likes to hear you laugh and will do it again and again. No matter how adorable the baby looks after spitting food DO NOT LAUGH!
NINE. How to be Responsible.
Responsibility comes in different forms. Whether you are taking the initiative to fix a mailbox you accidentally ran over, or choosing between right and wrong. LITTLE EYES ARE WATCHING.
Here's an example that shows how fast our society is deteriorating…
Ten years ago the grocery store had a sample tray. People took more than their share, so they added a “Free Sample: Take One!” sign. Many people, including parents with children, would take too many. Now they have to pay someone to hand out samples.
EIGHT. How to Lie and Malinger!
Merriam Webster defines malingering as “to pretend to be sick or injured in order to avoid doing work.”
Little ears are listening as you lie on the phone to your boss, spouse, or mother. All that matters is you justified lying for gain, therefore teaching if the reason is good, they are allowed to lie just as easily.
SEVEN. How we OUGHT to.
Sutherland's differential association theory says people who are raised around deviants learn the behavior is normal, increasing susceptibility to deviance. What we do and how we live shows them how they “ought to.”
How your child treats you when you are the elder will depend on how you treated that child and how the child observed you treating others. They learn parenting habits the same way!
SIX. How to Emotionally React.
Research on grief has shown conclusively that a child will grow to display the same grieving process as a parent. It would be defective to believe children learn some emotional behaviors from parents, but not all.
FIVE. What to expect in the future.
We have this IDIOTIC notion that we can raise kids anyway we want, but they can still BE ALL THEY CAN BE when they turn 18.
Children are like smartphones that function with the APPS a parent installs. Sure, children can choose what road to take. But it is the parent that teaches how to read the road signs, including what roads the child OUGHT and OUGHT NOT take.
FOUR. Illogical Thought Processes.
Some believe in paying it forward when they've been lucky, others make a habit of getting drunk. Whatever habit you consistently display will become part of the “what I should do” or “what I can do” thinking process. Parents install the thought processes regarding everything and research is proving that children CAN inherit mental illnesses from a parent.
An example would be teaching a child that they will catch diseases by using public restrooms. They mature to fear using a bathroom in public. Of course you should promote the right way of using public restrooms and hygiene, IT IS a parent's job, but installing FEAR isn't. The illogical belief can now spark the creation of maladaptive behaviors, such as never straying far from home for fear of needing the toilet.
THREE. Learned Hate and Racism.
We know from research that racism is LEARNED. Studies have been published, and even CNN has proclaimed it. Racism is hate and hate is selectively taught. Until now we've embraced the right to parent and teach children as we see fit. Is this WHY we still have hate and racism?
TWO. Learned Helplessness.
Learned helplessness is taught within the home. When a child is experiencing or witnessing abuse, they learn what helplessness is: being powerless to help. If they do tell someone and nothing is done to help, it reinforces the helplessness and the next time someone abuses them they probably won't tell anyone.
ONE. Teaching Children to HATE Themselves.
Worse than teaching children that they should hate other people? Teaching them to hate themselves. Parents have the ultimate influence in determining how a child thinks of themself and their worth in the world around them.
Verbal bullying and constant belittling, rejecting, or other emotionally abusive factors will work directly against what parents should be MANDATED to teach the child THEY CHOOSE to raise.
But don't take my word for it, CLICK HERE for the 8 Golden Rules of Parenting.
The 8 Golden Rules of Parenting
by William Sears M.D.
Until the birth of our fourth baby, Martha and I really thought we knew everything it took to be good parents. After all, we were already raising three boys, and their needs had always been easy to identify and satisfy. In fact, I was starting to suspect that parents in my pediatric practice who complained about their demanding, temperamental babies were exaggerating.
Then came Hayden. With her, our job descriptions as parents were turned upside down. If Hayden wasn't constantly in-arms or at-breast, she was crying. We tried all of our old tricks—nothing worked. "I can't put her down" became Martha's mantra. What quickly became clear was that this baby needed constant connection in order to be happy. Our old parenting style just wasn't going to cut it. By forcing us to reevaluate and reshape our ideas of parenthood, Hayden taught us what being a parent is really all about. And it all comes down to just eight golden rules.
1 - Respond With Abandon
Like many parents, we harbored that horrible fear of spoiling our children. But it wasn't until we had Hayden that we were really put to the test. She needed so much more attention than any of the boys ever did, and we worried that Hayden might be manipulating us. Were we slowly losing control each time we picked her up or responded to her cries? We consulted books, a useless exercise. There were no chapters on her. Yet, here we were, two experienced adults whose lives were being taken over by a 10-pound infant.
What finally got us through was realizing that Hayden did know what she needed and would keep telling us until we understood. She was too small to manipulate us—she was just trying to communicate. By consistently responding to her, we learned how to soothe and comfort her, and, even more important, we fostered a very strong sense of security within her. One time a child-psychologist friend who was visiting us commented that Hayden's cries were not angry and demanding, but rather expectant, as if she knew that she would be heard. And that's exactly what all babies need—to know that you'll listen. So whether your baby fusses 1 time a day or 20, pick her up, sing to her, snuggle with her—whatever she likes. Being there for your child will only make her strong.
2 - Understand that Sometimes Babies Just Cry
You've checked the diaper, offered food, checked his temperature, and yet you can't find anything wrong. Before you beat yourself up, remember this: You don't cause your baby's cries, and you don't have to stop them. Babies cry because of their own inner needs and their individual temperaments. Some cry more and harder than others, even when they are in loving arms. They do this not because their parents are less capable, but because some babies are wired that way. Your responsibility is to support your child until he feels better. The rest—including when the crying will stop—is up to the baby.
One note: If you've done your best to comfort your child but feel like your head will explode with one more wail, call in another baby holder (your partner, your mom, a sensitive friend) immediately and take a break. When you're relaxed, Baby will feel more relaxed too.
3 - Get Behind Your Baby's Eyes
One of the most important things our daughter taught us was to imagine situations from her viewpoint. One night, when Hayden was only a few weeks old, Martha was so exhausted from getting up to go to her crib and nurse her that she picked her up and brought her into our bed. I still remember Martha saying, "I don't care what the books say; I've got to get some sleep." The nursing pair slept happily together thereafter until Hayden was weaned. As I lay there watching my two sleeping beauties, I got behind Hayden's eyes. If I were her, would I rather sleep alone, or nestled next to my favorite person in the whole wide world? Granted, co-sleeping isn't an option for all families, but it made a difference for us.
Seeing things from the baby's viewpoint also helped us tremendously with Hayden's younger siblings. For instance, when our son Matt was a toddler, he'd get very involved in his play. If we interrupted him, he'd often throw a tantrum. By putting ourselves in his position, we saw that he needed time to switch his focus. Instead of saying, "It's time to clean up," we'd give him a warning: "In five minutes, we'll have to say bye-bye to the toys and to the girls and boys." He felt better, and so did we.
And one night when Lauren, our youngest, was 2, she pulled open the refrigerator, grabbed the milk carton, and not surprisingly, spilled it on the floor. We were already late for an appointment, and I started to get aggravated. But Martha calmly put her hand on Lauren's shoulder and talked to her. Lauren slowly relaxed and stopped crying. When I asked Martha how she remained so in control, she said, "I just asked myself how I would have wanted my mother to react in this situation." Lauren was already punished enough—she knew she made a mistake. But Martha was able to really tune in and offer the support that Lauren needed.
4 - Celebrate The Positive
The ultimate goal of parenting is to help babies thrive physically, intellectually, and emotionally. In order to do that, parents need to understand the need-level concept. Every child comes wired with a certain level of need, and if her needs are met, she'll develop to her maximum potential. Hayden, for example, needed to be held a lot in order to thrive. Unfortunately, babies who require constant touch time are often called demanding, fussy or difficult. And those who don't are often blessed with positive labels, such as easy, content, and pleasant.
We didn't know what to call Hayden: She really wasn't a "fussy" baby, as long as we held her and attended to her needs. "Demanding" was just another way of saying "spoiled," which she wasn't. "Colicky" didn't seem to fit since she clearly wasn't in pain. Nor did "difficult" ring true—being near a baby to whom we were becoming so attached was not all that burdensome. Besides, these labels were too negative for this little person who seemed to know so positively what she needed and how to get it. After talking with other parents of babies like Hayden, we realized we had a "high-need child."
In my pediatric practice, I discovered that this term "high-need child" was P.C.: psychologically correct. By the time drained parents came to me for counseling about their "demanding" baby, they had already been on the receiving end of a barrage of negatives: "You hold her too much." "It must be your milk." "She's controlling you." All this advice left parents with the underlying message of "bad baby because of bad parenting." They felt that it was somehow their fault their baby acted this way. As soon as I offered the description "high-need child," I could see a look of relief on the parents' faces. Finally, someone had something nice to say about their baby. "High-need" sounds special, intelligent, and unique, and it shifts the focus to the baby's personality, relieving parents of the fear that they did something wrong. Further, "high-need" suggests that there is something parents can do to help their baby. It underscores that these babies simply need more: more touch, more understanding, more sensitivity, more creative parenting. These babies are exquisitely sensitive—they feel deeply—and research shows they often turn into creative people. (Hayden just graduated from college with a degree in—you guessed it—drama.)
The bottom line is that all children (and adults) have behaviors and traits that are difficult to deal with sometimes. However, if you consistently define your child in positive terms, it will be much easier to focus on her exciting qualities rather than on her inconvenient ones.
5 - Shape, Don't Control
One of the earliest teachings that Martha learned as a nurse and I learned as a physician was "First, do no harm." It helped us realize that if we tried to squelch Hayden's personality, we would hurt, and possibly cripple, her development. Our job was not to change Hayden into a behavioral clone of every other baby. Instead, we widened our expectations and accepted Hayden the way she was, not the way we wished she was. We thought of ourselves as gardeners: We couldn't change the color of the flower or the time of the year it bloomed, but we could pull the weeds and prune the plant so that it blossomed more beautifully. Our role was to channel Hayden's behavior and nurture her special qualities so these inborn traits would later work to her advantage—and not be liabilities.
6 - Seek Support
Raising a baby is hard work, and sometimes we all just need to vent. However, we found that we needed to be selective in choosing those with whom we commiserated. When we discussed our parenting dilemmas with friends, we often came away feeling as if Hayden were the only baby who couldn't satisfy herself without our help. We concluded that no one could understand Hayden unless they'd had a baby like Hayden. We didn't abandon our old friends, but we did stop complaining to people who didn't have a similarly challenging child.
7 - Just Say No
In our zeal to give children everything they need, sometimes it's easy to give them everything they want. Parents of high-need infants often find it difficult to say "no" because they're used to being so giving. However, it's crucial that all parents learn when to give and when to hold back, especially when their child grows out of the baby stage. For instance, when Hayden was a toddler, she had a problem with waiting, which really isn't that unusual. When she wanted something—or someone—she wanted it now. Instead of giving in to her impatience, we had to stand our ground. If she wanted to play when Martha was on the phone, Hayden was told that her mother was busy and that she'd have to wait until she was off. When Hayden was a little older and wanted the latest neighborhood fad, again, we often said no. Because we had already given so much of ourselves, it was easier to say no to "stuff." She did learn early on that other people's needs must sometimes come before hers, and—the more crucial lesson—that you don't always get what you want.
Because she was already a solid and secure child, Hayden could handle being thwarted and not having all her needs instantly gratified. This is important: A high-need child's persistent personality sets her up for frustration, so she has to learn how to handle setbacks as soon as possible. Our job was not to prevent frustrations in Hayden's life, but rather to help her learn how to manage them.
8 - Take Care of Yourself
By the time Hayden was 6 months old, we realized that parenting a high-need child could have a detrimental effect on our relationship as husband and wife—such an infant can easily dominate the home. One warning sign of impending burnout was when Martha said, "I don't even have time to take a shower because Hayden needs me so much." For Martha's sake, and ultimately for the sanity of the whole family, I had to remind her, "What Hayden needs most is a happy, rested mother." But it wasn't enough to preach. Besides pitching in more around the house and with the older children, I took over with Hayden whenever I could. I would take her for a walk so that she would be out of Martha's sight and earshot. What's more, having a high-need child reinforced that we had to make time for ourselves. We knew that if our relationship wasn't strong, the family would fall apart. For us, that meant continuing with our weekly date night, high-need baby or not.
Yes, when Hayden was an infant there were times when I wondered if all our efforts would ever pay off. But now, looking back as Hayden is about to be married, I realize we've been receiving the return on our investment all along. Caring for Hayden stretched us as parents and opened our eyes to the individual spirits in our eight children. Each taught us a different lesson, whether it was profound patience from Hayden or a deep sense of empathy from our son Stephen, who was born with Down syndrome. But what's probably the best reward of these golden rules is that in the end, you'll have raised confident, independent, and giving children. What more can any parent ask for?
Domestic violence by young parents is leading to more children at risk
by Martin Bentham
The Family Rights Group, which helps families involved with the care system, said the trend was partly the result of a greater awareness among social workers about the harm that witnessing abuse causes children.
But the charity added that the closure of refuges for battered women, cuts to projects to help violent men alter their conduct, and a decline in “early intervention” schemes were other factors behind the increase.
The charity is calling for more investment in education and specialist services for young parents, and warned that unless action is taken, more children were likely to end up in the care system. Cathy Ashley, the charity's chief executive, said the rise in child protection cases involving domestic abuse was found by analysing calls to the FRG helpline by more than 500 parents aged under 30 in the past year.
Forty two per cent of the young parents subject to child protection investigations by social workers were facing the probe because of domestic violence and growing numbers were having children taken into care.
Ms Ashley said: “Our research indicates that an increasing number of children are involved with child protection social workers and coming into care because of domestic violence by teenage or other young adult parents. This is a concerning trend. Other evidence shows that children taken into care often struggle to succeed. They are more likely to be isolated, out of work, in poverty and poor housing, and become parents at a young age themselves.
“The Government needs to ensure that young people receive education about safe, healthy relationships. We also need improved work to address domestic violence, including specialist services for adult victims, abusers and child survivors.”
She added that domestic violence was also playing an increasing role in child protection cases involving older parents.
The New Human Trafficking Bill Needs To Rethink Raids, Rescues And Rehabilitation
by Roop Sen
On 30 May this year, Maneka Gandhi, Minister of Ministry of Women and Child Development, released a draft bill on human trafficking -- the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016. While releasing the bill, she conceded that the draft has plenty of room for incorporating nuances:
"We have to build in nuances in this bill -- for instance, if a woman has been trafficked 15 years ago and is now a part of the sex trade, will she considered be a trafficked victim or not? These are nuances we need to figure out."
This is a critical point that perhaps baffles most governments and creates arguments amongst activists over their ideological and moral positions.
The draft bill does not contain anything on rescue protocols. Under the current law, whether in the Bonded Labour Act, Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) or the Indian Penal Code or Criminal Procedure Act, the police can conduct raids of any premises based on its information or intelligence, or suspicion of illegal activity, including running of a brothel, child labour, sale or purchase of a child or woman for purposes of exploitation, etc. Section 8 of the ITPA also allows the police to arrest sex workers soliciting clients in a public place.
THE PROBLEM WITH RESCUE OPERATIONS
In the last two or three decades, "rescue operations'" have been mired in controversy and debate.
Consent, argue activists, should be at the heart of rescues, and the police should be authorised to rescue only those persons who wish to be rescued.
The most common form of "rescues" (of trafficked victims in prostitution) conducted by the police is through mass raids. The practice is for the police to barge into a brothel and either arrest or "rescue" all the women inside. The brothel members are treated in one of two ways by the police: as accused (brothel managers and others helping to run the operation) or victims (those who have been trafficked into prostitution).
The law does not discern between an adult who may be in a trafficked situation (servitude, debt bondage, forced prostitution) and an adult who may not be (she may or may not have been trafficked into prostitution at some time but may not be currently living in confinement, debt bondage or be forced into prostitution).
Sex workers' rights activists argue that there is rampant abuse of power by the police, who often use threats to extort from sex workers. This may also take the form of bribes taken to allow brothels to continue running. Health workers who work for HIV prevention also argue that the exploitation of sex workers by the police creates a state of panic at all times in such communities, making it difficult to make positive health interventions. Ultimately, this legal provision makes some sex workers seek protection from politicians and other socially/ politically powerful people, and this also comes at a price of a different kind (political patronage).
The poor rehabilitation services and forced incarcerations in "protection homes" are a strong argument against the State conducting rescues of women or children who may not want to live in shelters or even return back to their families in villages for reasons of poverty, fear of stigma and violence. Consent, argue activists, should be at the heart of rescues, and the police should be authorised to rescue only those persons who wish to be rescued.
Research shows that when a trafficked person participates and takes the initiative in her own rescue, she recovers from trauma much better.
Still, all parties concur that children or minors should not be allowed to be in prostitution, and their consent is immaterial -- this is in alignment with all national and international law. However, in practical terms, in the course of rescue operations, it is not always possible to tell if someone is an adult or not. While the best source of verification would be the person herself/ himself, the trafficked individual may be in fear (of her captors) and may not be able to reveal her age.
Sex workers' rights groups argue that self-regulatory mechanisms are the best ways for communities to prevent child prostitution. However, upon interception of such cases in the last decade, these boards or regulatory mechanisms have not worked with the police to prosecute offenders and have sent children or women back to their families, and let go of the offender who trafficked them in the first place.
ALTERNATIVES TO RAIDS
Research shows that when a trafficked person participates and takes the initiative in her own rescue, she recovers much better. In 2014, Plan International commissioned a study, which found that survivors who were rescued arbitrarily without being prepared often found the rescue process violent, and resisted services for recovery or healing.
This struggle and tensions between the police, abolitionist groups (activists who work to abolish prostitution based on the premise that those engaged in sex work are victims of failed dependency on the system, and that commercial sexual exploitation is a systemic form of exploitation like feudalism), the sex workers' rights groups and the State, have led to evolution of newer practices in rescue.
Use of information and intelligence: NGOs such a Rescue Foundation, International Justice Mission, Freedom Fund and Justice and Care, use a network of informers and decoys to detect a trafficked person. The police have been known to use such methods to create their own information sources to monitor law and order, or more organized crimes such as drug trafficking. The 228 AHTUs (anti human trafficking units) established in states and districts would require more manpower and resources and a systemic push if they are to be expected to strengthen their intelligence in cities and trafficking hotspots of use of trafficked persons.
Rehabilitation services should be extended to any survivor of trafficking, without prejudice.
Putting pressure on traffickers: A somewhat successful strategy that has been observed in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh is when upon registering of a complaint from the family of the trafficked person, the police creates pressure upon the local accused trafficker (the one who had taken the person from her/his family for work or eloped with her) or their family, and pressurized them to bring the victim back. The malpractice rife in this approach is that the trafficker often agrees to return the victim only in lieu of the complainant withdrawing the case against them. Even the police have been known to impose this condition on the complainants in order to reduce their investigative workload.
Railway vigilance: The Indian government has also decided to focus on putting the mandate of stronger vigilance on the railways. This has shown results at times -- unaccompanied children or large groups of minors being taken somewhere by one or two persons have been interrogated and discovered to be victims/perpetrators of trafficking.
NECESSARY CHANGES IN THE DRAFT LAW
At the time of this critical law being framed (see the full draft here), it is essential that the law makers, in cognizance of the above concerns, take five measures:
1. Read down section 8 of the ITPA that allows for arrest of sex workers for solicitation.
2. The mandate should be put on the police to invest in stronger intelligence for identification of trafficked persons. The role of AHTUs to be clarified and determined in the process. Lessons learnt from good practices of NGOs (Rescue Foundation, IJM, Freedom Fund and Justice and Care) to be incorporated in the law. The law may refer to a rescue protocol or develop one in parallel.
3. The law should focus on non-institutional forms of assistance and care for trafficked survivors. It should not force everyone to go to a shelter or protective home. A person trafficked 15 years ago, but no longer living in servitude, should have options to claim assistance for retribution (punishment for her/his trafficker), recovery services (health assessment, treatment and care) and so on.
4. Ban "mass-raids".
5. Rehabilitation services should be extended to any survivor of trafficking, without prejudice. The draft law, in chapter 7, sections 11 and 12, speaks about rehabilitation and equates it with social reintegration. The bill also indicates that to receive rehabilitation services, the person must have been institutionalized and rescued by the police. Given that ALL survivors of trafficking attempt at escaping from trafficked situations, and many succeed -- either by themselves or with help of allies including their clients -- this provision or restriction will prevent them from accessing rehabilitation services and opportunities that they may require to recover their health, overcome stigma and build new skills to overcome poverty.
Child Abuse, Neglect Cases Rise by 13,000 in 3 Years in SC
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The number of child abuse and neglect complaints in South Carolina has increased by more than 13,000 in the past three years.
Data obtained by The Greenville News shows the Department of Social Services received more than 40,000 complaints in 2015. The agency fielded just over 27,000 complaints in 2012.
DSS Director Susan Alford says centralizing where abuse allegations can be made through a toll-free telephone number and hiring more caseworkers has led to the increase in complaints.
Children's Trust of South Carolina Executive Director Sue Williams says the state needs to get past just investigating claims and figuring out why children are neglected. She says sometimes poor parents do all they can, but just don't have the money to fix holes in the floor.
Junior League of Wichita looking for child abuse prevention projects
by Lara Korte
The Junior League of Wichita is asking local agencies to submit proposals for projects that focus on child abuse awareness, intervention and prevention.
For the past few years, the organization has focused on combating child abuse through several different programs, including a partnership with the Urban League to provide mentoring to at-risk high school girls and a website dedicated to understanding and recognizing abuse.
Rachel Banning, a member of the Junior League of Wichita, said the organization wants to take on another project to continue its efforts against child abuse.
“It's an issue area that our league came to consensus on probably four years ago,” Banning said. “And there's been several fatalities from child abuse in Kansas, and it's just an issue that we've really tried to target.”
The league is looking for ideas that incorporate a large amount of volunteer activity for its members. Apart from volunteer work, Banning said, there are no other for criteria for project proposals. She said the broad description is meant to allow the community to better address its needs.
“We're hoping that it will contribute something that we haven't thought of already and help us try to work at what the needs of the community are,” she said.
Agencies that work to combat child abuse or neglect are encouraged to submit ideas by Aug. 15. For more information, call Banning at 316-516-2605 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Wife fights for share of ex's £175,000 payout for child abuse:
Estranged partner could make legal history after arguing money is a marital asset
An estranged wife is trying to claim part of the £175,000 ($232,313.38) compensation her husband received for suffering sexual abuse as a child.
As part of her divorce settlement, Helen Tippett, 41, has applied to the courts for a share of the cash paid to Andrew Kerslake.
Mr Kerslake, 45, regarded the compensation as ‘dirty money' and put it into a trust to be given to charity when he dies.
But Miss Tippett claims the money is a marital asset and wants her share of it. It is believed legal history will be made if the courts find in her favour.
Mr Kerslake was molested between the ages of five and ten by a family friend. After he finally went to the police in 1998 his abuser was jailed for three years.
The father-of-four was paid £175,000 by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority – a government organisation which pays damages to victims of violent crime – in 2002.
He set up the Andrew Kerslake Trust and the fund has grown to almost £250,000 after being invested by his lawyers.
Mr Kerslake, who has waived his right to anonymity as a victim of sexual abuse, said: ‘I was given the money to compensate for what happened to me when I was a very young boy.
'I was abused over 500 times, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. It left me with both physical and emotional damage.
‘I didn't apply for the money, I didn't really want it at the time. But I'm not prepared to hand it over as part of our divorce settlement.
'It doesn't seem right that my ex-wife should get a penny of it – it does not belong to her, she wasn't the one who was abused.
‘It is shameless and immoral that she is even trying. I'm very disappointed in her.'
When the compensation was paid the couple were happily married. Miss Tippett was studying for a humanities degree and Mr Kerslake was a stay-at-home father.
He said: ‘My wife wanted to spend it, she wanted a beautiful house, she had all sorts of ways of spending it. But to me it was dirty money...I could not bring myself to use it.'
Devout Catholic Mr Kerslake wants the fund to be his legacy and has laid down instructions about how it should be used to help other victims of abuse.
His 19-year marriage came to an end four years ago and he has since become estranged from his children.
His wife reverted to her maiden name, and Mr Kerslake believes she is now in a relationship with a man named Jarrod Williams who is 11 years her junior.
Mr Kerslake, who walks with the aid of crutches after breaking his back in a fall, said: ‘They say they are not living together but he posts pictures of the two of them in bed on Facebook.
‘I'm concerned some of that money would end up in his pocket. That can't be right.'
Mr Kerslake said he now suffers from a variety of health problems. His legal team say that if Miss Tippett wins the case it will be the first time compensation paid to a sex abuse victim has been part of a divorce settlement.
He said: ‘I don't want people to think I put the money in a trust to stop Helen getting her hands on it – that is not the case.
‘I just don't want the money myself and it is my wish it will be divided between two charities of my choice when I die.
‘It was paid to me for something that happened long before I met Helen. I still have to live with the consequences of that.'
Mr Kerslake lives alone in a housing association bungalow in Llanharan, near Bridgend in south Wales.
His estranged wife now works part-time in a church breakfast club and claims she needs the money to buy a house for herself and her two youngest children.
Miss Tippett was accompanied by Mr Williams at two preliminary hearings at the County Court in Pontypridd.
She refused to comment on her claim, which is due to be decided in September.
Beau Biden Foundation to provide child abuse prevention training to IRSD administrators and teacher next week
by Kelli Steele
Administrators and teachers in the Indian River School District will receive child sexual abuse prevention training this summer through a special program sponsored by the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children.
Stewards of Children, the flagship program of the nonprofit organization Darkness to Light, teaches adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. This evidence-based program offers practical prevention training with a conversational, real-world approach. Training will be provided to about 60 IRSD administrators on Thursday, July 7, and to new teachers on Wednesday, August 24.
The two-hour, facilitator-led training sessions will feature DVD commentary from child sexual abuse survivors and experts in the field of child abuse. There will also be facilitator-led discussions of important issues involving prevention. Training will also focus on the program's 5 Steps of Protecting Our Children: 1) Learn the Facts, 2) Minimize Opportunity, 3) Talk About It, 4) Recognize the Signs, and 5) React Responsibly.
“This is an excellent opportunity to provide valuable child abuse prevention training to our employees,” IRSD Superintendent Susan Bunting said. “Research shows that one in 10 children in the United States will be sexually abused before the age of 18. It is our responsibility as a public school district to do everything possible to reverse this trend. We are grateful to the Beau Biden Foundation for bringing this outstanding training program to our district.”
In 2010, while prosecuting a notorious child sexual abuse case, then-Attorney General Beau Biden made a commitment to training 35,000 Delaware adults, or 5 percent of the state's population, in child abuse prevention. The Department of Justice eventually partnered with organizations such as the YMCA of Delaware and Prevent Child Abuse Delaware to bring Stewards of Children to the state.
“We have seen the progress that can be made when society commits to shining a bright light on a crime like domestic violence, and we are seeing the beginning of what can be accomplished if we continue shining that bright light on child abuse,” Biden said prior to his death in May 2015. “As adults, we have a legal and moral obligation to stand up and speak out for children who are being abused. These children cannot speak for themselves.”
“Our goal is prevention. We want an absolute, full-on focus on prevention,” said Patricia Dailey Lewis, executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation. “This is not a problem than can be solved simply by locking up the perpetrators of child sexual abuse.”
Lewis explained that the 5 percent figure represents a “tipping point” that often leads to a cultural shift in attitude regarding social issues. She noted Stewards of Children was attractive in that it was evidence-based and focused on the survivors of child sexual abuse rather than the perpetrators.
Stewards of Children allows participants to hear the stories of those who survived child sexual abuse, experienced its immediate and long-term effects, and ultimately were able to heal. They'll also hear testimony from experts who work with children and families and confront abuse on a daily basis.
Stewards of Children training for new teachers will be held during the district's annual New Teacher Week in August.
Crow Wing Energized: Adverse Childhood Experiences - physical abuse
by Kara Griffin
Did you know that physically abusing children is an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE)? Physical abuse comes in many forms. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, "physical abuse is when a caregiver causes any physical injury, or threatens harm or substantial injury, on a child other than by accident. Physical abuse can range from minor bruises to severe internal injuries and death."
The website resiliencetrumpsaces.org defines physical abuse "as any non-accidental physical injury to the child including striking, kicking, burning, or biting the child, or any action that results in a physical impairment or harms the child's health and welfare."
Physical abuse can result in damage to the brain, resulting in developmental delays and lack of growth in vital areas. Physical abuse has an overall long-term impact on the child's health and wellbeing. Child abuse victims are more likely to exhibit mental health symptoms, struggle academically and display poor physical health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control -Kaiser ACE study, 28 percent of adult participants experienced physical abuse as a child. Experiencing physical abuse as a child increases one's risk for depression and anxiety, along with aggression, delinquency, and antisocial behavior. Physical abuse can have a lifelong impact on health and quality of life for victims.
It is important to realize that while we may think abusive caregivers are bad people, there are reasons that adults act abusively toward children.
Adult caregivers may have experienced abuse as a child themselves, and are acting out what they saw as children. Many of the caregivers involved in the child welfare system grew up in unhealthy, chaotic, stressful, and abusive homes. Their early environment lacked nurturing, caring or developmentally appropriate activities. These childhood experiences often lead to mental health symptoms, chemical dependency, inability to control and express emotions, anger, and lack of ability to be self-sufficient. Physical abuse, along with the other ACEs, tends to be repeated in the next generation unless some form of healing intervention takes place.
Much of society sees ACEs children and adults as problems. These are the people who keep getting in trouble, and don't seem to ever really change their behaviors. Society gives the message of "What is wrong with you!" When this message is internalized, ACEs individuals start to believe that something is wrong with them, that they have character flaws that cause their antisocial behaviors. This internalized negative self-talk becomes a downward spiral and self-fulfilling prophecy.
A more productive perspective on ACEs individuals is to ask the question "What happened to you?" rather than "What is wrong with you?" This question allows individuals to use the best thinking part of their brains, the prefrontal cortex, to analyze and understand how adversity has shaped their lives. It also sets the foundation for the development of an individualized healing plan for overcoming the negative effects of childhood adversity. The good news of resiliency building is that our brains emotional, thinking and behavioral patterns can be re-wired away from past negative experiences to positive and healthier patterns.
According to the Center for the Study of Social Policy Strategies, communities can do the following to prevent ACEs from developing and heal those people who have already lived ACEs situations.
• Facilitate friendships and mutual support among parents.
• Strengthen parenting skills, resources and education.
• Value and support all parents through culturally competent practices.
• Promote child's social and emotional development.
• Provide resources for family crisis.
• Identify and respond to early warnings signs of child abuse and neglect.
On a daily basis, this resiliency building takes the form of engaging our community's youth and families in healthy activities, and removing barriers that prevent them from participating, such as fees or transportation. We can provide healthy and safe entertainment and recreation for families to attend, and build support among parents. As a community, we can break the cycle of abuse and neglect by supporting and educating caregivers and their families.
Kara Griffin is the manager for the Social and Health Programs at Crow Wing County Community Services and co-chair of Crow Wing Energized.
Paedophile Information Exchange founding member who plied victims as young as 10 with alcohol and parties is jailed for 24 years
by Telegraph Reporters
A founding member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, a group which campaigned for sex with children to be decriminalised, has been jailed for 24 years.
Douglas Slade, 75, was expelled from the Philippines in 2015 and brought back to the UK to be charged with 13 offences of abusing children between the 1960s and 1980s.
Slade, formerly of Bristol, was convicted of all charges against him following a trial at Bristol Crown Court.
The offences, committed in Bristol and other parts of the country between 1965 and 1980, were against five boys - the youngest aged 10 at the time.
Judge Euan Ambrose jailed Slade for 24 years and ordered him to serve an additional 12 months on licence upon his release.
"Your interest in young boys was well established," the judge told Slade, who has no previous convictions.
"It had led you to become involved in two notorious organisations, Paedophile Action for Liberation and the Paedophile Information Exchange.
"I am satisfied that you were involved in both organisations. I cannot determine the precise role that you played. You liked to boast about having been involved in setting them up, whether that was in fact true or not.
"It reflected your interest in sex with young boys and your wish to see sex between adults and young boys decriminalised."
Slade was convicted of seven offences of indecent assault and six other sexual offences against his victims, who were aged between 10 and 16 at the time.
Victim impact statements provided to the court showed the "extremely deep and long lasting" effect of the abuse on their lives, the judge said.
Those targeted had home lives that were chaotic, with Slade providing them with parties, alcohol and cigarettes.
"The dreadful truth was that behind all that lay, the objection of persuading these boys to have sex with you," the judge said.
Slade, who suffers from diabetes and high cholesterol, remained emotionless as the sentence against him was passed.
The investigation into Slade began in 2010 when one victim came forward to report being abused by him and several others in the 1970s.
A second victim was identified and three men were convicted of sexual offences, but charges could not be brought against Slade as he was living in Angeles City in the Philippines.
Avon and Somerset Police worked with the National Crime Agency to identify further victims, with Slade expelled from the Philippines in 2015, brought to the UK and charged.
"What has happened is your past has caught up with you - a past about which you appear wholly unrepentant," Judge Ambrose added.
Slade was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for life and adhere to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order banning him from contacting boys aged under 16.
Following the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Paul Melton, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "Slade was part of a network of men whose sole aim was to find vulnerable children to abuse.
"He's shown absolutely no remorse for his sickening crimes or for the lasting emotional and psychological damage he's caused. No child will ever be safe in his company."
Christopher Skeaping, 72, formerly of Hounslow in London, will be sentenced for one count of indecent assault against one of Slade's victims at a date to be fixed.
(Paedophile Information Exchange according to Wikipedia)
Teen sex trafficking survivor: Rape was so violent, I just couldn't work anymore
by CNN Wire
MESA, Ariz. — Just 14 years old. That's how young kids typically are in Arizona when they are forced into the sex trade.
But for Lakeya Shumate, it started even earlier. She was just 13.
“I was sexually trafficked and I dealt with pimps – women pimps, men pimps. I dealt with being beaten. I dealt with being raped,” Shumate said.
KPHO/KTVK reports that after running away from home, Shumate said she was taken to a hotel by an older boy and sold to a pimp for “$20 and some crack.” From there, she felt trapped.
“Pimps have this thing – it's like handcuffs without the handcuffs on,” she said. “It became a ‘normal' for me, so I couldn't get used to real life. Every time I would get a reality check, I would run right back to this fantasy world.”
Shumate said she got addicted to the lifestyle; to the cars and the clothes and the attention. But the fantasy started to fall apart after a traumatic incident.
“I got into a car with a john or whatever, and I ended up getting raped. After that incident, it was so violent, I just couldn't take working the streets anymore,” she said.
Shumate, from Georgia, escaped the sex trade for good at age 18 and started a nonprofit organization called “The Chosen Ones” with her mother, Topizia Ivey.
“We want to be that support system to those that don't have support,” Ivey said.
The two shared their story Tuesday at a conference of victim advocates, police, and court services professionals in Mesa. The event, called JuST First Response (JuST is short for Juvenile Sex Trafficking), is designed to help professionals in various fields better respond to young victims of sex trafficking.
Organizers with Shared Hope International say there is a “growing demand for sex with young children” that is “fueled by a glorification of pimping and normalization of the commercial sex industry.” The conference includes 20 workshops over two days, including ways pimps are using social media to groom victims, and ways law enforcement can partner with non-governmental organizations to conduct undercover online stings.
Experts say teens that frequently run away from home, like Shumate did, are at a higher risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking. Other warning signs include having close ties with an older boyfriend, drug use, and previous contact with the juvenile justice system.
Ivey suggested doing an internet search on your child's phone number to see if it's linked to ads for sex.
“I found some information out just by putting my daughter's phone number in a Google search,” she said.
Ads to warn of 'Ugly Truth' of human trafficking
County to raise awareness of problem with billboards, public service announcements, website
by Dana Littlefield
San Diego — County officials announced on Monday the launch of a campaign intended to educate the public about sex trafficking and child exploitation.
Dubbed “The Ugly Truth,” the campaign will use billboards, radio spots, videos played in elevators and at health clubs and posters displayed at bus shelters and on trolleys. It's expected to run about three months.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan said at a Monday morning news conference that law enforcement authorities see a “disconnect” between what they know about sex trafficking and the community's attitudes toward it. Some of that, she said, may be attributed to movies and television shows that glamorize the sex trade.
Stephan said the campaign grew out of a belief that members of the public would be more willing to work against human trafficking in their own communities if they had a better understanding of the conditions that drive children and adults into the sex trade.
“Until residents of San Diego County see the damage done to women, girls and boys being forced to work in prostitution, there will be a lack of will to take on this threat and end demand,” she said.
The FBI has identified San Diego as one of 13 U.S. cities designated as a “high intensity child prostitution area.”
A study released last year by the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University reported there are 3,417 to 8,108 trafficking victims per year in San Diego County, and the average age of entry into sex trafficking is 16.
Most of the sex trafficking activity is controlled by street gangs, some of which have turned to prostitution as their top source of income.
“The ugly truth is that San Diego has a thriving underground sex economy,” county Supervisor Dianne Jacob said at the news conference. “We're not talking about just one part of the county. We're talking about the entire San Diego County region.”
Jacob noted that human trafficking is a form of slavery that affects schools, neighborhoods and other areas where children gather.
“It's shocking, and it must not be tolerated,” she said.
This isn't the first time the county has launched a public awareness campaign focused on human trafficking. In 2014, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced that billboards had been posted in various locations with messages that read: “Buying a teen for sex is child abuse. Turning a blind eye is neglect,” and “Teens sold for sex aren't prostitutes. They're rape victims.”
The Ugly Truth campaign, which also has a website, is intended to take those messages further by providing input from survivors of human trafficking. It also attempts to expose and stop people who buy and sell human beings for sex, as well as offer resources for the victims, Stephan said.
The campaign is funded by the District Attorney's Office and county Child Welfare Services, which falls under the Health and Human Services Agency.
The website can be found at TheUglyTruthSD.org. There's a Spanish-language version as well.