National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery

NAASCA Weekly News
EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day we bring you news articles, opinion pieces, crime stories and official information from government web sites. These are highlights, and constitute the tip of the iceberg .. a small percentage of the daily information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse, trauma and recovery. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" and every voice makes a big difference.
programs / projects
together we can heal
help stop child abuse
a little about us
join us, get involved
Recent News - News from other times

October, 2016 - Week 3
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio, for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


From the Department of Homeland Security

DHS Blue Campaign and Cullman County Announce New Partnership to Combat Human Trafficking

WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a new partnership between the DHS Blue Campaign, the Department's unified effort to combat human trafficking, and Cullman County, Alabama, aimed at raising public awareness about human trafficking.

Through this partnership, co-branded Blue Campaign materials will be posted throughout the county as part of a public awareness campaign to educate local residents on how to recognize and report potential instances of human trafficking. Blue Campaign Chair Maria Odom signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security with Cullman County Chairman Kenneth Walker.

“We cannot combat human trafficking alone,” said Chair Maria Odom. “The Blue Campaign works closely with our partners across the Nation to help ensure that our communities know how to recognize and report the signs of human trafficking. We are honored to be working with Cullman County to bring an end to this heinous crime.”

Earlier this year, the Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force, comprised of representatives from a local community organizations, Juvenile Probation and the District Attorney's Office, held a free public training with the DHS Blue Campaign. This latest partnership will build on previous human trafficking training in the county by spreading public awareness materials to members of the Cullman County community, to include more targeted materials to attorneys, juveniles and members of the trucking industry in the county.

The Blue Campaign works in partnership with law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations to protect the basic right of freedom and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice.

For more information, visit



Ohio man sentenced to 17 years in prison after Salvation Army worker finds photos of him sexually abusing toddler

by Laura Bult

An Ohio Salvation Army worker discovered several horrifying photos of a man raping a toddler inside a donated tote bag.

The chilling discovery led to the arrest of the bag's donor, Gary Sovie, an Ashville, Ohio resident who was sentenced Friday to 17 years in prison, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Sovie, 49, dropped off the tote in a donation box at a Salvation Army Thrift Store in Columbus, Ohio on May 25, prosecutors said.

A worker discovered 35 Polaroids inside the bag, some showing a naked girl and others show him sexually assaulting the girl.

The victim's mother estimated that the photos were dated to roughly 1999, when her daughter was 16 to 18 months years old, she said during court testimony. The victims, who was not present in court, is in her late teens now, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

When the thrift store worker turned the disturbing images over to police, they were able to trace them to Sovie through pay stubs and mail that were also inside the bag.

When confronted with the allegations, Sovie admitted to sexually abusing the girl.

“I'm a very sick person,” Sovie told detectives.

Sovie pleaded guilty in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to one count each of rape and pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor.

Judge Julie M. Lynch, who handed down his sentence, admonished Sovie, saying what he did to the girl “is the bottom of the barrel for a human being.

She said the attorneys “told me this case would make me sick, and you're right.”

In addition to prison time, Sovie was fined $35,000 for each offense plus court costs. He will be required to register as a sex offender when released.



Art provides healing journey; Exhibit benefits those impacted by childhood sex abuse

by Joanne Richard

What goes on behind closed doors cannot stay behind closed doors. The stigma around disclosing childhood sexual abuse needs to end and a voice given to trauma survivors.

Recently, abuse survivor Sheldon Kennedy announced the expansion of his child advocacy centre in Alberta to help even more victims of physical and sexual abuse. The ex-NHL player and child advocate wants to give a voice and bring healing to those whose childhoods have been stolen.

An upcoming event hosted by The Gatehouse, a support and advocacy organization for those impacted by childhood sexual abuse, will be bringing home this message through a special art exhibit on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

The Healing the Voice Within Art Exhibit offers the medium of art to allow childhood sexual abuse victims to express their resiliency and move forward in their healing journeys.

The art show and silent auction event, which coincides with Child Abuse Prevention Month, will help raise muchneeded funds for crucial support initiatives at The Gatehouse, which provides a safe place for children to disclose abuse to police and child welfare workers, as well as a support network for adult survivors of childhood sex abuse. The powerful art images, that will be on display at The Spoke Club, 600 King St. W., come from a 12-week visual arts support group - just one of the many free programs at The Gatehouse that help survivors break the silence.

"The first thing that happens when a person is traumatized by childhood sexual abuse is they lose their voice. Trauma survivors are often left with

feelings of fear, isolation, distrust, confusion, shame, guilt and anger," said Maria Barcelos, executive director of The Gatehouse.

Facing abuse can be a heartbreaking journey and mental health services tailored to the unique needs of those abused are critical to healing and healthy futures.

"Most have held onto this secret their entire lives and through our programs, participants have an opportunity to move past trauma and foster feelings of safety, resiliency and social re-connection," says Barcelos, of Thegatehouse. org.

According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, "32% of Canadians had experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, exposure to intimate partner violence or a combination of these while they were young."

Light needs to be shed on this horrible dark issue, and its devastating impact and the hellish recovery survivors face. Many victims suffer alone and don't speak up.

The Gatehouse is a community-based charitable organization that does not receive any core funding from any government agency and relies on community support.

Event sponsorship, monetary donations, as well as silent auction donations would be greatly appreciated for the Healing the Voice Within Art Exhibit. Reach out to Barcelos at


New York

Medical Examiner Says Zymere Perkins Died Of 'Fatal Child Abuse Syndrome'

by Emma Whitford

Six-year-old Zymere Perkins, who died last month after his mother delivered him to Saint Luke's Hospital with bruising to his head and body, suffered from fatal child abuse syndrome, according to the Medical Examiner's report released this week. His death has been ruled a homicide.

"This cause of death means that the child had evidence of acute and chronic abuse and neglect that ultimately led to his death," said Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the city Medical Examiner.

Zymere's mother Geraldine Perkins, 26, and Perkins's boyfriend Rysheim Smith, 42, were both arrested last month in connection with Zymere's death, and preliminarily charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child.

Perkins, who has five child abuse allegations on her record (three substantiated), reportedly told police Smith beat her son with a broomstick for defecating in an ice bucket the day he died. Smith than allegedly hung Zymere, limp, by his T-shirt from a bathroom door hook. After Smith left the apartment, Perkins said she laid the child on a bed for several hours, thinking he was asleep.

According to the NYPD, officers responded to a 911 call regarding an unconscious 6-year-old boy at 606 West 135 Street in Harlem just before 2:30 p.m. on September 27th. When they arrived at the address, police were informed that Perkins had already transported her son to Saint Luke's Hospital.

Perkins told DNAInfo in an interview at Rikers Island that while she was afraid of her boyfriend, and found it hard to leave him, Smith had not beaten Zymere before the September incident. Investigators have said that Smith abused Zymere for over a year, without intervention from Perkins.

In the aftermath of Zymere's death, Mayor de Blasio announced a series of Administration for Children's Services reforms. Among them, more audits to hold staff accountable to their casework, and collaboration with the Department of Education to ensure ACS follows up with children who are frequently absent from school (Zymere apparently wasn't enrolled).

"We know the system failed. That's what we have to get at here," de Blasio said, adding, "Anyone who works for the city of New York who is found to be negligent in this case will face serious consequences."

Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio also announced that five ACS staff had been placed on administrative duty while Zymere's case is investigated. Staff member names were not released, but the Daily News reported that the Department of Investigation had probed a caseworker involved in Zymere's case, 48-year-old Nitza Sutton, for allegedly falsifying records. According to the tabloid Sutton was promoted a few months ago. Four other high-ranking ACS officials tasked with overseeing Zymere's case were suspended for 30 days without pay.

The mayor's office deferred comment on the cause-of-death ruling to ACS.

"This case is a tragedy and the review of the circumstances that led to this incident is ongoing," the city agency stated. "The City continues to examine this case, and is implementing targeted reforms.”

The DOI released a report in May faulting ACS for lax investigations and incomplete record keeping. According to DOI, about 16% of children whom ACS identified as abuse victims during the investigation period were victimized again within the same year. ACS countered at the time that a recent investment of $100 million in the child welfare system was reducing caseloads and funding new training for caseworkers.


4 Our Kids: 1 in 10 chance CYFD kids were confirmed neglected before

by Jen French

While kids wait to be placed in foster homes, they eat snacks and play in the Children, Youth and Families Department playroom.

"We keep them — I wouldn't say distracted — just keep them happy,” CYFD Investigative caseworker Angelica Santiago said.

Santiago gives them overnight packs with shampoo and body wash, just in case they haven't bathed.

There's a one in 10 chance children under CYFD investigation have been through the system before. According to New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee report cards from 2010 to 2016, approximately 10 percent of children were confirmed to be victims of maltreatment within six months of a prior CYFD determination of substantiated maltreatment.

“I do come into contact with children who have been through the process before, children who know what questions we're going to ask to assess their safety,” Santiago said.

Santiago's hours are atypical. Because kids aren't done by 5 p.m. every day, she isn't either. As an investigative caseworker, she doesn't get paid overtime.

“I was probably out the latest around midnight,” Santiago said.

Many CYFD case workers end up getting out of the system. According to New Mexico LFC data, the agency had a nearly one in three, or a 29.7 percent, turnover rate for CYFD protective service workers this year. In 2011, the turnover rate was 13 percent.

“If your heart isn't in public service, it's not going to work for you,” Santiago said. “I don't get to get paid. I do it because I want to. I do it to wake up every day wanting to do this job.

Out of 121 CYFD current job openings, 49 are for investigative and placement caseworkers.

According to CYFD, 38,623 child abuse and neglect allegation calls were made to the agency from July 2015 to June 20, 2016. Out of those, 20,766—or just over half—of the reports met the criteria to start an investigation.

Part of the problem is that an accused abuser or neglectful guardian must be a member of the household. Otherwise, CYFD does not consider the child to be in immediate danger.

“I do know there are children who are afraid, who are afraid to get their parents in trouble,” Santiago said.

To find out what's going on in the homes, Santiago must go behind closed doors and meet the parents. Often she's alone. She isn't allowed to carry a firearm or mace. If something goes wrong during a home visit, her only option is to call police.

“I don't know if people in that home are suffering from mental health issues,” Santiago said. “I don't know if people are suffering from substance abuse issues.”

This year in New Mexico, 52 kids out of every 1,000 were subject to an investigative report, higher than the national average. There are currently 2,300 kids in foster care and emergency CYFD custody, but the number doesn't include children who are simply being investigated.

Maltreatment isn't always physical abuse. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 82 percent of New Mexico's children in 2014 were confirmed to be victims of neglect. Neglect can include poor hygiene or school tardiness.


4 Our Kids: Former supervisor discusses challenges at CYFD

by Tessa Mentus

Chances are when you leave work at night, you didn't get everything done. But you can tackle the unfinished business the next day. It will be there.

What happens, though, when your unfinished business is kids who need help, and you believe the system designed to save them is broken? In Part Two of KOB's 4 Our Kids series, a Children, Youth and Families Department veteran said she called it quits nearly two years ago.

What she didn't get done still haunts her.

“There are so many cases and so little services,” the veteran said. “We're not making a difference.”

It's tough for this woman to let those words come out of her mouth. She spent nearly a decade fighting for kids as both a CYFD investigator and supervisor. She spoke disguised, afraid the thousands of families she tried to help may recognize her.

“It wasn't getting any better, to be real honest, the demands of that job,” she said. “It's so bad.”

Her breaking point came more than a year ago. That's when she snapped and walked away.

“It's hard work,” she said. “It's draining work, both physically and emotionally.

“There is no way to describe it until you actually get in there and do it," she continued. "You know you can sit there and tell somebody, you may work 8 to 5, at 4:15 a referral is going to come in and you have to go out on that. You may be out all night, and then guess what? You have to come back the next day, maybe go home shower, grab a cup of coffee, and come back.

“Did they miss things? Absolutely. When you're working 16 hours days, you're tired, and sometimes you do miss things.”

That schedule -- or lack of one at times -- is just one part of the nightmare. KOB asked how many cases she typically received during her first stint with CYFD in the 1990s.

“During a work week, we would probably get five to six cases,” she said. “Now they're getting that a day.”

She claimed the biggest challenges at CYFD are systemic.

“Let's say I'm referred for, you know, beating my kid, and the social worker shows up and says ‘you know, I think that you need to get yourself into a parenting class. '‘OK, thank you, I'll consider your recommendation.' Well, I don't have to do it,” she said.

That's right. CYFD can't force these parents to do anything.

“We don't have the teeth to make parents do things before it gets to the level of a legal case,” she said.

Then there's the Children's Code, the law more than a dozen pages long CYFD workers have to follow. At times, she said the law works against them, not for them and not for our kids, especially when it comes time to suggest a child be removed from their home.

“If we had the right tools that you could go in and start to make those changes,” she said.

At least for this former supervisor, the list of reasons to leave got longer when Monique Jacobson was appointed secretary of CYFD.

“Her background is in marketing,” the veteran said. “I think her heart is in the right place, but I don't know how she could, I don't know she understands what these workers do on a daily basis.”

The backlog, their hands being tied, the questionable Children's Code, all the frustration. But when the phone rang in the middle of the night, she answered. Hundreds of investigators answer. Their job title is caseworker, but the expectation is to be a miracle worker.

“What do you do at three in the morning when you have a baby who is just in a diaper, it's freezing cold outside, you've just taken custody, you don't have any foster homes left because everybody is full, and you're just out there with this child and no place to go, what do you do?” she asked. “You stay with that child, you keep that child at the office until you can find a placement which may not be for, you know, a couple of days at time. You go to McDonald's and buy this child food to feed him breakfast.

“You're still going to have child abuse, unfortunately. You're still going to have crime, unfortunately. But I think that as you -- when there are no services available to refer people to try to implement change and again -- you've got to want to change, and most people don't. It's scary. It's uncomfortable.

“Our kids are going to suffer.”

This former supervisor isn't the only person who has questioned if Jacobson is qualified to be the secretary of CYFD. At least one state senator has called for her to resign.

Tom Joles sat down with Jacobson and confronted her with these concerns and demands. He had some tough questions for the secretary. You will hear from her Wednesday, including her answer to whether or not she will step down.


4 Our Kids: CYFD secretary rejects calls to step down

by Tom Joles

When asked what it's like to be the secretary of the state's Children Youth and Families Department, Monique Jacobson said it's the most challenging job she's ever had. With that said, she added it's also a job she loves.

Before CYFD, Jacobson was the tourism secretary. Think “New Mexico True.”

Before that, she was in corporate America. Think more resources.

Is this job at CYFD tougher than she thought it would be?

“I guess I would never imagine some of the horrors we've seen,” she said. “I knew it would be tough. I wouldn't change it for the world.”

Jacobson said that even while under tremendous scrutiny after her department was notified about possible abuse or neglect in Victoria Martens' family. In August, the 10-year-old was found raped and murdered in her home. Her mother was one of those arrested.

Some people have voiced concerns about mistakes Jacobson has made on the job, calling for her to resign. She said she would “absolutely not” consider stepping down.

Jacobson's critics even question whether she's even qualified for the job. Here's where it gets interesting. Jacobson admits she's not an expert in those areas, but she said she doesn't have to be.

“With regards to CYFD, I have experts in juvenile justice, corrections, early childhood development, social workers, protective services, behavioral health,” Jacobson said. “I have those experts … so again, what I can provide is that overall systems and operations perspective to figure out how we can be efficient and, most of all, effective as possible.”

In the last two years, Jacobson said, CYFD has increased the number of field workers by 25 percent and is trying new ways to keep them, including proving therapy for workers who are hurting or on the verge of burning out.

While she argues she's making progress, others aren't so sure. State Sen. Michael Padilla wants the attorney general's office to investigate whether CYFD dropped ball in the Martens case.

“The first thing is, there's an opportunity for us to continue to look holistically at how we improve the systems,” Jacobson said. “We have also internally, stepped back and looked at that case in particular and how our caseworkers handled any interactions … I certainly believe there are a lot of people out there who are trying to politicize the tragic death of this young girl.”

Jacobsen is always talking about the complexity of the job, the system, and the people who live in New Mexico. She readily admits it's a challenge.

“It's easy to be a politician, and I think it's hard to be a leader,” she said. “It's easy to tell people what they want to hear, but the issues we're dealing with are not simple. They're complex, and a leader need to be willing to dig into that complexity, lean into the darkness that we see in a job like this to recognize solutions are not simple. There is no silver bullet, but we have to identify areas where we can make biggest difference and then put reforms in place to address those issues and continue to move forward with those reforms.”


4 Our Kids: Child abuse investigators tackle tough, yet crucial task

by Danielle Todesco

It may look like a fun place for a child to visit, but inside the safe rooms at All Faiths Receiving Home there are conversations that even adults can't handle.

Dr. Shalon Nienow is a child abuse pediatrician. Day in and day out, she not only hears what children are disclosing about horrible abuse, but she's examining them closely for any evidence to back it up. Those talks include “pretty personal things like about their genitals or has anything bad ever happened to their body,” she said.

The problem is kids don't usually tell someone what has happened to them until long after the fact, so any physical evidence is gone. It's a problem that Sgt. Amy Dudewicz with Bernalillo County's Special Victims Unit sees every day.

“Testimonial evidence is primarily the only thing we have when we move forward on these cases,” she said.

That's why people like Michelle Aldana at the safe house at All Faiths have to choose their questions for victims very carefully, all while those in law enforcement are watching a live feed of the interview from a few rooms away.

“Talk with children in a way that's very open ended,” Aldana said. “We say things like, ‘Tell me about that,' or ‘How did you feel about that?' or ‘What happened next?' We want to be very cautious about the words that we use. We always use the words that children give us.

Even still, a child's testimony is easily torn down on the witness stand in a court case. Experts say jurors have a hard time believing a child, thinking that either their memory isn't clear or they're simply lying. But in their careers that span decades, these women in the field say they've almost never seen a child lie about such unspeakable things.

“Kids lie for very specific reasons,” Nienow said. “They lie to get out of trouble, not to create trouble.”

Life gets much worse for that child because oftentimes their disclosures are against a parent or a relative. Their home life starts to unravel. Families are divided. That often leads to the child taking their statement back.

Many cases never ever make it to a trial. Dudewicz's estimations are terrifying.

“For every one child that ends up in a situation like Victoria Martens did, there are a hundred children that go through that every day,” she said. “Fifty of them will never say anything about it. Fifty of them that do report something about it, maybe five of those will filter through to getting a detective to actually investigate it. Of those, maybe two or three will make it to the district attorney's office. Of those maybe one will go to court, and then we have to jump through hurdles for the jury.”

Dudewicz remembers her very first case in the SVU. A 4-year-old girl said she was raped by a family member. The suspect was found not guilty in court.

“I came back to my office and cried, and my sergeant at the time begged me to stay,” Dudewicz said. “And I said I don't know if I can make a difference.”

Yet she continues to try. There are seven detectives in her unit and their case load is mounting, especially after the Victoria Martens case. More people are reporting suspected child abuse, but they're not getting more resources to tackle it.

“These basically sit here until we have a detective or two that can go out in team,” Dudewicz said.

When Dudewicz spoke to KOB for this story, she held a folder filled with paper. Each sheet represented a child who may currently be enduring abuse but is waiting for someone to have the time to check it out. Some go back as far as Aug. 11, and that is just in the South Valley.

“Yeah, we're behind. That's the embarrassing part of the job,” she said. “I think we're almost all behind.”


United Kingdom

Child sex abuse org urges Web firms to sign up to “game-changing” hash list

Online outfits can stamp out copies, stop sharing, prevent image uploads, says IWF chief.

by Kelly Fiveash

On its twentieth anniversary, the UK's Internet Watch Foundation—propped up by Microsoft's PhotoDNA tech—is urging Web companies to use its list of digital fingerprints to help prevent the upload, sharing, and storage of child abuse sex images online.

The IWF hash list of the underlying code associated with child abuse images was distributed to Google, Facebook, and Twitter in August 2015. It is compiled by analysts at the charity, who have the gruelling task of sifting through photos and videos showing children being sexually abused. Every eight minutes they identify a new webpage containing horrendous images.

To date, 125,583 hashes have be added to the list—more than 3,000 of which involved the abuse of babies and toddlers.

IWF chief Susie Hargreaves said that the org's analysts had always removed reported images. "But in the past it could be uploaded again, and again," she said.

"This was incredibly frustrating for us and dreadfully sad for those victims. Now our new technology allows us, and any company which uses the Image Hash List, to hunt out those abusive images, meaning Internet companies can completely stamp out copies, stop the sharing, and even stop the image being uploaded in the first place.

"This is a major breakthrough. Each and every one of these images is the painful record of a child being sexually abused. Their suffering is very real. These victims have the right to know someone is fighting this important battle."

The IWF revealed the latest figures to mark 20 years since it began fighting the circulation of child sexual abuse images online. Since 1996, it has taken down a quarter of a million URLs.

Ars asked the charity to explain how Microsoft's offering would be protected against the danger posed by making its hash list available in the cloud. IWF's technical projects officer Harriet Lester told us that Microsoft was hosting the "cloud solution" on its servers, and said that it takes "great care to ensure security and use threat mitigation practices. These are vital to the protection of services and data."

She added: "The hashes which are hosted on the cloud do not leave the cloud. When a company wants to compare an image on their services, they use an API to send the image up to the cloud and receive a yes/no reply if the image has matched to the IWF hashes.

"The hashes will be in Microsoft PhotoDNA format, we do not host any child sexual abuse images on the cloud, a PhotoDNA hash is irreversible."

As of today, the charity says that 0.2 percent of child sexual abuse images are hosted in the UK, compared with 18 percent in 1996.


Study shows link between severity of Child Sexual Abuse and mental health, HRQoL


In an investigation published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics the harm of sexual abuse in Swiss adolescents is analyzed. Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) comprises activities with actual physical contact (e.g. rape, unwanted touching) and without physical contact (e.g. exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, verbal sexual harassment, distribution of intimate pictures against one's will). Research has shown that CSA is a persistent public health problem across all countries and cultures. However, there is almost no research on the differential effects of the type of CSA on outcome. To bridge these research gaps, the aim of the study was to assess health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and mental health across contact and non-contact types of CSA in a population sample of adolescents.

Authors assessed a nationally representative sample of 6,751 Swiss 9th grade students (mean age 15.5 years) attending public schools. Results found that roughly 40% of females and 17% of males reported experience of some type of CSA in their lifetimes, with 'non-contact CSA only' considerably more prevalent in both genders (24.7 and 12.1%, respectively) than 'contact CSA only' (5.1 and 2.3%) and both types of CSA (10.5 and 2.8%). The risk of females experiencing all categories of CSA was considerably higher than for males (OR = 2.37, 2.28, and 4.12, respectively). In addition, participants who had experienced both types of CSA had the lowest HRQoL and poorest mental health, whereas participants with no history of CSA had the highest scores for HRQoL as well as the best mental health. Notably, in almost all measures, participants with non-contact CSA only were significantly more impaired than participants with no history of CSA. Males had better mental HRQoL as well as less mental health problems than females across all four groups.

Taken together, these results indicate that there is a gradient association between the severity of CSA and HRQoL and mental health. Furthermore, females reported lower scores than males in most dimensions of HRQoL and mental health. However, this was not specific for victims of CSA, confirming epidemiological findings on mental health in adolescence that show a higher prevalence of many mental disorders in girls.



Wilton schools tighten child abuse, neglect policy

by Kendra Baker

The Wilton Public School District has taken its approach to child abuse and neglect to a new level, following the Board of Education's unanimous approval on Oct. 13 to revise Policy 5146.

The policy got a complete overhaul — even its name was changed from “Child Abuse/Neglect” to “Reports of Suspected Abuse.”

“A lot of the language in this policy in recommended by our attorneys based on changes in state statute,” Superintendent Kevin Smith explained at the board's Sept. 22 meeting.

Aligned with Section 17a-101 of the Connecticut General Statute, the policy requires school employees to report if they have “reasonable cause to suspect or believe” that a child under 18 has been abused or neglected, had a non-accidental physical injury inflicted upon him or her, or is at imminent risk of serious harm.

The revised policy also requires employees to report if they suspect any student, “regardless of age,” has been sexually assaulted by a school employee.

According to the revised policy, suspicions may be based on factors including, but not limited to, observations, allegations, facts, or statements by a child, victim or third party.

Smith said the most important change to the policy is that it “makes everybody responsible.”


Under the revised policy, the responsibility of reporting child abuse or neglect no longer falls solely on “certain” employees designated “statutory mandated reporters” under state law but falls on all Wilton school employees.

Policy changes include “more clearly defined” terms, according to Smith.

The revised policy defines school employees as teachers, substitute teachers, school administrators, the superintendent, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, physicians, paraprofessionals, and coaches employed by the board or who work in one of the schools.

Any person who has regular contact with students and provides services to or on behalf of students enrolled in the district is also considered a school employee under the district's policy.

Under state law, statutory-mandated reporters include “all school employees” and “any person who holds or is issued a coaching permit by the State Board of Education, is a coach of intramural or interscholastic athletics” and is at least 18 years old.

Reporting and investigating

Smith said the revised policy not only “describes what must be reported” but also “delineates the reporting responsibilities between employees considered mandated reporters under the law and those who are not.”

Statutory-mandated reporters are required to make oral reports of suspected abuse or neglect to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) commissioner or local law enforcement, and to the school principal or superintendent.

In cases involving suspected or believed abuse, neglect or sexual assault of a student by a school employee, the superintendent must “immediately notify the child's parent or guardian that such a report has been made,” according to the policy.

Within 48 hours after making the oral report, the employee who first made an oral report must submit a written report to the DCF commissioner before “immediately” submitting a copy to the principal and superintendent.

Employees not considered statutory-mandated reporters are required to make only an oral report — followed by an “immediate written report” — to the superintendent. However, the policy states, a non-statutory mandated reporter may also report suspected child abuse, neglect or sexual assault directly to the DCF commissioner.

“The policy also specifies the contents of the reports,” Smith said last month, “and new to the policy is a description of how the superintendent or his designee can and should investigate suspected reports of child abuse.”

Rapid response team

As outlined in the new policy, the school district has established a confidential rapid response team to “work with the DCF in any suspected abuse investigations,” according to Smith.

The team consists of Smith, Safe School Climate coordinator Kim Zemo, Special Services Assistant Superintendent Ann Paul, Human Resources Director Maria Coleman, and School Resource Officer Rich Ross.

A draft of the Reports of Suspected Abuse policy is available here.



Stranger chokes 4-month-old baby girl in Overland Park Walmart

by Stephanie Graflage and John Pepitone

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Overland Park police arrested a man from New Jersey after they say he walked up to a woman and her baby while they were in the checkout lane of an Overland Park Walmart and started choking the four-month-old.

Officer John Lacy says a shopper at the Walmart off 75th Street and Frontage Road saw the incident, which took place around 7:23 a.m., and tackled the man.

Police say the shopper restrained the man until police arrived. The suspect was taken into custody, and the baby is okay.

The baby's mother, Quisha Hill, told FOX 4 that she always shops at this particular Walmart, and on Wednesday she stopped in for a few items.

"I come in to grab couple items, and as I while I was at the counter top, speaking with the lady and bagging up my groceries, this random man comes out of nowhere and yanks the car seat out of the cart, has my baby, and he's like I'm taking the baby, I'm stealing her. I'm taking her. Call 911. Call 911," Hill said.

Hill says the man then began choking her child, and she began screaming for help. Nearby shoppers jumped in to help and wrestled the man to the ground.

"That's when tons of Walmart workers come over to help me get her out," Hill said. "She is still restrained. As soon as they come over to get him, they body slam him down to the ground. He punches one of the security officers. And then that's when we have the baby back."

Hill says the would-be kidnapper also spoke a foreign language that she didn't understand. Police took the suspect to Shawnee Mission Medical Center to be evaluated by doctors. He's expected to face criminal charges.

According to Hill, the baby turned red for a few moments but is expected to be fine.

Hill adds the man appeared to be under the influence and at one point took the baby's car seat and put it over his head and tried to wear it like a hat.

“Our main concern right now is for our customer and her child," a spokesperson for Walmart said. "We're appalled this happened in our store, and we're working with police to make sure they have all the information they need.”

Hill says she's thankful for the people who stepped in to help save her baby.


'Changing Minds' campaign explores stories of childhood trauma and resilience

by Katie Dupere

A woman named Unique confidently stands in front of a crowd of young children, guiding them through the silly "hees" and "hums" of vocal exercises. She doesn't realize that on the other side of the auditorium door is her childhood theater teacher, Ms. Daniels.

Daniels quietly listens to the booming sounds coming from the auditorium, saying with pride, "I taught her that."

Unique says she can't talk about Daniels without getting choked up. As someone who experienced severe trauma as a child, she puts it simply: "She saved my life."

Unique's story is part of the new Changing Minds campaign, spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Justice, health and social justice nonprofit Futures Without Violence, and the Ad Council, to address the issue of childhood exposure to violence.

The inaugural portion of the campaign is a powerful video series exploring the personal stories of two adults — Unique, who witnessed significant violence in her community and school, and Chad, a survivor of parental abuse. The ads were created pro bono by ad agency Wunderman.

The campaign is a multi-year effort to motivate adults who regularly interact with children — teachers, coaches, police and health professionals — to better support kids exposed to violence. It will expand beyond video ads, teaching tangible skills and inspiring public action around childhood trauma. The Changing Minds website, for example, provides resources and scientific information.

"An alarming percentage of America's children experience violence in their homes and communities, either directly as victims or indirectly as witnesses," Broderick Johnson, assistant to the president and White House cabinet secretary, said in a release. "And this exposure to trauma leaves deep wounds that can take years to heal. Changing Minds will … demonstrate that we can all play a role in reversing the effects of violence and give our young people a fair shot at a bright future."

The new campaign is part of the Defending Childhood Initiative, a Department of Justice initiative launched in 2010 by then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder, which seeks to prevent children's exposure to violence and reduce its impacts.

The National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence , released last year, found that 58 percent of youth in the U.S. were exposed to violence at some point in 2014. About 1 in 10 of those children were exposed to five or more instances of violence in that one year alone.

Unique, for example, grew up in a town where she says even police didn't want to go. In her middle school years, one of her friends was stabbed in a fight. That instance hit particularly close to home, even though weapons, fights and other violence were daily occurrences in the school district.

Her former teachers described Unique as shy and withdrawn, drawing a connection between her timid behavior and the violence she witnessed.

"I was just scared," Unique says in the video. "I just felt like ... I should just give up. I had just seen too much."

But it was supportive adults like Ms. Daniels who kept her going, pushing through the trauma to help bring Unique into a stable adult life.

The role of influential adults providing this dedicated support is imperative, according to research cited by the campaign. New and evolving brain science, some of which is outlined in a partner video to the more personal ads released by the Changing Minds campaign, suggests witnessing traumatic events — like domestic violence, shootings or even fighting — can impact the physical development of a child's brain.

Exposure to violence during childhood is significantly related to adverse health, educational and social outcomes later in life. Children who live through trauma often experience high rates of mental illness, poverty and incarceration.

But the campaign insists that adult support can help reverse some of the side effects of trauma — even creating stronger neural pathways in a child's malleable brain that support planning and reasoning over anxiety and impulsiveness. The campaign calls on adults to celebrate, comfort, listen, collaborate and inspire children in their lives who are exposed to violence to help undo some harm.

This type of support has made all the difference in Unique's life — and it's evident when she see's Ms. Daniels for the first time in a decade at the end of the newly released PSA. When Daniels finally enters the auditorium to greet Unique, the two immediately repeat an affirming exchange they both know by heart.

"Who are you?" Daniels asks.

"I am Unique," Unique responds, her eyes brimmed with tears.

"Why are you here, Unique?" Daniels asks.

Unique responds in a voice filled with confidence and strength: "Because I broke barriers."

If you or someone you know is a survivor of childhood trauma, there are several resources available. Visit Changing Minds for specialized resources in the U.S. If you're outside the U.S., this list is a good place to start.


United Kingdom

Only one in 16 rape reports in Essex leads to a conviction: Charity claims 'victims are being let down'

by Echo-News

RAPE victims in Essex are being let down by the criminal justice system, according to a charity.

New figures have revealed only one in 16 reported rapes in the county results in a conviction.

The number of incidents of rape and sexual abuse being reported have doubled during the past five years but the conviction rate is still lower than almost all other crimes.

Helen Parr, director of Essex-based charity Cara - Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse - said: “We are pleased more people are coming forward to report rapes, which we believe reflects increased confidence among victims and survivors they will be believed and taken seriously.

“However, the low number of perpetrators being brought to justice must be urgently challenged.

“The criminal justice process is currently failing rape victims and addressing this failure should be a priority for Essex.”

Figures released by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's rape monitoring group revealed there were 659 adult and 327 child rapes reported in Essex last year. There were 62 convictions.

Nationally the average conviction rate is also lower, but in Essex it is lower.

Concerns have also been raised about the number of reported rapes which reach the courts.

Figures show 88 per cent of the rapes reported last year never made it to a courtroom.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “These figures help build a valuable analysis of how these crimes are dealt with throughout the criminal justice system.

“The increase in Essex in numbers of recorded rapes of both adults and children broadly reflect a national picture.

“We believe this picture reflects an increased confidence on the part of victims their allegations will be believed and investigated thoroughly.

“We need anyone who is the victim of such awful crimes, whether they have been committed recently or in the past, to come forward and speak to us so we can help.

Support for anyone who needs it can be found at



Event gives insight on spotting, reporting child abuse


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – If you think you've spotted child abuse, would you step in?

The Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance offered training Tuesday night at the Historic Harrisburg Resource Center on how to spot and report child abuse.

Those who would with children are the first in line to report suspected child abuse.

President and CEO of the PFSA Angela Liddle says it's important for people to know the laws when it comes to abuse.

“What are the indicators? How do you really identify child abuse correctly? And then what are the appropriate steps for reporting?” Liddle said.

For more information about these training opportunities and other events, visit


United Kingdom

Child sexual abuse is far too important to allow this inquiry to run into the sand

by Tim Loughton, MP

The good news is that the horror that is child sexual abuse has probably never had such a high profile amongst the public in the UK. I say ‘good news' as we all have a responsibility to be vigilant, to report and root out this particularly pervasive form of child abuse which is much more widespread geographically, socially and culturally than many had ever appreciated. A culture of denial and cover-up had side-lined this for too long.

The bad news is the headlines have been dominated by the shortcomings and goings of those at the top of the historic child sex abuse inquiry set up by the now Prime Minister in 2014 to get to the bottom of how so many vulnerable children were systematically failed by society over so many decades. The Inquiry is now on its fourth chair, the departure of senior legal advisers has been shrouded in mystery, huge amounts of public money have been spent and it is unclear what progress it has bought to date.

Elsewhere, police and the justice system have come in for criticism for the ham-fisted way they have pursued investigations against high profile public figures and celebrities or the ham-strung way they have not pursued investigations against high profile public figures and celebrities. On the face of it things are going from bad to worse. Not surprisingly there have been calls by many, including in this newspaper, to ditch an Inquiry that has become an unguided witch-hunt, too complicated and too expensive. Shouldn't we just concentrate on the future?

The one thing that has not changed throughout all of this of course is the fact that many thousands of survivors from child sexual abuse over the last half century and more are still lacking answers, affirmation, natural justice and with that some form of personal closure. The vast majority of them will not have seen their abusers splashed across the media because they had some form of celebrity status. This media obsession fraught with problems has all too often led to the false impression that case was almost the preserve of now ageing popular entertainment presenters from the childhoods of those of us of a certain age.

In reality, the people denied justice were some of the most vulnerable children in care systematically abused in residential children's homes by people put in positions of trust. Or they were the victims of perverted priests in vicarages or religious schools, or teachers in music or military schools. They were patients in hospitals or receiving treatment from highly respected cancer specialists. It may even have involved elected politicians or senior members of the judiciary. They could not possibly have done anything as bad as this so just shut it and stop causing trouble.

Too many of these victims were ground down by a system in denial or in deceit where police refused to take their allegations seriously even if they had not been intimidated out of going to the authorities in the first place. In some of the worst examples of the betrayal of a professional duty of care some even involved in social care claimed that some of these children had it coming to them and turned their backs. Whilst there are many survivors of this abuse many victims tragically didn't make it and died before their cause was ever recognised by society.

For all these people simply concluding that it has all got too costly and complicated would be a major vindication of the betrayal which they have experienced for years, leading to many of the more desperate conspiracy theories that this Inquiry was always set up to fail. For many there is no chance of criminal prosecutions being pursued let alone being successful, not least because many of the perpetrators are dead. This is their last realistic chance of justice and explanation. But the society that allowed this to go on below the radar, out of the courts and thereby out of public consciousness, is alive and kicking and has a duty of reparation and to do the right thing. Only when this has been achieved can we hope to move forward with confidence that the mistakes of the future are being designed out of our system for protecting children in the future.

As Children's Minister in November 2011 before the game changing Savile revelations I devised the Government's Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan since when much has been achieved. Subsequently I was one of the first to call for an overarching inquiry into the whole panoply of historic child abuse to address:

What exactly happened and why, and were institutions involved in systematic cover-up and how did they get away with it?

When did things start improving and how?

Have all practical steps being taken to give survivors the confidence to come forward, and for the police to pursue vigorously any remaining offenders?

Most importantly, have all our major institutions which have significant dealings with children brought in child protection policies and practices that are fit for purpose in 2016 to deal with modern day technologically savvy perpetrators?

This was never going to be a straightforward endeavour and to give her her due it was brave of Theresa May as then Home Secretary to set it up in the teeth of strongly complacent opposition from Number Ten. Alas in all my dealings with him in this area David Cameron never displayed any real interest in child protection matters unless there was a political gain to be made as with tragedies like Baby P. Despite urging him to set up the Inquiry twice re refused to acknowledge the extent of the problem doing irreparable damage to its credibility when it eventually got going and systematic distrust of those appointed to lead it.

That is why this inquiry is so important and must be allowed to continue to get on with its work which it has been doing despite the shortcomings of some of the highly paid luminaries at its head. I was therefore very encouraged when we heard from the current (and hopefully last) chair of the Inquiry at Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday that the Inquiry is open for business and there will be some refocussing of its activities to make sure that it can deliver on the task it was set up to do and hopefully by 2020.

Alas there was a lot of ‘pleading the 5th Amendment' as to why they could not answer questions about all the goings on at the Inquiry that has so knocked confidence in their ability to get on with their job. It is right that the Inquiry under statute must be independent and politicians, who in any case may be a target of their investigations, must not be seen to tamper with or steer its deliberations. But they were appointed by Parliament and are spending a great deal of taxpayer's money to get to the truth on behalf of many of our constituents. Their head and their work must be held to account by someone to make sure they are doing the job they were tasked to do and spending public money wisely.

We cannot afford serious matters like this running into the sands of time as we learned from Chilcot with the end result that what little trust there was evaporates. Child sexual abuse is far too important for that.



Catholic school forcing erotic sex-ed on children has a horrifying history of sex abuse

by Pete Baklinski

NASHVILLE, Tennessee, October 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- Three mental health professionals are warning parents whose children attend Fr. Ryan High School in Nashville, Tennessee that the school's mandatory explicit sex-ed course puts their children at risk for sexual abuse. Their concerns are amplified by the fact that the school has a history of sexual abuse of students by administration dating back to the early 1960s.

“In my line of work I've seen time and again the pattern of how predators use material like this emphasizing explicit sexual detail and encouraging physical contact to erode a child's innate sense of modesty, making them vulnerable to be preyed upon,” psychiatrist Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons told LifeSiteNews.

When Fitzgibbons reviewed Fr. Ryan High School's sex-ed program, including the supplement “Growing toward Intimacy” by Bob Bartlett, he told LifeSiteNews that the course puts children at risk of future sexual abuse.

“I've counseled too many victims who have shared a common story about how sexually explicit images and details were foisted on them by the predator to groom them for abuse,” he said.

“It is my assessment that some of the content in Fr. Ryan's sex-ed program puts children at risk for future sexual abuse,” he stated.

The “Human Sexuality” course taught as part of Father Ryan High School's Theology course offers graphic images and erotic sexual details concerning male and female body parts. Not only do students learn the pleasure points of the male and female reproductive organs, but they also learn biological details about male and female genitals in a state of arousal. Students also learn 10 different forms of contraception and are tested on how they function. A detailed outline of the course's problematic content can be found in LifeSiteNews' previous coverage here.

Parents objecting to the course have called it “erotic” and a “near occasion of sin.” While a number of parents have asked that their children be opted out of the course, the school, backed by the bishop, has refused to grant their request. Last week the school went as far as expelling a student because of the parents' ongoing opposition to the sex-ed course.

While Fitzgibbons said that the program's explicit details, such as emphasizing the pleasure points of the male and female reproductive organs, fails to respect the innocence of youth by giving them information that is more appropriate to married couples, he drew special attention to a supplemental book given to students taking the course that quotes pro-homosexual priest Richard Rohr about the “need to be touched.”

“It's a huge red flag that this program makes youths vulnerable to a sexual predator when it specifically desensitizes them to being touched by others,” he said. “This is exactly the kind of tool that a sexual predator would employ to breakdown a child's natural resistance to such an intrusion,” he added.

Dr. Thomas O'Brien, a licensed counselor in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well as a deacon in the Diocese of Camden, agrees with Fitzgibbons that the sex-ed course has the potential to groom children for sexual-abuse.

“Showing sketches of the genitals and specifically identifying areas of sexual arousal has the potential for a predator to groom a male or female who may be feeling sexually uncomfortable or awkward about their own bodies and offering to help them to better understand what is ‘normal' in the groomer's manipulative manner,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Father Ryan High School has a lengthy public history of school staff preying on students for sexual abuse and of the diocese mishandling the cases, as reported extensively by local media. One abuser, a priest, was at one point a teacher of Father Ryan's sex-ed course.

•  1961 – Father Paul Fredrick Haas, biology and physiology teacher at Father Ryan High School, allegedly raped sophomore David Brown. In 1996 Brown approaches the Nashville diocese under Bishop Edward Kmiec with allegations of the abuse, even though Haas had already died from cancer 17 years earlier. That same year, the diocese paid Brown $5,720 in exchange for a signed contract promising not to sue.

•  1970-89 – While being investigated for raping three boys, Father Frank Richards admits to molesting dozens of young males, including some during the time he taught at Father Ryan High School, where LifeSiteNews learned he taught the sex-ed course. Richards was never charged due to the expiration of the 8-year statute of limitations. He left the priesthood in 1989 and moved to Florida.

•  1972 – Father Edward McKeown, a teacher at Father Ryan High School, molests a 14-year-old student from the school. McKeown went on to abuse dozens of boys during the next 14 years. The diocese, under Bishop Niedergeses, largely hid his crimes, moving the priest around in silence, according to critics, before kicking him out of the diocese in 1989. McKeown was finally convicted in 1999 of raping a non-Catholic boy in 1995 and jailed for 25 years without parole. McKeown left the priesthood in 1989.

•  1978-1981 – Father Ron Dickman, principal of Father Ryan High School, repeatedly molests students, according to accusers (here and here). While Dickman denied the allegations, he nevertheless resigned as principal in 1987 and left the priesthood in 1991 after one of his accusers brought the case before the diocese. Dickman was never charged due to the 8-year statute of limitations.

The diocese, currently led by Bishop David Choby, has backed the sex-ed course. The bishop stated in a letter to parents last month that the course “has been offered to a positive effect for over 30 years” in Father Ryan High School. The bishop called the sex-ed program a “legitimate requirement” for graduation, to the parents' disbelief.

Parents opposing the sex-ed course have told LifeSiteNews of their numerous attempts to meet with the bishop and explain their concerns, only to be disregarded and ignored. Their frustration is augmented by the fact that state public schools are required by law to allow parents the option to opt their children out of sex-ed classes.

The parents' experience of having their serious concerns involving sexuality dismissed by the diocese appears to be part of a trend that others have experienced as well. When Choby was installed as bishop in 2006, Nashville Scene's reporter Liz Garrigan begged him in an article to do a better job than his predecessors in addressing the sexual abuse crisis within the diocese while truly helping the victims.

“The Diocese has yet to get right the treatment of these folks [who have been sexually abused]. It has employed mafia-like defense mechanisms, high-powered legal maneuvering and Clintonian language splicing to belittle, deflect and minimize the pain of these victims—all the while claiming to offer them help. In the meantime, Catholics across the city, this editor included, have watched in utter disbelief, shaking our heads not only at the arrogance of the Diocese's actions and responses but also at the chronic and stupefying mishandling of your public relations efforts,” she wrote at that time.

LifeSiteNews contacted Bishop Choby for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.

Fitzgibbons said that with the school's decades-long history of sexual abuse of students, parents should be “outraged” that administration — backed by the diocese — is relentlessly pushing the explicit course while not allowing parents to opt their kids out of it. He suggested that the main backers of the course should be scrutinized by a specialized review board.

“Parents should consider whether a complaint should be filed for an evaluation by a review board — as described in the Dallas Charter norms — for those responsible for this course that places youth at risk,” he said.

The Dallas Charter, approved by the U.S. Bishop's Conference in 2002, empowers bishops to deal appropriately and effectively in cases of sexual abuse of minors by church-related personnel.

“Some might consider this playing hardball,” said Fitzgibbons, “but I'll tell you that if my children were in that school, that's what I'd do. Parents with kids in the school need to realize that this program places their kids at risk for sexual abuse, especially when they consider the school's long history of sexual abuse.”

Fitzgibbons suggested that if the local bishop fails to take parents' concerns seriously, they should file a complaint against him with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the pope's recently implemented system of accountability for Catholic bishops who mishandle sexual abuse within their dioceses.

“If parents are not getting the bishop's support in protecting their children from future sexual abuse brought on by this program, then there are organs in the Church that parents can make use of if they believe that their children are at risk,” he said. “If families believe that the bishop is not living up to the Dallas Charter, that bishop could be reported to the bishops accountability office,” he added.

Dr. Todd Bowman, associate professor of counseling at Indiana Wesleyan University, called the school's refusal to allow parents to opt their kids out of the course an “abuse of power.”

“It appears the school is violating the conscience of the parents, and, potentially, the students. My take on this as a professional is that subjecting students to a curriculum that the parents do not want them to be exposed to is a violation of paternal rights, and is fundamentally inconsistent with Church teaching on the nature and role of the family,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Bowman drew a comparison between the school's history of sexual abuse and its current position of not allowing parents to opt their kids out of the explicit course.

“In many ways, the school is perpetuating its apparent history of sexual violence by taking its current stance that parents cannot opt out of said sexual education curriculum. Sexual violence is characterized by exerting power over another and engaging in an inappropriate act against the will of the victim. It would seem, in this instance, that subjecting students to exposure of sexual content, even in the form of an educational process, against the will of their legal guardian would fall in a similar vein,” he said.

“I would expect a lawsuit forthcoming from parents should the school persist in its current stance on the matter,” he added.

O'Brien agreed with Bowman that parents should take a proactive stand.

“You the parent should be concerned about what your son or daughter is being presented and by whom. Such material should not be selected and imposed. You should decide what they read and see regarding the issue of human sexuality,” he said.


Most Reverend David Choby
Bishop of Nashville
Ph: (615) 783-0761

Father Ryan High School
President James McIntyre
Ph: (615) 383-4200

Principal Paul Davis



6 local men arrested as part of national child sex sting operation

by Josh McDaniel

MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) -- Six local men were arrested recently in a sting operation that was part of a national operation targeting criminals involved in sex trafficking of children, according to the Grand Junction Police Department.

Police said each of the men contacted under cover law enforcement agents posing as 14-year-old children on Craigslist, and made arrangements for sex.

According to arresting documents, the six men – Matthew Bear, 29; Jared Brady, 36; Louis Brewer, 47; Richard Delahanty, 48; Thomas Foley, 29; and Frederick Norris, 52 – were charged with luring a child over the internet, child enticement, patronizing a prostituted child, and soliciting prostitution.

All of the men, except for Matthew Bear, were also charged with sexual assault on a child, police said.

According to authorities, the men were all arrested on Thursday, October 13 and Friday, October 14 after they arrived at locations where they allegedly agreed to meet the 14-year-old boys and girls for sex.

Police said Norris and Delahanty were also charged with possession of marijuana, which they admitted was for the kids they agreed to meet.

Brady and Bear had prior offenses and were registered as sex offenders, according to police records.

All of the suspects were taken to the Mesa County jail.

Brewer, Brady, and Bear were held on $50,000 bonds, according to police. Norris remained in custody on a $10,000 bond.

Police said Foley was released on a $50,000 bond and Delahanty was released on a $10,000 bond.

The Grand Junction Police Department, the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, the Fruita Police Department, the Colorado State Patrol, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the 21st Judicial District Attorney's Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked together on the sting operation.

Special Agent Alex Zappe with FBI said the local effort was a part of Operation Cross Country, an annual national effort focused on underage victims of prostitution.

"We have to go the dark places where criminals and bad people operate; unfortunately there are some dark places on the internet these days,” said Zappe.

Zappe said nine juvenile victims of child sex trafficking were also recovered across Colorado over the weekend.

The FBI said they are constantly monitoring the internet and social media sites for child sex activity and not only in conjunction with national operations.

Counselors who deal with victims of child sexual assault at the Western Slope Center for Children said the sting made a difference. They've interviewed more than 400 victims of child sex abuse.

This is a good day this is really good news for our community,” said Jody Brannon, community outreach director for the Western Slope Center for Children. “Thanks to a collaboration of a number of agencies, our community is a safer place now.”

The Western Slope Center for Children says they have sexual assault education prevention program that are free. These classes are intended to help the public learn the facts, minimize opportunities for assault, recognize the signs and react responsibly.



I Break the Silence

Campaign launched to prevent child abuse

by Rob O'Flanagan

When we talk about child abuse, we are talking about terrible things – physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and forms of neglect that leave children without the care and attention they need, a Family and Children's Services of Guelph and Wellington County official said Wednesday morning.

Child abuse puts children in harm's way, and has long-term consequences for that young life, said executive director Sheila Markle during a Child Abuse Prevention Month event. October is Child Abuse Prevention Month across Ontario.

About 75 people, most of them principals, vice-principals, and superintendents from the Upper Grand District School Board, gathered Wednesday morning at Lakeside Church in the countryside north of Guelph to launch the local component of the provincial GO PURPLE DAY child abuse awareness campaign. Members of the Guelph Police Service, including chief Jeff DeRuyter, also took part.

Most everyone wore purple t-shirts with “I Break the Silence” printed on the front. Together, they covered the side of a school bus with magnetic purple ribbons with the same message printed on them.

The campaign encourages everyone who suspects that a child is the victim of abuse to report to Family and Children's Services or local law enforcement.

“The eyes of folks in the community often see things related to kids that are the kinds of things that we want to hear about,” Markle said in an interview at the event. “We want to hear from people in the community, including school personnel, who see concerns that lead them to believe that there are issues in the home, or things that kids are experiencing where we can get involved and actually support families to address those issues.”

Wellington Catholic District School Board is also participating in the campaign, sharing information in schools, and encouraging students to talk about the issue. Students and staff will also wear purple.

Martha Rogers, Upper Grand director of education, told the gathering that it takes a village to keep a child safe, and we share the responsibility to ensure their safety.

“We all do need to speak out,” she said. “If you have any reasonable suspicious, call Family and Children's Services. That call leads to an offer of help to the family. Everyone needs to break the silence.”

Not making the call, she said, could leave a child in harm's way.

Markle said neglect and emotional abuse are what Family and Children's Services mostly deals with.

“It is kids not having their basic needs met, or maybe experiencing domestic violence in their home,” she said.

She said it is important to partner with school boards on the awareness initiative because boards and their schools are in a unique position to be involved with most children in the community.

Markle said child abuse is definitely preventable.

“If we know what is happening in that family then we can help them to get that support,” she said. “What kids experience in childhood does have repercussions for the rest of their lives if we don't help families to address those things.”

Her agency helps families address the root causes of the abuse, whether that is through guiding parents to address their own child abuse history, improving parenting skills, or getting families help for mental health and addiction challenges.

Family and Children's Services, she added, is eager to dispel the idea that it takes children from homes. In the vast majority of cases, children stay with their families.

We all have a role to play in protecting children and supporting vulnerable families by being aware of the signs of abuse and knowing who to call to help a child at risk of harm, according to a campaign press release.

To report concerns about the safety of a child or youth call 519-824-2410 or 1-800-265-8300


United Kingdom

Child to parent abuse: ‘I begged them to take him away'

Research suggests 1 in 10 families could experience parent abuse, so what do social workers need to know about it?

by Luke Stevenson

“I locked my abuser in with me every night.”

These are the chilling words of Sarah who, for a decade, suffered emotional, verbal, psychological and physical abuse.

“There wasn't a TV remote or cordless phone that didn't have tape on the back because it had been thrown and exploded so many times,” she remembers.

This abuse wasn't just suffered by Sarah, but also by her daughter.

“The worst thing he did was chase her up the stairs with a carving knife and [when] she got into her bedroom he stabbed and slashed the back of the door as she was leaning against it.”

As traumatic and terrifying as some of these experiences Sarah was unable to escape because the abuser was her son.

Parent abuse

Child to parent abuse, more commonly known as parent abuse, is not as widely known as partner on partner domestic abuse, or child abuse, but that doesn't mean it's an uncommon occurrence.

Research from the University of Brighton, puts potential prevalence at 1 in every 10 families experiencing some form of parent abuse. Helen Bonnick, a social worker and expert on parent abuse, says people working in the area are more comfortable with a figure of 3% of all families with teenagers “experiencing severe abuse on an ongoing basis”.

A small freedom of information request published by The Sun in August found more than 60 children had been taken into local authority care in 16 local authorities as result of abusing their parents.

Partner to partner abuse

Bonnick says the nature of the abuse is something that looks and feels very similar to intimate partner violence.

“Maybe at the beginning it is just seen as children being a bit out of hand, a bit naughty, or is diagnosed as ADHD or oppositional defiance. Then it gradually gets worse until parents realise they have a serious problem.”

At the extreme end, parents are having to barricade themselves in their rooms and there are family breakdowns. Children will go live with grandparents, aunts and uncles, or are sometimes placed in the care system.

In Sarah's situation, she begged the local authority on numerous occasions to take her son into care, but it didn't happen.

“The main person that professionals were concerned about was my son, and it made myself and my daughter feel as if we didn't matter and he could do anything and that was fine. I begged them to take him away and I was told he is not at risk. ‘We're not going to take him because he's not at risk'.

“It just made me feel so unimportant and worthless.”

Origins for the abuse

There are various reasons why parent abuse might begin. In Sarah's case, both her children had Aspergers, and her son's violence was a response to his crippling anxiety about going into school.

“So every morning when I was trying to get him up to go to school he was kicking and punching me, because he couldn't cope.”

She was later told by experts that he should never have been in mainstream education.

Bonnick says there appears to be two points in time where violence may “emerge”.

“For children who have experienced trauma it may start to show very early on. Children as young as five have been reported to be exhibiting extremely challenging and aggressive behaviour towards those caring for them,” she explains.

“Then for a significant group of young people, the violence and abuse can start to show itself at puberty/adolescence, when there are already significant changes, transitions and stress points in an individual's life, which can exacerbate other relationship issues which a family is going through.

“The peak age, from the data that is available, seems to be around 13-15.”

Neurological causes

In addition, it has been known among children dealing with mental health issues, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Joanna Buckard, a social work trainer and FASD expert, says children with this condition have “meltdowns” and can lash out as a result.

“Services don't understand it, social services for the most part are often not giving enough support. Some of the families have been pushed into taking guardianship,” Buckard explains.

“When people with FASD go into meltdown, what you often get is a torrent of verbal or physical abuse. With it being brain based these kind of behaviours – the lashing out – starts really young.

“As they get bigger it becomes more of a problem because of their size.”

Domestic abuse

The Parent Abuse and Reconciliation Service (PAARS), based in Enfield, has seen a correlation with child exposure to domestic violence in about 75% of cases they see.

“It's not just families on estates with little money. We've had professionals referred, head teachers – it's across the board,” Joseph Lettieri, a founder of the group explains.

Parenting can play a part, Lettieri says.

“Sometimes children can feel unloved or not cared for, or a parent can be too strict, or the parent is so relaxed anything goes.”

Unless this is tackled, the abuse can manifest itself later on. “It's not fashionable to say there's an inter-generational cycle of abuse but we see it, you can't deny its happening.

“If you can hit your mum then you can hit your partner,” he says.

‘They don't know what to do'

Sarah was never told that other parents had had similar experiences and consequently she says she felt like the worst mum in the world. It was only when she read an article about it after years of abuse that she realised it was more widespread.

Sarah says she has since been told that often such cases aren't reported or recorded by professionals.

“Because they don't know what to do about it they don't write it down. I thought about how much I had spoken about it to professionals. I'd never hidden anything. For someone to say it's not written down because they don't know what to do about it was frightening.”

‘A parenting problem'

Lettieri's experience was similar. PAARS was established by himself and two former school teachers who had contacted children's services about a bruised mother but had gotten nowhere.

“It was basically bounced back as a parenting problem. [It was] not really something that they would get involved with unless the child was being abused,” Lettieri says.

Bonnick, says there's no training about the issue on a lot of social work courses.

“There's little enough on domestic violence generally and this is an element of family violence, but it's not being very widely addressed at all. But she points out that the current system also struggles with such cases.

“We've got a welfare system focused on the child being vulnerable, but doesn't respond to their vulnerability if they are being violent themselves to the parent. So they are looking to protect them from parents, rather than the other way around,” Bonnick says.

This is despite, in Bonnick's opinion, the children carrying out the abuse being very vulnerable. “It's a way of them expressing their needs and their distress.”

Services that don't lay the blame on the parents

Support services for such cases are also thin on the ground. When PAARS first launched it was one of three services nationally. Bonnick has mapped just 40 services working across the country.

Top tips for dealing with parent abuse cases

1. Take a strengths-based approach

Lettieri says professionals working on such cases should firstly not assume it is simply a parenting fault and should also take it seriously because some of these young people may well go on to become abusers in the future.

A strengths based approach is also vital.

“Parents need a service that won't lay the blame at their feet straight away. You can't leave your child, it's not like adult to adult abuse where, although it's very difficult, there are options, what parents feel is there is no option.”

2. Keep a stable environment

For Buckard, a stable environment is key to helping the child.

“Children don't often cope well with being moved,” she explains. “For children with neurodevelopmental disorders then a change in placement is often incredibly difficult to manage and you're likely to see an increase in behaviours.”

Preventing this can be done in a number of ways, this can be through providing respite, help children “access society” if they are short of friends.

“These young people and families would really benefit from that. What we don't do enough of with young people with different neurodevelopment disorders is the use of role play and social stories as a way of trying to understand a situation,” Buckard says.

3. Provide better parent information and courses

Sarah says what would have helped her most is simply the comfort of being told she wasn't the only one. “I just thought this was life, this was how it was, as I say I thought I must deserve and it was all my fault.”

Multisystemic therapy also helped her stop and think before she reacted to a situation”. She was asked to do things like begin a conversation with her son, something she hadn't done in months.

But she warns many parenting courses are too generic for the problem. One told her to spend half an hour each evening with each child alone, “but my son couldn't stand the sight of me for years, so telling me to spend half an hour a day with him was absolute hell for both of us”.

Sarah now leads ‘Everybody Hurts', a peer-to-peer support group for other parents who have suffered this abuse. She says they get a call from a new person each week interested in attending.

Through work and understanding the cause of her son's anxieties and acting out, Sarah says her home situation has now completely changed.

Sarah's breakthrough moment came earlier this year.

“My son got into the car as he'd been out with some friends. He said ‘I've got something to tell you'. [That's] a thing that a child says and your heart just drops [thinking] ‘oh my god what now'.

“He said: ‘Mum, I've been doing a lot of thinking these last few days, and I need to tell you that I love you.'”

It was a watershed moment for Sarah and her son, but it's a reality many parents and their children are still far away from.



The colour of awareness

by Julia McKay

The topic of child abuse awareness was at the front of the class for intermediate students at J.J. O'Neill Catholic School in Napanee on Wednesday.

"Today is a provincial awareness day for child abuse prevention so for our local campaign we've come to [J.J. O'Neill Catholic School] to talk to the kids about our efforts to draw attention to child abuse and that we all have a role in preventing child abuse," Steve Woodman, executive director with Family and Children's Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, said.

The 22 students in Ryan Borges's Grade 7/8 class got the opportunity to learn more about the #ibreakthesilence awareness campaign, and about how to help spread the knowledge.

"Today gave [the students] the opportunity to get more knowledge about child abuse, and knowledge is power," Borges said. "We've really tried to teach a little bit about responsibility and being a self advocate and being aware of things around them, not only in the classroom but in the outside world."

They were also given special purple shirts to wear on Wednesday.

With the message that "It takes a village to keep kids safe," Woodman is reaching out to the community to be aware and keep an eye out for signs of abuse.

"Even just wearing the purple today helps create some awareness and [lets the students] take on that leadership idea about 'hey, we learned this today' and 'it could be happening at home' or about being a support system," Borge said. "One of the biggest take-homes for them is that it can occur in a variety of different settings and it's those 'look fors' where it's not just the physical, it could be even emotional abuse. It's eye-opening for them and just creating that community that we're here to support."

As well, October is child abuse prevention month.

"I think both with kids and with the public, they need to be aware that what we [at family and children's services] try to do is help families," Woodman said. "Quite often, families have just hit a bump in the road and they need some help. So when they see a child that's being neglected or abused, really they need to tell someone so we can get the family the help they need."

Woodman said that 90 per cent of the children who get help and support through family and children's services are able to stay with their families.

Woodman discussed a number of things that the students could share with their parents and peers.

"For the kids, it's more about being aware and keeping an eye out [for others]," Woodman said. "For the public, there are things on our website that talk about how to recognize some of the more subtle signs of abuse."

From bruises, absenteeism, significant mood swings and sullen behaviour, to changes in clothing, like wearing larger sizes or wearing clothes far too warm in the summer.

"Tell someone. There are people here to help," Woodman said.

For more information, to donate, to foster, to volunteer or to report a child in need of protection, go online to or call 613-545-3227 or toll-free 1-855-445-3227 or follow #ibreakthesilence on Twitter.



Summit County addresses human trafficking in new juvenile court program that is a first in Ohio

by Stephanie Warsmith

Where would the teenage girl be safe?

That was the question Summit County Juvenile Court Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio and the girl's mother were attempting to answer.

The girl had run away again from her mother's home. Her mother didn't like where she was staying.

Teodosio suggested the girl move home, but the mother balked.

“I'm done,” the mother said, standing up. “I don't want her no more. I have three other kids to raise. The streets might as well have her.”

The mother left the stunned courtroom, leaving her daughter behind, sobbing.

Welcome to a recent session in Restore Court, a new program in Summit County Juvenile Court to help youths who are victims — or in danger of becoming victims — of human trafficking. The program provides participants with services, rewards and punishments to try to steer them onto the right path.

Human trafficking is often referred to as a form of modern-day slavery in which people profit from controlling and exploiting others. Traffickers use “force, fraud or coercion” to lure their victims and force them into labor or prostitution, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Summit court recently became the first juvenile court in Ohio to receive interim approval from the Ohio Supreme Court for a human-trafficking program. Juvenile courts in other counties, including Stark and Cuyahoga, also are considering starting these specialized dockets. Similar programs already exist for adults in municipal courts in Cleveland and Columbus.

Summit County's Restore Court has served 41 juveniles ages 12 to 19 since January 2015, with 15 successfully completing the program and five going through it more than once. All but one were girls.

Most of the youths are from Akron, but others hail from as far south as Clinton to as far north as Twinsburg. They entered the program charged with a variety of crimes, including soliciting, chronic truancy, possession of drugs, public indecency and assault.

Besides the court program, a community center, dubbed That Place, recently opened in a former East Akron church to give the youths a safe place for activities and services, including counseling and tutoring. Plans also are in the works for a safe house that will give youths without a stable home environment a place to stay temporarily.

Two Summit County sheriff's deputies escorted another teen girl to the recent Restore Court session, removing shackles from her ankles before she sat across from the judge.

The girl was facing a probation violation for leaving home without permission and new charges for violating curfew and obstructing official business for a recent traffic stop in which she and the other occupants fled after being pulled over by officers.

She admitted the probation violation and entered denials to the new charges.

She and the other Restore Court participants are not named because the Beacon Journal typically doesn't identify juveniles charged with crimes.

Annette Powers, the girl's attorney, said she and the girl have talked about getting her on medication to “curb her impulsivity.” The girl tested positive for marijuana in her latest drug test.

“You need to remain sober for the meds to work,” Teodosio told the girl.

“How long will I be staying here?” the girl asked, referring to the youth detention center.

Teodosio said she planned to order a psychiatric evaluation and would rule on the girl's case within a week.

“I will be looking for a recommendation for how to get you back on track,” she told the girl. “My goal is what's best for you.”

Restore Court is different from juvenile court, where youths normally are prosecuted for what they do wrong, not treated as victims.

Court staffers evaluate new cases, looking for warning signs of human trafficking — youths who frequently run away, travel to different cities or have unexplained cash or items they shouldn't be able to afford, such as new clothes, manicured nails or a designer purse.

Most of the program participants don't see themselves as victims and don't know what human trafficking is. The court staff uses terms they understand, like “boyfriend” instead of “pimp.”

The program has two tracks, depending on what crimes the youth faces. Certain crimes, such as solicitation, qualify the youths for “Safe Harbor” under state law, which means they are entitled to a nine-month diversion program. If they successfully complete the program, the charges are dropped.

Youths identified as human-trafficking victims who committed crimes that don't fall under Safe Harbor designation also are given the opportunity to participate. They don't have a set time frame for completion and may or may not have the charges against them dropped.

The first phase of the program involves the youths getting counseling, drug treatment, mentoring and other services to help them. The second involves continuing those services while also meeting goals, such as attending school, not using drugs or alcohol, staying at home and avoiding contact with certain people. In the last phase, the court relies on a counselor and mentor to prepare the participants and their families to flourish on their own.

Another teenage girl in the recent Restore Court session told the judge she was looking forward to starting school and said her favorite subject is math.

A court employee reported the girl was “trying to see the bigger picture” because she is pregnant, with the baby due in late January. She said the girl has been meeting with her therapist and tested negative for drugs. The girl wants to continue her studies after having the baby and plans to take parenting classes.

Judge Teodosio granted a request from the teen and her mother to terminate children services' protective supervision and said the girl could petition to move into the third and final phase of Restore Court. She said the girl could pick out a reward.

“You know exactly where to go,” Teodosio said as the girl reached into the goodie bag and chose a package of mini muffins.

A big part of Restore Court is reinforcing positive behavior and replacing negative activities with productive ones.

Rahab Ministries, which also helps adult prostitutes in Akron, pairs a mentor with each Restore Court participant. The mentors take the youths on fun outings, like out to eat or to get ice cream.

The mentors also have the new That Place community center, where they can take the teens and pre-teens to hang out, talk or participate in an activity like dance, art and jewelry making. The community center is located on the third floor of the Well, a former church on East Market Street remodeled to house nonprofit organizations.

Youths identified as victims or potential victims of human trafficking by Children Services or other agencies also are welcome at the community center.

Becky Moreland, Rahab's executive director, sees the mentoring as a natural extension of her agency's 14-year effort to help prostitutes, many of whom were human trafficking victims as teens.

“That is why we need to capture these minors and get them out of this lifestyle before they are dead,” Moreland said. “If we opened our own funeral home, we'd be rich. That's sad.”

A fourth teenage girl in the recent Restore Court session told Teodosio that she has a job and plans to finish high school and go to Kent State University.

“Tell me something you learned from your counselor,” Teodosio requested.

“Decision-making and trusting people,” the girl responded.

Court staff reported the girl has been doing well, had no new charges and was requesting to graduate from the program.

“This program changed my way of thinking and made me a better person,” the girl said in a letter read by a court employee. “I put my family through a hard time. I have things to look forward to. Thanks again to everyone who helped me.”

The girl's mom said she is proud of her.

“It was rough,” the mother said. “I told her, ‘You have to make mistakes to learn.'”

Teodosio told the girl she also is proud of her and agreed to her graduation request.

“You have done everything we expect,” the judge said. “I have no doubt you will make it to Kent State.”



FBI director: Sex trafficking victims 'need a hero'

FBI Director James Comey said 82 minors had been rescued in the US through an international effort held this month to locate victims and arrest the perpetrators

by Dana Littlefield

SAN DIEGO — Calling child sex trafficking a “scourge,” FBI Director James Comey announced Monday that 82 minors had been rescued in the United States through an international effort held this month to locate victims and arrest the perpetrators.

Of those minors, three were teenagers from the San Diego area.

“All of our folks hit the streets from truck stops to the darkest corners of the internet and dimly lit street corners,” Comey said at a news conference to announce the results of Operation Cross Country, which ran from Oct. 13-16.

“These children trapped in this hell need a hero,” he said. “And the men and women who work for us, federal agents, state agents, local police officers and partners around the world are those heroes.”

Comey's comments came during the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in San Diego. The association is the largest police organization in the country with a membership of more than 20,000.

This was the10th time the FBI has led Operation Cross Country in the U.S., and — for the first time — in conjunction with law enforcement agencies across the world. Canada ran an operation called Northern Spotlight, through which authorities were able to find and rescue 16 children.

Authorities in Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines were able to recover 25 children, including a 2-year-old girl.

In addition to the 82 victims who were rescued, 239 traffickers and their associates were arrested as part of the operation, Comey said.

He said the numbers are actually slightly down compared to last year.

“What it confirms to us, as we find dozens and dozens of children and lock up hundreds of perps, this is a problem that's very much alive even after 10 years of law enforcement focusing on this effort,” he said.

Joining Comey on stage were other law enforcement officials from around the country and around the globe who have participated in the effort to combat sex trafficking. Among them was San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman.

Eric Birnbaum, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Diego division, said three pimps were arrested during the operation and the San Diego victims, ages 16 and 17, were offered services immediately, including food, clothing and shelter.

“It's just important for us as a society to recognize that the problem exists,” he said.

Comey explained that the children and teens identified in the operation ended up in the sex trade through a variety of means. Some were exploited by relatives, gang members or “independent criminal contractors.”

He said young people in foster care tend to be particularly vulnerable.

Comey also noted that some of the victims are "lured into a world of advertising themselves through things like Backpage.” is a classified advertisement site that allows users to post ads for escort services.

The CEO of, Carl Ferrer, was arrested earlier this month in Houston and charged with pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping. Two other shareholders face the same conspiracy charge.

Comey said the central challenge in prosecuting those who host sites like Backpage is proving that they knew users were posting ads for criminal acts.

John Clark, president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said the organization receives about 10,000 reports of child sex trafficking each year, a figure he called “massive.”

“And that's just the ones that are reported,” he said. “We know that in this dark world there are many, many more situations that are going unreported. So this has to stop.”

He and others asked for the public's help in identifying potential cases of child sex trafficking. Chief Donald De Lucca, first vice-president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said the association put together a “toolkit” for officers on the street to assist them recognize the signs that point to sex trafficking and respond appropriately.

“As we know it's going to be some officer on the street that's going to make a difference on a daily basis,” said De Lucca, chief of the police department in Doral, Fla.

The latest iteration of Operation Cross Country was the largest in the history of the initiative, according to the FBI, with more than 400 law enforcement organizations in the U.S. taking part. Additionally, there were several dozen operations across Canada and 10 in six cities in Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines.

“All of us sign up for law enforcement not because of the money but because we want to do work with moral content,” Comey said. “There is no work we do that is deeper in moral content than the rescuing of children.”


United Kingdom

Survivor speaks out: ‘Support for child abuse victims vanishes in Somerset'

by Sheridan Robins

Steve Payton, aged 54, has lived in Burnham-on-Sea for close to 30 years and has helped take a thought-provoking exhibition to the Princess Theatre in Burnham to raise awareness of the struggles survivors face.

Mr Payton told the Mercury he was abused at the age of 13 but it has got harder to deal with as an adult.

He said: “Subsequent to the abuse there was a need for that person to control me, to make sure I didn't talk about what had happened.

“The result was, naturally, that this had a major impact on my emotional development and ability to form and manage relationships.

“Not to minimise the trauma of the abuse itself but I sometimes think the subsequent emotional control and abuse that was used to keep me from speaking out was as bad and did just as much damage.”

Since moving to Somerset Mr Payton, who works as a service delivery manager, has found it difficult to find support and believes it varies geographically.

He added: “I think living in Somerset, and not in one of the larger cities, is a major issue.

“There is little enough provision for adult survivors of abuse as it is but in the more rural areas that provision vanishes.

“The NHS is cash-strapped and where abuse services are funded they, quite naturally, tend to be for children.

“I have only told a few people what happened to me, and on at least one occasion I was advised that it was a long time ago, I should have got over it.”

A Somerset charity has echoed Steve's concerns.

A spokesman for Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support said: “There is a lack of support for adult male survivors of rape and sexual abuse in Somerset.

“It is difficult to know exactly why. From a Somerset local authority point of view, there is a strong commitment to working with adult survivors of domestic abuse, as there should be; but there is currently little strategic focus on tackling sexual violence including rape, sexual assaults and childhood sexual abuse. Somerset Public Health is now commissioning a service for young people surviving sexual abuse.”

Mr Payton added: “I knew I had to do what I could to bring the exhibition to Somerset, to make it available to those people, and to the people that know them, who work with them and even to those who love them.”

The Wall Of Silence exhibition will be at The Princess Theatre, in Princess Street, from today (Wednesday) until October 23.



Forensic Interviewer Role In Combating Child Abuse

by Victoria Bailey

WEST POINT, Miss.(WCBI) — Hurt, abandoned, abused.

More than two thousand children in Mississippi were the possible victims of abuse just last year.

The Mississippi Department of Human Services works child abuse cases every day.

Local groups like the Sally Kate Winters Child Advocacy Center provide a refuge for children impacted by abuse.

Working with abused children takes the skill, training and caring of a forensic interviewer.

It sounds very technical. A forensic interview is a structured conversation with a child intended to gather information that could help in a criminal investigation.

It is the job of the interviewer to bridge the gap between a scared and possibly injured child and law enforcement.

It is one of the hardest jobs in the world – reaching children at their most vulnerable.

“Part of the process in order to seek investigation and precaution avenues is to have a record to give the child an opportunity to explain and give the information to a forensic interviewer as oppose to repeating a traumatic event to each person along the line of investigation, Sally Kate Winters Child Advocacy Center Program Coordinator Heather Usry.

Forensic interviewer Maggie Raper says when dealing with child abuse, time is of the essence. It plays a huge role in getting the children the help they need.

“It its important to get a child soon after child abuse has been reported because um over time the child could begin to forget the abuse and when it's fresh on their memory we can obtain as much information as we can. The sooner, the better,”said Raper.

Program Coordinator Heather Usry says a key part of the job is making sure to comfort the child following a trauma.

“We work very hard to make sure that children have a safe, comfortable, trusting environment where they can feel comfortable to explain situation that parents and teachers and really anybody hopefully never have to experience,”said Usry.

For more information on family services and combating child abuse visit



Adult child-abuse victims and allies are fighting to eliminate the statute of limitations

"You close your eyes and think for a second-while you're being raped, you tell me if you know what a statute of limitations is."

by Rebecca Addison

If you look at the legislation that Pennsylvania state Rep. Mark Rozzi has sponsored over the past year, you'll notice a theme.

In February, Rozzi (D-Berks County) proposed a resolution designating April 2016 as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.” In March, he co-sponsored a bill to add child sex abuse as an exception to sovereign-immunity laws. And his current fight to pass House Bill 1947 would eliminate the criminal statute of limitation on child sexual-abuse cases.

For Rozzi, sexual assault isn't just another legislative issue. It's the reason he ran for office in 2012. Rozzi was molested by an Allentown Diocese priest when he was 13.

After being molested, in the 1980s, Rozzi did his best to move on from the trauma. But he was spurred to take action in 2009 after a second childhood friend committed suicide; both of them had been molested by the same priest.

“When that happened, it triggered something in my life. I just couldn't function anymore,” Rozzi says. “It came down to continuing where I was or standing up and fighting. I decided I'm going to do what I can, that I would expose my story to help others.”

But Rozzi found there were few resources for victims to expose their abusers. Under current state law, a survivor of child sex abuse that occurred after 2002 has until age 50 to file criminal charges, and until age 30 to initiate a civil suit. For victims like Rozzi, who were abused before 2002, there is no recourse.

“I had two years civilly and five years criminally to come forward. I was 13 years old,” Rizzo says. “Put yourself in my place. Put yourself in that shower. You close your eyes and think for a second — while you're being raped, you tell me if you know what a statute of limitations is.”

HB 1947 would eliminate time barriers to file criminal and civil cases for those abused after the bill becomes law. Key in this fight is a retroactivity portion of the bill that would give adults today the chance to challenge their abusers from long ago.

But time is of the essence. The last day of Pennsylvania's legislative session is Oct. 26. If HB 1947 isn't passed by then, advocates say, it will die.

The legislation is being challenged by a number of state groups like the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, who say it's unconstitutional.

“We do share concerns along with the business community and the Pennsylvania Senate about how a retroactive measure will conflict with the Pennsylvania Constitution,” Amy Hill, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, said in a statement.

Supporters of the legislation say the constitutional argument is a smokescreen. They claim groups like the Catholic Conference are opposing the legislation because they could be financially burdened by civil lawsuits.

But for adult victims of child sexual abuse, their fight isn't about the money; it's about protecting others. They say too many abusers are allowed to continue hurting children because their victims are too young to understand what is being done to them and to speak out. The key to ending such abuse, they say, is to ensure that victims are given the power to identify their abusers as adults.

“They've taken away my right to protect children and that makes me angry,” says Shawn O'Mahony, who was molested as a child. “It's been very frustrating. And I'm sure my story is just like so many others.”

O'Mahony is a Pittsburgh-area resident who was molested starting at age 10 by a neighbor. As a gay man, he says that as a child he didn't come forward because his abuser made him feel embarrassed about his sexual orientation and what was being done to him.

“I was molested for years. He tried to make me feel inferior,” says O'Mahony. “At that point in time, there were people making statements that gays and child molesters are the same. This is how it was back then.”

It took O'Mahony years to have the courage to come forward, but by then the statute of limitations had passed. At age 49, he says, he's seen his abuser interacting with other children for years and believes they are being molested. For years he has notified police of his concerns, but says his worries have not been taken seriously.

“I've seen children being abused without being able to help them over the years,” says O'Mahony. “I've seen people in adulthood who had been molested for years by this person who overdosed on drugs. I've just watched this over the years and no one believed me.”

O'Mahony says his abuser's actions went unchecked until evidence emerged that the man, who worked for decades as a teacher, was sending sexually explicit text messages to a student. He pled guilty to child-endangerment charges and was sentenced to seven years' probation. O'Mahony was barred from getting involved in the case because he could be sued for defamation for any comments he made about the man.

“I'm not allowed to have any freedom of speech, any right to protect myself, any right to call attention to something bad to help other kids be protected,” says O'Mahony. “At this point, I've gone through lots of years of therapy. It affects you for the rest of your life. That is what's being done to these children. They're afraid, they don't know where to turn to, no one believes them.”

That's why the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse has been working on this issue for 12 years. The group says that HB 1947 will give victims the ability to prevent more children from being abused, in part by extending the deadline for filing civil suits to age 50.

“This bill will not help me in anyway. I'm almost 70,” says Marie Whitehead, communications coordinator for The Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, who was abused as a child. “For people 50 or under, some of their perpetrators are still out there, and because they couldn't be charged and they couldn't be named in a civil lawsuit, a victim cannot get up in public and say ‘so-and-so abused me.' They could be sued themselves and in other states some perps have done that. There's no way to identify them.”

According to Whitehead, the opposition to the bill from groups like the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is purely financial.

“It's just about the money for them. They don't have any high moral ground here,” says Whitehead. “In other states where this was passed, payments for settlements in civil suits have been shared by [the party] and their insurance company.”

Whitehead says abuse survivors often need a lot of resources for things like therapy due to declining coverage for mental health around the country. But the potential for monetary awards from civil suits isn't why she and many others are fighting to see the legislation passed.

“At their core, most survivors just don't want anyone else to go through this and will do anything they can do to help prevent that, as they're strong enough,” says Whitehead. “And a lot of them aren't strong enough to get up in front of the media or even speak out at a support group. There's such shame. So, the few of us who can, we do.”

When it was originally proposed, HB 1947 did not include the retroactive portion of the legislation. Rozzi amended the bill to include it and it was passed in the house by a vote of 180 to 15.

But when the legislation went to the senate, the retroactivity portion was eliminated due to pressures from the opposition groups.

Advocates say the retroactive portion is what will prevent abusers from hurting more children, but it's this portion of the bill that lobbyists oppose.

A letter signed by the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Business Council, Pennsylvania National Federation of Independent Businesses and Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association outlines the reason some oppose the bill.

“Retroactively extending the statute of limitations is a dangerous precedent for any business that manufactures, sells, stores or transports any kind of product, as well as for any institution that is an insurer or creditor of any such business. The General Assembly should not increase the risks of doing business by changing the rules retroactively. If the General Assembly crosses this threshold, the costs and problems for businesses and insurers will increase — not just because of this bill, but because of the precedent it sets to ignore the constitutionality of other statutes of limitations,” the letter says.

Now the bill returns to the House rules committee, where Rozzi says he will again amend it to include language to make the change in the statute of limitations retroactive. The representative says he will not compromise.

“People are trying to tell me I have to accept the deal, that we aren't going to get any more, that I have to accept a half a loaf for the children of the commonwealth that only helps future victims,” says Rozzi. “My message is I will never compromise the children of this commonwealth ever. If we're going to help one section, we're going to help all sections —past, present and future.”

This year, the Pennsylvania attorney general's office released a 147-page report on a years-long investigation into clergy sexual abuse within the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. The report details the stories of hundreds of children abused by about 50 priests.

For Shaun Dougherty, another Pennsylvanian molested as a child, the report shows just why Rozzi's bill is needed.

“Before I really knew and everything sunk in about what happened to me, before I really came of age to figure out I could do something, the statue of limitations had run out on me,” says Dougherty. “Now that we have the attorney general's report, we know that my scenario has played out countless times.”



Child abuse survivor inspiration behind possible bill for public registry

by Nicole Vowell

MANTI — Miley White is a child abuse survivor.

She is now 3 years old even though doctors told her family in October 2013 she only had a 20 percent chance of survival.

When Miley was just 7 months old, she was severely injured after being violently shaken by her father, Gary Hansen. She is legally blind and has physical and cognitive disabilities.

After Hansen's arrest, he pleaded no contest to a second-degree felony charge of child abuse. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in eight years.

Years later, White's abuse story is gaining momentum, and grabbing the attention of Utah lawmakers to propel change in laws when it comes to convicted child abusers.

“We're calling this "Miley's Bill" to honor her,” said Rep. Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green. “Much like the Sex Offender Registry, this registry will require that those who are convicted of felony child abuse would then have to sign up on the child abuse registry."

This would allow parents to know who they are allowing around their children. Whether it is a friend's parent or a baby sitter, Owens said the bill "will help parents protect their children.”

Miley's grandmother Joann Otten has been fighting for changes in the legal system for convicted child abusers since the 2013.

“The public has a right to know,“ Otten said.

She has been working with the Child Justice Center in Sanpete County and other organizations across Utah and said "Miley's Bill" is a huge step in the right direction to protect children.

“This can't happen again.” Otten said.

If the bill is passed during the 2017 session, Utah would become one of two states in the U.S. to have a public registry listing child abuse convicts. Indiana legislature unanimously passed a similar bill into law earlier this year.


South Carolina


Leveraging our outrage on child sexual abuse

by Crystal Good

When I was 16 years old, I reported to a mother that I believed the father of her children was sexually abusing her infant and child. I often babysat these children, and when they returned from a visit with their father, I discovered one child had signs of abuse in her diaper area and the other child who was able to speak cried, “sore pee pee.”

I never understood why the mother allowed her children to visit this man; he was a self-admitted pedophile, although at the time unconvicted. I learned then that the epidemic of denial could not be countered with facts — it required action.

My telling fell on deaf ears; my claim was dismissed in the delay of a doctor's examination and by enablers who “knew” but didn't “see,” thus perpetuating the epidemic of denial.

I chose to do what I could — I cursed him publicly and told him he'd have to get past me to get to the children. I was 16, it was all I knew to do. He didn't cross me, but I couldn't always be there to protect them.

When I was 7 or 8, I told the truth about being molested by my stepfather. The abuse started when I was 5 and ended when I was 15.

My telling fell on deaf ears; it was dismissed in Christian counseling, apologies, “it was just fondling” lies, and in the epidemic of denial.

When I was 18, I went to the police. When I was about 35, he was finally indicted.

The epidemic of denial includes mothers, fathers, family members, neighbors, teachers, doctors and, sometimes, other victims, who turn a blind eye to abuse that is happening in plain sight.

The epidemic of denial is also afflicting the general public, which seeks surface solutions instead addressing childhood trauma as the root issue of many of our society's ills.

The epidemic of denial is so rampant that an abuse story must often be so shocking and grotesque and from our own neighborhoods or Facebook feeds to awaken our senses to the reality that abuse is happening every day!

Child sexual abuse happens to one in 10 children in the United States, across class and color lines. Yet, even when the community is awakened to this reality, rarely does sustained outrage last more than a news cycle, and rarely does anyone ask or question: What can be done? What can I do?

In my story, my stepfather was found guilty and sentenced on sex abuse charges. I believe in action. I believe in moving out of a culture of denial, personally and in community, and into a shared movement that something can and will be done, survivor by survivor, supporter by supporter, child by child.

What happened to me was a tragedy, an incomprehensible horror, one that I shudder to even write, but I leverage my outrage into creativity, action, and advocacy — public and private. I support the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network and Child Advocacy Centers across the state with full faith, because they are one of our most comprehensive, action-based organizations working to protect children from abuse.

We must commit together to turning our communal shock and grief into action to help prevent abuse, give children a voice and stand by survivors on their journey to healing.

Crystal Good is an artist, advocate and entrepreneur in Charleston.



Police unit to fight child sexual abuse launched

by Angira Zadock

Police have launched the first ever special unit to fight sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

The unit, expected to identify main threats and protect vulnerable children, has officers drawn from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) who will be working closely with the UK, specialist doctors and civil society experts such as the International Justice Mission (IJM).

The officers have already received training on victim and witness interrogation, collection and preservation of evidence and law, organised by the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA), to build investigative and safeguarding capabilities.

DCI director Ndegwa Muhoro said that the unit was the first in Africa and that the officers had also been rained on how to detect abused children.

He warned that some teachers were targeting children for sexual exploitation and said: “We will also work closely with our colleagues in the education sector and prosecutors to ensure that our children are safe.”

Already, about 176 children have been saved and taken away from harmful situations and the unit is currently pursuing 15 cases against child sex offenders.

Mr Muhoro said that the police will be working closely with the NCA's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre .


On Monday evening, police and the NCA officially launched the special unit at British High Commissioner Nic Hailey's residence in Muthaiga.
The launch was also attended by anti-FGM board chairperson Lina Jebii Kilimo and the head of the task force on children's matters, Justice Martha Koome.

Mr Hailey said that the UK had been supporting programmes aimed at protecting children from abuse.

“Our responsibility to protect children from abuse does not stop at the borders of the United Kingdom. I applaud the pivotal role of the NCA in working with Kenyan and other law enforcement agencies to safeguard children and prosecute offenders, wherever they are located,” he said.

In January last year, Kenya became the 74th country to sign the International Child Protection Certificate.

As a result, Britons seeking to work in orphanages, schools and charitable organisations which work directly with young people are supposed to be cleared by the UK police to reduce the risk of employing child sex offenders.

Both the UK and the police warned that some UK nationals would secure paid or voluntary employment in other country in order to gain access to, groom and sexually abuse children.

However, many of these individuals were later found to have previous convictions or intelligence held about them.



Gadsden County Mother Arrested for Child Neglect and Manslaughter


GADSDEN COUNTY, FL (WTXL) - Gadsden deputies said they arrested a woman after they found her 17-year-old son, who investigators said weighed only 45 pounds when he was declared dead in mother's home.

The Gadsden County Sheriff's Office said that 50-year-old Sabrina Robinson was arrested on Tuesday for aggravated child neglect and manslaughter for the death of her 17-year-old son.

Deputies said they went to Robinson's home in Havana on Monday. At the home on Salem Lane before officers arrived, paramedics on the scene had already pronounced her son dead.

They said that the child was 45 pounds at the time of his death.

Further investigation revealed that the body was already beginning to break down. A early autopsy showed that the boy had suffered from severe malnutrition and injuries that matched up with their suspicions of severe neglect.

Robinson was transported to the Gadsden County Jail.


South Carolina

(from 2014)

13-Year_Old Days He Wants To Run Away From Home, Then Tell A Cop To Look Inside His Empty Room

by Barbara Diamond

(Video on site)

When a police officer in South Carolina responded to a 13-year-old boy's phone call, he never expected what would happen next.

13-year-old Cameron Simmons made a distressed call to the Sumter Police Department. Officer Gaetano Acerra was the man who paid the boy a visit at his home. In a one-on-one meeting with Cameron, the officer learned the distraught child wanted to run away from home. He said his mother was yelling at him for playing his older brother's video games. But Officer Acerra soon learned the issue was much deeper than that.

Cameron led the officer inside his house, and then into his bedroom. His room was completely empty. His clothes were thrown in a trash bag. He didn't even have a bed.

The officer learned Cameron's mother fell on hard times after having to make an unexpected move from Texas to South Carolina to care for a sick relative.

That's when Officer Acerra did the unthinkable . Touched beyond belief, he totally went beyond the call of duty.

Cameron, his brother and his mom had no idea that Officer Acerra was busy organizing a major surprise. He spent weeks gathering items for the family — and putting together a complete bedroom for his new friend Cameron.

With the help of his brother, Acerra loaded up and dropped off a brand new desk, chair, television, bed and Wii game system for Cameron. He also gave Cameron's brother a full bedroom and an air hockey table for them to play together.

Cameron was shocked to tears. His grateful mother was in complete disbelief. And after the story went viral, people from all over the world began making contributions to the family.

Watch the video below to see how this unbelievable chain of kindness unfolded, and please SHARE this story of friendship with your friends on Facebook.


Hair salons join in the fight against human trafficking

(video on site)


CLEVELAND -- From curling hair to cracking down on crime.

Janai Hunt is the owner of Prime Hair Studios in Lyndhurst.

She, along with 100,000 other cosmetologists throughout the state of Ohio, are now the latest allies in the fight against human trafficking.

Hunt said, “I went to school, I graduated from the University of Toledo, and I knew then when I was there a few years ago that sex trafficking was very heavy there because it's next to the turnpike, in between Detroit and Cleveland, but I didn't know that it had surfaced here."

And is on the rise.

In Ohio alone, it is estimated that more than 1,000 girls and boys, between the ages of 12 and 17, are involved in the sex trade.

Last year, Ohio’s state cosmetology board approved a requirement that human-trafficking awareness training become a mandatory part of obtaining a cosmetology license.

And part of the training is how to spot potential victims.

Officials say traffickers or so-called pimps may take a victim to a hair salon in order to change their appearance to avoid detection, one of the many red flags.

“There are several things a stylist can look out for, once a client is sitting in their chair; including how that client is dressed, eye contact, and who is paying for the services."

“If they come in with someone much older than them, and they're getting their hair done, they're dressed in evening wear and it's daytime or very seductive clothing then those are definitely red flags."

Renee Jones is the founder of the Renee Jones Empowerment Center.

Located on the west side, its mission is to help the disadvantaged, including helping to get victims of human trafficking off the streets.

Jones is praising this new requirement for hairstylists, to also make salons safe havens for victims..

One salon owner remembers a former client, who may have been a victim.

Chareen Fountain said, "I really didn't understand why she had on this dress, I didn't really notice it until I took the cape off, and she was like oh, I gotta go here and then the guy brought the money in, and that's when I was like, this doesn't look right."

If stylists see anything suspicious, there are things they can do like get a license plate number and call police.

Bottom line, if you want to work in a salon, you must watch a video and take and pass a quiz.

Those already who already have a cosmetology license have until January 2017 to complete the new training.


from the Dept of Justice


United States Attorney’s Office Hosts Cyber Security Summit

LOS ANGELES – The United States Attorney’s Office is hosting a Cyber Security Summit at the USC Radisson Hotel today in Los Angeles. The event, which is part of Cyber Security Awareness Month, is being held in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the University of Southern California, the Lares Institute, and the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance.

Top officials from utilities/critical infrastructure, local government, banking, the motion picture industry, the software industry, universities and law enforcement are attending the Summit. The Summit is offering information on new and developing cyber threats, preventing cyber attacks, and recognizing and remediating attacks when they occur. Attendees are participating in “table top” exercises in which participants analyze a cyber attack, reflect on preparedness, and discuss the benefits of sharing data with law enforcement.

“Reports of hacking and cyber intrusions have become an everyday occurrence. Many in the cyber security arena believe there are two kinds of companies – those that have been the victims of computer intrusions, and those who don’t know they have been victims,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The Cyber Security Summit brings together the public, private, and non-profit sectors, to include officials from every level of government, academic and consultant experts, corporate general counsel, and chief information security officers. Our goal is to share information, foster relationships, and protect American business interests from both domestic and foreign threats.”

The Summit features speakers that include United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker and USC Chief Counsel Carol Mauch Amir. The FBI is providing a current threat briefing to the attendees to inform them of the most recent types of cyber attacks and defenses to those types of attacks. The perspective of the business community is represented by executives from Ernst & Young, Target Corporation, IBM and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“Cyber security is a shared responsibility among the public and private sectors, as well as an individual responsibility for all of us who use Internet-connected devices," said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Field Office. "As organizations, large and small, contend with cyber intrusions, ransomware, e-mail compromise schemes and myriad cyber challenges to their security, this summit will afford both government and private business stakeholders an opportunity to meet in person to discuss our collective cyber security needs.”

“This event is a valuable opportunity for information security professionals in the public and private sectors to openly discuss methods of planning for and responding to cyber incidents in a non-crisis setting,” said Matthew LaVigna, Director of Operations and CEO for the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance. “Neither private industry nor the government should be expected to address this threat alone. Events like this will help to establish trusted relationships and lead to future collaborative efforts.”

FROM: Wesley L. Hsu, Executive Assistant United States Attorney
United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California (Los Angeles)


from the Dept of Justice


Moreno Valley Man Sentenced to Nearly 20 Years in Prison for Advertising, Distributing, and Possessing Pornographic Images of Toddlers and Infants in Online Chatroom

LOS ANGELES – A Moreno Valley man has been sentenced to nearly two decades in federal prison for advertising child pornography in a members-only online chatroom for people with a sexual interest in infants and toddlers.

Angelo Harper Jr., 21, was sentenced on Monday to 235 months in prison and lifetime supervised release by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner. Harper was convicted of advertising child pornography after a trial in July. Harper also pleaded guilty in July to distributing child pornography and possession of child pornography.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Harper used the Kik Messenger social media platform to access a chatroom for those interested in nepiophilia, which is a sexual interest in infants and toddlers. Last year, an agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations entered the chatroom using an undercover Kik account, and accessed several postings about child pornography – made by an individual later identified as Harper – which included images depicting child pornography and a link to an explicit video. At one point, Harper wrote: “I have tons of pics and vids of little boys and girls. Pm me for chat and trade of kids under 6 [winking face emoji].”

“Pedophiles who use technology to share child pornography re-victimize each child and perpetuate the market for this criminal behavior,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This case highlights the fact that defendants like this one will not escape prosecution by hiding in the dark corners of the Internet.”

As a result of the investigation, HSI agents seized numerous digital devices from Harper that contained child pornography, and Harper admitted to using Kik to transmit child pornography. In total federal agents seized approximately 9,000 images of child pornography and over 500 videos.

“This lengthy sentence should serve as a sobering warning about the consequences facing those who use the internet to traffic in child pornography and sexually exploit their innocent, helpless victims,” said Edward Owens, acting special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Los Angeles. “The perversion of the perpetrators involved in these egregious crimes is frankly appalling and must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

The investigation into Harper was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys George E. Pence and A. Carley Palmer of the General Crimes Section.

FROM: Wesley L. Hsu, Executive Assistant United States Attorney
United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California (Los Angeles)


From the FBI

Operation Cross Country X

Recovering Underage Victims of Sex Trafficking and Prostitution

Operation Cross Country, the FBI's annual law enforcement action focused on recovering underage victims of prostitution and drawing the public's attention to the problem of sex trafficking at home and abroad, has concluded with the recovery of 82 sexually exploited juveniles and the arrests of 239 pimps and other individuals.

Now in its 10th iteration, Operation Cross Country has expanded to become an international enforcement action, with Canada, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand joining the FBI and its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners—along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)—during the coordinated three-day operation that ended October 16.

“Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable of our population,” said FBI Director Comey, announcing the results of the operation during a press conference today in San Diego at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual gathering. “We are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but through our Office for Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”
This year's Operation Cross Country—the largest to date—involved 55 FBI field offices and 74 FBI-led Child Exploitation Task Forces throughout the country composed of more than 400 law enforcement agencies. Hundreds of law enforcement officials took part in sting operations in hotels, casinos, truck stops, and other areas frequented by pimps, prostitutes, and their customers. The youngest recovered U.S. victim was 13 years old.

All of the recovered U.S. minors were offered services by victim specialists who are part of the FBI's Office for Victim Assistance. More than 100 victim specialists provided on-scene services that included crisis intervention as well as resources for basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention.

Among the 82 juveniles recovered in the U.S. were two sisters in Milwaukee, ages 16 and 17, who told authorities that their mother was their pimp. The girls said their mother also rented out their brother's room to a man who was a registered sex offender.

Voices from Detroit

Working with the FBI's legal attaché offices, international law enforcement partners conducted their own operations. In Thailand, authorities arrested an American citizen—a registered sex offender—after he coerced five Filipino girls, ages 14 to 16, to take sexually explicit photos of themselves and send them to him online. In the Philippines, two boys, ages 11 and 5, and a 2-year-old girl were recovered when five adults were arrested for operating a web-streaming service where individuals online paid for access to livestreamed child sexual abuse, as well as access to the children for the purposes of illegal sexual acts.

The Thai case was initiated through a cyber tip to the Royal Thai Police from NCMEC, the U.S. non-profit organization that serves as a resource center and information clearinghouse to help missing and exploited children. NCMEC's work with overseas law enforcement agencies illustrates one example of the international partnerships that have formed to fight child sexual exploitation.

NCMEC's director, John Clark, noted that the exploitation of children is a serious problem in the U.S as well as abroad. “This is something that's happening in communities all across the country,” he said. “We need moms and dads and teachers and neighbors and everybody working hand in hand to try to identify where this situation is happening so that we can bring the right resources to bear to fight child sex trafficking.”

Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI's Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003. Since its creation, the program has resulted in the identification and recovery of more than 6,000 children from child sex trafficking, and prosecutors have obtained 30 life sentences in cases against traffickers and their associates.

The fight against underage trafficking is largely coordinated through the Child Exploitation Task Forces, which are staffed by state, local, tribal, and federal law enforcement personnel who work to identify and prosecute individuals and criminal enterprises who sexually exploit children. That work is ongoing.

One of the goals of Operation Cross Country is to raise public awareness about the seriousness of child sexual exploitation and how it takes strong partnerships to protect young people from being trafficked, which Comey called a “scourge that spans all our borders.”

This is a depressing day in law enforcement,” Comey said, announcing the number of juveniles who had been rescued, “because this is the world we live in and the work we have to do.” But it is also a proud day for law enforcement, he added, “because there are people who spend every day worrying about how to rescue these children. They are true heroes.”


United Kingdom

Rotherham sex abuse scandal: EIGHT men found GUILTY of being in child sex ring

A ROTHERHAM child abuse investigation has seen eight men found guilty of sexually exploiting three teenage girls.

by Katie Mansfield

The eight men were found guilty of offences that took place between 1999 and 2003.

Sageer Hussain, Mohammed Whied, Ishtiaq Khaliq, Waleed Ali, Asif Ali, Masoued Malik, Basharat Hussain and Naeem Rafiq will be sentenced on November 4.

The month-long trial at Sheffield Crown Court heard how the men "sexualised" their victims and, in some instances, subjected them to acts of a "degrading and violent nature".

One girl and her family told police, their MP and the then home secretary David Blunkett about the abuse and eventually moved to Spain to get away from the men.

The jury retired to consider verdicts on October 11 and today convicted all eight gang members on all counts after deliberating for almost 18 hours.

Ringleader Sageer Hussain, 30, of Clough Road, Rotherham, was convicted of four rapes and one indecent assault.

Mohammed Whied, 32, of Psalters Lane, Rotherham, was found guilty of one count of aiding and abetting rape.

Ishtiaq Khaliq, 33, of Cherry Brook, Rotherham, was found guilty of one rape and three indecent assaults.

Waleed Ali, 34, of Canklow Road, Rotherham, was found guilty of one rape and one indecent assault.

Asif Ali, 30, of Clough Road, Rotherham, was convicted on one rape.

Masoued Malik, 32, of Bridgewater Way, Rotherham, was found guilty of one rape, one count of conspiracy to commit indecent assault and one of false imprisonment.

Basharat Hussain, 40, from Goole, was convicted of one indecent assault.

And Naeem Rafiq, 33, of Clarendon Road, Rotherham, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit indecent assault and one of false imprisonment.

They were remanded in custody ahead of sentencing.

The court heard that the victim who eventually fled to Spain had gone to the police in 2003, saying she had been repeatedly raped by Sageer Hussain when she was 13.

Michelle Colborne QC, prosecuting, told the jury the girl, now in her late 20s, and her family withdrew the allegations due to threats.

But the court was also told that police lost the girl's clothes without carrying out any forensic analysis.

The family tried to get help from social services as well and took the girl out of school before eventually moving abroad.

An official inquiry into exploitation in Rotherham in 2014 by Professor Alexis Jay concluded that 1,400 children had been raped, trafficked and attacked between 1997 and 2013 by gangs of largely Asian men, and that the victims were effectively ignored.

Ms Colborne said the court case was about three victims "who were sexualised and, in some instances, subjected to acts of a degrading and violent nature at the hands of these men".

She said Hussain played a "key role" and was "instrumental in befriending young girls who were flattered that he and his friends spent time with them".

They were then exploited by Hussain, his friends, older brothers and associates.

Speaking after the verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Martin Tate said: “This trial marks the culmination of three years of investigative work by South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and the Crown Prosecution Service into the calculated and organised sexual exploitation of young girls in Rotherham.

“The verdicts today are of massive importance to the young women who have come forward to report years of horrific sexual abuse at the hands of these criminals.

“They had to endure what no child should and have shown remarkable bravery throughout our inquiry. From coming forward to officers, to providing video and written interviews, through to reliving their traumatic and awful abuse before the jury, they have carried themselves with composure and dignity.

“I am so grateful to these women, many of whom remain incredibly vulnerable, for offering their support to our investigative team and I am so pleased that their voices have been heard and their abusers have been held to account for their vile crimes.

“It is difficult to put into words the damage and impact of sexual exploitation on children, but I hope that by hearing these brave women's accounts, other victims of this awful crime find the strength to come forward and tell someone what has happened or is happening to them.

“There are a range of agencies available that can offer support to victims of sexual exploitation and our team has had fantastic backing from Victim Support, Barnardos, GROW and the wider voluntary sector. Their staff are extremely passionate about helping victims and survivors and I thank them for their work throughout this investigation.

“I also want to recognise the prosecution barristers who have worked tirelessly alongside us to prepare for trial and have done an incredible job of prosecuting this case at court.

“There remains much to do to tackle this organised and often devious crime, and our officers will continue their work to safeguard victims, identify and apprehend offenders to build further prosecution cases.

“Please, if you are suffering sexual abuse, or know someone who is or has been a victim of this crime, come forward and talk to someone. We have officers who will listen to you, support you and do whatever we can to help you.”



Community attends workshop on how to prevent, recognize child sexual abuse

by Ashlyn Becton

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) -- With the growing problem of child sexual abuse, advocates said adults need to know how to spot the signs.

Community members in Thomasville took part in a workshop Monday designed to help them detect sexual abuse in children.

Adults were taught how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

Although sexual abuse is not something people often like to talk about, advocacy center employees said its a problem that is becoming more prevalent.

"For our center we have seen a dramatic increase over the past couple of years, compared to 5 years ago," said Jackla Lawson, Treehouse Advocacy Center.

Just in past three months, The Treehouse advocacy center said it has seen 85 cases of alleged child sexual assault.

In the past year they have done 140 forensic interviews and 20 sexual assault exams.

"It's really eye opening to know exactly, how much this type of abuse happens in our neighborhoods," said Alyssa Blakely, Prevention Regional Coordinator.

The darkness to light's training is put on by Stewards of Children.

It is designed for parents, youth organization leaders, and anyone in the community.

Organizers said it's important to know how to react to the abuse.

"It's very important because initially when a child discloses this type of abuse you don't want to over react to it," said Blakely.

If the abuse goes unnoticed, experts said it can damage a child mentally and emotionally.

"Its the host of a lot of different things that can impact the child later on in their life, that they will deal with until adulthood," said Blakely.

The statistic that organizers hope to change is that 1 in 10 children will experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday.

This means that it is highly likely that someone you know has experienced or is experiencing the abuse.

The good news is that with proper training, advocates said it can be stopped.

Georgia law requires stewards of children to report suspected child abuse.

Teachers, counselors, day care employees, and members of law enforcement are among those required to report abuse.


United Kingdom

Huge rise in serious calls relating to child abuse, NSPCC helpline warns

by Chris Yandell

CAMPAIGNERS battling child abuse have revealed a 61-per-cent increase in cases referred to other agencies in Hampshire.

The NSPCC Helpline has seen a huge rise in the number of calls considered serious enough to warrant further investigation by police and local authorities.

New figures show 723 calls were referred to other agencies in the county in 2015/16, compared with 448 in 2012/13.

Across the UK, 33,333 contacts were passed on in 2015/16 compared with 23,733 in 2012/13.

Many of the calls were about young people becoming the victims of sexual abuse, children living in squalid conditions, starving toddlers and youngsters forced into slavery.

The charity said the figures reflected growing awareness of child abuse and the public's growing refusal to turn a blind eye to the issue.

In Hampshire the number of child neglect calls referred to other agencies rose from 188 in 2012/13 to 318 last year – up 69 per cent.

Referrals relating to physical abuse rose from 108 in 2012/13 to 174 in 2015/16 – up 61 per cent.

Hampshire also saw a 62-per-cent increase in the number of cases involving emotional abuse that were referred to other organisations.

It comes just days after the NSPCC revealed its helpline received an average 10 calls a day from people worried about children living in a dangerous or risky home.

The charity has recently launched its new "Alfie" advertising campaign aimed at raising awareness of what a child can achieve when freed from abuse.

Helpline team manager Louise Exton said Britain was "more alive" to the issue of child abuse following high-profile scandals involving Jimmy Savile and other celebrities.

She added: "People have become increasingly concerned and aware of the tell-tale signs of abuse and neglect in children.

"Our helpline is an invaluable service for those worried about the safety of a young person.

“It's a big decision to involve local authorities or police and our counsellors will only act when there is genuine concern for a child's welfare."

The free helpline provides people with a place where they can get advice and support, share their concerns about a child or obtain general information about child protection.

Adults can contact the 24-hour helpline by calling 0808 800 5000, texting 88858 or going online and visiting



Money Cant Buy Child Health Without Parent Affection

by PsychCentral

Growing up in a well-off home can benefit a child's physical health even decades later, but a lack of parent-child warmth, or the presence of abuse, may eliminate the health advantage of a privileged background, according to a Baylor University study.

Assistant professor of sociology at Baylor University, Matthew A. Andersson, Ph.D., explains:

Previous research has associated high socioeconomic status with better childhood nutrition, sleep, neighborhood quality, and opportunities for exercise and development of social skills. But good parent-child bonds may be necessary to enforce eating, sleep, and activity routines.

For example, if parent-child relationships are strained or abusive, meals may be less coordinated among the family, and children may be more likely to eat sugary or high-fat foods as snacks or even in place of meals.

Sleep and activity routines also may become irregular, keeping children from developing healthy lifestyles and social and emotional skills useful for successful aging, Andersson said.

Unfortunately, although good parent-child bonds in economically disadvantaged homes, promote health, they do not seem to lessen the negative impact of low socioeconomic status as the children age, Andersson said.

Previous research has shown parents with less education and fewer financial advantages are more apt to threaten or force obedience rather than have constructive dialogue, and that may lessen warm relationships.

In addition, disease rates or inflammation among those children when they become adults have been linked strongly to abuse, mistreatment, or lower levels of parental warmth.

The study on Midlife Health and Parent-Child Relationships appears in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

For the study, health at midlife was defined as being free from 28 possible conditions, among them cancer, circulatory or respiratory disease, endocrine diseases, nervous system diseases, infectious and parasitic diseases, skin or digestive disease, and musculoskeletal conditions. Andersson explains the take-home message:

Much research continues to view socioeconomic status and parent-child bonds as highly related or even interchangeable. But in fact they may quite independently influence a child's well-being. The key takeaway is that without adequate parent-child relationship quality to match, socioeconomic advantage during childhood may not offer much protection at all against major chronic disease as children become adults and reach middle age.

For the study, Andersson analyzed data on disease or poor health of middle-aged adults drawn from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS).

He surveyed 2,746 respondents ages 25 to 75 in 1995 about their childhood treatment by parents. He conducted surveys again about 10 years later, with 1,692 of the individuals taking part.

The follow-up analysis, adjusted for personal background in 1995 and for probability of dropping out of the MIDUS study, revealed that childhood abuse continued to undermine any protection from disease linked to childhood socioeconomic advantage.



Florida Mandated Reporter Law

by Deborah Ausburn, Amanda Hyland and Taylor English Dumma

This survey discusses only the mandated reporter statute in Florida. If your industry is governed by a state licensing agency, such as education or child care, then that agency likely has its own set of reporting requirements. Be sure to consult those regulations if they apply to you.

This survey lists only broad categories, and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice about your specific situation, please consult an attorney licensed in your state.

WHO Must Report?

Anyone who suspects abuse must report. Specific occupations must give their name when making a report. Even if the state does not require it, however, you should leave your name and the organization that you work for, so that there is a record of the report in the state system. Also keep a record in your own files.

•  Child Care Centers: Workers at these centers must give their names when reporting.

•  Camps: The statutes do not specifically mention camps, but “professional child care” and “residential” workers must give their names. Arguably, those categories would include camps.

•  Mentoring Organizations: The statutes do not specifically mention these groups, but “professional child care” arguably would include mentoring groups, and require those employees to give their names when reporting.

•  Schools: The statute specifically requires school personnel to give their names.

•  Church Programs: The statues does not require clergy or lay leaders to give their names. The clergy/penitent privilege does not apply; clergy must report anything they learn in course of confession or counseling.

WHAT Must You Report?

The statute requires reports of abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a child (under age 18) by any person, or when a child is in need of supervision and has no adult to provide it.

•  Abandonment: A child is “abandoned” when a parent, custodian, or caregiver “has made no significant contribution to the child's care and maintenance, or has failed to establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with the child, or both.”

•  Abuse: This definition includes “any willful act or threatened act” . . . “that causes or is likely to cause the child's physical, mental or emotional health to be significantly impaired.” Corporal punishment is not abuse if it causes no harm to the child.

•  Physical Abuse: You must report any willful or threatened act that causes physical harm.

•  Lack of Supervision: The definition of “harm” also includes leaving a child without supervision when the child is (a) unable to care for its need or another's, or (b) is unable to exercise good judgment in responding to a crisis. Florida criminalizes leaving a child under six years old in a car unattended for more than 15 minutes, or any amount of time with the engine running or other dangerous situation.

•  Domestic Violence: Florida residents also must report when an adult “engages in violent behavior that demonstrates a wanton disregard for the presence of a child and could reasonably result in serious injury to the child.”

•  Mental Abuse: The statute includes mental abuse, defined as “an injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment in the ability to function within the normal range of performance and behavior.” Also, you must report when a child is exposed to drugs or alcohol, including chronic use by a parent “when the child is demonstrably adversely affected by such usage.”

•  Sexual abuse: Residents must report any criminal sexual battery, including female genital mutilation, or indecent exposure involving a child.

•  Teen Sexual Activity: The Florida statute requires a report of “any sexual behavior” by a child that is “without consent, without equality, or as a result of coercion.” The age of consent in Florida is 18 years old, but children age 16 and 17 can consent to sexual activity with anyone up to the age of 24. Thus, organizations need not worry about consensual activity between older teenagers.

•  Sexual exploitation: The statute specifically lists taking “lewd photographs” of a minor as a circumstance requiring a report. There is no lower age of consent. Unless the pictures are sexting between teenagers (see below), organizations must report any instance of child pornography.

•  Sexting: Florida has a specific sexting statute. Note that it only covers (a) nude photographs (b) shared among teenagers. If the pictures depict sexual activity, or adults are involved, they are child pornography that you must report. If the sexting statute applies, then you can rely on the mandated reporter statute's exception for consent “based on age, maturity, developmental level, functioning, and experience.” Average consenting teenagers who send lewd photographs of each other may be in need of counseling or discipline under anti-bullying policies, but there is no requirement to report them to the authorities.

•  Neglect: “Neglect” is when a child is deprived of adequate food, clothing, shelter, or health care, and the deprivation “causes the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired.”

WHEN Must You Report?

Florida requires a report “immediately” whenever a person has “reasonable cause to suspect” harm to a child. That standard is lower than a certainty, and most state authorities tend to interpret it in favor of reporting sooner rather than later.

WHERE Must You Report?

You must report to the Florida Department of Children and Families, which has its hotline number and online reporting forms listed at

WHY Must You Report?

Failure to report is a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000. Schools that fail to report are subject to a $1 million fine.


Foster Care Children More Susceptible Mental, Behavioral And Physical Issues, Study Finds

by iTech

The Mental and behavioral health aspects of children in foster care are usually not very big topics for high-profile studies. More than just material things, in order to secure a healthy condition of mental and behavioral health, it is just but important that there should be at least 1 nurturing and responsive guardian to look after the child or teen's life as it really plays a crucial role to their well-being over time.

In a statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it has been found that children or teens under foster care could possibly develop well when parents display warmth and nurturance, basically treating them as their own. For foster care to be successful, showing a nurturing side and consistency in kinship should also be present as it can become the foundation of the sense of belongingness.

In the journal Pediatrics, Medical News Today has revealed that children in the United States who have been under foster care are in fact prone to acquiring mental and physical problems. These include learning disabilities, depression, asthma, and obesity.

According to previous researches conducted, the various trauma that these children and teens have experienced, such as abuse or neglect, had been found to likely to develop physical or mental health issues if not given much attention. Kristin Turney of the University of California-Irvine, however, emphasized that no research comparing the health conditions of children in foster care against that of children in regular families had been done yet.

Despite these gray areas, however, children in foster care usually carry emotional and psychological weight that is not appropriate for their age. While unfortunate, one of the biggest drivers of children ending up in foster care is abuse or neglect from their original homes. Thus, adjusting to a conventional family unit becomes a challenging endeavor.



After 'persistent head-banging' by teen residents, St. Cloud treatment center is cited for neglect

St. Cloud staff refused to intervene, even when residents' head-banging left injuries.

by Chris Serres

A St. Cloud child treatment center with a history of regulatory violations has been cited for failing to prevent three teenage residents from "daily and persistent" head-banging over a period of weeks last May, which resulted in multiple concussions, facial injuries and head trauma.

The St. Cloud Children's Home, a 60-bed treatment center for children with depression and other mental health problems, was cited for neglect and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, according to an investigation released last week by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

State investigators found that the three children banged their heads against walls and windows "to the point of bleeding" and required medical attention. At least two of the children received emergency medical treatment; they also sustained black eyes, swollen faces, headaches and abrasions. The children, who were ages 14 to 16 at the time, suffered from a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts.

Investigators concluded that staff knew the children were banging their heads violently but allowed the behavior to continue after a manager asserted that it would not cause permanent or serious brain damage. At one point, the three children were escorted to their bedrooms to prevent others at the facility from copying them, the report said.

This marks the fifth time since last December that the St. Cloud Children's Home or its staff have been found responsible for neglect, state records show.

In July, a 12-year-old resident with a history of self-injury got onto the roof four times, sustaining burns to both feet. Another child fractured a finger while being placed in a physical hold by staff but was not taken for medical care for eight days. Late last year, a 13-year-old child was dragged by staff across the floor, sustaining two rug burns, after breaking some of the facility's windows. And in 2013, the state temporarily placed the home's license on conditional status after investigators documented several incidents of inappropriate sexual contact between residents.

The state's latest determination is unusual because it holds the treatment center, not individual staff members, solely responsible for neglect.

In the last fiscal year, the department substantiated 349 cases of maltreatment at group homes, child care centers and other state-licensed programs; but in two-thirds of those cases, only individual staff members were found responsible. The provider, or facility, was held solely responsible in just 16 percent of the cases, state data show.

Regulators took the rare action in the head-banging incidents because the neglect appeared so pervasive. "Staff persons at all levels of authority were aware of the [children's] head banging yet failed to take action and failed to prevent [the children] from head banging and sustaining serious injuries …," the state wrote.

One of the children engaged in head-banging as a way to "scramble" scary thoughts and as a way to "pass out" in order not to be scared, the state report said. Another child began the behavior after sharp objects were taken away.

"This was a cry for help by children in mental anguish," Roberta Opheim, state ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities, said of the behavior. "What they should have been doing is spending some intensive, one-on-one time with those children to find out what was going on and trying to keep them safe."

A spokeswoman for Catholic Charities, which runs the treatment center, said the facility plans to appeal the agency's finding, saying the state investigation failed to reflect "all the information" shared by the facility to investigators.

"We really feel like the hard work and the professional care of our staff was not reflected" in the state report, said Trina Dietz of Catholic Charities. "We took many, many measures to provide the safest care for these kids."

The treatment center conducted an internal review and determined that its policies and procedures were adequate and followed, and there was not a need for additional training as a result of the investigation, the state report said.

In the May incidents, there did not appear to be a consistent approach to dealing with the children's behavior. At times, the children were placed in restraints when they banged their heads, or staff members intervened by placing their hands behind their heads. However, at many other times, children were allowed to continue the behavior for long periods, investigators found. The noise was loud enough that it could be heard throughout the locked cottage where the children lived, an employee told state investigators.

"The head banging lasted approximately one hour and was 'very' troubling to hear," according to a staff person, who did not intervene.

State investigators found that facility managers either instructed staff to allow the head-banging, or to not intervene until there was "imminent" damage. One manager told staff that children had a "right" to engage in the behavior and would not sustain a traumatic brain injury. Another staff member said the children "would not lose their intelligence quotient [IQ]," and that it was not possible to know the long term effect of head-banging.



Florida mom faces child neglect charges for letting 7-year-old son drive car, posts video to YouTube

by Valerie Edwards

A Florida woman is facing child neglect charges after she let her seven-year-old son drive a vehicle, police said.

Kwaniqua Glenn, 34, posted the video to YouTube that showed the child driving while she was in the passenger seat.

A school resource officer, who saw the video and recognized the child as a student, alerted the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, according to KDVR.

In the video, the child can be seen with one hand on the steering wheel as he leans his opposite arm on the seat.

Glenn can be heard saying in the background: ‘When your son is driving and he's only seven years old.'

At one point, Glenn tells the child to slow down as he appears to struggle to turn the wheel with one hand.

The child is heard saying: ‘What? You don't have to record me.'

During the video, it appears the child makes at least two turns through the Altamonte Springs neighborhood.

Authorities said Glenn met the boy at his bus stop and told him to get behind the wheel and drive through the neighborhood, the station reported.

The incident happened sometime around September 20, investigators said.

After viewing the video, deputies believe the child drove less than a half mile at an average speed of 29mph, the station reported.

Glenn was arrested Thursday morning and charged with child neglect.

She posted bond late Thursday night.



FBI needs public's help to catch suspected serial child abductor still on the loose

by Megan Cerullo

(Picture on site)

Authorities are asking for the public's help in their search for an alleged serial child abductor in Ohio.

So far, the more than 300 tips the FBI have received failed to lead more than 200 local and federal investigators to the suspect. The man they are seeking is believed to have abducted a 6-year-old Cleveland girl in May and later attempted to abduct a 10-year-old Elyria girl in February.

The FBI released surveillance video footage of the suspect, who is shown driving a 2002 or 2003 Chevy Malibu with a light colored front panel on an otherwise dark car. The car also has a rear after-market spoiler.

The unidentified man is known to enter his victims' homes in the early morning while their parents sleep, according to media reports.

On February 24, he entered the Elyria girl's home, unlocking doors and windows. The following day, he attempted to drag her out of her bedroom window by her legs.

“He's a bad, bad guy,” FBI spokeswoman Vicki Anderson told

“He did things to her that we're not going to go into,” Anderson said. “But she was harmed. We're happy she's alive but they didn't play Barbies.”

The girl described the bedroom where she was held as having pictures of a deer on the walls, according to A female voice inside the home also asked her abductor if he wanted anything to eat, the media outlet reported.

Authorities believe the suspect may reside in Cleveland's suburbs, but say it's unusual for them to have received as many leads as they have without tracking him down.

“We're wondering if we're just targeting the right audience,” FBI spokeswoman Kelli Liberti told Fox News.

The FBI said that it would begin concentrating its efforts on Lorain County, where the Feb. 25 abduction occurred. The agency will continue to lean on the public to provide tips.

“Our investigators are committed to getting this predator off the streets,” the Elyria Police Department said.



Sex offence and Child abuse case high in Malappuram district of Kerala

by The Deccan Chronicle

Boys conceding to sex with adult men to get free drug are on rise.

Anwar Karakkadan, the district coordinator of the Childline, said around 80 percent of the child abuse cases here had a connection with drug and sexual abuses.

Malappuram: Substance abuse and sexual offences are upping the crime graph in the district. They also lead to rampant abuse of schoolchildren addicted to drugs who want money to buy the contrabands like cannabis.

Childline estimates show the number of boys who are conceding to unnatural sexual acts with adult men to get a free drug or to make money to buy the stuff are on the rise.

The menace is rampant in towns like Malappuram, Perinthalmanna, Kottakkal and Parappanangadi where the contrabands are easily available.

Anwar Karakkadan, the district coordinator of the Childline, said around 80 percent of the child abuse cases here had a connection with drug and sexual abuses.

“The average number of child sexual abuse case in the district is 15 per month. Of which the children who concede to sex crimes for making money are five or six cases,” he says.

The exact number of such cases mostly goes unnoticed because they are categorised either under child sexual abuse or drug abuse according to the nature of offences.

The most populated district stands second in the state in the number of POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) cases according to latest police statistics.

The counselling sessions conducted for the victimised children have found that both the carelessness and strictness of the parents in families had led children to seek other to make money for drug or smartphones, Anwar said.

Recent raids by the police and excise in many parts of the district have unearthed drug cartels in which students were carriers and prime links.

“Conceding to sexual abuse hardly face legal action because of the consensual act. The victimised children also prefer to keep mum because they get enough money they sought to make,” says Shaji K.P., psychologist and member of the Juvenile Justice Board.

“Most recently, in the case of a 13-year-old boy from Edakkara who was a victim of frequent sexual abuses for long, I have found that he has earned around Rs 10,000 by various means.”


Why swearing around kids isn't as bad as you think

by Joshua David Stein

RAISING two small boys in the city is a frustrating endeavour. Driving two small boys around the city is even harder. When the two activities converge, as they did on a recent gridlocked Saturday trip, there can be only swear words.

So when the boys ignored my pleas to cool it in the back seat and the taxi in the abutting lane refused to let me merge, I muttered a string of four-letter words that are here unprintable. Shortly afterwards, my 3-year-old asked, “Daddy, what's ‘Argh oh f**k?' ”

Among the many tributaries that contribute to the flood of guilt raising a child creates, exposing them to swear words falls somewhere between a babbling brook and a murmuring creek. Happily, Benjamin K. Bergen, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California at San Diego and the author of the new book, What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves , reveals that dropping the F-bomb around kids isn't the end of the world.

As he writes, “Children's minds are resilient to profanity.”

It's an important conclusion, not simply for a father looking to feel marginally less crummy about his parenting screw-ups, but also for a society that punishes those who cuss around kids. Bergen relates the story of Danielle Wolff, a mother in North Carolina who in 2014 was arrested for telling her husband in front of her children at the grocery store, “Stop squishing the f**king bread!” And then there's Elizabeth Venable, a Ph.D. student in Southern California, who was charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace for cussing within earshot of small children at an airport in 2006.

In his book, Bergen thoroughly debunks a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics and cited by, among others, the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011, that argues swearing is harmful to children.

The authors of the study claim that exposure to profanity both numbs children emotionally and causes immediate negative physiological reactions like increased heart rate and shallow breathing. But Bergen eviscerates this argument by showing, first, that the findings on emotional numbness were based on a study that actually examined television violence, not profanity. And while foul language does cause an increase in heart rate and shallow breathing, you know what else does? Solving difficult math problems, texting and computer games. There is an effect, Bergen argues, but it isn't necessarily negative.

Much of the taboo around swearing, says Bergen, comes from the tendency to lump profanity in with verbal abuse. As a 2010 study of thousands of Scandinavian teenagers showed, children exposed to verbal abuse are more likely to “report psychological problems like depression, anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity.” But Bergen points out that verbal abuse and cursing are not the same. Like all words, he notes, “You can use profanity positively, and you can use ‘clean' language abusively.”

In fact, he says, profanity is used aggressively only about 10 per cent of the time. The rest of the time it's used for things like humour and building bonhomie.

Obscenities like f**k and sh*t, Bergen writes, can act as simple ejaculations of emotion and an emphatic underlining of sentiment. Neither are inherently abusive, or for that matter, inherently anything. My outburst in the car, for instance, is better than telling my son to “Go the f**k to sleep!” and marginally worse than telling him, “I f**king love you so much, little dude!” It is a completely different species altogether from telling the kid, “F**k you” which is shudderingly terrible — but no worse than telling him he's worthless.

Bergen also points out that not all curse words are created equal. He divides them into four categories, what he calls the “Holy, F**king, Sh*t, N***ger Principle.” According to this rule, all swear words — not just in English but in all languages — can be classified as blasphemy (Holy); fornication (F**king), defecation (Sh*t) or the denigration of a group of people according to their ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, etc.

In America, the N-word and other slurs are among the most offensive. But even then, the toxicity of some slurs isn't so much due to the words themselves — some of which can even be used as terms of empowerment — but in the hateful value universe that gives the words meaning. And if you're using those words around your child, profanity is the least of your problems anyway.

In short, What The F argues that if you let a swear word slip in front of the spongelike mind of your child, in traffic or even watching a footy match, don't beat yourself up about it. Swear words won't infect your child's mind with violence and doom them to depression. At the same time, refraining from profanity in no way insulates you from being a terrible parent. You can be R-rated mean with a G-rated vocabulary.

If — and when — you f**k up and utter a word like “f**k,” remember, it's not those four letters that matter as much as the words around it. So explain yourself.

Back in traffic, I told my 3-year-old that I said those naughty words because I was frustrated.

“Oh,” he responded, “we just read a book about that at school. When you're frustrated, you can ask for help!”

Suddenly, merging into traffic seemed to matter less and a smile spread across my face. It was a blessing, brought on by a curse.


New Hampshire


A case of neglect: Hassan ignores DCYF crisis

A new report prompted by lawsuits against the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families finds that state officials failed to respond to a massive increase in child abuse and neglect cases over the past four years.

Relatives of 3-year-old Brielle Gage and 21-month-old Sadie Willott are suing DCYF after the girls died while their cases were under DCYF review. The suit prompted Gov. Maggie Hassan to seek an independent review of DCYF.

Starting in late 2012, monthly assessments spiked from 100 to 200 to as many as 1,000, but the Hassan administration made no effort to respond to the growing number of children at risk. This is another tragic consequence of the opioid epidemic devastating New Hampshire, as thousands of New Hampshire children are exposed to parents hooked on heroin and fentanyl.

DCYF guidelines require investigations into endangered children to be closed within 60 days, but case workers only met these guidelines 15 to 30 percent of the time.

There is little evidence Hassan even knew about the growing crisis within the agency. Neither the DCYF budget submissions nor Hassan's proposed budgets mention a need to increase DCYF staff. Hassan never brought the issue up during budget negotiations.

It should not have taken the deaths of two young girls and the resulting lawsuit for the governor, and the public, to learn how poorly her own agency was operating.



Nationwide sex trafficking operation catches 15 suspects in Wisconsin

by Aisha Morales

Brown County, Wis. (WBAY) – Over a dozen arrests have been made in Wisconsin following a nationwide sex trafficking operation to find people involved in sex trafficking of adults and minors.

Authorities involved in the sting included the Brown County Sheriff's Office, Green Bay Police Department, Ashwaubenon Public Safety, De Pere Police Department and FBI-Milwaukee.

According to the Brown County Sheriff's Office, there were a total of 15 arrests made during the operation. The charges for those arrested during the week of October 10 th include: Trafficking a Child, Child Enticement, Prostitution, Possession of Methamphetamine and Use of a Computer to Facilitate a Child Sex Crime.

Action 2 News was in court Friday when two Brown County suspects arrested in this operation made their appearance in court.

One was of those suspects was Phillip LaBlanc, 55, who allegedly wanted to meet a 16-year-old for sex. He is being held on a $7500.00 cash bond. He's facing the following charges: Trafficking of a Child and Child Enticement-Prostitution

The second suspect Action 2 News caught in court was Frank Woyak, 58, who is facing two charges including Trafficking of a Child and Child Enticement-Prostitution. Authorities say Woyak wanted to meet a 16-year-old girl for sex for money ($150). Woyak is also being held on a $7500.00 cash bond.

Both LaBlanc and Woyak will be back in court on October 28 th .

The Brown County Sheriff's Office said it, along with the above mentioned agencies, will continue to work together to protect our children and residents of Brown County from individuals involved in Child Sex Trafficking.

Authorities did not release the names of the others who were arrested. Action 2 News will continue to follow the latest developments.


South Dakota

Sex Trafficking is Never ‘In Season'

New campaign cracks down on multimillion-dollar, sport-connected trade

by Jennifer Fallon

In South Dakota, pheasant hunting is now a $200-million annual industry. And why not? Hunters retire from the cold weather and enjoy roasted pheasant breast with hot mushroom soup as they relax in their hunting lodges.

Unfortunately — the influx of men from around the country has also created a demand for a much more nefarious product: the underground sex trade. The sex economy in America is bringing in loads of cash each year — $40 million in Denver, Colorado, and $290 million in Atlanta, Georgia, annually. South Dakota has one of the highest rates of sex trafficking in the country.

In 2014, more people received life sentences for perpetuating the sex trade in South Dakota than every other U.S. state combined. Pimps in these areas often target underprivileged girls between the ages of 12 and 21, and recently anti-human-trafficking movements have picked up the disproportionate rate at which traffickers are forcing Native Americans into the sex trade.

Native Hope, a nonprofit organization in Chamberlain, South Dakota, has started a campaign against trafficking. It works on the nine Native American reservations and in local schools to help build awareness about the prevalence of the sex trade. The danger for young women in the area usually peaks around hunting season — and during the famous motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.

“We have [four] of the highest poverty areas in the country,” said Julie Muldoon, director of Native Hope. “When you come into an area where maybe the young women don't really understand what love or attention is, and they don't see any hope for their future — that's where it starts. Then someone comes in and says, ‘I can give you shelter, I can give you food,' and already they're stuck in this situation.”

One young woman, who asked to remain anonymous, started a downward spiral after she was raped in college. She went home to her reservation and couldn't get the help she needed to cope with the assault. Soon after, she connected with a group of people who were dealing drugs, and they got her hooked on meth and coerced her into performing drug drops.

She said, "It's not until you're there that you realize you're the drop" — not the drugs. "They make you feel low. They make you do sexual favors. They keep you high, to make you feel low," she said.

Criminals kept feeding her drug addiction so that she would continue to feel hopeless about her future — and perpetuate the cycle.

"Young women are looking for affection and a father figure, and they get trapped," said Trisha Burke, a creative content specialist for Native Hope. About 70 percent of the trafficking victims have experienced physical or sexual abuse previously and come from impoverished circumstances. Native American women are more than twice as likely to be trafficked than women of other races.

Muldoon said the backdrop to trafficking is one of poverty and broken family relationships. "The bigger picture is this lack of hope and possibility for a future of what [the young women] want. That's where it starts. In any impoverished area, you have an opportunity for someone to come in and take advantage of that area."

Often the trafficking industry coincides with the drug industry. Burke said one particularly powerful drug cartel in South Dakota runs a highly organized operation on the Cheyenne River reservation and others. In one instance, a drug dealer dropped off a trafficking victim as payment to leaders of the cartel. Six men raped the young girl in a hotel room before they let her go. "In South Dakota, what I've been finding is that it seems to be often drug-related," Burke told LifeZette. "I think the public is so unaware of the danger the drug world is inspiring."

The trafficking industry is sometimes highly organized. Officials recently arrested one man in the Sioux Falls area for trafficking 19 young women, many of whom were Native American. But mostly it's just young guys looking to make big bucks.

There's plenty of money to be made. The trafficking industry has grown to $32 billion worldwide — more than the Nike, Starbucks, and Google revenues combined. "It is highly lucrative for these individuals — because it's not like selling drugs. Selling a drug is an expendable commodity, whereas when you have lured this young woman into your realm and you can use her over and over and over again, it's much more lucrative than being just a drug lord," Burke said bluntly.

Native Hope has partnered with several other organizations to create a curriculum for Native American children that includes empowering messages. Muldoon said their message is aimed at fourth- and fifth-graders, helping them understand early that they have options for their lives. They teach them about bullying and healthy family relationships, and they schedule large community events to help the children learn to reach out to others and build a support network.

"Although most hunters and bikers in the area are well-behaved, there is a dark side to both those activities ... Wherever you have a large gathering of men, you have a strong opportunity for prostitution and sex trafficking," said former U.S. Attorney General Brendan Johnson in a statement for Native Hope.

However, as the campaign for Native Hope makes clear: "Sex trafficking is never in season."