Electronic-detection K9 "Ruger" a 'game-changer' in fight against child predators
Ruger is a dog with a full-time job. As the newest member of the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), he is very busy with the important work of saving children. Ruger, a black Labrador retriever, is the first and only electronic-detection K9 in the state of Ohio and one of less than two dozen in the entire United States. Ruger has recently finished training and is expected to execute his first search warrant in October.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) special agents based in Ohio are the lead federal partners with the ICAC. Together, with Ruger, they anticipate even greater success fighting child exploitation in central Ohio.
Ruger brings something very special to the ICAC. As an electronic-detection K9, he is able to detect the distinct chemical smell of small electronics that humans cannot. HSI Detroit's Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Marlon V. Miller, whose area of responsibility covers Michigan and Ohio, believes this skill is a ‘game-changer' in the fight to stop child exploitation and child pornography.
“This extra tool in our investigative toolbox is a game changer for the ICAC," said SAC Miller, "Ruger has the ability to detect objects that would be impossible to find, even by the most seasoned investigator. We're excited to have him on the team and look forward to his contributions in helping bring predators to justice."
Ruger can find a variety of small electronics including: hardrives, micro-SD cards, smartphones, tablets and laptops. As technology devices become smaller in size, criminals are better able to hide evidence of their crimes. In the cases ICAC deals with, the evidence includes pornographic photos of innocent children. SAC Miller said, “If criminals are living with other people, they will go to extra lengths to hide evidence so others won't discover it. The people they live with can be totally unaware of what they are doing. Ruger can help lower the probability of us missing something during a search warrant. He can find that iPhone containing child pornography.” Miller made a critical point, “He can find elements of a crime that we need for prosecution; his skills can take us into the future of electronic detection.”
During a search for evidence, Ruger is led by his handler and uses his sense of smell to locate electronic devices. He ‘indicates' he has found something by sitting down. Amazingly, he is able to find the exact location of electronic equipment. He is also able to indicate where equipment was previously. He is awarded with his favorite treat: a yellow tennis ball.
Franklin County Ohio Sheriff Zach Scott said: “We are always looking for innovative ways to protect children. Ruger provides detectives another tool in fighting online child exploitation. With Ruger, we are one step ahead of the criminals. Ruger can find the really important pieces of evidence the criminal does not want us to find.”
Ruger is an integral part of the ICAC team. The officers he works with consider him their partner. Sheriff Scott explained: “The partnership with HSI and Ruger has resulted in many arrests and we are very excited about it. We handpick officers who are invested in the mission of ICAC. Many of them have children of their own and when they see images of the victims it affects them. They don't want to see other families, or their own families, victimized. There is a sense of urgency in what we do. We can't do it without Ruger.”
"19 Days of Activism" To Stop Child Abuse
by WGNS Radio
The Child Advocacy Center encourages everyone to learn more about "The 19 Days of Activism", a period to bring awareness to ways to spot and end violence against children and youth. This year, November 1 - 19, 2016 are those days that make a difference.
When investigating crimes against children, Rutherford County Sheriff's Detective Andrea Knox looks beyond the immediate needs to make sure youths have proper nutrition.
The children's safety and nutrition concerns investigators, said Knox, who works in the Family Crimes Unit.
With proper nutrition, children thrive, the detective said. Without it, vitality is loss and children can become susceptible to malnutrition.
Investigators chat with the child, asking what they had to eat then qualify the information with a quick check of the refrigerator, cabinets and trash that shows the type of food eaten.
Knox discussed nutrition as part of the Child Advocacy Center's campaign of "19 days of Activism for the Prevention of Child Abuse."
CAC Executive Director Sharon De Boer said the center works with community partners to fight child abuse in Rutherford and Cannon counties.
"Diverse organizations are working for a global transformation against child abuse and collaborating to bring awareness to the issues of malnutrition," De Boer said.
In her investigations, Knox learned many families don't equate malnutrition beyond a physical appearance. The effects of malnutrition include warning signs, seen and unseen.
Malnutrition encompasses sub-nutrition and obesity, she said. In either form, the body is imbalanced, lacking nutrients from protein, vitamins and minerals needed to thrive. The signs and symptoms include fatigue and negative brain development that affects children at school, play and rest.
"I promote the Rutherford County Health Department and its programs that educate parents on nutrition, inform families that Murfreesboro has dental offices that perform free teeth cleaning and inform families of community organizations that prepare meals," Knox said. "Rutherford County Schools offer free and reduced lunches while Davidson County offers free lunches to all children."
When investigating crimes against children, her response is to investigate the criminal element within the investigation. When working with multi-disciplines such as the Department of Children's Services, medical services, counseling agencies, advocates and meal providers, the team provides a greater service.
"My heart embraces 'the kids,' those with little to no voice," Knox said. "Meet the child where they are, but make an effort to restore them. Stop malnutrition."
For more information about the "19 Days of Activism", phone the Child Advocacy Center at 615-867-9000.
NSPCC rejects plan for 'mandatory reporting' of suspected child abuse
Children's charity says obliging teachers and doctors to report concerns would deter victims from approaching the professionals
by Jamie Doward
Plans to compel professionals to report their concerns that children are being abused have been rejected by the UK's leading child protection charity, provoking fury from a victim support group.
A proposal to introduce “mandatory reporting”, which is observed in many other countries, has exposed a schism among groups representing doctors, nurses, police and social workers, with some expressing fears that they would struggle to cope with the increase in abuse investigations that it would generate.
The government's consultation on reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect was launched amid concerns about past abuse in some of the country's major institutions. High-profile inquiries, such as that into the paedophile Jimmy Savile, revealed how many people suspected abuse but failed to report their fears.
Under the new proposal teachers, doctors and other employees in regulated professions who work with children would be legally obliged to report suspicions that a child was being abused.
However, the plan has been rejected by the NSPCC. It warns that victims might be deterred from opening up to adults if they know what they say will automatically trigger an investigation. The charity gives the hypothetical example of a teacher who is worried about a child because he or she is turning up to school hungry or unkempt, a sign that the child is at risk of neglect.
According to the NSPCC, under mandatory reporting teachers would be bound to raise their concerns with the local authority immediately. This would trigger a child protection investigation, one that might be unnecessary if the teachers had been able to use their professional judgment and talk to the children and their parents to establish what was happening.
The NSPCC is in favour of mandatory reporting for “closed institutions” such as hospitals and boarding schools, on the grounds that they have smaller networks of adults for children to confide in and are likely to place greater pressure on their employees to protect their reputation. But for other institutions the NSPCC backs a proposal for a duty to act, which would allow professionals not to automatically report their concerns but to consider “appropriate” action that they believe to be in the best interests of the child. In all cases, however, the decision would be recorded and the professionals would be held accountable for their actions.
“We think that this may make it more likely that children are given the support they need according to their circumstances and it leaves professionals with some discretion to decide what action is appropriate,” the NSPCC says in a briefing that accompanies its submission to the consultation.
The issue is becoming deeply divisive. Submissions to the consultation reveal that the children's commissioner is against mandatory reporting, as is the National Police Chiefs Council, the British Association of Social Workers and the Royal College of Nursing. But both the National Association of Head Teachers union and the British Medical Association say they are broadly in favour.
Tom Perry, founder of Mandate Now, a victim support group that campaigns for a change in the law, branded the duty to act option, favoured by the government, “unworkable”.
“It suggests a legal duty should exist at all points in the child protection system to act in an ‘appropriate' manner,” Perry said. “It doesn't define what it means by ‘appropriate' and acknowledges it will vary from case to case. The government then suggests most cases would be addressed by disciplinary rather than criminal sanctions, meaning there would be no change since disciplinary sanctions already exist and don't work.”
Perry said mandatory reporting had been shown to work in other countries. “People faced with having to report suspicions of abuse naturally ask themselves, ‘What if I'm wrong?' Gaze aversion is a significant challenge. The culture of child protection has to change and mandatory reporting in institutional settings will help make that happen. It has in the majority of countries on all four continents which have some form of the law.”
Rotherham Child Abuse Gang Sentenced for Raping 16 Girls
by Victoria Friedman
Eight men of Muslim, Pakistani origins were sentenced on Friday for the rape and abuse of vulnerable girls in Rotherham.
The men were jailed for 16 offences from 1999 to 2003 against multiple girls who were said by the judge to have been “targeted, sexualised, and subjected to degrading and violent acts”. The sentencing follows convictions earlier October in the second of two linked trials at Sheffield Crown Court.
One of those sentenced, Sageer Hussain, 31, was jailed for 19 years for repeatedly raping a 13-year-old girl.
The Times reports that Hussain was the youngest of four brothers, each of whom has been convicted this year of numerous grooming and rape offences in the South Yorkshire town.
In a trial that ended in February, his three brothers had been jailed for grooming, raping, and sexually assaulting 15 girls. Arshid Hussain, 41, the ringleader of the gang, was jailed for 35 years. His brothers, Basharat Hussain, 40, and Bannaras Hussain, 37, were sentenced to 25 years and 19 years respectively.
On Friday, the court had heard that Sageer Hussain told his child victim that “all white girls” were “slags” and “worthless” except for sex.
Peter Mann, Head of the Complex Casework Unit of Yorkshire and Humberside Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Sageer Hussain, in particular, took a leading role in befriending the young girls, and in the case of one victim, passed her on to his friends and other associates, assisted in various ways by the other defendants.”
Passing sentence, Judge Sarah Wright told Sageer that he had conducted a “campaign of violent rape”.
She told the eight men: “The victim of all eight of you was vulnerable. She was just 13 to 14 years old.
“Although she had a loving and supportive family and was doing well at school as she was reaching adolescence, she was susceptible to the attention that you and others gave her. The childhood and adolescence of each of the victims can never be reclaimed.”
The gang targetted, abused, and trafficked girls for sex with impunity whilst child protection services and police ignored the grooming of young white teenagers by mostly-Muslim men.
Basharat Hussain was sentenced to seven years for indecent assault to run concurrently with his other 25-year sentence. The six other rapists, including two of the Hussains' cousins, were given sentences of 17 years, 15 years, 13 years, 12 years, eight years, and five years for offences including rape, indecent assault, and false imprisonment.
Breaking the silence
by Tribune India , Shonali Prakash
Anoushka Shankar, a well-known sitar player and daughter of the late sitar legend Pandit Ravi Shankar, shocked the world in 2013 with a startling revelation. “As a child, I suffered sexual and emotional abuse for several years at the hands of a man whom my parents trusted implicitly.” Likewise, celebrities like Kalki Koechlin, Anurag Kashyap, Pamela Anderson, who were sexually abused as children, have spoken up about the trauma they faced as children.
In July 2011, a resident of a slum in New Delhi briefly left her six-month-old grand-daughter in the care of her neighbour, Sonu Lalman. When she returned after 15 minutes, the baby was crying and bleeding from her vagina. A doctor who had examined the child's wounds reported the case to the police. Lalman was arrested, and within seven months, had been tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
No holds barred
It is obvious from media reports that Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) has nothing to do with age, gender, religion or socio-economic strata. “There are many postulations about why, when and how the abuser does what he or she does,” observes Dr Nayreen Daruwalla, Director, Programme on Prevention of Violence against Women and Children, SNEHA.
A 23-year-old father of a 10-month-old baby would sexually exploit his 12-year-old sister. An NGO, Protsahan, got a case registered against him and put him behind bars. Shockingly, the mother of the molester bribed the police to get him released. Not only did the perpetrator return to the crime scene, the victim, his sister, who was studying at a government school, was expelled.
“We live in a country where the word ‘SEX' is taboo. We don't talk about it as it is not considered a part of our culture, yet India has one of the highest rates of the CSA,” says Sukhman Randhawa, psychologist with the Mind Research Foundation. “We teach our children to be wary of only strangers. We should also educate them about any kind of unsafe touch whether by a stranger, relative, friend, sibling, or even a parent.”
A survey on 12,447 children conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007 found that 53.22 per cent reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse. Among them, 52.94 per cent were boys and 47.06 per cent girls.
“Looking at the statistics, how can one say that girls are more vulnerable? This is not gender-based but ‘gender neutral'. We have to save our children, not just girls. Everybody needs to understand the gravity of the problem, and somewhere the entire secrecy and silence needs to be broken because CSA thrives on silence,” strongly feels Sonal Kapoor, founder and executive director, Protsahan India Foundation.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) recently launched a five-day campaign titled Jagruk Raho, Chuppi Todo (Stay alert, break the silence), in collaboration with the Delhi Government and Childline Foundation, to raise awareness on sexual abuse of children. The campaign was undertaken in the city around Diwali as it is during this time that children become susceptible to sexual abuse since parents leave them in the custody of others while taking part in festivities.
There is no doubt that people sit up and take notice when a celebrity speaks about his or her personal experiences.
In a profound example of ‘Chuppi Todo' (Break the silence), Olympic medallist and Rajya Sabha MP, boxer Mary Kom's open letters to her sons (aged nine and three) made a deep impact on the public. “Let me start by telling you that your mother was molested, first in Manipur and then again while she was out with her girlfriends in Delhi and Haryana's Hissar. I was only 17 years old then and am 33 now. I have brought great fame to my country and have been celebrated as a medalist but what I also want, is to be respected as a woman.”
Speak up if you don't like the way an adult or elder child is behaving with you is the message that needs to filter through all strata of society, including children.
Apart from the Childline 1098 service, the country's first toll free tele-helpline for children in distress, children can directly report sexual abuse on www.ncpcr.gov.in by clicking on the POCSO E-BOX and selecting a picture that depicts the form of abuse. NCPCR also has a dedicated POCSO helpline number, 9868235077.
“Children are born with an inherent ability to be able to distinguish the good from bad,” says Lalita, who works with a child rights organisation. “I started talking about the good and bad touch when my daughter (now 12) was about five. Her first reaction was... that person pulls my cheek and I don't like it. I taught her to learn to say a “no” to that too. We need to listen to our children and make sure they are not around people who make them uncomfortable”, she adds.
Toll free helpline:1098
POCSO helpline: 9868235077
Identifying the signs
Sudden change in eating habits
Fear of new or unusual people and places
Being sexual with toys, pets
Provoking conversation about sex
Resistance to getting undressed
Difficulty walking or sitting
Dealing with a victim of child sexual abuse
Tell the child you believe her/him.
Praise the child's courage in coming and telling you about it.
Acknowledge the child's feelings.
Don't probe into what/when/where/how of the incident. Let the child share the incident at her/his comfort level.
Tell the child it was not her/ his fault.
Tell the child that you would like to take the help of other adults (family members, institutions, staff members) to help.
Do not make false promises like “I will send the abuser to jail. I will beat him /her up, etc.”
Do not question or blame the child – “Why did you not shout for help?” “Why did you not tell me earlier?” “Why did you not fight?”
Remember, it is a child and the abuser is a person known to the child — trusted and loved by the child. The abuser may have even threatened or blackmailed the child into silence.
Do not ask the child to “forgive” “forget” or “adjust”.
Number of children in need increases slightly
394,400 children in need and 50,310 subject to a child protection plan
by Family Law
The number of children in need at 31st March has increased this year, from 391,000 in 2015 to 394,400 in 2016, an increase of 0.9%. The number of children in need has remained relatively stable over the last seven years. The latest statistics from the Department for Education are here.
Abuse or neglect was the most common primary need at assessment for children in need – this year 50.6% of children in need at 31st March had abuse or neglect identified as their primary need, followed by family dysfunction with 17.4%, and child's disability or illness at 9.6%.
This year 49.6% of children in need had domestic violence, which includes that aimed at children or other adults in the household, as a factor identified at end of assessment, followed by mental health at 36.6%, which incorporates mental health of the child or other adults in the family/household. Other factors identified were: drug misuse 19.3%; alcohol abuse issues 18.4%; neglect 17.5%; sexual abuse 6.4%; gang involvement 1.4%; unaccompanied asylum seekers 0.6%; victims of child trafficking 0.3%.
The number of children who were the subject of a child protection plan at 31st March has increased this year, from 49,700 in 2015 to 50,310 in 2016, an increase of 1.2%. The number of children who were the subject of a child protection plan starting and ending a child protecting plan in the year both continue to increase.
Neglect was the most common initial category of abuse for children in need who were the subject of a child protection plan – this year 46.0% of children in need at 31st March had neglect as their initial category of abuse, followed by emotional abuse with 35.3%. Neglect was also the most common latest category of abuse for children in need who were the subject of a child protection plan – this year 44.9% of children in need had neglect as their latest category of abuse, followed by emotional abuse with 38.3%.
For the statistics issued by the Department for Education, click here.
Another Bullying Victim
by Roy Exum
Eight years ago, when Bethany Thompson was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer, doctors used radiation to successfully shrink away the tumor, but the treatment's side effect was damage to a nerve in the left side of her face. When the little girl smiled, it was only on one side. So in the eight years since she was described as a miracle, she's had a different struggle – kids in the neighborhood and at school bully her.
Better put, they “have bullied” her because two weeks ago the downtrodden 11-year-old got off the school bus in Ohio, got a pistol from where her dad thought he had carefully hidden it, and ended her life – this less than ten years after all the miracles of science had saved it.
Do you dare try to imagine the turmoil of an 11-year-old who couldn't smile?
Last week I got three emails from people who believe their children are being bullied in area schools. I immediately turned them over to the proper school officials with a request to please let me know how I can help. Last year Hamilton County's District Attorney General Neal Pinkston and Sheriff Jim Hammond conducted an investigation that proved our state and our community are a hotbed for hazing and bullying.
Bullying knows no economic, racial or age limits. It happen to both boys and girls, especially same sex, and while heavy steps are being made to curb it in our public and private schools, the No. 1 solution is for parents/guardians to recognize both the aggressors and the victims.
Dr. Med Meeker, a pediatrician in Michigan who authored, “12 Principals of Raising Great Kids,” just told NBC “Today” that there are a lot of ways kids can bully. "It doesn't happen just on the playground. It happens on the Internet. It happens in the bathroom. And, bullies are excellent at doing things when no one else is around to see."
"Even though we say, 'Make sure to tell somebody,' kids don't speak up easily. It usually has gone on for several months before parents find out." there are five identifiable signs a child may be mistreated by bullies:
1. UNWILLINGNESS TO GO TO SCHOOL – She says it isn't normal for a child to suddenly have headaches or stomachaches after being to school since August. “Their body language is going to tell you they are miserable. But if you children are chatty and pretty happy, you are probably okay.”
2. CHANGE IN DEMEANOR -- A change in a child's emotional behavior can signal a problem, Dr. Meeker wrote. “Parents should observe their child's mood after school, paying attention to whether or not they come home in a cheerful mood. I really do think if you know your kids well, you read their facial expressions and you see what their demeanor is like. Are they having trouble going to sleep? Are they waking up in the night? Are they just not doing well overall? Their body language will tell you.”
3. CHANGE IN SLEEP PATTERNS – “They're worrying about getting picked on at school the next day, so they don't want to go to sleep," said the doctor, adding nightmares, refusing to get out of bed and restless sleep could be signs.
4. CHANGES IN GRADES --If a child's grades begin to slip, the doctor says ‘fear' could take the place of ‘focus.' “This isn't just, 'Gee, I hate my math teacher,' warned Dr. Meeker. “It's bigger than that."
5. CHANGES IN FRIENDS – It is normal for kids to have new friends from time-to-time, but not normal when suddenly they have few friends. Meeker says parents should watch out for signs that their child has no friends — complaining about eating lunch alone or remarking that friends they used to play with after school no longer want to come over. "What you worry about is kids coming home saying, 'Nobody likes me.' Bullies like to isolate their victims and cut them out of the pack."
Dr. Meeker said it is crucial to be proactive, notifying the school and the teachers but also talking to your children about what is acceptable as well as unacceptable behavior,
Annalise Guerra, a social worker at the University of Miami, wrote in last week's Miami Herald, “Bullying can take the form of physical abuse; verbal abuse, such as name calling and spreading rumors; or emotional abuse, such as intimidation or social exclusion. With the widespread use of the internet, it can occur through email, text messages and social networking sites.
“The effects of bullying range from inflicting physical hurt to psychological distress. There are key signs that someone being bullied, including if your child: (Note the parallels with Dr. Meeker):
* -- Comes home with torn, missing or damaged clothing, books or belongings.
* -- Has unexplained bruises, cuts and scratches.
* -- Is hesitant or afraid to go to school, ride the bus or take part in school activities.
* -- Suffers from low self-esteem.
* -- Has difficulty sleeping.
* -- Has a loss of appetite.
* -- Suddenly performs poorly in school or has bad attendance.
* -- Shows signs of regressive behavior, such as bed-wetting or thumb-sucking in younger children and withdrawal from family and friends for older children.”
The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 3.2 million children are bullied in our schools every year. If you suspect a child is being abused – even if it isn't a member of your family -- call school authorities and, if that doesn't work, get in touch with local police. If that fails, send me an email because I promise I will find someone who can do something about it.
Putting a stop to human sex trafficking
by Courtney Robinson
LUTZ, Fla. – Tampa Athletes Unite hosted an eye-opening and honest discussion about the reality of human trafficking. Dozens spent Friday night listening to stories of human sex trafficking from those leading the fight to stop it.
Charlotte Watson is one of those leaders. She speaks at events across the country.
Florida is third in the nation for the sex trafficking of women and children.
Watson explained how this brutal crime happens to women and children.
“This happens because it's right in front of us and we don't want to see it. We're not conditioned to think of it. We don't know what to do about it and it happens just because we don't look,” she said.
Watson says traffickers can be anyone and you should be vigilant to look for signs that someone is preying upon girls.
“When you see something that doesn't look right. When you see a guy at the mall trying to talk with a girl, a teenage girl, maybe befriend her or offer to help her out. They seem kind of cool. Maybe in your church and you have a new music director and he's got all the girls wrapped around his finger and then he starts saying, ‘Well I'll pick you up from school.' Just those kinds of little things that don't look right and don't feel quite right.”
An undercover detective with the Clearwater Police Department also talked about how traffickers approach victims.
“We have a lot that approach on the street or at malls or at bus stops. We have others that pretend to be someone that they're not on the internet and going through Facebook, Instagram, and other types of social media,” she said.
The detective also talked about red flags, like physical abuse, that point to a victim of human sex trafficking.
“If you're out in public and you see possibly a man and a woman together and one is doing all the talking and one is kind of left in the shadow and not allowed to speak or move around.”
There is a national tip line you can call and anonymously report possible human trafficking: 1-888-373-7888.
Watson says a key to ending human sex trafficking is awareness. She says women and men need to talk about it and listen.
“Really I think a key element is to involve men in this effort because it's a new day now. It used to be that we could laugh at jokes about women or think about prostitution as a normal rite-of-passage for men, but when you're on the golf course if men start saying to other men, ‘Hey, I heard about this. We better change this. We have a role in stopping this,' Men can stop men's violence against women and children. They're the key to this,” she said.
An organization in Tampa is also working to help children rescued from human trafficking in their recovery.
Bridging Freedom will be built on 100 acres and will be a community for girls. It's set to open in late 2017 and will initially serve 12 girls rescued from traffickers.
To learn more about Bridging Freedom and how you can help go to www.bridgingfreedom.org
Deputies receive new sex trafficking training
by Sara Marie Moore
SHOREVIEW — The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office undertook new training in October to identify sex trafficking.
All deputies and correction officers were required to take the training, which was based off the Ramsey County Attorney's Office Frontline Response training.
“It was created to help our deputies and correctional officers recognize any situation or sign that may indicate that an individual is the victim of a sex trafficking operation,” said Sgt. John Eastham. The sheriff's office has had similar training events in the past, but Eastham said he didn't recall one that was “mandatory for everybody.”
The training included three major sections, and deputies and correctional officers were tested on it, Eastham said. The training included defining sex trafficking, how to identify victims of sex trafficking operations and how to approach and speak with anyone who is a victim of a sex trafficking operation.
“It's just another tool in our toolbox,” Eastham said. “It's just another way we are trying to train our people the best way to effectively communicate with a victim of a sex trafficking operation.”
The Ramsey County Attorney's Office has trained more than 1,700 law enforcement officers statewide about sex trafficking since the Minnesota Safe Harbor Law was fully enacted in 2014. The law protects sexually exploited youth under 18 from being charged for being involved in prostitution.
Forty percent of people trafficked are youth under 18, said St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell. Homeless youth are particularly at risk for being trafficked. One in three teens on the street is lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
A Nov. 2010 University of Minnesota study concluded that in Minnesota, at least 213 underage girls are prostituted an average of five times per day every month through escort services and the internet, reports Breaking Free, a St. Paul-based sex trafficking victim service organization.
The Safe Harbor initiative also involves victim services through the Minnesota Department of Health and partnerships with placement facilities for sexually exploited youth.
Statewide, prosecution of sex trafficking has increased within the last five years, according to Brielle Bernady of the Ramsey County Attorney's Office. In 2010, there were 17 charges and 14 convictions in solicitation, inducement and promotion of prostitution — sex trafficking. In 2015, there were 75 charges and 44 convictions. Sex trafficking charges quadrupled and convictions tripled over the last five years.
The maximum charge for trafficking youth is 20 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine and, for trafficking in general, 15 years in prison and/or a $40,000 fine.
Catching the pimps in the suburbs
Pimps are adept at hiding their sex trafficking crimes.
“Just like anything else, any other criminal activity, they change up how they do business or where they do business in order to escape the notice of law enforcement,” Eastham said.
But the sheriff's office is also adept at tracking them down by changing investigation tactics.
“We adjust in order to compensate for any changes the criminals have done,” Eastham said.
Law enforcement work especially close with hotel staff, training them on what types of unusual behavior may signify sex trafficking is taking place in or around their hotel, Eastham said. When hotel staff cooperate, law enforcement can proceed with sting operations to arrest sex trafficking suspects.
The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office assists local police departments with performing sting operations at hotels by using the same website sex traffickers and clients often use to victimize clients, Backpage.com, reported Randy Gustafson, communications coordinator.
“A couple, three times a year a different police department will run a Backpage.com (report) and grab a local hotel,” Gustafson said, noting there was a sting operation in Shoreview recently.
Eastham noted that sex traffickers will often take advantage of nice-looking cities as places to set up operations because residents and employees may just not believe such activity could occur there.
“Any time somebody believes criminal activity is not occurring inside their city is an opportunity for criminals,” he said. “It can be overlooked.” People can see something strange, but not report it because they think it “can't be happening here.”
The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office encourages citizens to report anything suspicious.
“Our citizens are our eyes and ears,” Eastham said. “Don't assume it's not happening.”
“It is amazing the number of predators that are just kind of trolling around,” Gustafson said. “It's really bad news.”
Some related news: Carl Ferrer, CEO of Backpage.com, and two other site founders were arrested and charged with conspiracy and pimping a minor in October, reported the New York Times. Authorities raided Backpage.com headquarters in Texas with a warrant.
The website was founded in 2004. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has reported an 846 percent increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficking over the last five years.
For more information, visit breakingfree.net, www.missingkids.com and www.health.state.mn.us/injury/topic/safeharbor.
Nottingham is first official city to take zero-tolerance stand on female genital mutilation
by Jamie Barlow
Nottingham is the first city in the UK to officially declare a zero-tolerance stance on female genital mutilation.
The declaration was made in September at a full council meeting and Nottingham was attributed with City of Zero-Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) status.
It is believed over 60,000 people are at risk of abuse in this country.
FGM is where the female genitals are deliberately cut and represents a risk to physical health, mental health and the quality of life for young women across the UK.
Nottingham in Parliament day took place last week (Tuesday, 25 October) and, as part of the event, people from across the country came together to hear how Nottingham is leading the way on work to end FGM.
The Alfreton Road-based Mojatu Foundation lead the awareness campaign.
Valentine Nkoyo, director of the foundation and chair of the Nottingham Community FGM Steering Group, believes it was a great success.
She said: “It was amazing to see so many people who want to take a strong stand against FGM.
“The news that Nottingham will be the first city of zero-tolerance is wonderful. It will accelerate our momentum in tackling FGM in Nottingham and beyond.”
Valentine added: “We need to talk more about this issue and support survivors. I hope other cities look to Nottingham and see all the hard work groups in the city are doing to stop this practice. We are happy to support them to go through the process.”
Sheriff of Nottingham, councillor Jackie Morris, has been working closely with the foundation to help end the practice in the city.
“Female genital mutilation is something that people think shouldn't be talked about but that's partly what makes the practice continue,” she said.
“We need to talk about this issue and we want people to understand that this practice is not accepted both in the city but across the world.
“It was great to see so many people at the FGM event in parliament and hear from the charities who work with survivors, to the leaders who are fighting to stop this from happening.”
Medal-winning Paralympians, leading business figures, MPs and diplomats joined forces for Nottingham in Parliament day – a festival of research, debate and showcases led by the University of Nottingham.
She added: “No child should ever be subjected to FGM, and the practise is now a criminal offence.
“There are support services in place for adult survivors and people shouldn't feel scared or embarrassed to come forward for help.
“Nottingham City Council has worked to make sure front line staff are aware of this issue and we as a city will be taking a zero-tolerance approach.”
Parents urged to hold children close as figures show childhood trauma leads to adult mental health issues
by Daniel Burdon
A leading mental health advocate has urged parents to provide a safe environment for their children, from birth, to prevent later life impacts, after new figures were released showing up to 88 per cent of adult survivors of childhood trauma develop mental health problems.
The figures, released by the Blue Knot Foundation for Blue Knot Day on Monday, show some 88 per cent of 3500 callers to the services' helpline over an eight-month period who faced childhood trauma went on to have at least one mental health impact later in life, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and dissociation.
Callers also reported impacts on relationships as the second most common impact, with 58 per cent of callers revealing substantial negative impacts to their relationships, from their "family of origin" to current partners, extended family, their children and friendships.
Foundation president, Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, said the figures showed the "devastating impacts of childhood trauma, even in adults".
"With one in four Australian adults affected by childhood trauma, the human cost is significant for a massive number of Australians," she said.
Canberra mental health advocate and current deputy New South Wales mental health commissioner Bradley Foxlewin said the figures were in line with his years of experience helping people recover and deal with their childhood trauma.
A survivor of abuse himself, Mr Foxlewin said some research had already shown even the "earliest attachment trauma" could have an impact life in life — from diagnosed mental health illnesses to "not having the capacity to regulate their own experience".
While all times of a child's life were important to help ensure they develop appropriately, Mr Foxlewin said "from conception to 18 months old" was a critical period when extra attention should be paid to the child.
"There's a huge array of experiences that can set children up for being disregulated. It can range from intentional abuse to neglect, through to children just experiencing a series of unfortunate events at a critical time in their development," he said.
"We all need to ensure the child isn't in a situation where it doesn't get the best attention that it needs, particularly in those early days when children need that security and safety."
Mr Foxlewin said the key to helping prevent childhood trauma, and ensuring children had the skills to face trauma in the future, was ensuring they had "consistency, predictability and a real sense of held-ness" in their lives.
"They need to feel that they are held in a place they belong, and that they are precious.
"That doesn't mean you don't have containers around appropriate behaviours and some discipline, but not physical discipline, but it starts with children feeling precious and knowing that they are part of something that's valuable and they are valuable to it."
CONCERNING KIDS: Domestic violence affects children
by Rhonda Hudson and Jordan Ihrig
In mere seconds, a domestic violence situation can escalate dramatically, leaving the victim squarely in fight or flight mode struggling to stay alive. Words, punches and objects are thrown through the chaos, which can last minutes or hours. But what happens to the child hiding in the corner? What happens to the child listening in fear from the other room? Even if never physically injured, children exposed to domestic violence are seriously impacted and faced with life altering consequences.
Domestic violence may include psychological threats, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and/or physical violence within the home. Children exposed to domestic violence suffer emotional and psychological trauma from the impact of living in a household dominated by tension and fear. These children see their mother endure physical abuse, threats or sexual assault. These children see the aftermath of violence including their mother's injuries and her traumatic response to the violence. These same children may even be injured themselves trying to intervene to protect a parent or become manipulated by the abuser to hurt their mother.
The recently released Violence Policy Center report shows Oklahoma rose to No. 4 in the nation for women killed by men from No. 6 last year. This is a heartbreaking but not surprising statistic from our state which ranks 37th nationally in child wellbeing.
The impact on children exposed to violence lasts years after the abuse occurred. Some of the common reactions children have include:
• Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
• Generalized anxiety
• Difficulty concentrating
• High activity levels
• Increased anxiety about being separated from a parent
• Intense worry about their safety or safety of a parent
• Poor school performance
• Lower scores on verbal, motor and social skills
• Long-term physical health problems
• Behavior problems into adolescence (juvenile delinquency, alcohol or substance abuse)
• Behavior problems into adulthood (depression, anxiety and PTSD)
One of the most devastating outcomes for children exposed to domestic violence is the learned cycle of abuse. Children who see violence in the home often learn destructive lessons about the use of violence and power and may even come to believe that violence is, in some way, linked to expressions of intimacy and affection.
The impact will be different for each child and depends on a variety of factors, such as:
• The length of time that child was exposed to domestic violence.
• The child's age when the exposure began.
• If the child has also experienced child abuse in the home.
• Additional stressors like poverty, community violence, parental substance abuse or mental illness.
• The family's access to healthcare, education and social supports.
Children exposed to domestic violence are at a much higher risk to become a direct victim of child abuse. In fact, the more severe the abuse of the mother, the more extreme the child abuse is likely to be.
Fortunately, children exposed to violence are never beyond help. One proven method of treatment is trauma-focused therapy with a trained professional. Children also need a safe, stable and nurturing relationship with a caring adult in a safe space, free of abuse in order to overcome the damage and heal.
If you are concerned about the safety of a child who is being exposed to family violence, please call the OKDHS Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-522-3511. Reports can be made anonymously.
If you are experiencing domestic violence and need help, contact the Family Crisis and Counseling Center 24-Hour Crisis Line at 1-844-311-7233.
Rhonda Hudson is the executive director for Ray of Hope Advocacy Center. Jordan Ihrig is co-owner of Musselman Abstract Company and a Ray of Hope board member. Both are mothers, native Bartians and advocates for children, teaming up to help you create positive relationships with children in your life.
CASA seeks donations for foster kids this Christmas
by Hillary Nichols
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties (CASA of CGS) is reaching out to its neighbors in hopes of finding local businesses and families willing to provide Christmas gifts for the foster children and teens currently served by the organization.
CASA of CGS trains volunteers called "CASA Advocates" who are appointed by Judges to watch over child abuse victims. Advocates make sure that these children do not get lost in the overburdened system and help victims find safe and permanent homes as quickly as possible.
Our community does not yet have enough CASA advocates for each and every victim of child abuse. As a result, Judges can only appoint CASA advocates to the most difficult cases. CASA advocates stay with each child until their case is closed and the child is placed in a safe and permanent home. For many victims of abuse, the CASA advocate is the only adult with a consistent and caring presence in their lives. Currently, there are more than 1,400 children involved in the foster care system in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties and the goal is to provide a CASA advocate for each one of them.
According to CASA's Outreach Coordinator Hillary Nichols, "The holidays are the season to be jolly, but many foster children shuffle through the holidays feeling sad, lonely, homesick, confused and angry. It might be a child's first holiday separated from their biological parents and no matter how bad things were at home, they may still miss the familiar sights, sounds, and traditions they once knew. As a small gesture, we love to provide each of our CASA children a small gift every Christmas to let them know they are loved."
If you're interested in sponsoring a child this holiday season, contact CASA at Hillary.email@example.com or 856-521-0734 and you will be provided with a list of the children who currently need a sponsor. Suggested price for the gift is $25 and gifts must be unwrapped. Collection of the presents will be held the first week of December and pick up can be arranged if that is preferred.
CASA will host another training this winter, beginning on Jan. 24, 2017. Visit www.wespeakupforchildren.org to learn more about our volunteer opportunities and the upcoming training. You can also contact the CASA of CGS office at 856-521-0734. Help make a difference and give a voice to the abused and neglected children of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties.
Hendrick seminar examines child abuse
by Brian Bethel
Knowing if a child's injuries constitute abuse can be a difficult task, requiring medical personnel and others to step back and see if the facts fit, said Dr. Jamye Coffman, medical director of Cook Children's Medical Center's C.A.R.E. Team.
“Does the story they're telling of the fall off the bed, the turning on the hot water accidentally, whatever it is, does that fit with what you're seeing?” Coffman said after her talk, “Recognition and Evaluation of Child Abuse,” at Hendrick Medical Center on Thursday.
Coffman spoke Thursday at “Kids Count…On Us: A Conference on the Prevention of Child Abuse.”
The idea for “Kids Count” grew from an “alarming increase in child abuse cases in our area,” according to information provided by Hendrick.
“We feel like this needs to be offered in our community and information needs to be given out to everyone, not just nurses but law enforcement, Child Protective Services, social workers, and people in our community that deal with these problems every day,” said Susie Striegler, sexual assault nurse examiner program coordinator.
This year's conference included presentations on babies born addicted, recognition and evaluation of child abuse, interdiction for the protection of children and sex trafficking in Texas.
Those trying to ferret out the truth of an injury must know if a child's injuries are consistent with the history of the case, consistent with the child's developmental level, and whether or not the history is constant over time, Coffman said.
One must also consider any potential delay in seeking care, possible triggering events and overall timing, she said.
WITH NO HISTORY
A problem is that often, children come in with no additional or known history, she said, something that "really hamstrings the medical staff because they're having to figure out what's wrong with this child with no information,” Coffman said.
"We never know what we'll see when we're called in," Striegler said.
Certain injuries, though, can provide clues – bruising patterns, for example.
“Accidents happen, but the child has to be old enough to get into the accident,” Coffman said after her talk. “If you have a child that is non-mobile – they can't crawl, they can't walk, how are they going to get hurt? And if they do get hurt, somebody knows. They can't get back up into the crib, somebody has to pick them up and put them back.”
There's really no such thing as a person's rank outstripping anyone else, she said, at least when it comes to this issue, she said.
“It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, if you have concerns, you have to make the report,” Coffman said, recalling times when nurses correctly expressed concerned about possible abuse when physicians didn't.
"It takes that investigation to know if it is or isn't (abuse)," she said, a process that begins with an individual following through on initial concerns.
Abuse can affect a child in a variety of ways, Coffman said.
We know that abuse is toxic stress,” she said. “We know that it has the potential to have effects down to the cellular level”
That includes brain structure – “how the brain grows or doesn't grow, what neurons are created, what connections are created,” she said.
Abuse can create changes at the hormonal level because of the stress hormones, she said.
“It can create risk for chronic health conditions later in life," Coffman said.
Abuse can even create change at the genetic level, she said.
“There are what is called epigenetic modifications, so it can even change gene expression, which can be generational,” she said.
Such considerations make intervention “extremely important from a public health standpoint – not only moral and ethical,” Coffman said.
“If you get the intervention, if you make the report, the child gets the help they need,” she said.
Without such help, “there's no hope,” she said.
Appropriate intervention can also open positive doorways for parents, Coffman said.
“Parents of these kids, I think sometimes we have to look at their past, and instead of saying ‘what's wrong?' (ask) ‘what happened to you?'” she said “That can open up the conversation."
And that means those parents may be open to more help, including learning “different ways to parent,” Coffman said.
If they're willing to do that, then "perhaps we can stop the cycle" of abuse, she said.
Compulsory reporting of child abuse concerns 'could deluge social workers'
Eileen Munro, who conducted child protection review in wake of Baby P case, warns against government plans
by Clare Horton
Social workers could face a “deluge” of cases if plans to force professionals to report concerns of child abuse are introduced, the author of a government-commissioned review of child protection has warned.
Eileen Munro, professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, spoke out against government proposals that could see social workers and others who work with children jailed for up to five years for failing to act on evidence of abuse.
Speaking at a Guardian event at the National Children and Adult Services conference in Manchester, Munro said the proposals, announced by former prime minister David Cameron last year, would not improve children's safety.
She told the audience of senior social care leaders that there was already a duty on professionals to report concerns. “If you introduce mandatory reporting, all the attention to that and threats of punishment will make people lower their threshold of reporting,” Munro said. “You will absorb a great deal of resources of the sector in trying to find a few cases.”
Munro, whose review of child protection in England was commissioned in the wake of the Baby P controversy, added that mandatory reporting could lead to a much higher rate of “false positive” allegations, and could worsen children's safety if professionals were taken away from other areas of work to handle the possible deluge of referrals. She added: “The reasons people don't report are more complicated than the threat of imprisonment.”
Munro was joined at the discussion by Rachael Wardell, the Association of Directors of Children's Services lead on workforce issues and communities director at West Berkshire council, to look back over six years of child protection reforms.
A recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO) found progress had been poor and deemed the quality of services provided by councils in England “unsatisfactory and inconsistent”.
“The kind of change we are looking for does not happen overnight,” Munro said, adding that in the years since her review was published, the focus had been on improving social work expertise, education and morale.
She accused the NAO report of failing to “show any understanding of the sense in which [social work] is tougher”, and added that it did not reflect how Ofsted inspections of children's services had changed. Children's services, she said, were “cursed by having to have a single word judgment” following inspections. Wardell agreed: “To characterise the sector as harshly as one-word judgments do is not reasonable.”
Munro also revealed that only one of her recommendations – on early intervention – was not fully implemented by the government. Her proposal, she said, was to make early intervention a statutory duty “so that people kept it as important as the service of child protection”. “It is an area which is struggling now because of the lack of political priority for it,” she added. “It is where you can make the cuts.”
Early intervention and prevention services are protected in adult social care, said Wardell, and she thought similar reassurances were essential in children's services.
Munro and Wardell were asked about contentious proposals in the government's children and social work bill for a new social work regulator. “I'm not convinced this isn't a solution in search of a problem,” said Wardell, adding that the regulator needed to be as independent of government as possible.
Reflecting on how the profession has embraced her reforms, Munro said: “The thing I have been most impressed by is the amount of energy and enthusiasm in the sector to get back to really professional work.” She added: “We are seeing masses of innovation, but it is coming from the sector themselves, not politicians and civil servants.”
Ferrero, his staff, weigh emotional needs of child abuse victims
by Carrie Schnirring, MA
I am a child. An adult is touching me. My mom doesn't believe me so I was removed from my home. Strangers want to know what happened. I'm embarrassed and scared. I wish I never said anything."
Every day, Stark County's multidisciplinary child abuse team helps children in unimaginable situations. These professionals recognize that each abused child has different life experiences/family situations, competency levels, and mental health issues. Each team member relies on his or her own expertise to ensure good decisions are made regarding the best interest of the victim. Because of this, the decision to prosecute an offender is handled as a team, which is a national norm.
Recently, this approach was criticized by one candidate for county prosecutor. He argues that all child offenders should go to trial and that all prosecutions should proceed on partial video clips of child victim interviews. I'm not a legal expert, but I am a mental health provider who has worked with child victims of sexual abuse for the past 15 years. This criticism shows little understanding regarding the significant emotional impact that sexual abuse has on young victims.
The courts zealously guard a defendant's rights, including the right to cross-examine young children. Unfortunately, it has also been my experience that videos of child interviews never suffice to carry the prosecutor's burden. Consequently, young children almost always must testify in front of their perpetrator, and then be subjected to grueling cross examination. For some abused children, this is NOT emotionally manageable. This traumatizes a child a second time, with permanent consequences.
In Stark County, guilty pleas obtained without going to trial routinely result in definite sentences of over a decade — all without the risk of acquittal. Why put a child through the trauma of a trial if securing a guilty plea results in a more concrete conclusion?
After working with abused children for many years, I appreciate that John Ferrero, and his staff, weigh the emotional needs of the child victims when moving forward with cases.
CARRIE SCHNIRRING, MA
PSYCHOLOGY ASSISTANT, NORTHEAST OHIO BEHAVIORAL HEALTH
Law Enforcement, Advocates Participate in Child Abuse Prevention Training
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Over 1,200 law enforcement, prosecutors, social workers and community advocates participated in nearly 20 statewide trainings aimed at protecting Kentucky's children from sexual abuse.
The trainings were selected by the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board and made possible through funding from the Child Victims' Trust Fund, administered by the Office of the Attorney General.
The trainings were held in Florence, Morehead, Maysville, Elizabethtown, Henderson, Louisville, Ashland, Hazard, Pikeville, Lexington, Jamestown, London, Bowling Green and Paducah.
Attorney General Andy Beshear said the training sessions focused on protecting children from molester selection, engagement and seduction by examining the behaviors of sex offenders.
“Approximately one out of every 214 males in Kentucky is a registered sex offender,” says Cory Jewell Jenson, a nationally recognized child advocate and the co-director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention. “Considering only five to 13 percent of victims even disclose their abuse, we have to do a better job of educating professionals and the public alike. This child abuse prevent project in Kentucky makes it a leader nationwide in terms of child safety, community policing and crime prevention initiatives.”
State's attorney: Parents need to monitor children's online activity
by Adam McDonald
It's a sad reality, but statistics show you can find a victim of child abuse or neglect in nearly every classroom.
One in 22 students in Madison County will be involved in such a case, according to prosecutors, and the trend is going the wrong way.
“The numbers go up each year. As we get better at prosecuting, more people come forward. For so many years, this has been swept under the rug,” said Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons, who spoke on the topic last week at a forum in Highland put on by Moose Lodge 2479.
“Every month, we try to have someone come in and speak,” said Highland Moose Lodge 2479 governor Jonathan Gould. “The lodge members, with most of those in attendance being either fathers or grandfathers, were very receptive to the message and mission of the CAC (Child Advocacy Center).”
Gayle Frey of Frey Properties in Highland, a board member for the Friends of Madison County Child Advocacy Center for the past three years, also spoke at the forum.
Frey said he is passionate about getting the word out about CAC's mission of helping children who have been victimized.
“The center serves a very important role in our community. The Madison County Child Advocacy Center is a resource for the children who are brave enough to disclose physical or sexual abuse,” Frey said. “Through a recorded forensic interview, children are able to share their story one time, in a safe and supportive environment.”
The center works with a team composed of law enforcement, DCFS professionals, Madison County States Attorney's Office and medical and mental health professionals.
“In 2015, the center experienced its busiest year yet. They interviewed 650 children involved in an allegation of abuse. This was a 28 percent increase from 2014,” Frey said. “Child abuse is a serious issue in our community.”
So far in 2016, the CAC has had five record months in terms of the number of interviews conducted and is seeing an additional 11 percent increase in services.
Gibbons said it is important for parents to keep a diligent watch on their children's online presence in order to safeguard them from potential predators.
“There is a myth that children have constitutional rights and parents can't search their stuff,” Gibbons said. “Parents can search their children's phone. And don't let them sleep with it. Charge it in a different location overnight.”
Gibbons also said that most children who are abused personally know their abuser.
“Abusers will use any means available to groom their victims, including cell phones, texting, social media messaging and apps that allow for the transfer of photos and video,” Gibbons said. “In a recent interstate child abduction case, the abuser used a cell phone and messaging system to coordinate with his victim to meet and flee the jurisdiction. Family members in the home had no idea this was happening.”
Overall, Gould, the Highland Moose Lodge governor, said the lodge's reaction was so positive that they have shared contact information from the CAC with their district president.
“Steps are already being taken for other lodges throughout Madison County to host similar presentations. Within our own community, our next step will be to include the CAC in future youth awareness programs and to formerly discuss some level of financial or service related support,” Gould said.
Internet Safety Tips for Kids and Teens
? Spend time having fun with your parents online and helping them understand technology.
? Never post your personal information, such as a cell phone number, home number, home address, or your location on any social networking site or through mobile apps like Snapchat or Instagram.
? Never meet in person with anyone you first “met” on the internet. If someone asks to meet you, tell your parents or guardian right away. Some people may not be who they say they are.
? Check with your parents before you post pictures of yourself or others online. Do not post inappropriate pictures of anyone.
? Never respond to mean or rude texts, messages, and e-mails. Delete any unwanted messages. You may need to delete friends who continuously bother you or post things that are not appropriate.
? Never share your password with anyone, including your best friend. The only people who should know your password are your parents or guardian.
? If you wouldn't say something to another person's face, don't text it or post it online.
? Do not download or install software or anything on your computer or cell phone before checking with your parents or guardian.
? Use the privacy settings of social networking sites.
? If anything makes you feel uncomfortable online, while gaming or when using your cell phone, talk with your parents or guardian right away.
Source: Netwsmartz.org and safekids.com.
Missing South Carolina woman found alive in container, "chained like a dog"
by CBS News
WOODRUFF, S.C. -- A South Carolina woman who vanished more than two months ago was found alive Thursday morning inside a padlocked 30' by 15' metal container on a rural property, “chained like a dog,” a sheriff said.
Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright says deputies heard the 30-year-old woman banging on the walls of the container as they served a search warrant at the nearly 100-acre Woodruff property related to the search for her and her boyfriend, Charlie Carver.
The woman told investigators she had been held there against her will for two months. Carver, 32, remains missing.
“It was pretty emotional, to say the least,” Wright told reporters. “When she was found, she was chained like a dog – she had a chain around her neck. It's only by God's grace we found that little girl alive.”
Wright says registered sex offender Todd Kohlhepp, 45, was arrested at his home in Moore Thursday morning in connection to the case. He was charged with kidnapping. More charges are possible, Wright said.
CBS affiliate WSPA reports he is listed as the owner of the Woodruff property.
The woman also told investigators there may be four bodies on the property, but Wright says investigators aren't sure whether that's true.
“We're trying to make sure we don't have a serial killer on our hands,” Wright said. “It very possibly could be what we have.”
The woman said she had been fed during her time in captivity, Wright said. She's being treated at a medical center and was in good condition.
Wright said investigative leads led them to the property. He wouldn't discuss whether the woman told them any details about Carver's whereabouts.
The woman and her boyfriend were last heard from in late August, WSPA reports. The missing case gained national attention after suspicious posts appeared on Carver's Facebook page that his family suspected were posted by someone else. The page was later taken down.
On Thursday, Wright said “it's super possible [Kohlhepp] was doing that to try and get people off his trail, but that's just a thought, I don't know that for sure.”
The national sex offender registry lists a kidnapping count for Kohlhepp in Arizona in 1987. Spartanburg County Jail records don't list a charge. A lawyer for Kohlhepp couldn't immediately be located.
Penn State fined record $2.4M for handling of Jerry Sandusky case
by The Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Federal officials looking into how Penn State handled child sexual-abuse complaints against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky hit the university with a record $2.4 million fine Thursday, saying it violated campus crime reporting requirements, failed to warn people about potential threats and fostered a belief among athletes that rules didn't apply to them.
The fine was the result of a five-year investigation begun as Sandusky's 2011 arrest raised questions about what administrators had known about him.
A report by federal officials said Penn State officials disclosed in June that 45 people have claimed they were Sandusky's victims. His 2012 conviction and decades-long prison sentence stem from allegations involving 10 boys.
The U.S. Department of Education concluded Penn State largely ignored many of its duties under the 1990 Clery Act, which promotes transparency about campus safety.
"When we determine that an institution is not upholding this obligation, then there must be consequences,'' department Undersecretary Ted Mitchell said.
The Department of Education found Penn State violated regulations by not warning students and employees about Sandusky after administrators were told he abused a boy in a team shower in 2001 and as officials were being summoned to a grand jury and the scope of his behavior was becoming clearer a decade later.
Sandusky, due in court Friday as he seeks to have his conviction overturned, still had access to football facilities as his arrest neared. A team official asked for Sandusky's keys, the report said, but Sandusky refused and said handing them over might be construed as an admission of wrongdoing.
"In short, a man who was about to be charged with violent crimes against defenseless minors was free to roam the Penn State campus, as he pleased,'' the report said.
Penn State said the report was being reviewed and noted that since 2011 it has implemented "robust'' training and is continuing "vigorous efforts to create a culture of reporting, safety and accountability.''
The Department of Education said Penn State's police department concealed its investigation into an earlier report involving Sandusky and a boy in a team shower. Police didn't record the 1998 matter on their daily crime log even though university policy required the log describe the type, location and time of every criminal incident. The university argued police couldn't determine whether the interaction rose to the level of a sex offense and because it was unclear a crime occurred there was no need to log it.
But the Department of Education noted campus police logged far less serious matters, including someone sleeping in a stairwell.
"In light of these entries, Penn State's contention that the reported incident of a middle-aged man inappropriately touching an 11-year-old boy, while naked and showering with him, didn't rise to the level for inclusion in the daily crime log strains credulity,'' the Education Department wrote in its report.
Former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz await trial along with former president Graham Spanier on charges of endangering the welfare of children and failing to properly report suspected abuse. They deny the accusations against them.
Investigators said they also found Penn State underreported crimes in annual statistics submitted to the government. In 2002, the university said it had no forcible sex offenses, but investigators said they found campus police received reports of 12 such crimes. The report disclosed new details about the athletics staff, including that then-head coach Joe Paterno had his secretary email Spanier and Curley to say he'd take care of disciplining players involved in a 2007 off-campus fight.
Paterno had a text message sent to players telling them if they went to the university's judicial affairs to answer code-of-conduct complaints they'd be 'thrown off the team,'' the report said.
The report said Paterno was seen during most of his tenure as a disciplinarian and generally didn't interfere in police investigations or ignore bad behavior by his players. But when the university began to reform its student disciplinary process, he resisted efforts to apply the changes to the football program, it said. The previous record Clery Act fine was $357,500 against Eastern Michigan University in 2007, reduced to $350,000 in a settlement.
Adult survivors of childhood abuse
by Nangisai Matangira
NDESHI, a woman in her early 20s, walks into our office at REGAIN Trust on a hot Tuesday afternoon. She has a story to tell, and she hopes this will help her heal the scars of sexual abuse she endured from a tender age.
Ndeshi grew up in Windhoek with her elder siblings – two sisters and two brothers – and the family once stayed on a farm.
She was visiting our office to get help after a traumatic ordeal that she had to endure many years ago.
She was only four-years-old when it all began – and she was blinded by the innocence of childhood.
One of the workers at the farm where the family was staying then, sexually abused her on several occasions. Ndeshi started bedwetting, constantly crying, having sleep problems and nightmares after the ordeal.
“I experienced pain from the injuries I sustained. But in my innocence at the time, I could not tell my parents what was happening because I was also confused. I did not know it was wrong, although I did not like it,” said Ndeshi.
However, one day, her mother came to know that Ndeshi was being abused by the man. In her intense anger over Ndeshi's silence, her mother gave the four-year-old toddler a brutal beating with an electric cord.
Ndeshi could not comprehend these bad events. She could not understand why the man was abusing her, and why her mother beat her so much for being abused. After all, she was just an innocent baby.
This made Ndeshi fear her mother and have a strained relationship with her, she explained.
When Ndeshi was about eight, her uncle came to stay with them.
To her horror, the uncle started calling the young Ndeshi to his bedroom, and he would abuse her and then threaten to murder her and her family if she spoke about it.
She remained silent for about six months – fearing the beating from her mother on one hand, and the threats of her abuser on the other.
The sexual abuse worsened, and the uncle even went as far as abusing her during family gatherings by coercing her to go to the bushes while no one was noticing.
“I was forced to do things for grown-ups that I was not ready for at that age. I was so young, and no one noticed my pain and hurt.”
Ndeshi could not open up to her mother because she feared that she would be blamed and beaten up severely as previously.
The abuse stopped when her uncle left to work in another town. She added “this was a relief for me when he moved out, but I had to live with the scars of the abuse. I still cry every day when I think about those years, and I fail to concentrate on activities because the memories always run through my mind”.
Ndeshi continues to receive counselling from REGAIN Trust on coping strategies, having a balanced emotional environment and enhancing a strong bond with her mother.
REGAIN Trust urges parents and caregivers to know that it is not always easy to detect whether a child has been sexually abused because it often occurs in secret, and there is not always physical proof of the abuse.
According to a 2015 study by the National Centre for PTSD, some child sexual abuse survivors may behave in a nervous, upset way, and they may act out aspects of the abuse in their play.
Young children may lose skills they once learned, and act younger than they are. For example, an abused child might start wetting the bed, or sucking his or her thumb. Some sexual abuse survivors show out-of-place sexual behaviours which are not expected of a child. They may act seductively, or they may not maintain safe limits with others.
Children, especially boys, might “act out” with behavioural problems. This could include being cruel to others, and running away. Other children “act in” by becoming depressed. They may withdraw from friends or family. Older children or teenagers might try to hurt or even kill themselves.
If you are a survivor of any abuse, please do not hesitate to contact us on our hotline 081 703 3203.
*If you want to help us to stop violence, reach out to REGAIN or other Namibian NGOs for voluntary work, or to donate in kind. Please report to the police or the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare if you are abused, or if you feel somebody else is in need.
Child Advocacy Center talks realities of child abuse at Cumberland University
by The Mt Juliet News
One of the most important pieces of information to come out of a panel discussion at Cumberland University last Tuesday was that children who are abused will confide in an adult once, and if the adult doesn't intervene, the child won't reach out to another adult again.
Cumberland University and the 15th Judicial District Child Advocacy Center presented a child abuse awareness panel at the university's Labry Hall in hopes of heightening awareness surrounding issues of child abuse and neglect.
The event featured two survivors, Brenda Jackson and Keith Edmonds, who spoke personally of what they endured and what they hoped for other children. Also included on the panel were Wilson County sheriff's Detective Maj. B.J. Stafford, assistant district attorney Tom Swink, CAC forensic interviewer Amanda Dardy and state Department of Children's Services lead investigator Patrick Cockburn.
The 15th Judicial District covers Wilson, Smith, Macon, Jackson and Trousdale counties.
When Jackson's mother lost her and her sister and brother, they were put into the foster care system. When their biological father then got out of prison for murder, he simply went and got them and brought them home to live with him, though they didn't know him – yet. Brenda Jackson was 6 years old at the time.
The first thing they did was put their clothes away and then were told to come into the living room to stand on one foot. Jackson was the first to falter.
“Imagine three little kids standing in front of an adult, our father, just out of prison. Of course I was the first to put my leg down. He comes over to me and tells me to strip down naked,” said Jackson saying her father first needed to humiliate her before telling her to go get an extension cord that would take the skin off her back during the first beating that night.
“That was around 7 o'clock at night, and we had to do that until 5 o'clock in the morning,” Jackson said. “That was the first day.”
There was also a ritual in which Jackson's father would have the children stand against a wall to shoot a BB gun at them. They were allowed to move laterally but not “forward,” and they got hit, a lot, having to pull pellets out of their skin later.
The “art” wall would be a constant reminder of their father's power.
“We had a hallway, and my father said he wanted some art. He would grab one of us, and he would just take our heads and push it into the wall,” Jackson said.
One day, her father told Brenda that she needed to stay home from school. That was the beginning of the sexual molestation. He made her stay out of school for a few days afterward, added punishment because school was an escape.
“When the bell rang in the afternoon, my heart would start to pound,” Jackson said. “There was a little girl on the playground who asked me why I was out of school. For some reason, I told her.”
She was then called into the principal's office.
“My principal looked at me and she said, ‘You are a liar,” Jackson said. “‘I know your father, and he is a good man. Don't you ever, ever say anything like that again.' You can imagine this little kid just sitting there in the chair … Imagine if I would've had a child advocacy center… Imagine if there was a place that I could go or where I could be believed.”
At one point, the father let the children have a family dog, to which the three children became attached. Later, Jackson's father took them all to the woods to watch their father shoot the dog. The abuse for the children lasted at least 10 years, until Jackson was 17.
Jackson said she stayed because of her sister.
“I didn't want to leave my sister who was also being abused,” said Jackson. “We didn't believe adults anymore. She had tried to tell her story one time, too.”
Jackson eventually confronted her father who pulled a shotgun on her; she called his bluff and walked out and continued to walk. She was picked up by a young man her age who then took her to his family, and that family took her in.
Her father started another family, which produced a number of children, including a girl who, at 12 years old, murdered someone. When she told her story of abuse, they put a wire on her to substantiate the sexual abuse, and that is when the story of the family abuse came to light, and her father was put back in jail.
Eventually, Jackson became an advocate for children. Previously, Jackson was an investigator for Child Protective Services in Wilson and Trousdale counties. She now works with veterans and their families in Memphis.
Edmonds formed the Keith Edmonds Foundation, which aims to empower victims in Wilson County.
Edmonds told Tuesday's group that a child is being reported for some kind of abuse every 10 seconds in America. However, he said the events prior to reporting are even more critical.
“The one thing that stuck out the most when Brenda was talking was how important it would have been if that principal had listened,” Edmonds said. “A lot of times if a kid is going to confide to an adult, they are only going to do it one time. When a child is confiding in you, you have to take the proper steps.”
Then Edmonds began telling his own terrifying tale.
“When I was 18 years old, I set out to kill a man,” Edmonds told the crowd at Labry Hall. “I got in my 1989 Chevrolet Beretta, and I was ready to settle the score … When I was 14 months old on Nov. 18, 1978, my face was held to an electric heater, resulting in the third-degree burns over 50 percent of my face, the scars that you see today.”
That night in 1978, his mother's boyfriend drugged her because he knew of his intentions.
“My mother's boyfriend took me and held my face to an electric heater, laid me on the bed covered my face with a washcloth and left me there to die,” said Edmonds.
At that time, Edmonds said, the Department of Children's Services got involved.
“This was 1978, and things are a little different today,” Edmonds said. “My mother was assigned a social worker. Eventually, my mother was cleared of any wrongdoing. My abuser was sentenced to 10 years in the state of Michigan prison. I was given a life sentence of feeling alone, alienated and angry.”
Every year until Edmonds was 18, he had to go to the Cincinnati Shriners Burn Institute to have surgeries done on his face. Also until he was 18, he had to wear a plastic mask to stretch out the scars.
The scarring of his face brought both physical and emotional pain. The name calling started in school immediately, he said.
“Scarface was a big one … Burnt toast baby was a good one, too, and then in the '80s when I grew up, there was a very popular movie around this time of year. I was called Freddy Krueger I don't know how many times,” Edmonds said.
“I just get through the seasons, because it always triggers that stuff for me. So, I had to live my whole life realizing that there was a man who set out to kill me and did not succeed,” Edmonds said. “That was a heavy thing to bear.”
Dardy talked about the process of bringing a child to the Child Advocacy Center. There are two aims, she said, to try and find out what happened and to not traumatize the child again.
“They are in a room that is a kind of play room where they feel comfortable,” Dardy said. “I talk to them, really about them. I get to know them first. I don't go into what has happened to them immediately … Then, at some point I ask questions, but it is always child-focused.”
Dardy said it is important to get the information that is both safe for the child but will also hold up in court. The interview is videotaped, so law enforcement can use it, if necessary.
“It allows them to review the tape without having to ask the child multiple times what has happened,” Dardy said. “The child doesn't get re-traumatized by telling the story.”
Swink said the statute of limitations for abusers has grown with the understanding of what happens to abused children when they become adults. Many need years of therapy to process it enough to come forward.
“The statute of limitations is a very complicated thing … Here is the good news though, the statute of limitations generally for these types of offenses is getting longer and longer. For rape of a child under 13 years of age, the statute of limitations is now 25 years after that child becomes 18,” Swink said.
Reporting child abuse is confidential. To report suspected child abuse, call 877-237-0004.
Kids remain reluctant to report sexual abuse, study finds
by Melissa Cunningham
Children who are being sexually abused remain reluctant to report it, a study for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has found.
The commission funded a research project of more than 1400 children and young people, including those with a disability, across Australia.
Chief executive of the royal commission Philip Reed said the research allowed the inquiry to hear directly from children and young people about how they perceive safety, the safety issues they confront in institutional contexts and how these could be best addressed.
The study was instigated by three years of harrowing and abhorrent evidence of child sex crimes.
Much of the evidence gathered over the years was submitted by the more 5000 survivors who put their broken hearts on the line to give evidence to the inquiry.
Mr Reed said it was now critical young people are given a voice in how they would safer in institutions like schools, churches and sporting clubs.
The study found one in 10 young people surveyed said they would not tell anyone if they were sexually abused.
This statistic to soared to one in five if the child's perpetrator was a peer.
The study found boys were significantly less likely to disclose than girls.
Many said feared telling an adult would only worsen the situation.
Two thirds said they would rather confide in a friend, 55 per cent said the would confide in their mother and 35 per cent would talk to their father
One in four would seek help from a teacher and one in three thought their school should be doing more to keep them safe. Among the key findings was that institutions working with children need to find ways to identify those who don't feel safe and develop strategies to increase their confidence in adults.
It also found there was a need to reconsider the nature and scope of education and information provided to children about abuse and dealing with unsafe adults and peers. The study found it must be informed by the needs of young people of different ages and genders.
Miley's Bill seeks to raise awareness of child abuse
by Daniela Vazquez
MANTI— A local case of shaken-baby child abuse has helped bring a proposal to Utah lawmakers to set up a registry for convicted felony child abusers.
Miley White, now 3, was severely injured after being violently shaken by her father, Gary Hansen when she was only 7-months. Miley sustained injuries to her head and body, leaving her with 25 percent loss of brain function, blindness and other physical and cognitive disabilities.
“We're calling this ‘Miley's Bill' to honor her,” Representative Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green, said at a balloon release held at the Manti City Park on Oct. 22 to commemorate Miley's survival and to honor other child victims of abuse. “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.”
JoAnn Otten, Miley's grandmother and chair of the Children's Justice Center board, said after Miley was injured, she and her family became outspoken and looked for ways to spread awareness.
Otten said she met with a John Cox, a former member of the Utah House of Representatives after the incident occurred to inquire about what she could do to help raise awareness and stop violence against children. His response was simple: Education.
Otten said she contacted the Utah State Board of Education for ideas on how she could educate the public and they asked her to come up with a presentation. She says she immediately began working on a presentation showcasing Miley's story. She has traveled to local schools, nursing schools and educated the Snow College Business Club over the course of three years to help spread awareness.
After a year, Otten said she had done all she could do and wanted to move forward with a broader campaign. She said she had met Owens to discuss options and he agreed to sponsor a bill that would change Utah law to include convicted child abusers on a registry.
While the bill is still in the drafting stage, Owens says there is still a lot of work to do before presenting it to the House and Senate.
Currently, Owens says he and the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel are making decisions about which crimes and at which level to include in the bill.
The current drafted proposal says that anyone convicted of felony child abuse, child trafficking, shaken baby and sexual abuse must register with the child abuse registry.
Data released by the Child Welfare League of America, the longest standing welfare organization in the United States, shows Utah had 37,648 referrals for child abuse in 2015 and authorities investigated 19,493 of them.
According to the report, seven Utah children died as a result of abuse and neglect last year.
Owens and Otten, along with their supporters and other child-abuse victim advocates, say if one child and family are protected and spared from the suffering endured by Miley, then every effort made to get the bill passed into law will be worth it.
“We are set to go with this and are serious about it,” Otten says. “This will provide the opportunity for people who want to check out a daycare provider, who they are sending their children to and even for people who want to know who they are dating.”
Owens says they are pressing forward to have the bill ready for the 2017 Legislative session, which will begin the final week of January, and hope to gain support from lawmakers, criminal justice and law enforcement.
Minister: New Bill includes requiring third parties to report child sexual abuse
by The Malaysia Mail Online
KUALA LUMPUR — The proposed Child Sexual Crimes Bill will include the obligation for third parties to report suspected child sexual abuse cases, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said.
The minister in the Prime Minister's Department, in an interview with The Star's R.AGE, said it could help in tackling cases that involved trusted perpetrators.
“What do you do when the abuser is someone within the victim's immediate circle?
“The worst thing is that most of the time, these cases involving trusted perpetrators tend to be repeat cases,” she was quoted as saying.
The Bill is aimed to extend beyond the current Penal Code and Child Act 2001 (for cases of child sexual crimes). Currently, only immediate family members, medical professionals and child care providers have a duty to report such cases.
Azalina, who is also the head of the sexual crimes task force that drafted the Bill, said she hoped it could be finalised and tabled in the current Parliament meeting.
Drug abuse epidemic's impact on kids highlighted
by Andrew Welsh Huggins
CINCINNATI — The country's addictions epidemic has created a generation of children affected by their parents' problems, a doctor who works with infants born addicted to heroin told a gathering of experts struggling with the issue Tuesday.
The effect includes the physical problems of the addicted newborns and the chaos older children experience as a result of their parents' addictions, said Dr. Kathy Wedig, a neonatologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
Such children “cannot have what we would consider is a normal childhood,” Wedig said.
Wedig says the epidemic is affecting society overall because of the cost of treating and helping such children.
Tuesday's conference at Xavier University drew hundreds of doctors, nurses, social workers and addiction specialists.
Cases of children suffering from “toxic stress,” a condition caused by exposure to trauma or neglect, are both increasing and more severe because of the addictions epidemic, said Dr. Jennifer Bowden, a child psychiatrist in Cincinnati.
Toxic stress can inhibit physical, emotional, social and language development and put children at risk for health issues such as emphysema, diabetes and cardiac problems, she said.
The Public Children Services Association of Ohio says the number of children taken into custody has risen 19 percent over the past seven years, largely due to parents' painkiller and heroin addictions.
The group says placing the children of addicts in protective custody is costing taxpayers $45 million a year.
Last year, the state saw a record 3,050 overdose deaths, a 20 percent increase, with many of those attributed to painkillers and heroin abuse.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says opioid overdose deaths, including addictive painkillers and heroin, hit record levels in 2014, with a 14 percent increase in just one year.
In eastern Ohio, Cindy King-Anderson and her husband are raising their 5-year-old grandson following his father's death from a heroin overdose last year. The boy was born addicted and needed six weeks of detox in the hospital.
The boy is autistic with anger issues, has oppositional defiance disorder and requires work with a speech therapist and other specialists. King-Anderson says people need to understand that the problems faced by children like her grandson are ongoing long after their birth addiction is addressed.
“Our biggest challenge? It's basically being grandparents and trying to be a parent at the same time,” said King-Anderson, 53, of Columbiana.
Local I-Team: Fighting Sex Trafficking In The Mid-South
Teens Targeted In Upscale Neighborhoods
by Maria Hallas
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Sex slavery is in our midst. Shelby County ranks the highest among counties in Tennessee for sex trafficking. Teens from 12 to 14 are the most targeted to be trafficked. Local I-Team investigator Maria Hallas digs into the problem.
Sex trafficking starts close to home for hundreds of local teens and women in Shelby County. An attentive older man in a grocery store attracted Rebecca. The Memphis woman asked us to disguise her identity.
"He would buy things and pay for my stuff for me, and he would do things to make me notice him," Rebecca said.
12 to 16 year old girls are a choice age for traffickers, according to victims' advocates such as Rachel Summer Haaga.
"Sometimes it's a boyfriend that slowly grooms the girl to realize 'hey this is just part of our life together and we need to run away together, but we need money, so will start do you mind sleeping with my friend,'" Haaga said.
Rebecca went along for a while but resisted requests to leave her home. That is when her boyfriend struck.
"I was getting ready go to school when he kidnapped me. I guess that was the last time my mom saw me," said Rebecca.
Edward Stanton is the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. He prosecutes major sex trafficking cases.
"When an individual says that doesn't happen in my neighborhood or my community, I challenge them actually to say, it's a community, obviously you don't know as well as you think you do," said Stanton.
Stanton said victims come from all backgrounds and neighborhoods.
"We had individuals from the more affluent suburbs here in Memphis, including Germantown, Collierville, and others," said Stanton.
Stanton says Memphis is a hub for sex trafficking because of its central location surrounded by highways and truck stops.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports Shelby County Tops the list in Tennessee with 100 women and 100 teens sex trafficked in two years.
Rebecca's pimp hauled her and two other girls to Seattle, Oregon, and Las Vegas.
They beat her if she did not sell her self, and she didn't see a way out until four years later.
"I jumped out of the car because the police was there, and I was getting ready to tell the police, when he came out of the liquor store and he busted me in my head," Rebecca said.
Rebecca survived the attack, but many women don't. Some die at the hands of their captors or the men who solicit them.
Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi are cracking down on pimps and receiving high marks from Polaris, a nonprofit that fights trafficking.
"I think it is absolutely up to the community to say we are not complicit to allow people to pay for sex with our kids or even with our adults," said Haaga.
Haaga says the following six signs should raise your suspicions:
An older man hanging around a young woman or group of women without an obvious relationship.
Women who cannot tell you what city they are in.
Women who have tattoos that look like purchase marks.
Teens walking alone at night .
Teens who suddenly dress in expensive clothes.
Teens who lose interest in school or become withdrawn.
Rebecca is using her experience to help the community step in and victims escape. "I hope it helps somebody to see that some some some of those ladies just need some help," said Rebecca.
If you see any of these signs of sex trafficking, advocates ask you to call the following number: 1-855-558-6484.
Of course you can also dial 911 for help. Advocates encourage people not to judge, but take action by calling these numbers. They caution that interference or long questions can risk harm to not only the victim but the person asking questions.
Boy Scout Helps Sex Trafficking Victims
by Kelly Choate
MONTROSE, SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- A boy from Susquehanna County has made it his mission to help others.
That passion is the driving force behind his unique Eagle Scout project.
17-year-old Hyrum Bell is helping children who are victims of something unimaginable -- sex trafficking.
Hyrum teamed up with Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that has rescued more than 500 sex slaves since it began nearly three years ago.
The Eagle Scout candidate is collecting items to give to the kids who are rescued from the sex trafficking rings.
His Amazon wish list has everything from personal hygiene kits to toys. Hyrum is traveling to Utah next week to deliver the donations.
Nonprofits meet to end sex trafficking in northern Nevada
by Sydnee Scofield
RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Sex trafficking is happening right here in northern Nevada. According to Awaken, an organization aiming at ending sex trafficking, around 1,500 people are trafficking through our region per month.
Local nonprofits banded together for a two-day event to help stop sex trafficking in our area. Healthcare providers, law enforcement and members of the community met to learn the signs of sex trafficking.
"When you have knowledgeable, skilled providers, on the front lines who recognize it and will address it with the partners in the community, we will find that the problem of trafficking and the horrible outcome for help will diminish." Keynote Speaker Dr. Patricia Speck said. Dr. Speck travels the world to talk about her 40 years of experience with victims of sex trafficking.
"The dent today (in this problem) that we're going to see is people being able to identify it, and so the more we can actually collect that data, the more we can understand what are current gaps we have as well," Awaken Executive Director Melissa Holland said.
Victoria Sweet also spoke. She is the program attorney for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
"There's a gap in our understanding and in our community responses if our legal system and our medical providers are not communicating with one another" Sweet said.
Holland spoke as well, representing Awaken.
"Places like my organization awaken will know how we can even assist better in identifying really what is the number we're up against, how many victims do we really think are in our area, and then we can start to collaborate in the community with providing services necessary to help these women and children really get out of this," Holland said.
What these attendees got out of this was a greater understanding of sex trafficking here in northern Nevada and the toll is takes on its victims.
Stanford sexual assault survivor named Glamour ‘Woman of the Year'
by Katie Mettler
When Emily Doe first learned the vice president of the United States had written her a letter, she was lounging at her home, wearing pajamas, eating cantaloupe.
It had been two months since Brock Turner, a former Stanford University student, was convicted of sexually assaulting her behind a campus dumpster while she was unconscious and seven days since he had been sentenced to six months in jail and three years' probation for the crime.
On the same day the judge made his ruling, Emily Doe, a pseudonym assigned to protect her anonymity, read aloud in court her now-famous victim impact statement, words that have been heralded as a pivotal moment in the fight against sexual assault on college campuses.
“You don't know me, but you've been inside me,” her statement began, “and that's why we're here today.”
“You took away my worth.”
BuzzFeed News published the 12-page letter in full, and soon Emily Doe's words were flooding the Internet.
It was because of that widespread impact that on Tuesday, Glamour Magazine named Emily Doe a 2016 “Woman of the Year". Her statement, the magazine said, was a “take-no-prisoners” account that “changed the conversation about sexual assault forever.”
Doe's words circled the globe. Within four days her statement had been viewed 11 million times; it was read aloud on CNN and the floor of Congress. Rape hotlines experienced surges in both calls and offers of volunteer help. And importantly, California closed the loophole that had allowed lighter sentences in cases where the victim is unconscious or severely intoxicated.
And accompanying the distinction was another personal essay from Emily Doe, the first time she has spoken publicly about what her life has been like since Brock Turner's sentencing and the worldwide response.
In the essay, she writes about the supportive emails she received from Botswana, Ireland and India, and the gifts she got in the mail from strangers.
There were bicycle earrings, meant to represent the two Swedish graduate students who were riding bikes that night, who found Turner assaulting her, who chased and tackled him when he ran.
There were watercolor paintings of lighthouses, she wrote, an homage to a line from the very end of her victim impact statement:
Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. Although I can't save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can't be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you.
There was the woman who, in Emily Doe's words, “plucked a picture of her young daughter from the inside of her cubicle” and wrote, “This is who you're saving.”
And there was the letter from Vice President Biden.
“I do not know your name — but your words are forever seared on my soul,” he wrote to her in an open letter published again by BuzzFeed News.
He called her a “warrior,” and when Emily Doe read those words, she looked around her room. “Who is he talking to,” she wrote in her Glamour essay.
He said she had a spine made of “solid steel,” so she reached around her back to touch it.
“I printed his letter out and ran around the house flapping it in the air,” she wrote.
In his letter, the vice president said her words should be required reading for all men and women, and that he wished she had never had to write it at all. He called her brave.
“It must have been wrenching,” Biden wrote, “to relive what he did to you all over again.”
Emily Doe addressed that in her Glamour essay. She said that she was told from the beginning her assault included evidence that presented a best case scenario.
“I had forensic evidence, sober unbiased witnesses, a slurred voice mail, police at the scene,” she wrote. “I had everything, and I was still told it was not a slam dunk. I thought, if this is what having it good looks like, what other hells are survivors living?”
After the trial was over and the verdict came back in her favor — guilty on three felony charges related to the assault — Emily Doe wrote that she felt relieved and excited to read her statement and “declare, I am here.”
“I am not that floppy thing you found behind the garbage, speaking melted words,” she wrote in the Glamour essay. “I am here, I can stand upright, I can speak clearly, I've been listening and am painfully aware of all the hurt you've been trying to justify.”
But she immediately felt silenced and “embarrassed,” she wrote, when Turner's sentence was read.
The violation of my body and my being added up to a few months out of his summer. The judge would release him back to his life, back to the 40 people who had written him letters from Ohio. I began to panic; I thought, this can't be the best case scenario. If this case was meant to set the bar, the bar had been set on the floor.
The reaction to Turner's sentencing was swift and furious from the public, from people in the man's hometown, from advocates for victims of sexual assault. Fathers eviscerated the words of Turner's dad, who said the verdicts forever altered his son's future and were “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.”
But until her Glamour essay, Emily Doe had not, outside of her pre-sentencing victim impact statement, addressed Turner, who served three months of his six-month jail sentence before returning home to Ohio, or Judge Aaron Persky, the man who sentenced Turner.
Emily Doe used their names only once:
If you think the answer is that women need to be more sober, more civil, more upright, that girls must be better at exercising fear, must wear more layers with eyes open wider, we will go nowhere. When Judge Aaron Persky mutes the word justice, when Brock Turner serves one month for every felony, we go nowhere. When we all make it a priority to avoid harming or violating another human being, and when we hold accountable those who do, when the campaign to recall this judge declares that survivors deserve better, then we are going somewhere.
And it seems, like Glamour declared, that Emily Doe's words really have changed the way the public thinks about sexual assault — and perhaps emboldened others to speak out.
Last week, six former Harvard women's soccer players penned an open letter in the school's student newspaper, addressing members of the men's 2012 soccer team who drafted and shared a “scouting report” of their physical appearance that numerically ranked them by perceived sexual appeal.
In the Dallas Morning News, a contributor nominated as Texan of the Year the group of women at Baylor University who reported widespread and chronic issues of sexual assault and misconduct among the college football team, then faced harsh criticism from the campus community, donors and football fans.
And in some ways, it seems Emily Doe's powerful message set the groundwork for a conversation that has even influenced the 2016 presidential race, where headlines about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's unsavory comments — and alleged actions — toward women have dominated news cycles.
Similar to what Trump has said about women who accused him of sexual misconduct, Emily Doe wrote in her Glamour essay that one person said she is “not pretty enough to have been raped.” Another comment, written right after the assault in 2015, “lodged harmfully inside” her, Doe wrote: Sad. I hope my daughter never ends up like her.
To that commenter, Doe used her essay to respond:
I am learning to say, I hope you end up like me, meaning, I hope you end up like me strong. I hope you end up like me proud of who I'm becoming. I hope you don't “end up,” I hope you keep going. And I hope you grow up knowing that the world will no longer stand for this. Victims are not victims, not some fragile, sorrowful aftermath. Victims are survivors, and survivors are going to be doing a hell of a lot more than surviving.
New child abuse suits filed against Catholic Church in Guam
by The Associated Press
HAGATNA, Guam – The latest on allegations of child sex abuse in Guam's Catholic Church
A lawyer for four former altar boys has filed a new civil lawsuit against the Catholic Church in Guam, Archbishop Anthony Apuron and Father Louis Brouillard over child sexual abuse.
A statement was released by the men's attorney Tuesday afternoon in Hagatna. Three of the men, now in their 50s, were altar boys in the 1970s under Apuron, who was a pastor at the time. They allege Apuron molested them during sleepovers.
The fourth man, now in his 70s, was a student and former altar boy in the 1950s when he says Brouillard molested him. Brouillard, 95, admitted to The Associated Press in August that he may have molested 20 boys during his time in Guam.
Guam passed a law in September lifting the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits in child molestation cases.
The new leader of the Catholic Church in Guam will immediately assume all responsibilities in the archdiocese while its suspended archbishop faces a church trial for allegedly sexually abusing altar boys.
Pope Francis on Monday named Bishop Michael Jude Byrnes, the auxiliary bishop of Detroit, as coadjutor bishop of the Guam archdiocese. Coadjutors have succession rights when bishops resign, retire or are removed.
At a news conference Tuesday, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, the temporary apostolic administrator, said Francis gave Byrnes special rights to carry out all the duties as archbishop effective immediately.
Guam had been under an apostolic administrator since June when Archbishop Anthony Apuron, 71, was relieved of his duties after several former altar boys accused him of sexual abuse. He is facing a canonical trial in the Vatican.
Ways to prevent child abuse
13th annual seminar this week on the Island
by The Valley Morning Star
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Child abuse prevention, intervention and investigation in the Valley — including sexual assault in schools and internet crimes against children — will be addressed during the 13th Annual Rio Grande Valley Seminar in Forensic Sciences, which will be held today through Friday at the Isla Grand Beach Resort, located at 500 Padre Blvd.
The seminar, which is presented by Valley Baptist Health System, will provide current information to those involved in child abuse investigations, including law enforcement officers, Child Protective Services workers, social workers, attorneys, nurses, pediatricians, medical examiners, forensic pathologists, coroners, psychologists, EMS personnel, school and day care personnel, clergy, and other professionals.
The three-day conference will address ways to prevent child abuse, techniques used in child death investigations, and other current issues involving child abuse.
Dr. Stan Fisch, Pediatrician and Medical Director of the Child to Adult Abuse Response Team (CAART) program at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, said the forensics seminar is an important learning opportunity for those professionals who work with the realities of domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect.
Also scheduled are Sonja Eddleman, RN, Child Abuse Resource and Evaluation Team Clinical Coordinator for Driscoll Children's Hospital and Child to Adult Abuse Response Team Clinical Manager for Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen and Jamie Ferrell, RN, Forensic Nurse Educator and Consultant, and Clinical Manager of Forensic Nursing Services for Memorial Hermann Health System-Houston.
What's happening at the conference?
- On the opening day of the conference, both Eddleman and Ferrell discusses the process health care providers follow when dealing with cases of suspected child sexual abuse in their presentation “The National Protocol for Pediatric Sexual Abuse Medical Forensic Assessments.”
- “The seminar will provide up to date information, standards of practice, and evidence based research,” Eddleman said.
“This is imperative for all professionals that touch the lives of children and have the opportunity to speak, act, and take a stand to protect the children. The children are waiting on us to help them.”
- On the second day of the conference, Michael Heidingsfield, Director of Police for the University of Texas System, and Caitlin Sulley, Director of the Strategic Partnerships Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault with the University of Texas School of Social Work, will discuss a topic that has continued to make national headlines — incidents of sexual assault on America's college campuses.
- Heidingsfield and Sulley will present “Sexual Assault on Campus – A Blueprint for Institutional Response” on the second day of the conference Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
- Also on Thursday, Dr. Ryan Brown, Clinical Associate Professor of the Department of Pediatrics from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, will present “The Silent Abuser — Why Neglect is the Monster Hiding in the Closet,” which will shed light on the sometimes over looked issue of neglect as it relates to child abuse.
- Then on Friday at 9:15 a.m., Elizabeth Gershoff, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences with the University of Texas at Austin, will discuss the issues of violence against children during her presentation “Violence Against Children is Preventable: Interventions to Reduce Physical Punishment Across Family, School, and Medical Contexts.”
If You Go
WHAT: 13th Annual Rio Grande Valley Seminar in Forensic Sciences
WHEN: Today, Thursday and Friday
WHERE: Isla Grand Beach Resort, 500 Padre Blvd
For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.regonline.com/CAEP_1879782 or call Stephanie Hamby at 956-389-1721. The seminar is presented by Valley Baptist Health System, Blue Sunday, and the Child Abuse Education Program of South Texas.
New video trains emergency responders to recognize child abuse
by Lauren Kravets
WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Williamson County EMS has put together a 43-minute training video for EMTs, paramedics, firefighters and even law enforcement. It's more advanced than the basic training they've received in the past.
The training will help emergency responders recognize more than physical injuries they're used to seeing, but the emotional and behavioral signs of child abuse as well. About 500 first responders throughout Williamson County are expected to benefit.
Austin-Travis County EMS also provides training in child abuse. They say it's important because emergency responders are usually the first on scene to notice if something doesn't seem right.
“They're looking at the environmental situation, they can identify other children that may be potentially at risk, they're able to tell us about interactions of caregivers on scene,” explains Dr. Katherine Remick, interim deputy medical director for Austin-Travis County EMS.
The video will be publicly unveiled Wednesday morning. County leaders will also provide a tour of the Williamson County Children's Advocacy Center, where child abuse victims are taken after the abuse, to figure out what happened.
Nearly 800 children were interviewed at the Williamson County Children's Advocacy Center last year, many of them as victims of suspected child abuse. Nationally, more than 600,000 children experience abuse or neglect each year, and about 1,500 children die from abuse or neglect.
Man Found Living with 12 Girls Allegedly ‘Groomed' Them to Think He Was a Prophet
by Harriet Sokmensuer
While Lee Kaplan lived with 12 girls in his Pennsylvania home, authorities say, he allegedly brainwashed them to believe he was a prophet of God — grooming several of them for sex and calling six of them his “wives.”
Prosecutors this week revealed these and other harrowing details of the girls' years of alleged mental and sexual abuse, as the investigation of Kaplan continues and he faces multiplying charges.
“This guy set up a virtual feeding ground of victims,” Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub tells PEOPLE. “He preyed upon [the girls] one by one.”
Kaplan, who was charged with sex crimes after police rescued the girls from his home in June, is now accused of not only fathering two children with the eldest of the girls but also sexually abusing five of her younger sisters, Weintraub announced on Monday.
That same day Kaplan pleaded not guilty to more than a dozen new charges, including rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault, Weintraub says.
“He took these children into his home not too far from where we stand here today,” Weintraub alleged at a news conference. “Over time he played on their trust and affection for him. He groomed them to believed that he was a religious, cult-like figure for whom they should submit their will.”
Weintraub tells PEOPLE that Kaplan allegedly brainwashed the girls, using tactics similar to Stockholm syndrome, by taking advantage of their innocence and abusing his position of authority.
“They [grew] to accept it,” Weintraub says. “I'm saddened. I'm sickened, but I'm not surprised.”
Kaplan, 51, was originally charged with statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor and aggravated indecent assault after authorities rescued the girls, who ranged in age from six months to 18 years old, from his home in Feasterville, Pennsylvania. (Authorities were tipped off anonymously.)
After Kaplan's arrest, the eldest of the girls told investigators she was 14 when her parents handed her over to Kaplan after he helped them financially. She told police she and Kaplan have two children together: a 3 year-old girl and a 10-month-old infant.
The eldest girl also said that years before moving into his home, Kaplan had his own bedroom in her parents' Lancaster County home in Pennsylvania. She alleged that the sexual abuse started one night when she was 10. It didn't stop until her rescue this summer.
Nine of the 11 other girls living in Kaplan's home were her sisters, according to authorities; the remaining two were her daughters.
Newly released court documents obtained by PEOPLE show the sisters, who were quiet during initial interviews, recently opened up to investigators about their years of living with Kaplan.
Authorities had been unsure if he had harmed any of the 11 other girls, but six of the sisters, including the eldest, told police they were Kaplan's “wives,” according to the documents.
The youngest is 10.
The girls said in their interviews that Kaplan claimed he had “dreams” about them becoming his wives. “Kaplan felt it was in the children's best interests to become his wives,” according to the documents.
The girls' every day life remains a mystery, Weintraub tells PEOPLE. They were sometimes spotted by neighbors playing in the front yard, dressed in traditional Amish attire, but no one ever saw how they spent their time inside the three-bedroom home.
According to the police interviews, however, multiple girls alleged they were routinely abused.
“They were not only hearing [that the abuse was okay] from him but from their parents,” Weintraub alleges, noting that the girls' mother, Savilla Stoltzfus, is believed to have been living with her daughters and Kaplan during the abuse.
A ‘Cultural Interpretation Problem'?
The girls' story gained national attention after authorities announced the couple's alleged “gifting” of their eldest daughter to Kaplan.
The Stoltzfuses, who have been charged with child endangerment, told authorities their eldest daughter was set to wed Kaplan, a former business partner and family friend. The family lives in an Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
(The father, Daniel Stoltzfus, had been “shunned” by the Amish by the time of his relationship with Kaplan, prosecutors previously told PEOPLE.)
Kaplan's arrest affidavit alleges the Stoltzfuses “gifted” their daughter to him in exchange for financial benefits, but Savilla's attorney, Craig Penglase, previously told PEOPLE that the language has been misconstrued.
Penglase compared the agreement the couple had with Kaplan to the common wedding ceremonial tradition of the bride's father giving his daughter away to the groom.
“That's what [the Stoltzfuses] meant when they said that to the police,” Penglase said. “It's an interpretation problem. It's a cultural interpretation problem.”
According to Penglase, the couple had no idea their daughter and Kaplan were sexually involved. He said Savilla only learned about her daughter's alleged sexual abuse by Kaplan when she learned about the pregnancy.
Soon after the baby was born, Savilla moved into Kaplan's home with her nine other daughters, Penglase told PEOPLE.
Police have said there were a number of complaints regarding Kaplan in the months leading up to his arrest, but nothing warranting an arrest.
Attorneys for Kaplan and the Stoltzfuses could not be reached for comment about the new charges and accusations. (Kaplan's attorney has previously declined to comment.)
All three defendants were set to appear in court the week of Nov. 7, but their hearings have been postponed, court officials tell PEOPLE.
Is forced chemical castration the answer to protecting children from sexual abuse in Indonesia?
by The Conversation
A Balinese Court last week sentenced 70-year-old Australian Robert Ellis to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing 11 girls in his home in Denpasar, Bali.
He escaped newly introduced punishments such as chemical castration, electronic chip implants and the death penalty for sexual abuse against minors, recently adopted by Indonesia under a new law amending the 2002 child protection law. The punishments can be applied once the government passes regulations to implement the new law.
The introduction of these harsh measures is controversial. Rights activists and doctors in particular object to forced chemical castration.
The Indonesian government argues that forced chemical castration for perpetrators of sexual violence against children would not only create a powerful deterrent, but also help paedophiles regulate their sexual urges.
Indonesia's social affairs minister Khofifah Indarparawansa said they adopted the punishment based on other countries' experiences. In Nottingham, England, “people line up to get castrated,” she was quoted saying.
However, Indonesia's implementation of chemical castration for sex offenders differs from the UK and other countries. Additionally, the adoption of these harsh punishments is not supported by proper data and analysis of the problem of child sexual abuse in Indonesia.
Forced VS voluntary intervention
Indonesia's adoption of chemical castration is harsher than the implementation in the countries it learned from, such as the UK.
In the UK, chemical castration is a voluntary option for offenders. In Indonesia it is forced upon offenders. Under the new law, judges can mandate that chemical castration to be administered to the offender in addition to his prison time.
Indeed, most European countries, except for Poland, implement chemical castration only as a voluntary intervention. Finland, Czech Republic and some states in the US offer chemical castration as an alternative to longer prison time.
In Denmark, Germany and Texas in the United States, it must only be given with informed consent from the wrongdoer. This means medical practitioners must give complete information about the procedure as well as the risk and benefits of the treatment to the wrongdoer, who have the right to refuse treatment.
In Sweden, the wrongdoer must be over 23 years old, and in Germany they must be over 25 years old. In Sweden and also in Finland it's administered in confidence, so this information could not be publicly disclosed.
Most countries use this punishment only for repeat offenders. In Indonesia, it can be given to first time offenders. Any male above the age of 18 sentenced to chemical castration would have the treatment forced upon him, even if it's his first wrongful act.
Indonesia legalised forced chemical castration for perpetrators of sexual violence against minors without a clear understanding of the extent of the problem of child sexual abuse in the country.
The move to introduce chemical castration came as a response to a spate of horrifying news of rapes and murders of women and girls last year.
But while the media document cases of sexual abuse against children, the government doesn't have a clear understanding on how bad the problem is. That's one of the problems Indonesia faces in developing a good policy to address the problem of sexual abuse of children in Indonesia. According to UNICEF, Indonesia does not have data on a national situational analysis on child sexual abuse. The country also does not have data on paedophile cases. Information on cases of violence against children has never been systematically collected and analysed using sound research methods.
A study by UNICEF quoted data from The National Commission on Child Protection, claiming that between 2010 and 2014, more than 10 million children had been victims of sexual violence in Indonesia. UNICEF however doubts the validity of how these figure were determined.
What we do know is that child victims of sexual abuse lack proper medical care, psycho-social support, legal advice and child-sensitive investigative services.
This means that the introduction of chemical castration, the tagging of released offenders, and the death penalty as punishments seem to not be based on analysis of situation and impacts, but on a reaction to horrifying news of child sexual abuse.
Chemical castration as punishment ignites a debate on the balance between human rights of perpetrators of sexual violence and the protection of women and children against sexual violence.
Rights activist argue that forced chemical castration is a degrading punishment and violates the human rights of the offender.
Others argue that castration, when used as alternative punishment, is just, as long as the perpetrator's right to privacy is ensured and there is no torture or ill treatment of him or negative impact on his health. There must also be informed consent, so that it does not violate human rights.
In any case, any policy should be made with an clear understanding of the problem, which in Indonesia's case is lacking.
Victims of sexual abuse in Indonesia often experience re-victimisation through “shaming and naming”. In a lot of child sexual abuse cases, the media and public share detailed information, including victims' names and faces, before cases are properly investigated.
To create a safe environment for children free from sexual violence, the government must create programs that effectively prevent these crimes and protect victims. To do so, it must have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the problems of child sexual abuse and exploitation in a national level.
Introducing harsher punishments without a clear basis will only lead to new problems such as human rights violations and re-victimising children without any progressive solution.
Children as young as FIVE should be taught about pornography and the dangers of sex abuse, according to a Labour MP
by Jenny Awford
Children as young as five should be taught about pornography and the dangers of sexual abuse, a new report has advised.
It called for 'compulsory' classes on healthy online and real-world relationships for those aged five to seven to help combat grooming, exploitation and violence.
Labour MP Sarah Champion said children are currently 'regarding porn as a lesson in how to have sex' as she launched the Dare2Care report following work with charities.
But the move has prompted outrage from some, with one doctor claiming the material will expose children to 'overly sexual' messages and 'deviant sex'.
The Dare2Care report demanded an overhaul of the way pupils are taught about the internet in order to make youngsters and parents more aware of the online dangers.
It recommended that the Government should make age-appropriate 'resilience and relationships education' compulsory from Key Stage 1.
Ms Champion, the shadow women and equalities minister, said children should learn about porn at school so they understand it is just a 'fantasy'.
'It is natural for children to be curious about sex, but without good statutory education, children do their own research through online pornography,' she said.
'Children are regarding porn as a lesson in how to have sex, without the context or the understanding to view it as a fantasy, promoted by an industry that normalises violence against women and girls.'
In the foreword to the report. the MP for Rotherham claimed young people are 'much more tolerant of relationship violence than previous generations were'.
She blamed the influence of online pornography and the lack of compulsory education.
The internet had made it easier for paedophiles to target children and also led to cyber-bullying, sexting and grooming, she warned.
The report highlighted previous research indicating that more than 57,000 children have been identified as needing protection from abuse in the UK.
The research also suggested one in 20 youngsters will experience child sexual abuse.
Sun doctor Carol Cooper slammed the move, saying pornography is 'unsuitable' for children.
'It's exposing them to overly sexual messages - and often very violent messages - and deviant sex.'
At a launch event in Westminster, Ms Champion will be joined by women whose lives have been directly affected by abuse.
This includes Lorin LaFave, whose 14-old-son Breck Bednar from Caterham, Surrey, was murdered by a 19-year-old who had groomed him online.
She backed the call for compulsory education on the issue, saying: 'By learning these important safety lessons in school, every child will have the opportunity to make the right choices for themselves on the risks that they will surely face throughout their lives.
'This plan is a long term answer to protecting our children as well as creating better citizens who understand and strive to build healthy relationships for life.'
Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: 'All children are at risk of sexual abuse, whether they're on the internet, in the playground, or in their own bedroom. Much, much more must be done to prevent this vile crime.
'Compulsory lessons on sex education and healthy relationships from an early age are essential to help children understand consent and respect.'
Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children's Society, said: 'The internet can present a serious threat to children's safety. Some young people we work with tell us that contacts they meet online have gone on to exploit them for sex and coerced them to share inappropriate sexual images.
'The internet also provides access to pornography which is reshaping young people's views of what constitutes a safe and healthy relationship. This too can put them at risk of abuse or exploitation, not only from online predators, but also from classmates and other young people their own age.
'This important report highlights the urgent need for age appropriate sex and relationship education in every school.
'Classes should be compulsory and cover both online and offline relationships to combat grooming, exploitation and violence. Given that many victims of sexual offences are aged 16 and 17 it's vital that older teenagers in further education are able to learn about how to stay safe from sexual abuse as well.'
Man Fatally Stabbed His Coworker's 3-Year-Old Daughter at DTLA Garment Factory, LAPD Says
by Melissa Pamer, Elizabeth Espinosa and Steve Kuzj
In an unprovoked attack with no known motive, a 34-year-old man fatally stabbed a coworker's 3-year-old child at the downtown Los Angeles garment factory where he and the girl's mother worked together, police said Tuesday.
The man, identified as Ricardo Augusto Utuy, was booked on suspicion of murder in the little girl's death.
The child had just been picked up from day care to be with her mother at the clothing factory in the 800 block of McGarry Street when Utuy stabbed the girl multiple times with a knife “without warning," according to a Los Angeles Police Department news release.
Police referred to the girl as “Baby Ruby.”
She was stabbed "for no apparent reason," police told the Los Angeles Times.
LAPD was called to the scene for a report of an assault with a deadly weapon about 5:15 p.m. Monday. En route, officers learned that the victim was being taken to a hospital in a private vehicle.
At the hospital, police found that the child had died of her stab wounds.
The girl's mother told officers the stabbing occurred at the McGarry Street clothing factory.
"This individual just began working there about two weeks ago," said LAPD Detective Moses Castillo.
He did not know the child's family, Castillo said.
"That's the bizarre thing about this -- there is no known motive," Castillo said. "It was unprovoked. ... There is no words to even try to describe this person."
Police said that though the mother and the suspect worked together, they had minimal contact with each other.
Utuy fled after the stabbing and was later arrested, according to LAPD.
He was taken into custody at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to jail records. He was being held on $1 million bail.
LAPD shared Utuy's photo because police think there may be unreported crimes associated with him.
"Anybody that's capable of doing this heinous act to a young child is capable of doing anything," Castillo said.
This 11-year-old survived cancer. Bullying drove her to suicide, her family says.
by Lindsey Bever
Bethany Thompson had curly hair and smiled just a bit “crooked,” her family said.
The 11-year-old beat a brain tumor when she was a toddler but sustained nerve damage that gave her smile a slant — and she was routinely bulled in school for her appearance, her mother told CNN.
One day last month, Bethany and a friend made anti-bullying posters that read “Buddies, not bullies” and presented them to administrators at Triad Middle School in North Lewisburg, a small town not far from Columbus, Ohio, her mother said.
The students were told they could not put them up.
Classmates had been incessant in their torment of the girls that day, according to the Columbus Dispatch, and on the bus ride home Oct. 19 to the town of Cable, Bethany had a grim conversation with her friend.
“She told her she loved her and that she was her best friend forever,” Bethany's mother, 34-year-old Wendy Feucht, told the Dispatch, “but that she was going to kill herself when she got home.”
Her friend's father phoned Feucht.
But Bethany had already found a loaded handgun hidden in the house, and she had stepped onto the back porch and pulled the trigger, according to the Dispatch.
“I think that she was just done; she didn't feel like anybody could do anything to help her,” her mother told the newspaper. “People need to know that even the littlest things can break someone.”
“There's a piece missing,” Feucht told CNN. “I've had this constant in my life for 12 years and now it's gone. Nothing's going to be able to fill that hole.”
Feucht initially consented to an interview with The Washington Post but later could not be reached for comment.
Authorities called Bethany's death an apparent suicide by gunshot, according to the police report, although the medical examiner has not yet announced the results of an autopsy.
Bethany's mother told CNN she spoke with the principal days before her daughter's death and was told he was investigating the bullying situation.
“Something has to change,” Feucht said. “Something is broken in the system and there are lots of different ways that this could have been handled.”
Triad Local Schools Superintendent Chris Piper said that there had been a complaint about bullying against Bethany last year and that school district administrators had taken “affirmative steps to protect the student.”
“As many school districts across the country are currently doing, the Triad Local School District is undertaking efforts to bolster anti-harassment and bullying training for both students and staff,” Piper said in a statement to The Post.
Furthermore, he said, “the Board of Education will not tolerate harassment, intimidation, or bullying of its students. Our District takes great pride in dealing with bullying immediately — it is stopped, students are disciplined appropriately, and measures are taken to protect victims. Parents and students who have any concerns about bullying are encouraged to report it immediately to any staff member.”
In 2014, another Ohio girl, 13-year-old Emilie Olsen, fatally shot herself in her Fairfield home.
The Asian American teenager was picked on over her race and perceived sexual orientation, The Post reported at the time. Her parents sued Fairfield City School District, claiming that school administrators failed to stop the bullying that ultimately led their daughter to kill herself.
About 1 in 5 students reported being bullied during the 2012-2013 school year, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Education.
The federal government, however, has cautioned against blaming bullying for youth suicides.
“The relationship between bullying and suicide is complex,” according to StopBullying.gov, a website managed by the Department of Health and Human Services. “Many media reports oversimplify this relationship, insinuating or directly stating that bullying can cause suicide. The facts tell a different story. In particular, it is not accurate and potentially dangerous to present bullying as the ‘cause' or ‘reason' for a suicide, or to suggest that suicide is a natural response to bullying.”
Forty-nine states have anti-bullying legislation, according to the government website.
Since Bethany's death, her parents have been sharing photos on social media, showing the girl with the caption: “I'm against bullying.”
“I was never aware of the extent of it,” Bethany's 37-year-old father, Paul Thompson, told CBS affiliate WHIO. “She was always happy when she was with me.”
“She was my princess, that's my baby girl. Life revolved around her for me,” he told CNN.
On Sunday, hundreds of supporters showed up for a fundraiser for Bethany's family at North Lewisburg United Methodist Church, raising $7,500 through a dinner and private donations, according to the cable network.
“I was honestly shocked, and I immediately called Paul, because I said, you know, ‘Please tell me what I'm hearing isn't true,'” Ashley Cozad, who organized the event, told WHIO of the 11-year-old's suicide.
“It's devastating,” she added. “My daughter is 10 years old; she's in fifth grade. Bethany was in sixth. So as a mom, it's awful.”
Bethany's family plans to use the funds to pay her funeral bill and to set up a scholarship in her name. They'll also raise awareness about bullying.
“I am Bethany,” Feucht told CNN. “Anyone who's been picked on, they've been Bethany.”
According to her obituary, Bethany enjoyed “swimming, coloring, shopping — especially Goodwill, music, Super Heroes and Pokemon. Every year, she looked forward to attending vacation Bible school and church camp. She loved all animals, horseback riding and her family.”
Family and friends buried Bethany in North Lewisburg.
“I want to send out my very heart felt thank u's for everyone that is keeping me and the family in their thoughts and prayers this is a very hard time for all of us. I ask that…everyone please in this time of pain and sorrow remember that our little girl has lost her battle with life's trials,” her stepfather, Jared Feucht, wrote in a Facebook post.
“Also that bullying is a much more severe problem now than what we ever thought when we were in school. I ask everyone to hold our little girl to the highest standards of dignity and integrity as our family perform our final acts of love and devotion laying her to rest. I wish to thank all who have been there for all involved in this most tragic and painful of times.”
from Dept of Justice
Australian Man Who Traveled to U.S. to Have Sex with 6-Year-Old Boy Sentenced to 12 Years in Federal Prison
LOS ANGELES – An Australian geneticist who pleaded guilty to a federal charge of traveling to Los Angeles to engage in criminal sexual conduct with a 6-year-old boy was sentenced today to 144 months in prison.
Michael Quinn, 33, of Melbourne, was sentenced today by United States District Judge John F. Walter.
“This defendant appeared to be a successful, well-liked professional – but he had a secret, online life in which he made clear his sexual interest in children,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This defendant thought he had arranged to rape a young child, but the vigilance of law enforcement spared any potential victims from being sexual abused.”
Quinn was arrested on May 21 by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) when he arrived at a Los Angeles-area hotel to buy a 6-year-old boy for sex.
According to documents filed in the case, the investigation began in May 2016 after undercover agents observed Quinn on a social networking site that caters to individuals with a sexual interest in children. Quinn admitted that he told undercover agents he was traveling to Los Angeles and wanted to “meet up with a dad who shares his young ones.” Specifically, Quinn told the agents, whom he believed were like-minded people, that he was hoping to meet “other pervs” in the U.S.
Quinn ultimately agreed to pay a human trafficker $250 to provide him with a young boy with whom he could engage in illicit sex. Once Quinn arrived in Los Angeles, he was arrested after paying another undercover agent $260. According to the plea agreement filed in this case, “a dominant purpose of his travel was to anally sodomize someone he knew was a 6-year-old boy.”
“This sentence should serve as a powerful deterrent to online child predators who mistakenly believe the internet and a plane ticket will enable them to act on their dark desires with impunity,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge of HSI Los Angeles. “Pedophiles should be on notice, HSI and its law enforcement partners are using all of the resources at our disposal to combat this reprehensible behavior and hold the perpetrators responsible for their crimes.”
This case is a product of Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative launched in 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, and HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.
The case against Quinn is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joey Blanch of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.
FROM: Thom Mrozek,
Spokesman/Public Affairs Officer
United States Attorney’s Office,
Central District of California (Los Angeles)
6 indicted in child sex trafficking conspiracy – face life in prison if convicted
3 additional defendants – including 2 sisters – enter guilty pleas
FORT WORTH, Texas — Six individuals, most with ties to the Polywood Crips street gang in Fort Worth, Texas, have been charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, sex trafficking of children, sex trafficking through force, fraud or coercion and related offenses. Three additional defendants involved in the conspiracy, each charged in a criminal information, have entered guilty pleas. The announcement was made today by U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Most of the defendants were arrested on July 21, 2016, on related charges, outlined in a criminal complaint following an operation conducted by special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Fort Worth Police Department, and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Each of the below-listed defendants acted as a “pimp” and is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking:
Chad Johnson, a/k/a “Ocho Hood Fame,” 24
Diwone Nobles, a/k/a “Pooh,” 32
Audry Lane, a/k/a “Spud,” 29
Deon Bonner, a/k/a “Spanish Fly,” 26
Stanley Johnson, a/k/a “Pee Wee,” 24
Katelyn Michelle Ward, a/k/a “KD,” 24
In addition, Chad Johnson is charged with two counts of sex trafficking through force, fraud or coercion; one count of sex trafficking of children through force, fraud or coercion; and one count of sex trafficking of children. Nobles is charged with one count each of sex trafficking through force, fraud or coercion; one count of sex trafficking of children through force, fraud or coercion; and one count of sex trafficking of children. Audry Lane is also charged with two counts of sex trafficking through force, fraud or coercion and one count of sex trafficking of children. Bonner and Stanley Johnson are also each charged with two counts of sex trafficking of children.
The three defendants who pleaded guilty on October 17, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor, are:
Jessica Arnold, 23
Serrah Arnold, a/k/a “Kristen,” 28
Alvin Lane, a/k/a “Spank,”
Alvin Lane pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children. Sisters Jessica and Serrah Arnold each pleaded guilty to one count of use of a facility of interstate commerce in aid of a racketeering enterprise.
The indictment alleges that beginning before June 1, 2013, though approximately July 21, 2016, the six defendants conspired and agreed with others to recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain and maintain, female children victims under the age of 18, as well as adult victims, recklessly disregarding that force, threats of force, fraud and coercion and any combination of such means would be used to cause these victims to engage in commercial sex acts.
In the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, one minor female victim was told by Nobles, Bonner, and Chad Johnson to charge $120 for a half hour and $180 for a full hour of commercial sex acts, and the three kept all of the money she received. The victim feared Nobles and Chad Johnson because she had observed both become violent when angry and had observed Chad Johnson assault another female on several occasions when the female did not follow his instructions.
Another minor female victim engaged in commercial sex acts at the direction of Stanley Johnson, who would post advertisements with her photo on Backpage.com. All of the money she earned by engaging in commercial sex acts was given to Stanley Johnson.
An adult female victim engaged in commercial sex acts at the direction of Nobles, Chad Johnson, Audry Lane, Alvin Lane, and Serrah Arnold. Nobles frequently assaulted her when she made him angry or did not follow his instructions; he also raped her. Nobles kept the money she earned and the contact phone number used in the Backpage.com ad for her services was used by Nobles. In one trip to Austin, this adult female victim made enough money for Nobles to buy a Chevy sedan that he painted bright orange – “Poly Orange” in reference to their neighborhood Polytechnic Heights – that he still owns.
When an adult female victim engaged in commercial sex acts at Chad Johnson’s direction, he physically assaulted her if she did not follow his instructions. On one occasion, Chad Johnson punched her in the ear hard enough to cause her eardrum to burst and bleed. Chad Johnson also raped her, and when he believed she had attempted to “renegade,” he had several friends gang rape her as punishment. “Renegade” is a term used to describe attempting to engage in commercial sex acts for money outside the knowledge or control of a pimp.
When an adult female victim engaged in commercial sex acts at Audry Lane’s direction, he would have Serrah Arnold, his “bottom girl,” supervise the victim and take the money she received.
A minor female victim engaged in commercial sex acts at the direction of Audry Lane, Alvin Lane, Serrah Arnold and Jessica Arnold. Alvin Lane would have his girlfriend/bottom girl, Jessica Arnold post photos of her in ads that she placed on Backpage.com. The minor female victim would give all the money she earned to Jessica or Serrah Arnold, who would then give the money to Audry Lane or Alvin Lane.
Some of the six pimp’s Facebook pages contained online posts, visible to the public, that reference making a lot of money through criminal activity, namely “pimping.” Chad Johnson’s Facebook page contains photos of him posing with large sums of cash while referencing commercial sex. Several of Chad Johnson’s Facebook friends are females observed in Backpage.com ads for commercial sex.
Nobles, Bonner, Chad Johnson, Stanley Johnson, and Audry Lane have several photos on their Facebook pages in which they can be observed flashing gang signs referencing the “Polywood Crips” street gang.
A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge; the government has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment. An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, each count in the indictment carries a maximum statutory penalty of life in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
ATF, ICE HSI and the Fort Worth Police Department are investigating. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cara Foos Pierce is in charge of the prosecution.
NYC Council to hold hearing on child abuse and neglect after death of Harlem boy
by Eyewitness News
HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- The New York City Council will hold an oversight hearing Monday on how the city responds to allegations of child abuse and neglect.
The hearing will examine how policies and procedures at the Administration for Children's Services affect the investigation of alleged abuse and neglect cases.
It was scheduled following the death of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins, whose death was ruled a homicide and the result of fatal child abuse syndrome.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the death "an unacceptable tragedy" and added that "the buck stops here."
Zymere died Sept. 26 after what prosecutors say was months of abuse by his mother and her boyfriend in their Harlem apartment. Both have been arrested on charges of endangering the welfare of a child.
City officials have acknowledged that the mother, Geraldine Perkins, was investigated five times for abuse allegations.
Five Administration for Children's Services employees who were involved in the case have been placed on modified assignment during an investigation into the boy's death.
De Blasio said the city would institute reforms including improved training for caseworkers.
Beshear gives $43,000 to combat child sexual abuse
by Sarah Brookbank
NEWPORT – Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear presented Family Nurturing Center with $43,000 to combat child sexual assault in Kentucky.
The funding will support the center's Kentucky Stewards of Children Program, which teaches adults to prevent, recognize and respond to child sexual abuse. Family Nurturing Center is located in Florence.
The program aims to train 3,000 adult participants each year. In return, those participants are expected to impact more than 7,000 children and adults annually.
“Our children are safer because of the effective strategies and programs (Family Nurturing Center) provides, and our families are stronger thanks to their workforce and dedication to their community,” Beshear said at New Riff Distilling in Newport on Oct. 25.
Beshear said he is thankful for the extensive and specialized services Family Nurturing Center provides children and families in Northern Kentucky.
The grant funding comes from the Child Victims Trust Fund, which is administered by the Office of the Attorney General's Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board.
“We believe that children's well-being is an adult responsibility. Permanent cultural change in the way a community prevents and responds to child abuse occurs by educating adults and empowering individuals. This grant, and the support of the attorney general's office, is an investment in a better future for our children,” said Jane Herms, executive director of Family Nurturing Center.
Beshear's office awarded nearly $160,000 in grants this year to Family Nurturing Center and four other statewide programs aimed at teaching parents how to discuss child sexual abuse with children and how to keep children safe on the internet.
Senior magistrate calls for abused children to have champions in court
by Bianca Hall
Courts are failing children who have been sexually abused, and who are often so traumatised they are unable to give evidence against their attackers, according to one of the state's senior magistrates.
Belinda Wallington, the supervising magistrate for the sexual offences list at Melbourne Magistrates Court, has called for Victoria to introduce children's champions in court, modelled on Britain's "intermediary" system.
In January, Fairfax Media revealed that men who rape children under 12 are less likely to be jailed in Victoria, and are being jailed for less time than those convicted of raping adults.
Between 2009 and 2014, 72 men were convicted in Victoria of sexually penetrating a child younger than 12. Of those men, 75 per cent were jailed, for a median of four years.
In the same period, 211 Victorian men were convicted of raping an adult, with 91 per cent jailed. The median length of imprisonment was five years.
Ms Wallington's call for children's champions in the state's courts is backed by evidence presented to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse earlier this year.
In March, the commission was told by several parents that their children's abusers had escaped justice because the victims had either been too young to give evidence in court, or had cognitive problems that prevented them from giving evidence.
Intermediaries help vulnerable people give evidence, and can also help train police, lawyers, court staff and the judiciary to ask simple and appropriate questions of vulnerable witnesses.
Ms Wallington supervises the sexual offences list at Melbourne Magistrates Court, in which a courtroom is dedicated only to sexual offence cases every Friday, and one Wednesday a month.
The sexual offences list was designed to reduce delays in having sexual offences going through the court system, to reduce the distress lengthy delays cause to victims.
Ms Wallington said that in general terms, sexual offences fell into three categories - historic sex offences, offences linked to family violence, and offences linked to technology (including child abuse material being shared over the internet, or grooming).
She said sexual offences were "quite often" directed at already vulnerable people, including children and people with cognitive or intellectual difficulties.
This, combined with the combative nature of court prosecuting and defence, could leave vulnerable witnesses either unable or unwilling to cope.
"The emotional and psychological impact of sexual assault can be so damaging that it affects the ability of complainants to give their evidence," Ms Wallington said.
"Some vulnerable complainants are severely disadvantaged in their ability to communicate effectively in the witness box. Lawyers and judicial officers struggle to ensure that questioning is developmentally appropriate to the age of the child or the level or type of disability."
Ms Wallington, who presided over the Children's Court before taking over management of the sexual offences list, is now the chairwoman of the Sexual Assault Management Committee at the court.
She said the committee was "strongly in favour" of an intermediary scheme to support children, the cognitively-impaired and other vulnerable people give evidence in courts.
The NSW government introduced a "children's champions" pilot scheme earlier this year, to run for three years.
In a consultation paper, the Victorian Law Reform Commission in August last year recommended the government consider introducing intermediaries.
It's understood the government will soon receive the full report, and Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula? told Fairfax Media the government was considering the issue.
"The government is currently reviewing the VLRC's report and we'll have more to say on this issue once we've had time to consider it," he said.
Texas State Senator: Foster Care Facility was a ‘Brothel'
by Lana Shadwick
The teenage girls and boys were using the chapel at the center to frequently engage in sex.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, members of the Texas Senate Finance Committee held hearings this week to take testimony about the embattled Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS).
During the hearing, Senator John Wittmire (D-Houston) spoke of a residential treatment center in Crockett, reported the Houston Chronicle . In describing the situation, he was reported to say, “Boys and boys, Girls and boys. It was a brothel.”
The residential-treatment center in Crockett, Texas, is housed in what used to be a state juvenile detention center. The Chronicle reported that there are approximately 36 high-need foster care children housed at the facility. The majority of these youths have been in juvenile detention centers; have dire behavioral and emotional issues; and were victims of sexual or physical abuse.
An investigation by the Texas Rangers is ongoing, but Texas law makes the information confidential because the victims are juveniles.
The Texas senators were incensed to also learn during the hearing that the agency has not seen over 2,800 at-risk children after there were formal reports of abuse or neglect, as reported by Breitbart Texas. Senator Wittmire immediately procured a promise from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for help to address the emergency. Of these 2,800 children, 511 are classified in the “priority one” category. These situations can be dire emergencies because the children are the most vulnerable to physical or sexual abuse. Sen. Wittmire, who is also the chairman of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, exclaimed, “Get the National Guard or the Texas Rangers or whoever out to each house to see these kids now. Hell, they may die before we get there,” reported the Houston Chronicle.
The director of the Texas DPS, Steve McCraw, promised the Houston senator that his department would rush-in to help the agency.
Texas law requires Child Protective Services (CPS) employees to check up on these children within 24 to 72 hours of the report. Thousands of children remain vulnerable as a result.
In mid-September, over 14,000 children were left unchecked and approximately 2,000 of these cases were emergencies and the most urgent cases.
Commissioner Hank Whitman told Texas senators during the finance committee hearing, “Beat on me. I don't care,” the Chronicle reported. “But I'm telling you right now, we need help.” The agency has requested more funds for budget year 2017 and are wanting to hire at least 500 more caseworkers, including investigative caseworkers.
Whitman has been leading the agency for six months. Texas Governor Greg Abbott appointed him to head the TDFPS in April, as reported by Breitbart Texas. Whitman is a former chief of the Texas Rangers.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson announced during the hearing that she was appointing a senate working group to immediately study recommendations that would be made by Commissioner Whitman. Senator Schwertner is acting as chair, Senator's Whitmire, Kirk Watson (D-Austin), Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), and Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) are on the committee.
As reported by Breitbart Texas just a few weeks ago, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, and House Speaker Joe Straus sent a letter to Commissioner Whitman demanding that he take action to protect children after the reports that the most exposed were left unattended.
Will California Counties Rethink Charging Parents Fees for Locked Up Kids?
by Sukey Lewis
If your kid gets arrested and locked up, it turns out you (the parent) might end up footing the bill.
This might seem strange — after all, the state doesn’t charge adults for the cost of incarcerating them — but there is a little-known law that allows counties to collect money from parents for the cost of upkeep while their kids are in custody.
One such parent is M.C., an Antioch resident who didn’t want her full name used because she worries for her and her son’s safety. Her 16-year-old son was charged with homicide in 2013 and was locked up in Contra Costa County’s juvenile hall.
“I told the detective that my son didn’t commit that crime,” M.C. said in Spanish, through a translator. “But that if he was sure, then I’d trust the police to prove that my son was guilty. And if my son did do it, then he should be responsible and he should pay.”
On the day he turned 18, he was transferred to adult detention in Martinez, and M.C. was sent a bill for 313 days in juvenile custody.
Contra Costa, like many other counties, has been collecting money from parents for the cost of upkeep while their kids are in custody.
But recent research shows that kids from low-income families are likelier than kids from wealthier families to end up in the justice system, and advocates say these fees are unfair and bad policy. On Tuesday, the county’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to place a moratorium on these fees.
Until now, Contra Costa has had some of the highest fees in the state — up to $30 per day for juvenile hall detention and $17 per day for ankle monitoring. That means M.C. could have been billed more than $9,000 for the cost of holding her son.
She works as a house cleaner and was already struggling to make ends meet. M.C. told the probation department she couldn’t pay the full amount, and they reduced her bill to $939.
M.C. started paying it off when she could, about $50 a month, but she says the fees felt like an injustice. It made her “angry to see these letters arrive charging me money, and my son was locked up, and still they wanted to blame him for something he never did.”
After more than two years, all charges against her son were dropped, and he came home.
But M.C. still had to pay the probation department.
Under state law, the county had every right to do this. The California Welfare and Institutions Code holds parents financially responsible for their kids even while in custody. The logic goes that if M.C.’s son were at home she would have to pay for the cost of clothing him and feeding him, so she should have to reimburse the county for those same costs.
“The main idea is to kind of create a sense of shared responsibility between the parents and the probation department,” said John Keene, chair of the legislative committee for the Chief Probation Officers of California, and chief probation officer for San Mateo County. “Because when we step in, in most instances, we are stepping into that capacity as a parent when the kid become wards of the court.”
Candace Andersen, chair of Contra Costa County’s Board of Supervisors, said her hope was that the fees would encourage parents to do a better job keeping their kids out of trouble.
“But what I’m finding is the studies are not supporting that,” she added.
A group of students at the UC Berkeley School of Law have been studying these fees for the past three years. Their research, which was presented to the county on Tuesday, includes an analysis of Contra Costa in particular.
“We don’t think there are many compelling arguments to support these fees,” said Tim Kline, one of the Berkeley law students studying the fines. “Counties don’t make money. They’re bad for families. They don’t help kids rehabilitate and get back on track.”
One of the more startling statistics Kline’s group found is the disproportionate racial aspect of these fees. For example, African-American kids are 23 times more likely than their white counterparts to be locked up.
Dan Macallair, executive director of the nonprofit Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, said disproportionate impacts are present statewide.
“Who ends up in the juvenile justice system?” he said. “It’s kids from poverty, who grew up in poverty, who grow up in the margins of society, who come from fractured families, often disproportionately African-American, or in California, Latino. So yes, it [juvenile fees] falls heavily on the kids whose families can least afford it.”
John Keene, of the Chief Probation Officers union, said the fees aren’t meant to target any particular group or be a burden on struggling families, and points out that counties do take into account a parent’s “ability to pay” when determining how much to charge them.
“We care about what happens to our young people. We care about what happens to the families,” he said. “We really work hard to try to engage the families in building and reconnecting the family.”
But while some argue these fees are meant to hold parents financially responsible for their kids’ behavior, Macallair added that these fees got their start back in the 1950s for a very different reason.
“It became kind of a practice for parents to, when they had an argument or heated disagreement with their kid, they could actually bring the child to the local detention center and tell the center, ‘I‘ve had enough!’ ” Macallair said.
The child would often spend the weekend in detention, and then parents would have a change of heart and come pick their kid up on Monday morning.
“So, administrative fees were originally instituted for the purpose of discouraging parents from misusing detention centers,” he said.
“A parent can’t just show up at our door and say, ‘he’s incorrigible, would you detain him?’ ” laughed Contra Costa Probation Chief Todd Billeci. Even legally, the state can lock up only kids who are suspected of criminal behavior.
But, Billeci said, it will mean a loss of revenue. Without juvenile fees, his department stands to lose around $200,000 in net revenue. But an analysis of how much it costs to collect these fees shows that the cost is actually greater than the revenue they bring in. And the fees do little to offset the total cost of running the county’s juvenile hall, which is more than $19 million.
And that’s part of the problem statewide. The money that juvenile administrative fees bring in varies from county to county, and some counties don’t collect these fees at all. Macallair says county probation departments who are used to getting this revenue don’t want to see it go away, even if it is just a case of bureaucracy maintaining itself.
But Keene says counties need the flexibility to charge these fees, and that they are used to provide kids with recreation programs and educational opportunities.
Last year a bill sponsored by state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) would have banned counties from collecting these fees, but it stalled in the appropriations committee.
Now, some counties are moving forward with reform on their own.
After reviewing the practice, both Alameda and Santa Clara counties have repealed these fees. Los Angeles doesn’t charge juvenile fees and neither does San Francisco.
To Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, the juvenile fees aren’t so much a fiscal issue as a moral one. He says the goal of the juvenile justice system is to keep youth out of the criminal justice system.
“These fees don’t achieve that goal,” he said. “The policy doesn’t make any rational sense.”
In six months, city staff will return to the board with recommendations about whether or not to ban these fees entirely. In the meantime, the probation department will not collect or accept any outstanding fees and will notify affected parents of the change in policy.
California man gets 1,503 years in prison for raping teen daughter
FRESNO, Calif. - A Fresno man was sentenced to 1,503 years in prison for raping his teenage daughter over a four-year period, a case that stands in stark contrast to a recent controversial ruling in a Montana rape and incest case.
The 41-year-old California man was sentenced Friday to the longest-known prison sentence in Fresno Superior Court history, the Fresno Bee reported.
The Associated Press and CBS News are avoiding naming the man because it could identify his daughter.
In announcing the punishment, Judge Edward Sarkisian Jr. told the man he is a “serious danger to society” and noted that he had never shown remorse and has blamed his daughter for his predicament.
The man’s daughter was first sexually abused by a family friend but instead of protecting her, he turned her into “a piece of property,” prosecutor Nicole Galstan said.
The victim was raped two to three times a week from May 2009 to May 2013, when the girl got the courage to leave him, Galstan said.
A jury in September found him guilty of 186 felony counts of sexual assault, including dozens of counts of rape of a minor.
“When my father abused me, I was young. I had no power, no voice. I was defenseless,” said the daughter, who now is 23 years old. She also told the judge that her father never has shown remorse for her pain and suffering.
The man turned down two plea deals. Before his preliminary hearing, if he had admitted his guilt, prosecutors would have recommended 13 years in prison. He rejected the offer. Then before his trial, he was offered 22 years in prison if he admitted his guilt. He declined that offer, saying he should be released from jail for the time he already had served, Sarkisian said before announcing the sentence.
“He ruined her teenage years and made her feel like it was her fault,” Galstan said in arguing for the maximum sentence.
Some observers are comparing the outcome in the Fresno case to a recent one in Montana, where a man who raped his 12-year-old daughter was not sent to prison. Instead the judge handed down a 30-year suspended sentence after the man pleaded guilty to incest and ordered him to spend 60 days in jail, giving him credit for 17 days already served.
The judge in the Montana case has come under fire for the ruling. District Judge John McKeon defended himself against criticism, saying a plea agreement that recommended a 25-year minimum sentence allowed for a lesser one, depending on the results of a psychosexual evaluation. He said that evaluation found the defendant could be safely treated and supervised in the community. McKeon also notes the victim’s mother and grandmother asked that the defendant not be sentenced to prison.