National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery

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

November, 2016 - Week 2
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio, for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.

Caring for those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

by James Cartreine

Are you taking care of someone who seems to be against you? This can be the experience of taking care of a family member with post-traumatic stress disorder — PTSD — and it can take a huge toll on everyone involved. At the same time, caring for a person with PTSD can be an act of love and courage.

What causes PTSD?

PTSD can develop when people experience massively stressful events that involve childhood physical or sexual abuse, being sexually assaulted, or narrowly escaping getting killed or severely injured, whether from accidents or violence or military combat. PTSD can also be caused by witnessing these kinds of things, by them happening to a close friend or relative, or by learning about them in the course of one's work, such as being a first responder or a social worker helping victims of abuse.

What are the effects of PTSD?

Whether caused by experiences during military service, abuse as a child, being the victim of assault as an adult, or as a side effect of jobs that deal with trauma, the effects can be lifelong. It's a medical problem, not a weakness. Adrenaline levels stay elevated, causing anxiety, irritability, and hypervigilance (being on guard even in safe places). People with PTSD may become snappy and even physically aggressive. Little, everyday sounds may make the person jump. The ability to feel positive emotions like love and happiness is diminished, and people with PTSD may drink or use drugs to avoid painful feelings and memories. People with severe PTSD may isolate themselves, lashing out and showing little affection toward people they care about, and who care for them. Conflict with family members and coworkers is common.

Caring for a person with PTSD

It can be hard for caregivers not to take it personally. They feel that their loved one doesn't love them anymore (and indeed it's difficult for some people with PTSD to feel and express love). The fun is gone, and in romantic relationships so is the intimacy. The family member with PTSD may not be comfortable going out in public or being touched. Caregivers can feel lonely and abandoned, and divorce is common in relationships where a partner has PTSD.

Watchwords for caregivers are self-care, limits, and realistic expectations. It's a balance: you want to help your loved one but you can't do that if you're impaired yourself. So, self-care is important. Figure out what you need to have a happy and healthy life and make an effort to keep those things in your life. Eat right, get exercise, take time off from caregiving, see friends. When you're healthier, you'll be better able to help your family member to be healthier.

Set limits. You want to offer gentle support, but not tolerate things that are out of bounds for you in any other relationship, such as abusive language or actions, or heavy substance abuse. Couples therapy can be tremendously helpful when one member of the couple has PTSD.

Expectations need to be realistic. Just as other medical disabilities can limit the activities of people who have them, you may need to adjust your expectations about your loved one's engagement in “regular” family things like going on outings, to restaurants, to parties, to your kids' games. You may need to take more of a lead in the relationship than you used to or expected to, such as in managing finances, making plans, and getting things done.

The good news? There are effective treatments for PTSD

The good news is that we live in a time when effective PTSD treatment exists. PTSD is best treated through cognitive behavioral therapies, particularly exposure therapy and cognitive processing therapy . These are specialty treatments and not all mental health clinicians are trained in them. A loved one with PTSD may be reluctant to seek treatment, and gentle encouragement can be helpful. You can find therapist referrals at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

PTSD symptoms may not completely go away, but they can be reduced. Just like turning down a volume knob, constantly high levels of anxiety or irritability can be lowered, and the power of memories and reminders of trauma can be reduced.


United Kingdom

Bigger premises for charity supporting childhood survivors of sexual abuse

by R Dodd

Demand for a charity supporting childhood survivors of sexual abuse has been so high they have had to move to bigger premises.

Ambers Angel Trust was founded in 2012 and has proved so well-attended in the Plymouth community that it has since expanded several times over, most recently moving to a property in Wolseley Road in Ford which encompasses a charity shop, consultation room, drop-in centre, and garden.

The charity formerly occupied a space at Christian Mill, Crownhill, but charity founder Amber Haigh and her team of volunteers found the premises no longer suited their needs.

"Within three or four months we had outgrown the place so we started looking for bigger premises," Amber said.

"We had to work out our contract and find another building. The property we've got now is perfect.

"We still had things to finish at Christian Mill, but we were getting so many people in and some of them came from miles and miles to see us.

"I think we were a bit naïve when we opened and thought it would take a while for the news to spread but things happened really quickly. It was brilliant, even just having one person in would have been amazing but we were getting 20 people at a time sometimes."

In their new home in Wolseley Road, Amber and her team are able to deliver their services more effectively.

Anyone wishing to discuss an issue with Amber privately can speak to her in a separate consultation area.

A drop-in centre downstairs also provides separate access from the charity shop above for anyone wishing to visit discreetly.

"In the old building there was nowhere for me to take people if they were upset and wanted to talk privately," Amber said.

"There's a charity shop where everything sells for 50p and the garden is also perfect for family events."

Ambers Angel Trust currently provides a range of services for adult survivors of child abuse; a range of gift boxes are given to survivors including; survival kits, angel bears for children who are/have been abused, hospital care boxes for parents or carers who are staying in hospital with a child who has been admitted to hospital due to child abuse, and sensory boxes for children who suffer from shaken baby syndrome.

The Trust also run referral-based support groups as a safe welcoming place for survivors and their families to support each other; from an adult survivors support group to relatives of survivors of child abuse, rape victims support group, and male survivors support group.

The charity also provides 'court room angels' for anyone needing support during court proceedings.

"I would like to open another shop to provide us with a bit more income in the future," Amber said.

"We'd like to add another drop-in centre too so we can become part of the social community for people."


North Carolina


How we're working to prevent child abuse

by Beth McKeithan

Recently we have received many questions regarding our prevention programs here at Prevent Child Abuse Rowan since donations from Erica's Angel are earmarked for prevention and education here with our center. The first step of Prevent Child Abuse Rowan's approach to ending child abuse is to prevent the cycle of abuse. There are clear links among child maltreatment and future violence perpetration or victimization; studies show that about 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse children, continuing this cycle. Prevent Child Abuse Rowan believes the key to preventing child abuse is education and awareness, which is exactly what our prevention programs provide.

The Stop-Go-Tell program is a school-based prevention program that is interactive and developmentally appropriate curriculum for all first- and fifth-grade students in Rowan County. The primary goal is to equip children with skills needed to prevent or interrupt physical, emotional, neglect or sexual abuse. The program teaches children how to identify unsafe situations and how to build skills to help them resist child abuse.

Children learn that the overwhelming majority of time, the person who breaks the rules will not be a stranger. Typically, it is someone they know well. The most important part of the plan is to let the child know they have permission to tell one of their trusted adults to get help. We are one of the first counties to adopt this program — with a wonderful partnership with the Rowan-Salisbury School System, Salisbury Academy and North Hills Christian School — and have had excellent results. This program is funded 100 percent by donations and local grants. Melissa Shue is our Prevention and Education Coordinator and facilitates this program; for more information, please call 704-639-1700.

The Nurturing Parenting Program, funded by a grant from Smart Start Rowan, is a support and education group for parents of children ages birth to 5 years old. Parenting is often exhausting, overwhelming, and frustrating, but often parents feel alone in their struggle. This group and home-based program focuses on discipline techniques, growing childhood empathy, developmental expectations and dealing with the independence your children crave in order to smooth out some of the rough spots innate to parenthood. The Spanish and English groups are held one morning a week at no charge, with free lunch and free transportation offered in order to encourage all parents to attend. Please call Anna Whisenant at 704-431-2015 if you have any questions or would like to sign up for our next group!



Community rallies to bring a hopeful start to child abuse victims' new life

by Cynthia Williford

Information is sensitive with domestic violence cases. Details are sparse, and people often hear about incidents without seeing where victims land.

But for two 5-year-old Lee County twins, the local community rallied to ensure they get a head start on a healthy, nurturing environment in their new lives away from a dangerous home.

Two weeks ago, the boys were locked in a room void of any semblance of domestication and left by their mother. There was no furniture, no bed, no blanket, no clean clothes and no food. They were abandoned.

But they made it out. The two fled to a neighbor's house begging for food and were rescued by members of the Lee County Sheriff's Office, who ensured the twins were placed in the hands of the Department of Human Resources.

And last week, the boys had an early Christmas. Mounds of stuffed animals, brand new jackets, shirts, books and gift cards filled a room of the Lee County Sheriff's Office Wednesday, hours before the items would be given to the boys.

Once investigators delved into the details of the case, they realized the night the boys were found was not believed to be a solo incident, Capt. Van Jackson said. They had cuts and bruises of varying degrees of healing, indicating longterm abuse.

Their hearts were moved to action. Investigators and members of the sheriff's office started searching through their belongings and purchasing gifts for the boys. And once the community heard, Jackson said donations started pouring in.

Good folks in the area

The sheriff's office received calls of concern, gift cards, clothing and toys - donations all from citizens wanting to make sure the children were taken care of. Sheriff Jay Jones said it's just the way citizens in Lee County are.

“We're not surprised because we've got so many good folks in Lee County and the Auburn-Opelika area,” Jones said. “Folks here are really willing to lend a hand to other people. We've seen it through natural disasters, we've seen it through other circumstances where we've had people that have been victims of crime and people have contacted us and said, ‘Is there something I can do to help?' In this particular case it resulted in an outpouring of concern for these children.”

Jackson said officers have been inspired by the leadership of Jones and the mission of the sheriff's office.

“Whenever people are hurting, we're going to do whatever we can to make it better, and that's what they've done,” Jackson said. “It's caring. We lock people up…but nevertheless we're still going to help people in their time of need as these kids are.”

“We've always viewed our mission as at least two dimensions - one, ensure public safety, but two, to serve folks that need it the most,” Jones said. “I think that's just as important as our public safety portion, and we all feel that way.”

The boys are now living happily in foster care with a local family, Jackson said. Investigation is still underway and the case will likely go to a Lee County Grand Jury in January unless attorneys request a preliminary hearing, Jones said.

The boys' father, who lives in the western United States, is seeking custody of the children. Jones said they believe he was unaware of the abuse the boys were enduring. The court will determine whether it is suitable for the boys' father to obtain custody.

In the mean time, the boys will remain under the care of DHR in their foster parenting program, Jones said.

Those seeking to give to the boys can still drop off donations at the Lee County Sheriff's Office at 1900 Frederick Road in Opelika.



Centre County Stewards of Children Program Trains Thousands to Recognize Child Abuse

by Centre County Gazette abd G. Kerry Webster

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that broke five years ago this month, four groups banded together for a specific cause — recognizing child sex abuse and the responsible ways of handling those situations.

Through the national effort known as Darkness to Light, the YMCA of Centre County, Centre County Women's Resource Center, Centre County Youth Service Bureau and the Centre County United Way created a local Stewards of Children program to help educate adults and community organizations to identify signs of child sex abuse and discuss the proper ways to begin rectifying the problems.

The program is designed for organizations that serve youth and for individuals concerned about the safety of children. It is the only nationally distributed, evidence-based program proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors.

Since the program was initiated locally in March 2012, 6,554 people have received the training in Centre County.

"I can personally say, that at every training, at least one or two people will come up to me and tell me they were once victims of child sexual abuse, or they know someone who they think is being abused," said Jamie SanFilippo, director of community outreach with the YMCA of Centre County. "We want people to talk about this. We need them to."

According to SanFilippo, there are scheduled trainings; however, she also noted that certified facilitators will make visits to groups and organizations to provide the training.

"We'll do training for anyone who wants it," she said. "There's no minimum number of people needed or a maximum number. We'd be glad to travel to you to get our word out and keep talking about it. We never want to stop talking about it."

The two-hour workshops emphasize child safety as an adult's responsibility. Each participant is inspired to take personal responsibility in preventing this epidemic. SanFilippo said each workshop is split in halves, and during each half, a 35- to 40-minute video is viewed, followed by discussions.

Topics include:

Facts about the problem of child sexual abuse.

The types of situations in which child sexual abuse might occur.

Simple, effective strategies for protecting children from sexual abuse.

The importance of talking about the prevention of sexual abuse with children and other adults.

The signs of sexual abuse so that someone might intervene and be able to react responsibly.

SanFilippo said since the program's inception nearly five years ago, only minor adjustments were made, including shortening each workshop from three hours to just two.

"I think it's more effective with the shorter trainings," she said. "Everything is just streamlined better."

She said she doesn't foresee any changes to the program in the near future; however, she didn't rule out the possibility that education in the trainings could change as society dictates.

"We're still going strong after almost five years of operating," said SanFilippo. "Every day we receive calls from people who want this training, and we're more than glad to help. I think it's doing great things for Centre County."

There are two more free training sessions available in 2016, including Thursday, Dec. 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Penns Valley YMCA, and Tuesday, Dec. 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Youth Service Bureau in State College.

For more information, contact SanFilippo at ( 814) 237-7717 or visit,1469935/



Prevent It! program aims to reduce child sexual abuse

by Mark Woollven

The U of A, working with the Little Warriors, have developed a program aimed at averting child sexual abuse. It's simply called, Prevent it!

Dr. Peter Silverstone developed the program, he's a Professor of Psychiatry at the U of A and he says that it's designed to give parents and people who work with children the information they need to make a tangible difference. He adds the effects of child sexual abuse can be devastating.

“In the vast majority of cases children never disclose this until much later when they're much older and it often leads to quite significant psychological damage, so addressing it is really important.”

He says there's a lot that we don't understand about why someone abuses children.

“What we do know is the impact that child sexual abuse has on those who suffer from it, and our goal is to try and minimize that, and there are ways we can do that. One is to speak to children early and see if something is happening, the other is to increase their awareness.”

Dr. Silverstone says when it comes to building on awareness it's things like grooming techniques that Prevent It! will teach attendees to help kids look out for.

Quite a bit of research went into the development of Prevent It!, and Dr. Silverstone lays out the questions that guided his study.

“Are there structures we can do that have a meaningful impact that change behaviors and allow the risk to go down and early identification to go up? So, that's what we studied and we were very gratified, the research was, really, extremely successful in this area.”

The Prevent It! workshops are free to attend, though donations are gratefully accepted. You can get all the information about the program and how to book a seat by clicking right here.



Wentzville child abuse likely worst case police have ever dealt with

by Melanie Moon

WENTZVILLE, MO (KTVI) - A young child clings to life after a horrific case of child abuse in Wentzville, MO. This is likely one of the worst cases of infant abuse that police in Wentzville have ever dealt with. It all began Thursday with a six-week-old doing what babies do, cry.

Police say the infant's father, Robert Burnette, couldn't deal with the crying so he shoved his fingers down the baby's tiny throat. He was trying to reach the boy's larynx to stop the crying. Investigators say they got these details from the child's mother, Megan Hendricks, who investigators say stood by and watched and made no attempt to stop the abuse.

Court records also state Burnette also threw the baby onto a bed, violently shook him, and picked him up by the back of the neck. The abuse happened at the couple's apartment. A roommate living with the couple also witnessed the abuse but has not been charged.

The baby, identified only as J.B., is hospitalized at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital with a number of critical injuries, including broken bones, possible liver contusions, and bleeding on the brain. Doctors don't expect the child to survive. If he does, he will have severe physical and mental disabilities

Both parents have been charged with abuse, neglect, and causing serious emotional or physical injury. The father is being held on a $500,000 cash only bond. The mother's cash only bond is set at $250,000.



CU hosts panel on child abuse

by Sabrina Garrett

In 2012, statistics showed 3.4 million referrals made to child protective services nationwide of children being abused or neglected.

Statistics for child sexual abuse are startling. In the United States alone, one in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18, making this likely the most prevalent health problem children face, with the most serious array of consequences.

In more than 90 percent of incidents, children are abused by someone they know.

It is a number that has been on the rise. And those are just the reported cases.

Despite the startling prevalence of child abuse in America, Keith Edmonds, child abuse survivor and founder of the Keith Edmonds Foundation, pointed out: We still have to have an awareness panel to talk about child abuse.

The 15th Judicial District Child Advocacy Center attempted to raise awareness for what is a hidden battle for many young people by hosting a panel with Cumberland University on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

The event was free to the public and featured as representatives from the Wilson County Sheriff's Office, District Attorney's Office and Department of Children's Services.

Child abuse survivors, Edmonds and Brenda Jackson, both shared their powerful stories.

Edmonds was just 14-months-old when he faced abuse at the hands of his mother's boyfriend.

The couple returned home after dinner one night. The boyfriend allegedly drugged his mother, and when he heard Edmonds crying in his crib - entered the room and held the baby's face to an electric heater.

Edmonds said he threw a rag over his face and left him in the crib to die. However, he did not.

The next morning, his distraught mother rushed him to the hospital for what her boyfriend had told her was likely a reaction to a "spider bite."

They were taken into separate rooms for questioning.

Edmonds underwent reconstructive surgery and his chance of survival was low. "It was touch and go for a few weeks," he said.

Edmonds was taken into state custody while his mother proved that she was not his abuser. Although he was reconnected with his mother, the physical and emotional scars of his abuse lingered well into his adulthood.

The same can be said of Brenda Jackson.

Jackson's abuse at the hands of her biological father lasted for more than a decade.

Jackson told guests at the panel that her father had killed someone and served jail time, during which she and her brother and sister lived with their maternal grandmother.

Upon his release, her father petitioned the court and was granted custody of the three kids.

On their first night in their new home, Jackson remembered their "training" began. Her father commanded they stand on one leg - a daunting task for kids who were between the ages of 5 and 7.

When she faltered, her father beat her with an extension cord. "That was around 7 o'clock at night, and we had to do that until 5 o'clock in the morning," she said.

Jackson said the kids were also used as "target practice." The father would shoot a BB gun at them, oftentimes hitting them. She remembered having to pull the pellets out of her skin.

On one occasion, Jackson said her father told her that she needed to stay home from school. He approached her, wearing a housecoat - and undressed himself to rape her. That is the day child sexual abuse began.

Jackson said that her father threatened to kill her if she told anyone - a threat she wholeheartedly believed. "I thought, 'He killed somebody before. He would do it again,'" she said.

Still, she told a schoolmate on the playground.

Jackson's classmate told the school principal, who called her into the office for questioning. When Jackson revealed what had happened - the principal called her a liar. She didn't have an adult or agency, such as the Child Advocacy Center, to turn to.

Jackson explained that her father behaved in public in a very jovial manner. Folks in their community thought he was a good man.

However, at-home was a different story. Jackson said he sexually abused her sister, as well.

At the age of 17, Jackson literally ran away from home to escape her abuser.

Both Edmonds and Jackson now speak openly about their experiences, in hopes that they can help others survive and speak out.

The 15th Judicial District Child Advocacy center works to lessen trauma of abuse victims. For more information, visit



Calgary study focuses on child abuse victims' brain development

by Bill Graveland

Ongoing mental-health challenges faced by victims of childhood abuse will be the focus of a long-term study by the University of Calgary and the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre.

The university's Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education, along with the Kennedy centre, will conduct the study. In its initial two-year pilot stage, the study is to involve 240 children between six and 17.

Half of the participants will have experienced childhood abuse while the other half will have not.

“For 20 years I have been working to help people really understand the impacts of child abuse — making the invisible, visible. This research will help us do exactly that,” former NHL player Kennedy said Thursday.

After the two-year phase, researchers hope to expand the study and enrol up to 1,000 children, who will be followed over 10 to 15 years.

Kennedy was the first victim of Graham James to come forward 20 years ago and detail the sexual abuse he suffered under the former junior hockey coach.

In 2013, Kennedy helped open the advocacy centre in Calgary. It brings together under one roof the services of police, social workers, medical staff, psychologists and prosecutors to keep young victims from having to constantly retell and relive their abuse.

Since it opened, the centre has assessed more than 4,500 infants, children and youth who have suffered abuse. One-third of those children and youth have serious mental-health concerns, including self-harm, addiction, sexualized behaviour and suicidal thoughts.

Dr. Paul Arnold, a child psychologist and director of the Mathison Centre at the university's Cumming School of Medicine, said the study's results could provide a guide to care for abuse victims in the future.



Turnbull gov't announces $150K redress scheme for child sexual abuse victims

by Anne Lu

The Australian government has announced up to $150,000 compensation to sexual abuse victims. The Commonwealth redress scheme was announced on Friday as key recommendation from the child sex abuse commission.

Social Servcies Minister Christian Porter told reporters in Perth that the Commonwealth will lead the program, with states, territories, churches and institutions allowed to “opt in.” The scheme, which will provide emotional, mental and other support to victims of sexual abuse, will run for 10 years, starting in early 2018, with an option to extend.

The maximum payout for individual victims is $150,000.

“A fair, simple and generous process for redress is the most significant thing that we can do for survivors of sexual abuse,” Porter said.

While the government would like all jurisdictions to opt in, it was unable to compel them to do that. Instead, it would just encourage that opt in is to be clear and transparent. In the case of territories, though, the Commonwealth has the right to legislate to compel them to join if they did not opt in.

Advocacy groups have welcomed the program but slammed the “opt in” part. Care Leavers Australasia Network co-founder Leonie Sheedy said the redress scheme “sounds wonderful until you read the fine print.”

“Allowing the states to opt-in is a cop out. It should be mandatory for all states to contribute. The states cannot wash their hands of this,” Sheedy was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying. “As for the institutions, many of them have a poor track record of supporting people who were abused. What if they say no, they're not going to contribute? If any charity or religious organisation refuses to contribute to the scheme, they should lose their tax exempt status.”

Catholic Church's Truth Justice and Healing Council CEO Francis Sullivan, on the other hand, has commended Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Commonwealth for the program.

“It is now up to all institutions in which abuse occurred, as well at the State and Territory governments, to get on board and become part of the scheme,” he said in a statement. “This is by far the best chance we as a community and particularly the institutions responsible for the abuse will have to do the right thing.”

Last year, the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse released recommendations to the government on how to address the ongoing care of victims, including a $4 billion national redress scheme that would provide compensation and care, as well as response from the institution if needed.



Ending violence against children

by Catherine L. Ward, Lillian Artz and Partick Burton

Earlier this year, the first-ever nationally representative study of child maltreatment in South Africa revealed that over 40% of young people interviewed reported having experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect. This figure is high, but it is not unusual: similar studies on violence against children have been conducted across 12 other countries, with many revealing equally high rates.

Last year the UN General Assembly committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, which include ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against children, and setting a number of goals targeting the risk factors for maltreatment (for example, goals for good health, quality education, and gender equality). Just over one year after the adoption of these Sustainable Development Goals, it is imperative that global leaders consider these figures and understand the urgent need to take decisive action to keep children safe.

However, while the current statistics are bleak, there is hope that with reliable data, national leaders have the opportunity to make real progress in improving the well-being of children. Provided with better data on the problems, countries may now draw on the growing body of evidence that has deepened our understanding of violence and how to prevent it, learning lessons about how to turn scientific evidence into effective policy. With the right support and investment, middle-income countries are well-positioned to lead the way.

Take the case of South Africa. Like many countries, it has excellent laws and a national action plan to prevent, and respond to, violence against children; it has a clear indication of political will. However, laws and policies on their own are not enough: without enforcement, they are meaningless. This child maltreatment is where South Africa, like many others, falls down. For instance, corporal punishment is banned in South African schools – yet half of its students report having experienced corporal punishment at the hands of an educator. The study also found that young people tend not to report instances of maltreatment, and that when they do, the services – social, police, criminal justice, and health services – are not as efficient or effective as the policies clearly intend them to be.

While these facts are troubling, they also build a case for the path forward. What is needed is a clear protocol across the myriad agencies involved for the treatment, referral, and management of cases of child abuse, as well as support for the victims as they make reports. Such a protocol would improve service delivery; making it easier and more likely that young people would report maltreatment, and go a long way to preventing recurrences.

The study also provides a roadmap for how South Africa can ensure that young people who have been victimised will not go on to experience disabling consequences. It reveals that young victims of maltreatment are twice as likely as other young people to suffer anxiety or depression; three times as likely to report post-traumatic stress disorder; and more likely to report problems in schoolwork, high-risk sexual behaviour, and substance misuse. All of these can have serious long-term impacts on young lives. However, appropriate treatment through health and mental health services can make all the difference, either by preventing the consequences of violence, or providing early treatment before they develop into serious, intractable problems. Schools can be a key referral pathway here, by attending to young people who have sudden changes in their schoolwork and referring them on to professionals.

Finally, the study identified how strong action could prevent the maltreatment of children from happening in the first place. Parents are a key focus for prevention efforts as children who reported victimisation were far more likely to have parents who misused drugs and alcohol than children who did not; and children whose parents had warm relationships with them, and who knew where they were and who they were with, were far less likely to report maltreatment. This suggests that scaling up substance abuse prevention, treatment efforts, and effective, evidence-based parent skills training programmes would go a long way in preventing violence against children.

Now that it has a better understanding of the problem, South Africa and the other countries with nationally representative studies have the opportunity to take a range of concrete actions to prevent violence against children and demonstrate how progress may be made. In doing so, these countries may be inspired by a growing community of international and national leaders who recognise and embrace the critical challenge of preventing violence against children and the necessity of investing political capital to make that happen. In July, a new global partnership to End Violence Against Children was developed by the World Health Organization and other partners; launched to catalyse action, it calls for pathfinder countries to demonstrate the way forward by implementing a set of strategies proven to reduce violence and its impact on the lives of children. These strategies (known collectively as INSPIRE) include promoting parenting skills and empowering families economically, as well as improving the emotional development of children and their access to health care. It also includes recommendations for laws and social norms that protect children, as well as challenging the gender stereotypes that can normalize violence.

Preventing violence against children has been a neglected issue, but today we have reached an unprecedented point of opportunity. We now have better data than ever before on the full extent of the problem, and a growing base of evidence on what needs to be done to prevent it. It is time for action.



Police Officers talk of challenges in child abuse cases

by The Newsroom Pasifik News

POLICE officers from around the Pacific attending a training workshop on gender, violence against women and laws against gender-based violence have talked of some of the challenges of dealing with child abuse cases.

Many of these challenges had to do with lack of resources and training, as well specific legislation to deal with such cases.

One officer spoke of the challenges when it came to interviewing vulnerable witnesses, especially children in sexual assault and rape cases. Children often found it hard to open up about the attack because they feared the perpetrator or not being believed.

Interviewing child survivors of violence required time and sensitivity. Even officers in sexual offences units would struggle to get a child survivor to open up. Discussions focussed on not causing more trauma by forcing information out of child survivors. Instead some police officers refer cases to specialist organisations or counsellors to help extract details of an attack.

While many challenges remain to eliminate violence against women and girls in the Pacific, the passing of legislation against gender-based violence in several Pacific countries, has helped police officers respond better.

In the Solomon Islands, for example, under the Family Protection Act which came into force in April this year, officers have the power to issue police safety notices in urgent cases or when it is not practicable to get a protection order from the court.

These police safety notices can apply for up to 21 days and protects a vulnerable person from being subjected to violence in the home.

In Samoa, police can prepare applications for protection orders although the responsibility for applying these orders has been moved to an organisation dealing with violence against women.

In Fiji and Tonga some police officers have used mechanism in the law to apply by telephone for an interim domestic violence restraining order.

Officers also described the emotional impact of dealing with child sexual abuses cases. They shared similar stories about cases where the father was the perpetrator who showed little remorse about the immense damage done to young lives. In one case, the perpetrator said since the girl was his daughter he did not want any other person to “use her”, while in another country the father was reported to have said he owned his daughter because he had brought her into this world.

Another issue raised was the adoption of vulnerable children who were taken overseas. In one case, one of these girls was adopted as a five-year-old and taken to the United States were she was sexually abused before being returned to her country of birth.

Police officers said they felt helpless at times, even when they knew the risks and dangers for certain children, but were constrained by lack of empowering laws, processes or institutions.

One participant said it was frustrating to have perpetrators released by a court after they had arrested them on bench warrants after they had earlier failed to answer bail.

The two-week long workshop held at Hexagon Hotel in Nadi is funded by the Australian Federal Police and facilitated by the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre. It ends next Friday.



Girls As Young As 11 In War-Torn Syria Forced To Marry In Exchange For Money

by James Macintyre

Syrian girls as young as 11 are being married off by their families in exchange for money, and children as young as seven recruited to fight in the war that has been raging since 2011, according to Christian persecution charity Open Doors.

A field worker in Syria said: "Very young children are being used in child labour and girls as young as eleven are being married off, sometimes in exchange for rent and other necessities."

"Many children have been directly impacted by the violence, suffering from physical and psychological trauma and being forced to leave their homes," he added.

"Children as young as seven are being recruited into the armed conflict, many suffer from increased levels of physical abuse at home, and young girls are at particular risk of sexual abuse, abduction, and exploitation."

Children in the Syrian province of Homs are now being offered respite in a centre funded by Open Doors and run by a partner organisation in Syria.

Some 320 youngsters aged 3-14 play and participate in activities at the centre, which is described by Open Doors as "a safe space where children can develop and grow and have access to critical psychosocial support".

Many Syrian schools have been closed during the war and Open Doors estimates that in 2015 some 40 schools were attacked by one of the fighting factions. A large number of Syrian children are not attending school because of the security situation.

The 'Child Friendly Space' is located in an area close to Homs that is home to many displaced Syrians, and is open from Thursdays to Sundays. "The activities are designed specifically for each specific age group to promote child development, psychosocial well-being, and coping skills," Open Doors said. "Activities include games, arts and crafts, music, drama, sports, free play, emergency education, and child protection awareness."

The field worker explained that children benefit from a renewed sense of routine. "By providing a safe place to learn and play, the space also reduces children's risk of becoming involved in child labour and early marriage or sexual exploitation, and it significantly improves children's psychosocial well-being as they regain a sense of routine and normalcy, and are able to process difficult experiences," he said.

He added that the play area has made the children feel better. "Playing is essential for their emotional and psychological development. Because of their lack of opportunity to play, children felt isolated and stressed; this even led to an increased violence amongst them. Now they have their own space, they slowly start to feel better. The informal education they receive is essential to them as they can't go to school."

The centre is also benefiting the wider community. "The Child Friendly Space engages members of the community, so it is also strengthening the ties between the church and its surrounding community as they respond together to the needs of children," the field worker said.

Homs remains in government control but has been hit by sporadic violence, as recently as this week, between Syrian forces and ISIS.

Last week, ISIS militants took responsibility for shooting down a Russian warplane over the city.

In late 2015, rebels began evacuating the last district they held in Homs, a city of strategic importance situated roughly halfway between Damascus and Aleppo, and close to Lebanon.

The history of Homs stretches back to the 1st Millennium BC.

Syria is number five on Open Doors' 'World Watch List' which ranks the severity of persecution faced by Christians in countries around the world.



Officials: Better training needed to prevent abuse at special needs schools

by Michael Illiano

BOSTON – State education officials have told a legislative committee that better staff training and improved communication between agencies are necessary to prevent cases of abuse and neglect recently reported at several of the state's special education schools.

“These schools are facing increasing challenges, which require all of us to work together differently,” State Education Secretary James Peyser told the Joint Committee on Education Wednesday.

The schools in question fall under state law Chapter 766, which guarantees students with special needs receive an education suited to their disabilities. The regulation has created 56 special education schools in the state, which enroll students suffering from conditions such as severe autism and other conditions too difficult for public schools to address.

The meeting came after reports of abuse, neglect and misconduct at several special education schools.

In March, the state shut down the Eagleton School in Great Barrington, which taught boys with mental disabilities, after five staff members were arrested and charged with subjecting students to physical and emotional abuse.

In April, the Disability Law Center, a nonprofit protection and advocacy agency, filed a report alleging that students at the Evergreen Center in Milford were abused by staff members. And in August, a DLC investigation found evidence of abuse and neglect at the Chamberlain school in Middleboro. A WBUR report also found evidence of improper use of restraints, of students fleeing during school hours, and students being sexually abused at Chamberlain.

Mr. Peyser said his office will work closer with the Department of Early Education and Care and the Office of the Child Advocate to collect, analyze and share data on special education schools.

“The Eagleton experience helped expose some significant challenges and weaknesses, not only in the schools themselves, but also in the way the state monitors, regulates and supports them,” Mr. Peyser said.

Maria Mossaides, from the Office of the Child Advocate, said her department has hired a public consulting group to do an in-depth assessment of how information is shared among these offices.

Because special education schools are subject to oversight from so many different offices, Mr. Peyser said communication among different jurisdictions can be slow.

Under state regulation a report needs to be filed any time a staff member in a special education school is required to use physical restraint on one of the students. Mr. Peyser said his office is working with the Department of Early Education to create an IT system to make this type of information more accessible to both the public and regulatory officials.

“We are working to shift from a reactive to a proactive stance in ensuring health, safety and educational success for the students in special education schools,” he said.

Mr. Peyser also addressed the problems of high staff turnover at the schools, which require specialized training for staff members. He blamed low pay, especially compared to what teachers in public school receive, as well as inefficient training methods.

Rep. Alice Peisch, the House chair of the Joint Education Committee, said that the committee will hold another hearing on special education schools in December, and possibly a third in early January, before determining whether to pursue legislation.



Prosecution: Blackstone father knew of babies

by Zachary Comeau

The prosecution in the case of a former Blackstone man accused of child neglect in a home where three dead infants and two other severely neglected children were found is pushing to uphold child abuse charges.

Ramon Rivera, 39, formerly of 23 St. Paul St., Blackstone, faces several charges, including two counts of assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury.

His lawyer, Nicole Longton, penned a motion to dismiss the charges in August, claiming that Rivera never had custody or care of the two neglected children – a 3-year-old and 5-month-old - found living in the home.

Inside the squalid home filled with trash and soiled diapers, authorities found the 3-year-old and 5-month-old, for whom no birth records existed.

After further investigation, authorities found the bodies of three dead infants.

Rivera's girlfriend and mother of the children, Erika Murray, has admitted that she gave birth to those children – living and dead - inside the home's only bathroom and that they never left the house to see a doctor.

She faces two murder charges in addition to several other charges.

Two older school-aged children, were by all accounts, healthy and normal.

The state has opposed the motion in a 24-page document detailing the profound neglect that the children were allegedly found to be in. The state wrote that because the Grand Jury found probable cause to indict Rivera and found that evidence establishing that he had “care and custody” of the children was sufficient, the charges should stand.

Contrary to claims that Rivera didn't know the children were his, Grand Jury testimony included in the prosecution filing claims that Rivera saw one of the children in August and asked Murray if it was his child, but she said no.

“Although he claimed that she said no, when police interviewed him, he said that he believed (the children) were his children,” the prosecution writes.

According to authorities and testimony, Murray attempted to hide the children from Rivera, her children and the outside world, keeping them in the house for their entire lives.

She even created a Facebook account for a fictitious woman and claimed she was babysitting the children for the woman, according to authorities.

Further, witnesses – including the neighbor that discovered the horrible conditions – testified that the cries from the smaller child were “blistering” and were heard even outside the home before she entered it.

Given Rivera's own accounts of knowing about the children and the filthy conditions in which they lived, the prosecution wrote that Rivera “did nothing to alleviate the dangerous conditions in which the victims lived.”

Longton has maintained that Rivera never knew of the children's existence, though they were kept in upstairs bedrooms not far from where he and the mother of the children, Murray, slept.

“Here, the Commonwealth failed to offer any evidence to the Grand Jury that Rivera was even aware the children were in the house, never mind that he acted in a care giving role to them,” Longton wrote in her motion, which was previously under seal. A redacted version replacing the names of the victims has since been released.

Longton also writes that the Grand Jury had no probable cause to indict Rivera on the charges.



Swipe to report child abuse: App launched in India to rein in crime

by Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A state in western India has launched a mobile app for people to report child abuse, in an effort to protect children after a series of abuses came to light.

The Maharashtra State Child Rights Protection Commission on Wednesday launched the Child Helpline for Information on Rights and Address Grievances (Chirag), a mobile application for Android phones that also provides information on children's rights, including legislation.

"Nowadays, every other person uses a smartphone and downloads applications," Pankaja Munde, Maharashtra state minister for women and child welfare, told reporters.

"Chirag will enable people to reach out to the commission and save children from abuse."

Registering a complaint on the app will send an email to the commission, which will direct it to police or a child-rights charity. A statewide campaign is being rolled out to create awareness in schools, offices and elsewhere, Munde said.

Officials in Maharashtra, one of India's wealthiest states, said earlier this week they had set up a special investigation team to look into allegations of sexual abuse of at least 12 girls at a boarding school for tribal children.

That came on the heels of an inquiry by the National Human Rights Commission into the deaths of more than 700 indigenous children in the past decade in state-run schools in Maharashtra.

India is the world's second biggest market for mobile phones, with more than 1 billion users. Use of smartphones is increasing on the back of rising incomes.

Earlier this year, India's only toll-free emergency helpline for street children and children in distress unveiled kiosks with touch-screen technology to replace disappearing public telephone booths.

A total of 94,172 crimes against children were recorded last year, according to official data, marginally higher than the previous year. Many more crimes go unreported, activists say.

The mobile app can help increase awareness and take the message of children's rights further, said Sanjay Macwan, field office director at the International Justice Mission, the rights group that helped develop the app.

"The app puts promotion, protection and preservation of of child rights in peoples' hands," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Rights issues can be dry, hard to understand. The app makes it easy to grasp and accessible to anyone with a phone."

(Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, editing by Alisa Tang. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change.



University of Alberta report designed to help people identify child sexual assault victims

by Dave Lazzarino

Awareness of child sexual abuse is the first step to stop it and a program developed in Edmonton suggests it's not a difficult thing to achieve.

Results of a study done by University of Alberta researchers in co-operation with Little Warriors, a group committed to the prevention of child sexual abuse, were released Wednesday.

When first interviewed, 46 per cent of participants said they regularly found themselves looking for signs of abuse in children they work with, the study found. But just three months after a workshop, titled Prevent It!, involving training through facilitators as well as video segments featuring abuse survivors, that number increased to 81 per cent.

“Tragically, child sexual abuse is very common in North America with as many as one in six girls and one in 12 boys currently experiencing sexual abuse involving bodily contact,” said Dr. Peter Silverstone, co-author of the study. “If a program is going to train adults to detect and prevent (child sexual abuse), it has to create significant awareness and behavioural change in the participants.”

The workshop took a four-step approach to awareness – study, talk, observe and prepare for action.

Study authors say the methods were designed on proven theories and the expectation is that it will produce more long-term effects in participants, making them more responsible role models, more attentive to signs of abuse and more able to take steps to prevent it from continuing.

“Every day, we salute people who have become their own heroes by healing themselves from sexual abuse, but there are other heroes too – people who are watching out for the most vulnerable segment of our society, our children. Everyone who has children, works with children or cares about children will benefit from participating in this workshop,” said Little Warriors founder, Glori Meldrum.

The workshop is available to the public with some upcoming sessions in Edmonton being offered free of charge thanks to donations. Information can be found on and the complete study has been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.


United Kingdom

Sexual-Abuse Gangs and Racism

by Geoffrey Pullum

Back in August, a huge public inquiry into child sexual abuse in Britain lost its third leader when Judge Lowell Goddard resigned as chair. The Times reported her as having remarked that the reason Britain has so many pedophiles is “because it has so many Asian men.” That assertion (which she firmly denies making) has been condemned as racist. I wish people would use the dictionary a bit more.

Racism is a thesis — the single greatest ideological evil in human history, in my view. It holds that race membership determines human traits and capacities, and that some people are inherently superior to others by virtue of their race. I hate to see the name of this toxic doctrine applied loosely. What's crucial is whether the intent was to claim that Asianness per se predisposes a person to pedophilia. Let me fill in some background that is highly relevant.

Judge Goddard has been replaced by Professor Alexis Jay, who in 2014, after a newspaper story accused a named man of child rape, conducted an official inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, a northern England town. Her report concluded that 1,400 children (that's now thought to be an underestimate) had been raped and prostituted by gangs of Rotherham men between 1997 and 2013. The modus operandi was to flatter and befriend English girls between the ages of 12 and 15, ply them with vodka and crack, pressure them into sex or simply rape them, warn them never to tell anyone, and then pass them around for sexual use by large numbers of acquaintances.

In 2003 one brave young woman reported her rape (at age 13) to the Rotherham police. They mistrusted her, implying it was her fault. They failed to examine her clothes and ultimately lost them. They destroyed the tape of their interview with the man she named. Even after her family appealed to the British government they took no action. When the gang threatened to gang-rape the girl's mother she withdrew her charges (the family eventually moved to Spain to get the girl away from her abusers).

Five Rotherham men were convicted on rape and assault charges in 2010: Zafran Ramzan, Razwan Razaq, Umar Razaq, Adil Hussain, and Mohsin Khan. Last February, four more: Arshid Hussain, Basharat Hussain, Bannaras Hussain, and Qurban Ali (plus two British women who helped with the pimping). And eight more were convicted last month: Sageer Hussain, Mohammed Whied, Ishtiaq Khaliq, Waleed Ali, Asif Ali, Masoued Malik, Basharat Hussain, and Naeem Rafiq.

Almost all the convicted men were from the Pakistani community (8.3 percent of Rotherham's population in 2011). That fact had long discouraged local government representatives from taking action: Professor Jay's report says, “Several councillors interviewed believed that by opening up these issues they could be ‘giving oxygen' to racist perspectives that might in turn attract extremist political groups and threaten community cohesion.”

The remark Judge Goddard allegedly made, then, was alluding to well-documented contingent facts about an unpleasant subculture among certain South Asians. And Rotherham is not unique: Pakistani-dominated sex gangs have been prosecuted in Aylesbury, Banbury, Derby, Halifax, Keighley, Oxford, Peterborough, Rochdale, and Telford (the Wikipedia articles have links to newspaper reports; be warned, some details are horrific). Pakistanis predominate in almost all cases, though occasionally other ethnicities (including British) are involved. (Bristol had a case of a particularly nasty Somali sex gang.)

Notice that Islam explicitly proscribes alcohol, drugs, rape, and abuse. This was never about religion. The callous, vodka-swigging, drug-peddling pedophiles in the Pakistani sex gangs are not living a Muslim life. But many have speculated that something is wrong with male urban Pakistani-British culture. The strict parental regime imposed on Pakistani girls contrasts with the way British girls tend to be largely free to go out on their own, dress how they wish, socialize with boys, and marry if when and whom they choose. Maybe to unprincipled predators the freedoms of British girls suggest potential wantonness. Sageer Hussain (a Rotherham ringleader) certainly saw things that way. He once remarked: “All white girls are good for is sex, and they are just slags.” Now, that is a genuinely racist statement. It attributes being worthless and fit for sexual abuse simply on grounds of being white. That really does meet the definition. It's like assuming some Indiana-born judge with Mexican parents couldn't be impartial simply on grounds of his Mexicannness .

Don't imagine that I would defend the remark Judge Goddard is alleged to have made (but I hope she didn't): It's unforgivably vague and statistically ridiculous. But we have to distinguish attributing essential characteristics to biologically defined subpopulations from commenting (even carelessly) on the behavior of specific clusters of individuals who happen to be members of some biologically defined subpopulation. Racism is so serious and so toxic that the word “racist” should be used only with great care.



Males Matter establishes bond between men, their children

by Scott Thompson

The sounds of bowling balls clattering into pins could not overpower the noise of laughter and fun Friday night at a Males Matter bowling event.

The night was part of a monthly series of outings for Opportunities Inc.'s Head Start program called Males Matter, as men and the children in their lives take an evening out of their busy schedule to hang out together and bond.

Cody Britsch, father to Aria, who turned 3 on Saturday, and Ryker, 4, just squeaked into town in time for the night after covering for a route in Havre for his job working for Pepsi.

It's Britsch's first year coming to Males Matter events, and he and his kids are enjoying it.

“It gives us the ability to participate and do things with my kids,” he said. “My buddy is here (with a child he is a father figure for). It gives the kids the opportunity to hang out with parents and parentlike figures instead of sitting in front of the TV or zombieng out or doing the day to day stuff people do.”

Beth Branam, program manager for Opportunities Inc., said the program's aim is to deepen the bond between children and their father or the male role models in their lives.

She said a strong male role model in a child's life can help a child stay out of trouble, make it more likely a child will get good grades and reduce teen pregnancies.

“The impact a male has on a child can be huge,” Branam said. “We're not saying we don't value moms, because we do, but we want to highlight the importance of having a male role model. They provide something moms don't, so it's important to have both.”

There can be 100 or more low-income men at some of the Males Matter events, with the biggest event being an annual bookshelf building event.

“Men love to build stuff with their children,” Branam said.

All the lanes were filled at Friday night at Black Eagle Community Center's bowling alley.

The events are free of charge.

The participants are frequently recruited from Head Start families or through other Opportunities Inc. programs.

New this year will be support groups, which will be funded by a United Way grant.

“We are really excited about this,” Branam said.

The men will follow the Nurturing Fathers curriculum, which gives them tools to cope with stress and identifies deep-rooted barriers that prevent them from being nurturing parents.

The curriculum also helps dads identify parenting attitudes that are risk factors for child abuse and neglect and develop positive parenting strategies.

Beyond the course work, the program provides dads peer support and an opportunity for self-reflection as they share experiences and common parental frustrations and questions.

Because Opportunities, Inc. provides many other support services for low-income families, parents involved in the Males Matter program are also connected to resources that help them meet their immediate needs, further reducing stress on their families.

“Child abuse and neglect plagues our community,” United Way President Gary Owen said. “The Males Matter program provides at-risk parents the tools they need to be strong and confident.”

According to the Department of Public Health and Human Services, Cascade County led the state in the number of child abuse cases in 2015.

“Beyond reducing the risk of child abuse, the Males Matter program also sets children on the path to success,” Owen said. “Having a caring adult in their lives is critical to a child's academic and emotional development.”

“We get really good feedback (from the Males Matter program),” Branam said. “It's a great chance to bond with (their) families, especially if they are going through something like a separation. It's a good time to go with their kids. The time is already set aside.”

To help

Money raised in United Way's annual campaign address human service needs in Cascade County. Any local nonprofit can apply for grants. United Way volunteers decide funding considering the community's needs and the programs' effectiveness. This year, 31 local programs receive United Way grants.

Many people give through an employee campaign, which runs through the end of the year. People also may give by sending contributions directly to United Way at PO Box 1343, Great Falls, MT 59403 or donating online via their secure website at



Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect celebrates new juvenile justice board

by Janie Matthews

JEFFERSON CITY — The Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect unanimously approved its annual report on Wednesday and praised new legislation aimed at evaluating the juvenile court system.

Committee chair Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, said the eight-person committee accomplished the goals they laid out at the beginning of the year, referencing the creation of the Missouri State Juvenile Justice Advisory Board.

"We got the job done," Lant said.

Lant commended the passage of House Bill 2355, which created the new advisory board. Gov. Jay Nixon signed the bill into law over the summer.

The board will evaluate and recommend changes to the juvenile court system and juvenile officer standards, according to the bill. It will be made up of nine members, including a foster parent and representatives from law enforcement and the juvenile court.

The board is required to meet at least four times per year and must present a written annual report of recommendations to the Office of State Courts Administrator, the Office of Child Advocate and the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Lant said the committee heard testimonies from juveniles last year who expressed the need for a work group to develop statewide standards for all juvenile officers.

"What we did was formulate legislation to address that need," Lant said.

Lant stressed that there is still more work to be done.

"Last year I think we had a monumental year," Lant said, "we got some great things done, that doesn't meant that we don't have more things to do."



Sex trafficked teens find help in court system

by Vanessa Murphy

LAS VEGAS -- There are so many teens sex trafficked in Las Vegas there is a day reserved in court every week to review their cases and get them the help they need.

The glitz, the glam and the greed.

"He just wanted money."

This teen's story is all too common in Las Vegas.

Her identity is protected due to safety concerns because of the danger she escaped.

"I just sort of lost all my respect for myself and like what I had going for me," she said.

At 17, she says she ran away from her southern Nevada home, fell into drugs, and met an older man when she felt she had nowhere to go.

"He started telling me like little sweet nothings."

He offered food, shelter, shopping trips. It's called grooming.

"It just turned out that it wasn't free, like there was stuff you had to do," the 17-year-old said.

She was expected to sell sex and hand him the money.

"He was like, 'Here you're going wear this tonight,' and then basically told me like all his rules."

She describes the two months with her pimp and another victim who was under his control.

"He just pushed me harder, harder, harder, harder. He was like okay you need to go here, twice a day, you need to go there, maybe visit once, you need to text and call these people and just see what you can do."

It stopped when an undercover Metro police officer picked her up on the street earlier this year. She says, he honked the horn, stopped for her, and she agreed to a sex act for money. That's what police needed to take her into custody.

She ended up in court.

There are so many teens like her identified as victims of sex trafficking in Clark County, there is a day court day dedicated to them.

Every Wednesday morning in a Clark County courtroom, sex trafficked teens appear in front of Judge William Voy and a team of professionals ready to begin outreach.

The goal is to treat them as victims - not as criminals.

In some cases, rather than a charge for selling sex, what goes on the record is "minor in a gaming establishment..."

Many of the teens who were in court were tracked down in casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. It's a problem area for police, in addition to hot spots downtown and stretches on Tropicana Avenue and Boulder Highway.

Lieutenant Patricia Spencer is in charge of Metro's vice unit says nearly all of the teens they deal with are being trafficked. She says they go after the pimps any chance they get and they are also leading a push to bust more customers.

"It literally is modern day slavery. We say it over and over again and it really is true," Lt. Spencer said.

She says, so far this year, Metro has rescued more than 120 teens from sex trafficking.

"Life these days is so much brighter because I stopped looking in the shadows, you know, for that love that I thought I wanted," said the unidentified teen.

Treatment for the teen continues.

Through the courts, that can include drug programs, psychiatric help, and counseling provided at agencies like the Salvation Army.

The road to recovery can be a long one because of the brainwashing from the pimps, the violence the victims may have endured and the trauma from selling sex.

According to Spencer, it's estimated within the first 48 hours after a teen has run away they will encounter a pimp.

She adds, the pimps recruit victims in many ways whether it's on the street, at the mall, or through social media like Instagram, Facebook, and apps to meet up.



Helping military families at-risk of child abuse

by Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje

Inside a conference room at the Children's Shelter of San Antonio, Eli Lequang holds his 1-year-old daughter Kayleen on his lap. She's a friendly toddler with black, silky hair, a charming smile and a predilection for patty-cake.

Lequang's daughter was born the same day his wife died from complications of child birth in California. A former Marine, he suddenly found himself a single father, charged with raising a child while burdened with grief. When Lequang landed in San Antonio last summer, drawn here by a friend, he was flat broke and overwhelmed with the stress of caring for his daughter, struggling to provide for her most basic needs.

“I was pretty much lost,” he said.

But a new program at the shelter that provides support to active duty military and veteran families in Bexar County came to the rescue. Trained educators go into the homes of caregivers to provide guidance and help with parenting skills, as well as ladle on social services that reduce parental stress and benefit children.

Fueling the need for such a program is new data that shows the incidence of child abuse and neglect among military families is rising. Historically, the rate of child maltreatment in military families has been about half that of the civilian population — around 7 confirmed cases versus 14 per 1,000 children. Since 2003, however, it has begun to outpace the nonmilitary statistics, a trend that coincides with the post-9/11 rise in overseas military operations, according to a study by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

The reasons why military families might be at greater risk for child abuse and neglect are numerous, given the realities of modern service, the study found. They include long and/or multiple deployments, frequent moves, separation from family and support networks, lengthy absences of the deployed parent, increased demands on the at-home parent and potential tension around a deployed parent's reintroduction into the home.

Complicating this picture are elevated rates of combat exposure, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental and physical injuries in modern-day deployments, coupled with a reluctance among some service men and women to seek help for mental health issues and a propensity to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to dull the pain. All this increases the risk of child maltreatment, the study found.

“We know that just with normal parenting, there are multiple stressors,” said Yvette Sanchez, chief program officer with the shelter. “With military families, that can be amplified because of the transience of the population and the instability” that can come with deployment. “We know this can put families in potential danger if they don't receive support.”

There have been no allegations of abuse or neglect against Lequang; indeed, he's a loving father who is closely bonded with his daughter, said his case manager. But that's the point of the program — to identify at-risk families and pour on the preventive services before tragedy can happen.

‘I didn't know where to turn'

A native of Katy, Lequang served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003. After leaving the military, he worked for a defense contractor in Afghanistan for a year. After that came an eight-month stint working as a heavy equipment operator for Schlumberger Oil Services in North Dakota, a job he lost in 2015 when oil prices tanked. He and his pregnant wife of 10 years, Maria, moved to California, where a friend lived.

Soon after they arrived there, Maria, 34, had to undergo an emergency C-section when her blood pressure spiked dangerously. As they wheeled her into surgery, Lequang told his wife he'd be waiting for her after the operation.

“That was the last time I saw her,” he said. “In a million years, I never thought (her death) would happen to me.”

With a new baby daughter, Lequang was going to return to Katy but decided last August to move to San Antonio, where another friend lived. He was able to find an apartment through a veterans assistance program at Family Endeavors, a nonprofit that provides homelessness prevention to vets, as well as other services.

Lequang had a place to live, but he needed to find work and help with the task of raising a daughter on his own. A case manager at Family Endeavors told him about the new military family program, which began July 1, offered at the shelter. In August, he met for the first time with parent educator Michelle Alvarado.

“I didn't know who to turn to until I met Michelle,” Lequang said. “She helped us so much with assistance, with so many resources. I had no idea such programs existed.”

So far, Alvarado has helped Lequang mostly with “the basics” — diapers, wipes, food stamps and the like — and helped him negotiate the bureaucratic barriers that often attend accessing social services. And she's been there to listen and offer reassurance that he's doing a great job as a father.

“Eli has so much insight, for all he's been through,” Alvarado said. He regularly takes part in Family Fun Night, when clients in the military family program come together for festivities, board games and a way to connect socially with one another.

The program is made possible through a grant administered through the United Way, which received $4 million dispensed over five years to seven other nonprofits in San Antonio that provide services to military families. (The Children's Shelter and Family Service Association are the only participating nonprofits providing home educators, said a shelter spokeswoman.)

The shelter receives almost $140,000 a year for the program and serves families with kids from birth to age 3. So far, 28 families have signed up. A separate $200,000 grant from the Texas Veterans Commission provides the same services to military families with children from birth to age 17.

People come to the program by word-of-mouth, referrals from groups like Family Endeavors; a small number of referrals come from Child Protective Services, Sanchez said. The program is strictly voluntary and free to all participants.

“We're a huge military city, so having these resources is crucial,” Sanchez said.

Caring for his daughter has given Lequang a new appreciation for the work mothers do, he said: Recently, he resorted to a google search to learn how to groom his daughter's hair.

He hopes other service members who are struggling will reach out, and not keep their trouble to themselves.

“You don't have to be in the dark,” he said. “Help is out there.”



More than 1,200 Law Enforcement Officials, Advocates Participate in Statewide Child Abuse Program

by Libby Burton

Attorney General Andy Beshear announced more than 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.

Beshear and First Lady Glenna Bevin announced the trainings in February.

“When we launched these trainings earlier this year, Kentucky took a major step toward helping all Kentuckians understanding that it's everyone's legal duty and moral responsibility to protect children from abuse,” Beshear said. “Our training outreach in communities across the Commonwealth was well received and well attended. We have laid the groundwork to create stronger and more extensive child safety measures for our families in the future.”

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.

Beshear will speak at the final training Friday, Nov. 4 at the Pennyrile Area Development District in Hopkinsville.

The Child Victims' Trust Fund awards funding to regional and statewide prevention programs that utilize innovative strategies to provide children with personal safety skills, teach adults how to keep children safe from child sexual abuse and exploitation, and inform the public about mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse.

Partners in the trainings include the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities; the Kentucky Association of Child Advocacy Centers; the Department of Criminal Justice Training and Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky or PCAK.

“The impact of the trainings funded by the Child Victims' Trust Fund will continue to be felt in the months to come,” said Jill Seyfred, executive director of PCAK. “Not only were more than 1,200 people trained, resources were developed which will now be distributed to supplement those trainings. Couple these two approaches with the continued funding, and the legislative emphasis from the newly appointed Task Force, Kentucky's adults will be better equipped to shoulder the responsibility of ensuring our children are safe from predators.”

Beshear said a majority of the 2016 trainings focused on protecting children from molester selection, engagement and seduction by giving attendees revealing advice that sex offenders have shared with instructor Cory Jewell Jensen, M.S, a nationally recognized child advocate and the co-director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention.

“Approximately one out of every 214 males in Kentucky is a registered sex offender,” Jenson said “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.”

Beshear thanks the First Lady and all the partners who made these trainings successful.

And while he is pleased with the success of the 2016 trainings, Beshear said the focus of his office will continue to be child safety and sexual predator apprehension in 2017.

The Office of the Attorney General, including Beshear, testified before the House Task Force on Child Abuse and Exploitation Prevention last week about his office's legislative proposals for the upcoming session of the Kentucky General Assembly in January.

Beshear's legislative agenda includes requiring background checks for all staff at summer camps, prohibiting sex offenders from being on playgrounds and making those convicted of human trafficking register as a sex offender.

“Studies suggest that one in three of all people who applied for employment and/or volunteering at a summer camp have something that pops up on a background check that suggests they shouldn't be in charge of children,” Beshear said. “That's one-third of the people applying. In Kentucky, we don't even check because it's not required.”

The Attorney General's office supports children and families through its Office of Victims Advocacy; Office of Child Abuse and Exploitation Prevention; and its Cyber Crimes Unit, which since Jan. 4 has arrested or convicted 44 sexual predators in Kentucky.



"19 Days of Activism" To Stop Child Abuse


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.



Confront scourge of sexual abuse, stand up for children, Inuit leaders demand

'There is no way to talk about this issue without it being difficult,' says ITK president Natan Obed

by Kristy Kirkup

Prominent Inuit politicians are urging Canada's leaders — indigenous and otherwise — to protect children from the scourge of sexual abuse and suicide running through indigenous communities, saying no child deserves to have their innocence stolen.

The head of Canada's national Inuit organization says it is incumbent upon all leaders to proclaim that abuse in indigenous communities is unacceptable.

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, is himself no stranger to intergenerational trauma; his own father struggled with alcoholism after falling victim to sexual and physical abuse at residential school.

"There is no way to talk about this issue without it being difficult," Obed said in an interview. "I always think of the
children, the children that shouldn't be abused and they are at the centre of my thoughts."

Children deserve the right to live happy, healthy childhoods and to fulfil their potential, he added.

"We need to do more to keep our children safe," Obed said. "We know the risk factors that child sexual abuse is for suicide."

'An open secret'

Talk of sexual abuse often falls on deaf ears at all levels of government, a frustrated Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern said Monday following a Canadian Press investigation that highlights the alarming prevalence of sexual abuse in some indigenous communities — and the fact that it remains an open secret.

"If you acknowledge it, you have to deal with it," Redfern said. "Just the same way that the Catholic Church abuse went on for decades; that was an open secret until media ... decided that those stories needed to be told."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stuck to a familiar script when asked about the issue Monday, citing existing government investments and the Liberal commitment to establish a new relationship with Canada's indigenous people.

"The one thing we will not do is decide from Ottawa how to fix these problems because that's part of what has got us into successive failures," Trudeau said.

"We will work in respect and in partnership with indigenous communities, indigenous leadership, to ensure that we are addressing these problems together for the long-term."

Shockingly high numbers

Researchers, indigenous leaders and victims told The Canadian Press the level of abuse in some communities is shockingly high, although there is limited data to indicate exactly how pervasive the problem is across the country.

Independent Sen. Murray Sinclair, the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which explored the depths of Canada's residential school legacy, said data is sorely lacking that could point to the magnitude of the problem inside indigenous communities.

Sexual abuse has gone beyond residential school survivors, their children and grandchildren, said Sinclair. The cycle of abuse has infected subsequent generations, he warned. Children are abusing each other across generations; members of street gangs are victimizing young girls; and women are being hauled into the sex trade.

Mental health resources to address the issue and research possible connections to the alarmingly high number of indigenous suicides are sorely lacking, especially in Canada's far North, Sinclair noted.

Scared of the abusers

In the 2007-08 Inuit Health Survey conducted in Nunavut, a staggering 52 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men said they experienced severe sexual abuse during childhood.

A 2012 Statistics Canada report found rates of sexual offences against children and youth were highest in the territories — the Northwest Territories and Nunavut recorded the highest rates in Canada, followed by Yukon.

Fear remains a very real barrier for victims to speak up about abuse, Redfern said, noting many are concerned about possible retaliatory attacks from community members themselves including family and friends.

"They are very scared of their abusers ... often if it is family members or close family friends, especially if the person is in a position of power, if that person is an elder, a politician, a community leader, a leader within their family — a father, a grandfather," she said.

"Society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest numbers."



Redress scheme for abuse victims is a good start

by Francis Sullivan

The announcement late last week by the Turnbull government that it will establish and run a national redress scheme for the survivors of institutional child sexual abuse is a great decision that has the potential to be one of the most significant social policy reforms in recent history.

Friday's announcement has the potential to benefit tens of thousands of people now and into the future who have suffered the most damaging and tragic abuse — institutional child sexual abuse.

The estimates are jaw dropping, more than 60,000 children abused in hundreds of different institutions across Australia for many decades into the past.

But the new scheme will only be truly effective if all institutions and all governments accept their responsibilities and commit to participating.

The Catholic Church has a lot to answer for. For decades up to the 1990s and in some cases beyond, it systematically covered up child sex abuse by members of our clergy. It consistently put the interests of the church as an institution ahead of the welfare and safety of children. Their suffering has been compounded and for many, their lives shattered.

This did not just happen in the Catholic Church. We now know, thanks to the Royal Commission, that it was tragically commonplace across many other churches, schools, government institutions, sporting and cultural institutions.

Now the federal government will provide a redress platform that all organisations which were responsible for the appalling abuse can use and, in a way, acknowledge and make some amends for the past.

But this will require one last great push from the federal government and continuing pressure from the community to ensure, regardless of where or when someone was abused, they will be able to seek justice through the scheme.

With all institutions taking part, this scheme will succeed and it will deliver fair, consistent and generous redress for survivors. If some institutions don't take part it will be yet another blow to abuse survivors, with some reaping the scheme's benefits while others are left to suffer further defeats and humiliations.

A case in point is the South Australian government. Before the ink was dry on the announcement, the South Australian government had already indicated it would not take part. This is appalling, whatever the justification.

If SA Premier, Jay Weatherill, is so convinced his state has fairly and comprehensively responded to adults abused as children in that state's schools and other government-run facilities then well done. But if, as is more likely the case, there are hundreds of survivors of abuse in SA government-run institutions who have received inadequate or no compensation, then he should be ashamed for so readily dismissing this proposal.

He, his attorney general and other senior government ministers, need to put their principles and convictions before the advice of their bureaucrats and bean counters and become part of the scheme.

It is now vitally important that all institutions in which abuse occurred, as well as all the state and territory governments, get on board. This is by far the best chance we, as a community, and particularly the institutions responsible for the abuse will have to do the right thing to give abuse survivors the financial support they need to have a crack at a half decent life.


New Mexico

CAV: Coercive control is common domestic violence tactic

by Malinda Williams

People who commit domestic violence use a variety of tactics to dominate and control their intimate partners (or ex-partners). It's not about one argument that crosses the line: it's a pattern of abusive, coercive control tactics used by one partner to control the other. The target, or victim, will often describe herself as being afraid of her partner and walking on eggshells to avoid angering him. Most, but not all, perpetrators of coercive control are men.

Tactics for exerting control include humiliation, isolation from friends, family and outside activities, financial control, emotional abuse and manipulation, threats to children and pets, suicide threats and forced or pressured sex. Abusers will use tactics to control things like a partner's appearance, ability to work and even things such as how they load the dishwasher. Coercive control can include physical violence if a perpetrator's other control tactics fail to intimidate their victim sufficiently.

The Twitter hashtag #maybehedoesnthityou recently showed the large numbers of women struggling with non-physical coercive control.

Here's one of the hundreds of postings. “Maybe he doesn't hit you, but you avoid saying or doing things because you don't want to have to deal with how he might react. But he reminds you every day how worthless you are until you start to believe it. When you try to leave he threatens you.”

A common tactic for asserting coercive control before and after separation is using children. In addition to being hurt by witnessing domestic violence, children are victimized when the perpetrator uses them to control the other parent.

Abusers often threaten to take full custody of the children and use the court to exert power and control over the other parent. If there is a parenting order in place, perpetrators will require the other parent follow it to the letter – regardless if the child wants to go to a friend's birthday party or is sick and should stay in bed. Abusive parents refuse to be flexible, even against the child's best interests. They often continually file motions to harass the victim with court orders. They often blame the other parent for any bad grades or illnesses without taking any responsibility for their own contributions to the problems. When older teen children refuse to come see the abusive controlling parent anymore, the abuser blames the other parent and often uses the discredited “parental alienation syndrome” to ask the court to change custody or find the victim in contempt.

Abusers may threaten to harm the children if the victim leaves. A father with a history of abusing his children's mother, recently committed suicide by jumping off a New Jersey bridge with his two young children in his arms. The father and mother were separated, and after a verbal fight, the father stormed off with his children threatening to kill them. The children miraculously survived the 100 foot fall.

The most dangerous time for victims is when the perpetrator senses a loss of control, especially when the victim is taking steps to end the relationship. Most domestic violence murders occur soon after the victim has left or has taken concrete steps to get away.

If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important to make a safety plan. Please call Community Against Violence at any time to talk and learn about resources to help you and your children be safer, whether you plan to stay or leave the relationship.

Williams is the executive director of CAV which offers free, confidential support and assistance for adult and child survivors of sexual and domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, community and school violence prevention programs, re-education BIP groups for domestic violence offenders, shelter, transitional housing and a community thrift store. To talk with someone or get information on services available, call CAV's 24-hour hotline at (575) 758-9888 or go to


United Kingdom

Viewing of online child abuse images a 'social emergency'

by The BBC

The numbers of people viewing online child sex abuse images in the UK amount to a "social emergency", says the NSPCC.

A report by the charity suggests the number of individuals looking at such images could exceed half a million.

It is calling for a "robust action plan" to cut off the supply of content.

The Home Office says it is working with law enforcers, companies and voluntary organisations to stamp out online child exploitation.

In the past five years the number of offences recorded by police of viewing child sexual abuse images under the Obscene Publications Act has more than doubled across the UK, reaching a total of 8,745 in 2015.

But the NSPCC believes the true scale of offending in the UK to be far greater.

By applying the findings of a German population study - which looked into male self-reported sexual interest in children - to a UK scenario, the charity estimates there could be up to half a million men in the UK who have viewed child sexual abuse images. This is based on an estimated internet-using population of 21.63 million men aged 18-89.

This number is much greater than previous estimates.

'Shocking scale'

In 2013 it was suggested that around 50,000 UK-based individuals were involved in downloading and sharing indecent images of children.

Last month, police chiefs said they feared the number might have risen significantly since then, with one report putting it at up to 100,000.

Simon Bailey, National Police Chiefs' Council lead for child protection, said the NSPCC's estimate "highlights the potentially shocking scale of what we are now dealing with".

On average, 375 offenders were arrested every month, he said.

He added: "We agree with the NSPCC that the police alone cannot stop the demand for child abuse images and more needs to be done to prevent abuse in the first place."

Stop it Now is a child sexual abuse prevention campaign run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation. It offers information and support for users of illegal online images. From 13 October 2015 - 31 October 2016, 16,647 users accessed their anonymous self help section of the website.

People can also report illegal content through the UK charity, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). In 2015, it removed 68,092 URLs hosting child sexual abuse imagery.

The NSPCC is now calling for:

•  Internet firms operating in the UK to sign up to a set of minimum standards, enforced by a backstop regulatory power.

•  An independent annual audit of the current self-regulatory framework to ensure its effectiveness.

•  Government to produce an annual transparency report on the identification and removal of child abuse images accessed from within the UK.

Ann's story: 'It was completely traumatic'

"It was just an ordinary day. I was getting the children ready for school and my youngest daughter came to say 'There's someone at the door'.

"There was a whole crowd at the door. I was taken to the kitchen. I was questioned about events I had no knowledge of. I found out later that my husband had been using my profile to contact other people.

"They went upstairs, got my husband out of bed and the police then took him away.

"Social workers had come ready to take the children.

"It was completely traumatic. I felt like my life had been turned upside down. Trying to recover from that was very difficult. You just never suspect your own husband.

"The charges became more serious. I was advised to have no contact with him.

"Even up to the trial he didn't believe he had done anything wrong.

"I would say to people in my position 'Talk about it. Talk to friends. It's the secrecy that keeps it going'."

Ann's husband was arrested on suspicion of downloading and distributing indecent images of children. He is currently serving a sentence for multiple child sex offences.

(Names have been changed to protect identity)

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, recognised progress had been made through the work of the National Crime Agency and the IWF but said more had to be done.

He said: "The sheer numbers of people viewing child sexual abuse images online must be addressed as a social emergency.

"It is two years since government made it a national priority to rid the internet of these vile crimes against children, but today's report reveals how horrifyingly prolific the problem remains.

"That's why today we are calling for a robust action plan to cut off the supply of child sexual abuse images in circulation, and deter adults from seeking out child abuse online.

'Dark corners'

"We should be long past the point when there are dark corners of the internet where these terrible crimes against children are hosted for the pleasure of paedophiles."

In a statement, the Home Office said: "We remain committed to working with partners in law enforcement, industry and voluntary organisations to stamp out online child sexual exploitation.

"The National Crime Agency has received additional funding of £10 million for further specialist teams, enabling a near doubling of their investigative capability, meaning more children being safeguarded.

"In recognition of the scale and global nature of this crime, the government has led international action on online child sexual exploitation through the WePROTECT Global Alliance, working with countries, the industry, and civil society organisations to develop a co-ordinated response."



Tips to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect

by WABI News Desk

It's not an easy topic to talk about, but it's a necessity.Denise Trafton stopped by TV5 with tips to prevent child abuse and neglect in our communities.

Denise Trafton is here to talk about upcoming Community Conversations that will be held at Penquis.

The community conversations will be about what can be done to better support parents and families in our communities in efforts to preventing child abuse and neglect.

This is not an easy topic to discuss. Anytime we hear that a child that has been hurt in their home, it saddens us; we don't understand how this could happen. We might ask what could have been done to prevent it. These events have an effect on the entire community.

We are inviting, teachers, parents, neighbors, employers, social service providers, really anyone from the community who wants to be a part of the solution to offer their insights in efforts to prevent child abuse in our community. These conversations are aimed at asking what programs and services are needed to better support parents and families.

We will take a close look at the facts for Penobscot county; DHHS has provided county specific data for us to talk about. Once we look at this data we will be asking for feedback based on everyone's individual perspective and experiences. We need the community's insight and perspective before we can move on to solutions.

The feedback we receive will help us identify the programs that are helpful and pinpoint gaps in services where prevention programs could make a difference in preventing child abuse and neglect in our communities.

Community Conversation

Dates: Thursday: November 17, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Wednesday: December 14, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Data tell us that new parents especially benefit from the support from others.

Penquis currently offers opportunities for new parents through our Maine Families Home Visiting program, our boot camp for new dads, and parenting classes.

But, I'm excited to be a part this opportunity that Penquis has to build new prevention services and programs to help strengthen every family in Penobscot County.


United Kingdom

London police guilty of serious mistakes over VIP child abuse cases

by Reuters

London's police force was guilty of dozens of serious failings in investigations into alleged historical child sex abuse by high-profile figures based on claims that turned out not to be credible, a damning report said on Tuesday.

Detectives, including some very senior officers, made a series of mistakes in two inquiries into claims of sex offences and child murders with the suggestion that the crimes had been covered up by the establishment, the report by former High Court judge Richard Henriques found.

"It is with much regret that I must find such serious failings in the conduct of both Operation Midland and Operation Vincente," Henriques wrote in a letter to London police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe.

The Operation Midland allegations, made in 2014 by a complainant known only as "Nick" were treated as credible by officers and led to ex-lawmaker Harvey Proctor and former army chief Edwin Bramall being identified as suspects in the media after their homes were searched.

In his 491-page review, some of which was redacted due to its sensitivity, Henriques found 43 failings in the way the case was handled. These included telling the media Nick's claims were credible and true, and to have believed him for so long without checking inconsistencies in his story.

There were also similar errors made in the separate Vincente investigation into Leon Brittan, a former Home Secretary (interior minister) in Margaret Thatcher's government in the 1980s. He died in January last year without knowing he would not face prosecution.

Hogan-Howe issued a public apology to those involved.

"I fully recognise that Mr Proctor, Lord Brittan and Lord Bramall are innocent of the offences of which they were accused by the Operation Midland complainant," he said in a statement.

Officers should not have said the allegations were true and should have checked the credibility of Nick more thoroughly before their homes were searched, he added.

Five officers involved in the Operation Midland inquiry, including a Deputy Assistant Commissioner, had been referred to the independent police watchdog for potential breaches in the code of professional standards of behaviour.

"You have been let down by officers of high rank with years of outstanding work behind them," Henriques wrote to Hogan-Howe who has been heavily criticised in the press for his handling of the investigations.

Hogan-Howe announced in September he was stepping down as Britain's most senior police officer early next year.



Queensland to extend laws for victims of child sexual abuse

by Jessica Marszalek

NEW laws to make it easier for victims of child sexual abuse to sue their attackers will likely be extended after the Palaszczuk Government indicated its in-principle support for Opposition amendments.

A Bill introduced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was to drop the three-year statute of limitations for victims of institutional abuse, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse.

It will amend current laws that mean a victim has only three years until after their 18th birthday to commence proceedings.

But Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath today indicated the Government was willing to go further following calls from the Opposition and survivors to extend the laws to victims of all child sexual abuse in all settings, including by family.

“If the Opposition seeks to progress such an amendment and subject to the wording of that amendment, the Government indicates its in-principle support,” she said.

Ms D'Ath said the Government was also willing to consider dropping the statute of limitations for all victims of child abuse, including severe physical abuse, following “further targeted consideration”.

But Shadow Attorney-General Ian Walker said the Opposition did not support that move.

He said that, rightly or wrongly, time limits did stand for civil action.

He said sexual assault should be treated differently to physical assault because of the length of time it took people to come to terms with sexual assault.

Mr Walker also put forward amendments that would give courts power to allow a survivor to take civil action even if they had already entered into a confidential settlement that would normally prohibit further court action.

The Government's Bill only allows for victims of state institutional facilities to do so, not victims of churches or other private organisations.

A private members Bill put forward by Independent MP Rob Pyne widening the definition of child abuse to cover serious physical abuse and reintroducing the right to civil trials by jury does not have support.

Debate on the Bill is continuing late Tuesday afternoon.



Protect children from sexual abuse scourge, Inuit leaders urge

Official data about the magnitude of abuse in indigenous communities is lacking.

by Kristy Kirkup

OTTAWA—Prominent Inuit politicians are urging Canada's leaders — indigenous and otherwise — to protect children from the scourge of sexual abuse and suicide running through indigenous communities, saying no child deserves to have their innocence stolen.

The head of Canada's national Inuit organization says it is incumbent upon all leaders to proclaim that abuse in indigenous communities is unacceptable.

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, is himself no stranger to intergenerational trauma; his own father struggled with alcoholism after falling victim to sexual and physical abuse at a residential school.

“There is no way to talk about this issue without it being difficult,” Obed said in an interview. “I always think of the children, the children that shouldn't be abused and they are at the centre of my thoughts.”

Children deserve the right to live happy, healthy childhoods and to fulfil their potential, he added.

“We need to do more to keep our children safe,” Obed said. “We know the risk factors that child sexual abuse is for suicide.”

Talk of sexual abuse often falls on deaf ears at all levels of government, a frustrated Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern said Monday following a Canadian Press investigation that highlights the alarming prevalence of sexual abuse in some indigenous communities — and the fact that it remains an open secret.

“If you acknowledge it, you have to deal with it,” Redfern said. “Just the same way that the Catholic Church abuse went on for decades; that was an open secret until media . . . decided that those stories needed to be told.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stuck to a familiar script when asked about the issue Monday, citing existing government investments and the Liberal commitment to establish a new relationship with Canada's indigenous people.

“The one thing we will not do is decide from Ottawa how to fix these problems because that's part of what has got us into successive failures,” Trudeau said.

“We will work in respect and in partnership with indigenous communities, indigenous leadership, to ensure that we are addressing these problems together for the long-term.”

Researchers, indigenous leaders and victims told The Canadian Press the level of abuse in some communities is shockingly high, although there is limited data to indicate exactly how pervasive the problem is across the country.

Independent Sen. Murray Sinclair, the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that explored the depths of Canada's residential school legacy, said data is sorely lacking that could point to the magnitude of the problem inside indigenous communities.

Sexual abuse has gone beyond residential school survivors, their children and grandchildren, said Sinclair. The cycle of abuse has infected subsequent generations, he warned. Children are abusing each other across generations; members of street gangs are victimizing young girls; and women are being hauled into the sex trade.

Mental-health resources to address the issue and research possible connections to the alarmingly high number of indigenous suicides are sorely lacking, especially in Canada's far North, Sinclair noted.

In the 2007-08 Inuit Health Survey conducted in Nunavut, a staggering 52 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men said they experienced severe sexual abuse during childhood.

A 2012 Statistics Canada report found rates of sexual offences against children and youth were highest in the territories — the Northwest Territories and Nunavut recorded the highest rates in Canada, followed by Yukon.

Fear remains a very real barrier for victims to speak up about abuse, Redfern said, noting many are concerned about possible retaliatory attacks from community members themselves, including family and friends.

“They are very scared of their abusers . . . often if it is family members or close family friends, especially if the person is in a position of power, if that person is an elder, a politician, a community leader, a leader within their family — a father, a grandfather,” she said.

“Society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest numbers.”


United Kingdom

More than 2,000 children in Nottingham at risk due to abuse or neglect

by Tracy Walker

New figures reveal that more than half of the 3,608 children assessed as being in need by children's social services in Nottingham have been abused or neglected.

That's 2,088 children suffering from abuse or neglect in the city, or about one in every 32 kids under the age of 18 - one of the highest rates England.

Across the country, 199,720 children are deemed to be in need of care due to abuse or neglect, or about one in every 58 children.

Of the cases that have led to a child becoming the subject of a child protection plan, the majority had been neglected, although a high percentage had suffered from emotional abuse instead.

Only a fraction of cases were due to physical or sexual abuse of a child.

The figures were released by the Department for Education and reflect the number of children in need as of March this year.

After abuse or neglect, the next most common reason for a child being in need was because of family dysfunction.

Other reasons include a child's disability or illness, a parent's disability or illness, a family being in acute stress, socially unacceptable behaviour, low income and absent parenting.

An NSPCC spokesman said: "These figures in Nottingham show the scale of the challenge facing authorities as they strive to keep children safe.

"Behind each of these statistics could be a child suffering abuse, or being denied even the most basic care.

"It is vital that anyone who is worried about a child speaks out, and lets them get the help they need. They can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.

"The fact that mental health was also identified as a factor in such a high number of cases referred to social services highlights why more than ever we need swift and appropriate help for those who are suffering with mental health issues.

"Mental health problems can be devastating whether they affect the child in need, or their family members at home.

"We also know that nine in ten children who have been abused go on to suffer mental health problems before they reach the age of 18. The NSPCC's It's Time campaign has called on the Government to provide improved mental health support for children who have experienced abuse to help them understand and recover from their experiences."

Jenny Farr, president of the Nottingham branch of the NSPCC, said: "These figures make me even more determined to carry on raising funds for the NSPCC in Nottingham and help the vital work being done to protect children.

"We are grateful for all the support we can get, as we continue to fight for every childhood."

However, Nottinghamshire County Council has said caution should always be taken before making comparisons between local authorities' data.

Steve Edwards, Nottinghamshire County Council's service director for children's social care, said: "Whilst national analysis of data can be helpful, caution should always be taken before making comparisons. For example what one council labels as 'neglect', another could quite easily label as being 'family dysfunction'.

"What is important is that all concerns regarding the welfare and vulnerability of children are taken seriously and are properly assessed.

"When Ofsted inspected the council's safeguarding as recently as summer 2015, it was graded 'good', placing Nottinghamshire's safeguarding performance in the top 20 percent of councils nationally. It remains our highest priority to keep vulnerable children as safe as possible."

Director of Children's Integrated Services at Nottingham City Council, Helen Blackman, said: "We are a proactive council committed to intervening early and working with families and partner organisations to keep children safe, rather than getting involved when children have already suffered harm. We are focused on offering families the right support at the right time.

"Nottinghamshire County Council is not a good comparator. Nottingham's Children in Need rate is in line with the places the Government defines as our closest comparators and our rate of children in care is below the average of our comparators because of the difference that we can make with families at an earlier stage when they need support."



Indigenous kids in care to triple in 20 years

by Strphen Fitzpatrick

The number of indigenous children removed from their families is projected to triple in the next two decades unless high rates of ­parental neglect and abuse are ­reversed.

More than 15,000 indigenous children nationwide are sleeping away from their homes each night, a rate of removal almost 10 times that of non-indigenous kids, according to a report to be ­released today.

The skyrocketing rate of ­removal has meant that more than 35 per cent of all children in out-of-home care are now indigenous. In 1997, when the Bringing Them Home report into the ­Stolen Generations was released, that figure stood at just 20 per cent, or just under 3000 indigenous children in care.

The sobering figures are contained in the Family Matters ­report, which was produced under the auspices of SNAICC, the ­national peak indigenous child welfare body.

The report calls for a radical ­rethink in spending priorities, noting that just $700 million is spent annually on family support services while about $3.5 billion is spent funding the child protection system.

The report's authors argue that at least 30 per cent of the child protection budget should be spent on prevention and early intervention measures.

Victoria's Aboriginal children guardian Muriel Bamblett said many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families tended to see the child protection system as punitive and stacked against them, leading to a reluctance to seek help for family problems.

“If I tell you that I'm not coping, the danger is that you might take my child,” Professor Bamblett said. “We've got to get Aboriginal families to understand they can seek support early, not at the very serious end, whether it's ­entrenched violence, drug and ­alcohol problems or whatever it is.

“We also need to get the ser­vices system to understand cultural competency issues.”

The Family Matters report marks the first time a national snapshot of the system has been taken. Professor Bamblett said breaking an intergenerational welfare dependency and fostering a culture of getting through school and into jobs, as well as addressing family dysfunction, was key.

“Of course there are family ­violence and drug and alcohol problems, and mental health ­issues, but at the heart of most of that is poverty — and in a country with so much richness, we need to work out why so many Aboriginal people live in poverty,” she said. “We've got to look at jobs, at education and change the trajectory. Quite often we find we're breaking the stereotypes even in the family, in places where children, their parents, their grandparents have all been in public housing. It's a question of how do we break that cycle of welfare and give them the confidence to chase education.”

Professor Bamblett said the natural inclination of governments to favour child removal over addressing the circumstances that prompted their removal was a major problem. It was, Professor Bamblett said, the result of states and territories being “risk averse''.

“The biggest risk is if they don't remove the child, so the system is very tertiary focused,'' she said. “But we have to shift it because evidence suggests nationally that children of colour are more likely to go into care and less likely to go home. So why is that?”

Victoria is performing best across a range of measures, the report finds, including investment in early intervention, access to early childhood education and Aboriginal families being involved in decision making around child welfare. Western Australia has the highest rates of over-representation of ­indigenous children in care and the lowest investment in evidence based strategies. The Northern Territory's record on child protection was “particularly appalling”, Professor Bamblett said.

Nationwide, indigenous children were much more likely than non-indigenous children to be ­reported in cases of neglect — 38 per cent compared with 21 per cent — with emotional, sexual and physical abuse more common for non-indigenous children.



Why more boys end up on the as street children than the girls

by Mark Obiero

In most cities and towns, there is this group of marginalized people who spend a greater part of their lives on the street. They are the street children commonly referred to as the “ chokoras ” who consider the street to be the best place. In most cases they are forced to run away from home due to certain reasons. It is surprising that in most cases boys or male children are the ones who end up in the street.

Some of the reasons why most boys end up in the street include: effect of peer pressure especially from the friends who are already disillusioned in life, abandonment by caregivers who should be on the forefront of helping them to be responsible people in future, harsh or violent nature of the homes that they live in since some parents or caregivers tend to use threatening language towards their male children or even sometimes subject them to physical abuse.

Some societies are also very irresponsible especially to orphaned male children. This is because of their traditional beliefs that every male child must be allocated some land when they become adults. But then as a way of avoiding that responsibility they literally abandon responsibility of this particular male child. This in most cases makes them to feel that the home environment is becoming more and more unconducive for living.

For them to survive while on the streets, they often beg for assistance from motorists that are stuck on traffic but none of them cares to give them an ear. They sometimes carry luggage for people or even clean business premises in conjunction with the city county councils just to get some little money that they can use to buy either food or “glue.”

In Kenya especially is very hard to find a female child on the street. This is because the law has taken keen notice of protecting them from any kind of abuse. Since most are always slaves to the law, they accept to protect them and since there is no law of protecting the male child they are then exposed to so many forms of exploitation. Ranging from verbal to physical abuse.

While along the street, they are always exposed to numerous challenges. These challenges include: starvation, poor hygienic and sanitation conditions, violence which in most cases are within themselves, drug and substance abuse, emotional torture and sexual exploitation which predisposes them to high risk of contracting HIV/ AIDS.

The parents or the caregivers should love their children equally without showing partiality for only children of a specific gender. Parents should also be responsible in their actions. Irresponsible parents can make a family to disintegrate and when a child notices that the family structure is weak, they will easily take advantage to an extent that they will be easily swayed by the waves from peers. The community should also take care of the orphans so that they do not move away from the community to join the streets while in pursuit for serene environment.

The government should craft ways of protecting the boy child from any kind of harassment and violence that forces them to consider the street as the best place for them.


Archdiocese of Baltimore Gives $40,000 To Reported Childhood Multiple-Rape Victim … Apologizes For “Pain You Have Experienced”

Payment Also Requires Recipient To Relinquish Any Future Claims

by Tom Nugent

November 2016 – Reading, Pa. – After more than 40 years of struggling to get the Catholic Church to “acknowledge the crimes” that were committed against her, a Pennsylvania woman who says she was raped by two priests and a policeman while attending a Catholic high school in Baltimore was recently awarded more than $40,000 from an Archdiocese of Baltimore funding program aimed at “promoting healing for .. victims of abuse.”

The $40,000-plus payment was accompanied by a letter of apology from an Archdiocesan official who wrote to the victim: “I am sorry for the pain you have experienced.”

Most of the money paid to the victim by the Archdiocese of Baltimore came via a check drawn on the PNC Bank of Baltimore. The check number was 313504634, and it was signed by Archbishop William E. Lori.

“This is a huge step forward for dozens of women who have been trying to get the Catholic Church in Baltimore to publicly acknowledge sex crimes that were committed against them during the past several decades,” said the reported childhood rape victim, Donna Wallis VonDenBosch, a nurse practitioner with a master's degree who is now working on her doctorate. “For the first time that I'm aware of, the Archdiocese is validating our nightmarish experience by confirming on the record that it actually took place.”

In a statement released via email on November 1, Archdiocesan Executive Director of Communications Sean T. Caine said that the money was paid to VonDenBosch as part of a “longstanding practice of promoting healing for victims by offering therapeutic counseling assistance to victims of abuse for as long as it is helpful ..

“Frequently, we also include a designated amount that is set aside to be used only for counseling. This was the case for Ms. VonDenBosch, for whom we set aside an additional $10,000 for counseling assistance. These financial agreements are completely voluntary and are in lieu of any future counseling payments or any other obligations from the Archdiocese.”

But there was a catch.

In order to get the $40,000, she had to sign a contract stating that she will never sue the Archdiocese of Baltimore in the future .. even if the Maryland General Assembly decides to change the law regarding the “statute of limitations” on past crimes involving the sexual abuse of children – a step that could open the door to lawsuits potentially involving millions of dollars.

But the nurse practitioner said she was less concerned about the money involved than about the acknowledgement by the Archdiocese that she had been abused by priests. “I was deprived of my constitutional rights when I was raped by the priests and the policeman,” she said. “Later I went to the Archdiocese and complained about one of the priests who had raped me and who was still alive – and they told me there was nothing they could do, because he was living in Ireland.

“Then I found out that he was actually living not far from me, right in the Baltimore area. For many years after that, I felt like the continuing refusal to acknowledge those crimes was also depriving me of my constitutional rights.”

The April 21, 2016, letter of apology from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, signed by the Associate Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Child & Youth Protection, reads in part: “On behalf of Archbishop Lori, I am sorry for the pain you have experienced.”

The Reading nurse, who has two adult children, said she was raped “repeatedly” while attending Archbishop Keough Catholic High School in southwest Baltimore during the early 1970s.

The first rape took place during a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) picnic in September of 1970, soon after she began attending the high school, she said.

She was 14 years old at the time.

“Father [E. Neil] Magnus, who also taught at the school, appeared at the picnic in the passenger seat of a police car,” she recalled during a recent interview. “I was given a drink that must have had drugs in it, because I became weak and dizzy,” she said. “Then I was called over to the police car, and I saw Father Magnus sitting in it.

“He got out and came over to me and started taking my pants down. Then he put his knee between my legs and forced them apart and began raping me. Meanwhile, a second priest – Father [A.] Joseph Maskell, who had been my parish priest before becoming the chaplain at Keough High School and whom I'd known since the age of 12 – stood there looking on as Father Magnus raped me. And then Father Maskell decided to take his turn, and he raped me.”

Two weeks after the rape at the CYO picnic, she added, the high school chaplain, Father Maskell, summoned her to his office at Keough. “He said he wanted to give me some tests, and he started by having me sit on his lap. Then he told me: ‘You don't know how to love, and I'm going to show you.' He started taking my clothes off, after that.

“He raped me, and this pattern continued throughout my next three and a half years at Keough. He would call me to his office, and I dreaded those calls. It was a nightmare that happened again and again. Sometimes, when I go into his office, I'm raped. Sometimes he puts a gun in my mouth and warns me that if I tell anybody what is going on, he will kill my parents.

“What could I do? I was terrified all the time. Going to school each day was agony. I used to try to hide from him under stairwells and anywhere else I could hide. I didn't dare say anything about the rapes. I thought he would kill my parents! One time a Baltimore City policeman joined us .. and I saw him pay the priest some money. And then the policeman raped me.

“By that point, I didn't care if I lived anymore.”

The contract she was required to sign does not directly state that the two priests and the policeman committed the rapes.

But the agreement – in which the Archdiocese is referred to as the “Corporation” – does appear to confirm that the Church regards her as a victim of abuse.

The historical record also shows clearly that both of the priests (now deceased) were credibly accused by many Keough students .. after the Archdiocese investigated numerous complaints of sex abuse, including rape, at the high school during the period in which the nurse claimed to have been abused.

The priests were never prosecuted, however.

Although she has now been paid more than $40,000, minus attorney fees, the nurse noted that the contract she was required to sign also contains a clause which bars her from ever receiving any additional compensation for the alleged rapes.

After pointing out that she will not be permitted to bring any future compensation case against the Archdiocese, the contract states that she “.. understands that the law regarding the statute of limitations may change in the future ..” but that she is nonetheless “now for all time releasing any claims she may have against the Released Parties” [including the Archdiocese and the School Sisters of Notre Dame, among others] ..“regardless of any legislative change that may occur in the future.”

Asked to respond to some of her assertions about the contract, Director of Communications Caine replied on November 1 with the following statement:

“The Archdiocese has had a longstanding practice of promoting healing for victims by offering therapeutic counseling assistance to victims of abuse for as long as it is helpful and not only for the victims themselves, but for others close to them who may have suffered the effects of their loved one's abuse. Victim-survivors are free to engage a counselor of their choosing and the Archdiocese pays the provider directly. For those victims who wish to have nothing to do with the Church and/or who would prefer to be in control of their own healing, we offer them a one-time financial payment through a non-adversarial process with a retired, non-Catholic judge.

“We make these offers without regard to legal liability. Frequently, we also include a designated amount that is set aside to be used only for counseling. This was the case for Ms. VonDenBosch, for whom we set aside an additional $10,000 for counseling assistance. These financial agreements are completely voluntary and are in lieu of any future counseling payments or any other obligations from the Archdiocese.”

Specifically, Caine was replying to several questions that had been sent to him by Inside Baltimore, including the following:

Q. Why did the Archdiocese require her to sign a contract in which she agreed to never seek additional compensation from the Archdiocese or the order of teaching nuns at Archbishop Keough High School in the future? Was it because the Archdiocese fears that the Maryland General Assembly will eventually overturn the statute of limitations on sex abuse crimes against children, which would potentially allow claimants to bring massive lawsuits against the Church?

Q. Was the [money] paid to her actually a matter of “financial risk management” by the Archdiocese?

A troubling answer to those disturbing questions came recently from the nurse's close friend and cousin, Deborah Silcox, a veteran public school system administrator in Maryland who also attended Archbishop Keough High School during the 1970s.

“I watched Donna go through hell for many years,” said Ms. Silcox. “To this day, I don't know how she survived the torture she endured – the years of confusion, suffering, mental anguish and brutal anxiety. But she has been healing slowly, and today she is much stronger, much healthier, and much more together than she was in the past. She has a beautiful family and a thriving career as a registered nurse with a master's degree who now specializes in helping sex-abuse victims and other trauma victims to heal.

“I admire her very much and I am very proud of her.

“As for the settlement with the Archdiocese of Baltimore – isn't it pretty obvious that the $40,000 they have paid her is designed to protect their pocketbooks against future lawsuits? It's financial risk management, period.

“The Catholic Church is a business, that's all. The priests are required to remain celibate so that all of their property will remain in the hands of the Church over time – even though the Church knows full well that a certain percentage of them won't be able to control their sexual urges and will act out by attacking the children in their charge.

“These victimized children are simply the ‘cost of doing business' for the Church.

This is how the Church keeps its money within the ‘Corporation' – by restricting the priesthood to males who are required to remain celibate. Only a few days ago, as reported on the front page of the New York Times, the Pope himself said publicly that he believed women would be barred from the priesthood forever.

“I find all of this despicable.”



Sold for a bottle of beer: Sexual abuse haunts children — and adults — in indigenous communities

by Kristy Kirkup and Sheryl Ubelacker

Freda Ens says she was a baby when her birth mother sold her for a bottle of beer.

The buyer was an unrelated man she would later call “Grandfather.” Her earliest memories include being sexually molested by a number of men in his extended family.

“I don't ever remember being able to say, ‘No, you can't do that,' or, ‘No, I don't have to do that,”‘ recalled Ens, 59, who grew up in B.C.'s Old Massett Village, a Haida community.

“I would wake up and it would be dark and I wouldn't know who it was … It could have been an uncle … it could have been another cousin.

“The one I knew was my dad, who went to jail, and then my grandfather.”

Child sexual abuse is a disturbing reality in many of Canada's First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, research is beginning to show.

Extensive interviews with social scientists, indigenous leaders and victims undertaken over the past few months by The Canadian Press show that the prevalence of sexual abuse in some communities is shockingly high. And only now are prominent indigenous leaders speaking out publicly for the first time about the need for communities to take a hard look.

It's a painful legacy connected to almost 120 years of government-sponsored, church-run residential schools, where aboriginal leaders say many native children were physically and sexually molested by clergy and other staff.

The abused in turn became abusers, creating a cycle of childhood sexual violation that has spread in ever-expanding ripples from one generation to the next.

Within indigenous society, the knowledge that children are being molested is often an open secret — but one to which few are willing to give voice. Instead, they dance around the words, talking instead about child welfare, bullying, substance abuse, intergenerational trauma and community conflict.

While The Canadian Press has a policy of not identifying the victims of sexual assault, Ens agreed to be identified in this story as part of her ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the problem in aboriginal communities.

Community health nurse Shelly Michano, who lives and works in Biigtgong Nishnaabeg First Nation in northwestern Ontario, is on the front lines. She sees the consequences of sexual abuse among some residents, which can manifest as alcohol and drug abuse, chronic illness and suicide.

“I would say as First Nations people, you're hard-pressed to find anybody who doesn't have personal experience with this,” said Michano.

“But it's never, ever quite on the surface. There's still lots and lots of stigma attached around that. And people don't necessarily openly speak about it still.”

Finally, however, some aboriginal leaders are beginning to tear away the veil of secrecy, acknowledging that until the cycle of sexual abuse is brought to light, it will continue, threatening the well-being of future generations of Canada's First Peoples.

“Sexual abuse and incest is amongst our people, there's no question,” Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in an interview.

“Have the courage to stand up and say: ‘This is an issue and let's expose this to the light of day' … that's the obligation of the community leadership and the communities themselves."

Sexual violation of children is an ugly fact of life worldwide, crossing all cultural, educational and socio-economic boundaries. Within Canada's overall population, research shows one in three girls and one in six boys experience an unwanted sexual act, with 30 to 40 per cent of victims abused by a family member.

But the prevalence of abuse among indigenous populations is difficult to assess accurately, experts say — in part because of conflicting evidence, and also because the issue is so taboo within communities that it often remains shrouded in silence.

In a 2015 review of studies, published in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, researchers say child sexual abuse is one of the major challenges facing indigenous communities across the continent, but data is often contradictory.

“Sometimes, reported incidence rates of CSA are comparable to those found in the general population. Other times, incidence is much higher,” the authors write, concluding that research to determine the actual scope of the problem in Canada “is crucial.”

In a 2014 Statistics Canada report, a higher proportion of aboriginal people reported experiencing some form of childhood physical and or sexual maltreatment before the age of 15, compared to their non-aboriginal counterparts. The study also noted it is possible that some of that abuse may have been a direct or indirect impact of residential schools.

In his work as the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which looked at the toll taken on survivors of residential schools, Sen. Murray Sinclair frequently heard gut-wrenching stories about sexual abuse and its devastating long-term effects. But he has no way to know the true extent of the problem.

“There is very little data, people are just not looking at it,” Sinclair said.

“In our calls to action at the TRC, we said one of the things we lack in this country is an understanding of the magnitude of the problem and we need to look at better ways of gathering data so we can develop solutions that are properly focused.”

Intergenerational sexual abuse is one key reason behind widespread substance abuse, a form of self-medication that helps both victims and perpetrators push down their emotional pain and bury their shame, health experts and aboriginal leaders say.

“If somebody's going through trauma or addicted to alcohol or drugs, there's a reason,” said Jason Smallboy, deputy grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, an organization representing 49 indigenous communities in northern Ontario.

“And probably 80 per cent, 90 per cent is related to sexual abuse.”

The abuse has gone beyond residential school survivors, their children and grandchildren, said Sinclair.

“We are looking now at a situation where intergenerational children are abusing each other,” he said. “Where members of street gangs are victimizing young girls, girls are going missing and being hauled into the sex trade in significant numbers.”

The impact of childhood sexual abuse is expected to be a central issue raised when hearings begin early next year for the inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. An interim report is due in November 2017.

“Throughout the (pre-inquiry) hearings on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, we certainly found the incidents of child abuse and the association of child abuse was very, very frequent, in both the descriptions of the victims and in the perpetrators,” said federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett.

One of the first steps in addressing sexual abuse is acknowledging its existence and saying it is not OK, said First Nations child advocate Cindy Blackstock.

“We have to make sure that our kids know that elders are the keepers of the traditions and no one in our community, including elders, ever has a right to harm a child,” Blackstock said.

“We have to, as a group, embrace what hurts and we have to say to those young people that ‘We know that's part of your experience and we are not going to deny it. We know it is there and we want to be there with you to do something about it.”‘

Ens, who knows her memories of abuse are far from unique after nearly three decades of working with victims of crime, said she hopes sharing her experiences will help others scarred by being sexually violated as children.

“My biggest message would be to tell someone, and that it is not your fault,” she said.

“When we don't talk about it, we are just as guilty as the perpetrator. We are covering it up.”



Students sleep outside in Hancock to draw attention to child abuse

by Dave McMillion

HANCOCK — More than a dozen students were expected to brave the elements Sunday night and sleep on the grounds of Hancock Middle/Senior High School to bring attention to the tough conditions abused children face.

Like last year's event at the school, it was organized to raise money for two organizations that fight child abuse — the Hancock-based Rural Children's Fund and Bikers Against Child Abuse, or BACA.

BACA supports child-abuse victims in ways such as accompanying them to court.

In Sunday night's "BACA in a Box Project," students were allowed to set up shelters made out of boxes.

In addition to having sleeping bags and hand warmers, they could line boxes with blankets and place tarps under them to prevent moisture from seeping in.

Students were asked to raise at least $50 apiece to "earn a box home," according to Amanda Norris, a paraprofessional at the school.

Norris said 13 students were expected to sleep out, and although fundraising was ongoing, she hoped the group could raise $1,000.

Event organizers were expected to provide the students with breakfast and dinner, which included hot dogs, chili and chicken noodle soup.

"We have plenty of doughnuts and cookies, and local businesses donated food items to us," Norris said.

Norris said one of the reasons organizers wanted the students to sleep out is to make them aware of some of the conditions abused children face.

But she said there also was some fun planned, including time when BACA members and the youths could enjoy activities such as games.

Three school staff members were planning to stay with the students overnight, as was a police officer, she said.

Most of the students are from the middle school, and some are members of the Interact Club, a Rotary-connected organization that performs community service, Norris said.

Norris said she was thankful the fundraiser fell on a pleasant night. Temperatures were in the high 50s Sunday night, although they were expected to dip as low as 30. If it became too cold or it rained, the event would be moved inside, she said.

The moon was rising as 12-year-old Andrue Cross put last-minute touches on the castle he created out of boxes. It had a drawbridge door that he could close from the inside by pulling a rope.

He talked about multicolored lights he strung over the door, cannons at the back of the structure and "security towers" on top.

"I can check to make sure I'm not getting attacked," Andrue said as he peeked out from one of them.

Another shelter proclaimed "Let's Knock Out Child Abuse" and featured a miniature boxing ring on top.

Josie Foltz and a friend talked as darkness fell on the school grounds.

"I'm not worried," Josie said as she described the features of her shelter, which included chalkboard on the back where friends could leave messages.



New academy will help state workers spot child abuse

New facility will be the first of its kind in the U.S.

by The State Journal-Register

SPRINGFIELD (AP) – The University of Illinois Springfield and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services have announced the launch of a new training academy.

The Child Protection Training Academy, created through a partnership between the university and DCFS, will be the first of its kind in the country, according to the State Journal-Register.

Director of CPTA Susan Evans said the academy will greatly improve training for child welfare investigators so they can better curb child abuse and neglect. All hires are required to complete simulation training, in which trainees will interact with actors playing parents of a child in a simulated household where abuse was alleged. The simulation lab is in a formerly vacant home on campus.

Investigators also will learn to improve their testimony by going through a mock courtroom experience.

“This gives them a much better sense of what the job is about and how to go out and accurately assess whether or not the department needs to be involved,” said Evans, who is a 24-year veteran of DCFS.

More than 140 new DCFS investigators have gone through simulation training and mock courtroom training, Evans said. She added the academy's goal is to open up to other DCFS staff, law enforcement, first-responders and interested UIS students.

The CPTA started when former child investigator and current UIS Child Advocacy Studies program coordinator, Betsy Goulet, approached DCFS with the idea of a joint partnership, since she said she felt unprepared to do the job of an investigator the first time she was sent out.

The Child Advocacy program is expected to expand with two new grants, one through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and one through the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts.




Parade of little victims grows every year

There are a lot of successes we all want to cheer. This isn't one of them, exactly.

Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons was speaking at the Highland Moose Lodge recently. A few things that he said about child abuse and neglect were disturbing.

“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,” Gibbons said.

Success as measured in woe.

He said 2015 was the busiest year ever for the county's Child Advocacy Center with 650 children interviewed. That was a 28 percent increase from the previous year, but is still a small fraction of the 3,500 children every year that Gibbons estimated face abuse or neglect.

It must be a lousy task to know that the better you do, the more you will be asked to do — especially dealing with hurt little kids. Still, the damage increases exponentially when those who abuse children get away with it and feel empowered to do it again, much like rapists who are after control and power rather than the act itself.

Somebody has to stop them. Be grateful someone else is willing to do so.


United Kingdom

Police operation targets 'shocking scale' of online child abuse in Wales

by ITV

Police in Wales are warning people who view sexually explicit images of children that the next knock at their door could be officers from a new team set up to keep children safe from abuse and exploitation.

Operation Net Safe brings together police officers and digital forensics staff, with the aim of protecting children by tracking down and prosecuting those using the internet to view and exchange these images in Wales.

Specialist teams use mobile-based technology to find where in Wales illegal images are being viewed before gaining a search warrant to raid a home, seize evidence and arrest those involved.

The scale of the problem here in Wales is both shocking and saddening. Operation Net Safe will enable us to continue tackling these crimes using the latest technology to identify offenders and bring them to justice.

Often offenders can convince themselves that there isn't a victim because the images already exist online and they don't have direct contact with the children or young people involved. But those children were abused and exploited to make those images. Child sexual abuse is a crime.

– Jon Drake, South Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable

Since it formed in September, the Police Online Investigation Team have undertaken 19 separate investigations involving online child sexual abuse which have resulted in six arrests.

We welcome the launch of Operation Net Safe and hope it send out a strong message that the online abuse of children will not be tolerated.

It must not be forgotten that behind every indecent image of a child is a victim of a horrendous crime who will need to be given help and support to overcome what has happened to them.

It is clear that there is a growing problem of people viewing child abuse material online and more needs to be done to tackle the issue. We have called for internet service providers to take responsibility to cleanse the web of these images and prevent them from being viewed in the first place.

– NSPCC Cymru / Wales spokesman



More effective system needed to protect children — Children's Advocate

by The Jamaica Observer

CHILDREN'S Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison is calling for an effective and responsive system of care that protects children from sexual and other forms of abuse.

She is also urging parents and adults to encourage children to confide in them by fostering a close, trusting relationship.

Gordon Harrison was addressing a Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse Training Workshop, hosted by the Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI), at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Wednesday.

The workshop was used to train staff from the Allman Town Primary School on how to prevent, recognise and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

The WLI has partnered with United States-based non-profit, Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children, to deliver training to parents and educators that raises awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse.

The training of teachers is particularly relevant, since statistics indicate that educators are the source of 50 per cent of the abuse reports made by professionals to the authority.

Gordon-Harrison endorsed the strategy by the WLI to use education as a means of stemming the trend of child sexual abuse.

“With targeted education being imparted by those who are qualified to do so, persons become more aware of the attitudes for the telltale signs to spot in children who are in trouble. You become more aware because education leads you and children to feel more empowered to speak up and to act,” she said.

“When you become more aware, you will also have the ability to help rescue a child victim or know how best to support a child who is in vulnerable situations,” Gordon Harrison added.

She said the Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) informs that for the period 2007 to 2014, there were 16,790 reports of child sexual abuse locally, with 15,457 being in relation to girls.

She further noted that for 2015, 11 boys and 50 girls were alleged to have been sexually abused by persons in authority in spaces such as schools, children's homes and places of safety.

For the January to September 2016 period, 17 boys and 90 girls were also alleged to have been sexually abused by persons in authority.

Meanwhile, she said the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse reports that from April 2015 to January 2016, there were 463 cases in which persons were charged for sexual intercourse with persons under 16.

The children's advocate urged awareness of the signs to identify children who need support, adding that children who have been victims of sexual abuse are also vulnerable to being victims of trafficking in persons.

She encouraged the participants in the workshop to be receptive to the messages and insight provided.

The WLI/Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children training programme utilises a combination of survivor stories, expert advice and practical guidance.