National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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Recent News - News from other times

February, 2017 - Week 4
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.


North Carolina

North Carolina Law Makes Facebook A Felony For Former Sex Offenders

by Lauren Russell and Nina Totenberg

In 2010, Lester Packingham was convicted of having a Facebook account. That's a crime in North Carolina, which bars registered sex offenders from "accessing" certain social media sites, including Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on whether that law violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. Packingham contends the statute, instead of being narrowly targeted, encompasses a "vast amount" of speech that is protected by the Constitution.

Packingham's case stems from the guilty plea he entered at age 21 for having consensual sex with a 13-year-old girl he says he was dating. He claimed he didn't know her age. He got a suspended sentence. Under North Carolina law, he was required to register as a sex offender — a designation that lasts for 30 years.

For seven years after his conviction, Packingham had no further sex offenses — until he signed up for the Facebook account. Indeed, even after his Facebook page was discovered and police searched his house, they did not find any evidence that he was abusing children or committing sex crimes. He was placed on probation for committing this felony.

The state contends its social media ban was adopted to stop sexual predators from "taking what is often the critical first step in the sexual assault of a child," meaning gathering information about potential young targets. The law applies to websites open to those under 18. "It blinks reality to suggest that sexual predators do not use social media to further their crimes," the state maintains.

Countering that argument, lawyers for Packingham contend that the statute punishes far more speech than "the miniscule fraction" the state is legitimately worried about.

David Post, an Internet scholar who authored a friend-of-the-court brief siding with Packingham, notes that the 30-year sex offender registry means that Packingham and other former offenders who are not in prison, not under supervised release, and not repeat offenders, are still subject to limits on their liberties.

"They are ostensibly free and have the same constitutional rights as you or I have," Post says. And yet, in North Carolina and many other states, laws limit basic First Amendment rights.

Nationwide, an estimated 850,000 people are on sex offender registries. The crimes that got them there range from public urination to the rape of a child. In some states, registration can be for as little as two years for certain convictions, and in other states registration may be required for life.

North Carolina has attempted even greater restrictions.

For example, the same year the North Carolina state legislature unanimously passed the social media ban, it passed a law requiring that certain registered sex offenders have lifetime GPS monitoring and made it forbidden for offenders to go to places "where minors gather." Parts of that law were ruled unconstitutional by federal courts in 2016.

North Carolina's social media ban is particularly all-encompassing. Other states restrict Internet use as a condition of parole, or ban from social networking sites only those who commit certain crimes. North Carolina appears to be the only state that currently prohibits all registered sex offenders from a wide range of social media sites.

Two similar statutes — in Indiana and Nebraska — were struck down by the lower federal courts. The North Carolina law was upheld by that state's Supreme Court.

"States and the federal government have greater leeway when dealing with this class of individuals than when dealing with the general public," North Carolina says in its brief.

Lawyers for Packingham reply in their brief that, "It is hard to imagine that a government would impose, or a court would uphold, a similarly sweeping, criminal ban directed at any other group of people."


United Kingdom

The child abuse scandal of the British children sent abroad

by Tom Symonds

For several decades, the UK sent children across the world to new lives in institutions where many were abused and used as forced labour. It's a scandal that is still having repercussions now.

Imagine the 1950s, in the years before air travel became commonplace or the internet dominated our lives. Imagine being a child of those times, barely aware of life even in the next town. An orphan perhaps, living in an British children's home.

Now imagine being told that shortly you would board a ship for somewhere called Australia, to begin a new life in a sunlit wonderland. For good. No choice.

It happened to thousands of British children in the decades immediately following World War Two, and they had little understanding of how it would shape their lives.

The astonishing scandal of the British child migrants will be the first subject for which the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will hold full public hearings. It's first because the migrants are now nearing the end of their lives.

Clifford Walsh stands in the port of Fremantle near Perth in Western Australia.

He is now 72. Fremantle is where, in 1954, aged nine, he stepped off the ship from London, looking for the sheep he'd been told outnumbered people in Australia 100 to one.

He ended up at a place called Bindoon.

The Catholic institution known at one point as Bindoon Boys Town is now notorious. Based around an imposing stone mansion in the Australian countryside, 49 miles north of Perth, are buildings Walsh and his fellow child migrants were forced to build, barefoot, starting work the day after they arrived.

The Christian Brothers ruled the place with the aim of upholding order and a moral code. Within two days of arriving he says he received his first punishment at the hands of one of the brothers.

"He punched us, he kicked us, smashed us in the face, back-handed us and everything, and he then sat us on his knee to tell us that he doesn't like to hurt children, but we had been bad boys.

"I was sobbing uncontrollably for hours."

His story is deeply distressing. He tells it with a particularly Australian directness. He is furious.

He describes one brother luring him into his room with the promise he could have some sweet molasses - normally fed, not to the boys, but the cows. The man sexually abused him.

He claims another brother raped him, and and a third beat him mercilessly after falsely accusing him of having sex with another boy.

"We had no parents, we had no relatives, there was nowhere we could go, these brothers - these paedophiles - must have thought they were in hog heaven."

He has accused the brothers at the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the first time he has fully disclosed his experiences.

At the time he says: "I was too terrified to report the abuse. I knew no other life.

"I've lived 60 odd years with this hate, I can't have a normal sexual relationship because I don't like to hold people," says Walsh. "My own wife, I couldn't hug."

He was troubled by all the memories.

"I couldn't show any affection. Stuff like that only reminded me of what the brothers would do all the time."

Britain is perhaps the only country in the world to have exported vast numbers of its children. An estimated 150,000 children were sent over a 350-year period to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and what was then Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Australia was the main destination in the final wave between 1945 and 1974.

There were twin purposes - to ease the population of orphanages in the UK and to boost the population of the colonies.

The children were recruited by religious institutions from both the Anglican and Catholic churches, or well-meaning charities including Barnardo's and the Fairbridge Society. Their motivation was to give "lost" children a new life, and it would be wrong to say that every one of Britain's exported children suffered.

But for too many, the dream became a nightmare. Hundreds of migrant children have given accounts of poor education, hard labour, physical beatings and sexual abuse.

Attempts were made to recreate a happy home life. At the Fairbridge Farm School in Molong, four hours outside Sydney, children lived in cottages, each with a "house mother".

Fairbridge was not a religious order, like the Christian Brothers, and some of its former children have praised the start it gave them.

But not Derek Moriarty. He was at Molong for eight years, one of hundreds of children to have endured poor food, inadequate education and physical labour. His life has been deeply affected by his Fairbridge upbringing.

He suffered at the hands of the then-principal of the school, Frederick Woods, a man he says kept 10 canes, and to the horror of the children, a hockey stick - which he used to beat the boys.

Perhaps inevitably, Moriarty alleges sexual abuse - by a member of staff who took his clothes off and touched him.

"I was nine or 10," he says, "and I didn't understand it." He eventually ran away from Molong, attempted suicide at the age of 18 and has always suffered from depression, not helped by the years it took to discover the details of his family back in the UK.

In 2009 the Australian government apologised for the cruelty shown to the child migrants. Britain also made an apology in 2010.

The pressure for answers and reparations had been growing. Questions might never have been asked, had it not been for two seekers of the truth.

In the early 1980s a Nottingham social worker, Margaret Humphreys, came across Australian former migrants who had suddenly started to realise they might have living relatives in the UK.

Many had been told, as children, their parents were dead. It wasn't true. "It was about identity," she says, "being stripped of it and being robbed of it."

Her life's work has been about reuniting "lost children" with their lost relatives. Having reinstated their sense of identity, she went on to build a lifelong bond with many former migrants, and they began to disclose the physical and sexual abuse they had suffered.

"As you go along, you're learning more and more about the degrees and the awfulness of the abuse. That's been incremental because people can really only talk about it over a longer period of time when there is trust. There's a lot of trauma involved here."

Further revelations about the Fairbridge homes were uncovered by one of their own.

David Hill was shipped out from Britain with his brothers to the Fairbridge farm at Molong in 1959. He was one of the lucky ones. His mother followed him later, providing him with a stable future.

He became a highly successful public figure in Australia. He was chairman and managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and is a keen historian. Hill brought together the Fairbridge boys and girls to tell him their stories. Like those from the west of Australia - they were dominated by beatings and abuse.

Derek Moriarty was among those who unburdened themselves for the first time to Hill, as part of the research for his 2007 book The Forgotten Children and a 2009 ABC television documentary.

"I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders when I told him," Moriarty says. "But my abuse paled into insignificance compared to some others."

David Hill's work triggered claim after claim from men and women about their experiences as children.

They wrote and told him of a litany of sexual abuse. There was no sexual education at the school and, failing to understand what was happening, they were left traumatised.

Hill makes the astonishing claim that 60% of the children at Fairbridge Molong allege they were sexually abused, based on more than 100 interviews.

The Australian law firm Slater and Gordon successfully claimed compensation on behalf of 215 former Fairbridge children, of whom 129 said they had been sexually abused.

For the Christian Brothers the figures are even higher. The Australian Royal Commission on child abuse recently revealed 853 people had accused members of the order.

Hill is one of the expert witnesses who will give evidence to the UK Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). The inquiry has been bitterly criticised since its creation - and some have questioned its huge scope.

Is there any point in it considering the history of child migration, dating back so far?

The Australian Royal commission is examining child migration closely. In 1998 the UK's Health Select Committee also held hearings, in which the Child Migrants Trust described the Christian Brothers institutions as "almost the full realisation of a paedophile's dream".

But the committee did not get to the bottom of it, concluding: "The Christian Brothers were very insistent that the abuses were not known to those who controlled these institutions. We cannot accept this."

Sources close to the current public inquiry have told the BBC it will produce new and startling revelations about the scale of sexual abuse abroad, and attempts by British and Australian institutions to cover it up.

This will include an examination of the claims of some child migrants that they were sent abroad weeks after reporting sexual abuse at their children's home in the UK. The allegation is that they were hand-picked. Either to get them out of the way, or because they were of interest to paedophiles.

Three former Fairbridge boys have claimed that the then-Australian Governor General, Lord Slim, sexually molested them during rides in his chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce while visiting the home. It is understood these allegations could be considered by the inquiry.

The inquiry could also definitively answer a crucial historical question. Did the British government know it was sending children to be mistreated in a foreign country?

Margaret Humphreys is adamant: "We want to know what happened, we want to know who did it, and we want to know who covered it up for so long."

In fact, government files reveal that there was a time when the migration programme could have been stopped. It came in 1956 when three officials went to Australia to inspect 26 institutions which took child migrants.

There was enough warning of this "fact-finding mission" to allow a Fairbridge official to warn the manager of the Molong farm: "It would be advisable to see (the children) wore their socks and shoes." Even in a land where it was easy to encounter poisonous wildlife, that wasn't standard practice at many of the institutions.

The resulting report, delivered back to the British government, was fairly critical. It identified a general lack of expertise in child care and worried that children were living in institutions in remote rural areas, whereas the trend in Britain was towards fostering them into urban families.

However the report had a second "secret" section, never published, which went a little further.

This named names - including those of five institutions which were not up to standard. When the UK's Home Office saw the report, it wanted five more added to create what became an infamous blacklist - places which should not receive more children because of poor standards of care. Fairbridge Molong and Bindoon were both on the list.

•  St Joseph's orphanage, Sydney

•  Dhurringile Rural Training Farm, Victoria

•  St Joseph's, Neerkol, nr Rockhampton, Queensland

•  Salvation Army Training Farm, Riverview, Queensland

•  Methodist Home, Magill, Adelaide

•  St Vincent's Orphanage, Castledare

•  St Joseph's Farm School, Bindoon, Western Australia

•  St John Bosco Boys' Town, Glenorchy, Hobart

•  Fairbridge Farm School, Pinjarra, Western Australia

•  Fairbridge Farm School, Molong, New South Wales

But the report had barely scratched the surface. It made no mention of sexual or physical abuse.

Given the length of time it took for the child migrants to tell their stories, this is perhaps unsurprising.

But during the post-war years, sexual accusations were made against three principals of the Fairbridge Farm School at Molong.

David Hill has revealed they included a claim that Frederick Woods - the man who beat boys with a hockey stick - was "sexually perverted" and had abused a girl resident. An internal investigation exonerated him.

This does not appear to have been disclosed by the Fairbridge Society either to the public or the 1956 inspectors. They had a schedule to keep to, and their visits to institutions spread across a vast country were fleeting.

Similarly, at the Christian Brothers' homes in Western Australia, children were terrified of criticising the brothers.

Former Bindoon resident Clifford Walsh was there during the fact-finding mission. He doesn't remember it, but says speaking out would have resulted in an extremely severe, possibly even life-threatening, beating.

The truth is that neither the institutions, nor the inspectors, came close to creating the sort of atmosphere where children could tell them their darkest secrets and be taken seriously. If that had happened, not just in Australia, but throughout modern British history, we might not have needed the current public inquiry.

It might have missed the crimes being committed in the institutions, but when the 1956 report hit the desks of Britain's bureaucrats it created quite a stir.

Something strongly resembling a cover-up began. Files held at the National Archive set out the response of government officials. One wrote in 1957 that the Overseas Migration Board, which advised the government, was "sorry the mission was sent at all".

Some on the board "urged very strongly that the report should not be published."

The government archives record that at a meeting with the organisations running the migrant programmes, Lord John Hope, under-secretary of state for Commonwealth relations, discussed what would be disclosed to parliament from the report.

"I think you can rely upon us to do what we can in as much as we shall pick out all the good bits," he said. "I shall not be in the least critical in Parliament."

The UK Fairbridge Society piled on its own pressure - its president was the Duke of Gloucester, uncle to the Queen. Officials discussed the "immediate parliamentary repercussions" which could result from holding up the migrant programme.

Sir Colin Anderson, the director of the Orient Line, which benefited from the business of shipping the children, appealed for the report not to be made public because of the controversy it might cause.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

•  The inquiry into historical child sex abuse in England and Wales is to examine claims made against local authorities, religious organisations, the armed forces and public and private institutions

•  Momentum for the inquiry started with the Jimmy Savile scandal

•  The inquiry is expected to take about five years to complete

•  The first phase of the inquiry will consist of 13 separate investigations

In a sympathetic phone call, a senior official from the Overseas Migration Board responded that the Fairbridge Society was an "extremely fine endeavour for which everyone felt the highest praise".

And what did the government do? Files at the National Archive show officials squirmed in institutional discomfort at the idea of taking any meaningful action.

In June 1957 the Commonwealth Relations Office sent a secret telegram to the UK High Commission in Australia - "we do not want to withhold approval", it said, for more children to to be sent from the UK.

After more pressure from the Fairbridge Society, 16 children waiting to travel were sent on their way.

The key recommendation of the inspectors, that the British home secretary agree each and every decision to send a child, was quietly shelved.

The Fairbridge Society continued to ship out children, though concentrated on those whose mothers intended to join them later.

David Hill's response is anger, even today. With tears in his eyes he says: "I'm surprised how vulnerable it has made me feel - that it could happen and happen to the extent that it did.

"The British government not only continued to approve children to be sent, but they financially subsidised for them to go. To institutions they had put on a blacklist unfit for children, condemned."

Molong Farm School finally closed in 1973. The Fairbridge Society is now part of the Prince's Trust and still runs activity holidays for children.

The Prince's Trust said it had never been involved in child migration, "but we do hold the archive of the former Fairbridge Society. We are cooperating fully with this important inquiry."

Bindoon remained open until 1966. It is now used as a Catholic college.

The Australian Royal Commission recently estimated that 7% of the country's Catholic priests were involved in child abuse.

And such is the scope of sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic and Anglican churches in the UK that entire strands of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse are dedicated to them.

The IICSA investigation will be able to seize the records, not just of the British government but also the migration institutions themselves - including the archives of the Fairbridge society.

Sixty years later, former Bindoon boy Clifford Walsh strongly believes this inquiry can help answer some of his questions about the culpability of the government and British institutions.

"They sent us to a place that was a living hell. How come they didn't know that? Why didn't they investigate? And if they investigated, then they were incompetent or there was a cover-up."

The child migration programme will also provide ample evidence for the UK's effort to consider the long-term effect of child sexual abuse. Something which may turn out to be a central theme of the inquiry.

Historian and Fairbridge boy David Hill estimates it took victims he interviewed 22 years on average before they felt able to disclose what happened.

But it will also provide a final chance for Britain's lost children to return to the land of their birth and tell their stories. The anger has not gone away, and their childhoods have left invisible scars which have lasted a lifetime.

One of the child migrants we spoke to asked us not to name him, after he returned to Bindoon armed with a sledgehammer.

His target? The ostentatious burial place of Brother Paul Keaney the institution's founder. By the time he'd finished, enough damage had been done to the marble grave slab that Bindoon's current owners, a Catholic college, were forced to remove what remained.

It was one man's small blow against a history of child cruelty.

Have you been affected by abuse?

•  The Child Migrants Trust attempts to reunite children sent abroad with their families

•  NSPCC specialises in child protection

•  National Association for People Abused in Childhood offers support, advice and guidance to adult survivors of any form of childhood abuse

•  Survivor Scotland offers help to improve the lives of survivors of childhood abuse in Scotland

•  Childline is a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of 19

•  The Children's Society works to support vulnerable children in England and Wales

•  Stop It Now! supports adults worried about child abuse, including survivors, professionals, those with a concern about their own thoughts or behaviour towards children and friends and relatives of people arrested for sexual offending



How you can help stop child abuse in Washington County

by Emily Havens

Plenty of people have been in a situation where they've witnessed or suspected a child is being abused. Sometimes it's easily identifiable. Other times it's not.

Is what I just saw actually child abuse? What if I'm wrong and I report something false? How do I know for sure? What if this child is acting strangely for another reason?

The Washington County Children's Justice Center opened 249 investigations of child abuse in 2016 alone. That means 249 children were interviewed by a forensic interview specialist based on suspected or disclosed abuse they had experienced. At least 249 families — most likely more, since WCCJC Director Shelly Teeples says child abuse is grossly under-reported — had their family dynamics challenged by neglect, child sex abuse, child physical abuse or a combination of any child abuse in 2016.

In fact, the Division of Child and Family Services reported 408 total victims of child abuse in Washington County for 2016.

"I have seen cases of horrific child sex abuse and physical abuse come out of homes of highly-esteemed people in the community," Teeples said. "You can't sensationalize child abuse. It happens everywhere, across every socioeconomic background. It has no boundaries."

What are the most common child abuse cases in Washington County?

Deputy County Attorney Ryan Shaum said in the more than 20 years he's been a prosecutor, he's learned to never say never.

"Many years ago, I said, 'I've probably seen everything.' But I found out there's always something you're not expecting to see," Shaum said. "Sometimes you just never know what evil capacity there is in humankind."

There are several types of child abuse, including physical, emotional, neglect, sexual touching and sexual non-touching. Ashley Sumner, a public information officer with the DCFS, said one of the most common misconceptions is in order for officials to investigate child abuse, there has to be a mark.

"That's definitely not true," she said. "There are many things that can be damaging to kids that don't leave a mark."

According to Sumner, 295 of the 408 total child abuse victims in Washington County had substantiated or supported cases. There are 121 Washington County children who are currently in foster care who were placed due to concerns of abuse, neglect, or dependency, which means they most likely were victims of abuse, but they don't necessarily have to have a substantiated CPS investigation to be in foster care, Sumner said.

The majority of cases that the WCCJC sees are sexual abuse cases, but Teeples said the center has seen an increase in Washington County children falling victim to human trafficking. Human trafficking can take form as a child running away from home and being "pimped out" on the streets, a child being used to produce pornography, or child labor.

"It's a crisis state-wide," Teeples said. "Everyone is seeing more cases of human trafficking."

Teeples added she can't say for sure if the increase of cases means that it's on the rise in Utah or that people are simply more educated and are more frequently calling it what it is.

Among the child sex abuse allegations that advance to charges being filed against an alleged suspect, Shaum said the most common cases involve allegations of sexual touching. Sodomy or rape of a child are a bit less common, Shaum said, but they certainly aren't non-existent in Southern Utah.

However, several, perhaps more severe and high-profile cases have come out of Washington County in recent years. One case involves a 12-year-old boy from Toquerville who was located in the bathroom of his home for at least one year, weighing just over 30 pounds, police reported.

The boy's mother and father, Brandy and Russel Jaynes, have both been charged with aggravated, intentional child abuse for allegedly malnourishing him while he was kept locked in the room that police said was covered in feces. While technically at different stages in the process, neither co-defendants have entered a plea, so whether or not the cases will be resolved before prior to trial is currently unknown.

"We don't see a lot of severe neglect cases like in the Jaynes case," Shaum said. "That's very unusual for us here, and it certainly happens, but you just never know."

Additionally, Shaum said cases involving physical abuse in Washington County typically aren't what they would call "severe."

"We don't get a lot of cases involving broken bones, brain issues with swelling or those sort of things," he said. "Those do not come through our office very often. That doesn't mean there aren't a lot of physical abuse cases, but when we talk about serious physical abuse in the felony range, there are many more sexual abuse cases."

Earlier this month, a Hurricane man was sentenced to up to 16 years in the Utah State Prison for kicking and chocking his girlfriend's 9-month-old baby. The baby did, in fact, suffer fractured ribs, a fractured tibia, and a fractured fibia in addition to contusion marks all over his body, blood spots in his eyes, and bruising on his forehead and jaw.

Another notable case involving child abuse in St. George was that of Gregory Todd Fullerton, who's case had been the oldest active prosecution in Washington County until December. He was found guilty of a homicide involving child abuse after he caused fatal injuries to a 4-month-old he was tending, including brain swelling.

While Teeples acknowledged the community's response of love and support to the victims in some of the county's higher-profile cases, she said the dark side is always lingering.

"It's bittersweet for (WCCJC staff,)" she said. "It's touching to see the outreach of love, but we know that it happens all the time."

The good news? A "great majority" of child abuse cases filed by the county attorney's office that have gone through the WCCJC end in convictions, Shaum said.

"Very rarely does serious sexual or physical assault on a child get resolved at the misdemeanor level," Shaum said. "Most will resolve in a conviction of a felony."

How do perpetrators get caught and prosecuted?

The WCCJC doesn't get involved in every single child abuse case, but it does intervene when child abuse is suspected or disclosed. Typically, child abuse is disclosed to law enforcement through Child Protective Services, and at that point, the WCCJC will schedule an appointment for an interview, in which Teeples said the whole team gets involved.

Rather than having a child interview with several officials more than once about a specific incident, justice centers are designed to house the forensic interview in a welcoming atmosphere with professionally-trained staff. Teeples said this process leads to higher disclosure rates and better outcomes overall, including more articulate interviews for prosecutors to use in court.

Forensic interview specialists are in charge of interviewing the children in rooms that Teeples said gives a feeling of home. The interviews are recorded and also scripted, as to not ask any "leading" questions. The forensic interview specialists build rapport with the child, establish ground rules, and then move into a form of questioning that allows the child to open up and tell his or her story.

"The forensic interview specialist is always referring back to what the child said, so there's no leading questions," Teeples said. "It makes our cases more solid. We get more and better disclosures than we've ever had with the forensic interview specialists."

Teeples said the interview specialist reports a high disclosure rate among children, but the cases can oftentimes be subjective. Because of this, not every case leads to charges or is considered actual abuse. However, each allegation is investigated thoroughly as though it is abuse, Teeples said.

Officials don't always need a confession to charge an alleged perpetrator, either.

"Sometimes that child's interview is so compelling that physical evidence or a confession isn't needed," Teeples said. "The child has to disclose it without being led to say it."

For children who aren't interviewed at a justice center, Sumner said DCFS will conduct an interview at a school or in the home, depending on the severity of the allegations.

Sumner said social workers or law enforcement are typically the individuals who decide whether or not a disclosure is child abuse.

"We want people to understand that when they call, we're not going to go out and take these kids away," she said. "You'll talk to a social worker who can talk you through what you're seeing and maybe help you determine if abuse is going on or not."

Once an investigation is opened, Shaum said a law enforcement official will often arrest an alleged suspect based on what they believe is probable cause.

"There are many cases, however, that come over for us to review to determine whether or not charges will be filed. There's a significant number of those," Shaum said.

There are a number of reasons why child abuse cases are difficult to prove, Shaum said, but they review all evidence presented and make sure they're "doing what's right in the interest of justice" as well as supporting a child who's been abused in any way.

Shaum acknowledged that since child abuse cases sometimes take years to get resolved, the actual act of prosecuting this type of offense can take an emotional toll on a child, adding that there are a lot of factors that go into determining what the best course of action is.

"A year is an eternity to a little kid," Shaum said. "You take that into consideration and decide whether or not this child is going to be OK in the long haul and what impact, or what sort of potential difficulties, they've had on the child if they go through with this."

In the works for the WCCJC is a medical exam room, which Teeples said is another big step in the right direction toward giving families the advocacy and resources they need. The nursing staff will be able to perform acute exams on children who have been physically or sexually abused within hours or days and well-child visits. Additionally, the center will soon be able to test and treat sexually transmitted diseases.

"We are lucky," Teeples said. "The children of Washington County are lucky."

How can I educate my child in order to help prevent abuse?

So what's something highly unlikely for a social worker, law enforcement officer, or CPS worker to allow their children to do? Have sleepovers.

"So many interviews start out with, 'Well, I was at a sleepover at my friend's house, or at a sleepover at my cousin's house,'" Teeples said. "Ask any detective, any CPS worker, or any social worker what we do with our kids, and we all seem very paranoid. We see how much of it really goes on."

Explain to your child where touching is OK and where it's not OK, Teeples said, and draw very clear lines that help your child understand appropriate and not appropriate play. Parents should build relationships with their children in order to create a culture in the home that will encourage children to disclose to their parents if something has happened to them, she said.

The national child abuse reporting rate is low, Teeples said, and the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault reports only 21 percent of Utahns report their rape.

"But we're seeing more kids step forward because it's talked about now, so I hope it gets much better," Teeples said.

What should I do if I suspect someone is abusing my child or a child I know?

All adults are required to report when a child has disclosed or when they suspect child abuse. When this happens, individuals should call CPS, DCFS or local law enforcement.

According to Prevent Child Abuse Utah, some long-term effects of child abuse can include alcoholism, poor quality of life, depression, drug use, suicide or suicide attempts, liver disease, increased risk of partner violence, and increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

Thus, it's the entire community's responsibility to ensure children are nurtured, happy and healthy.

"Just like everyone pays taxes, we want to invest in our children who are going to be raising the next generation," Sumner said. "We want them to have stable, nurturing relationships and are able to live in our communities and be productive members of society."

Teeples said adults need to be aware of how they react to a child who has disclosed abuse. Overreacting to their abuse can be damaging.

"You don't know what that child has been told," Teeples said. "You don't want to make them feel bad or shut them down right out of the shoot because you had this overreaction."

The best things to say to a child who's alleging abuse is it's good they told someone, it's not their fault, they're going to find help, and it's important to tell others.

Additionally, of the utmost importance is to believe the child.

"I've talked to victims who have said their abuse was terrible, but far worse was when they said a parent didn't believe them," Teeples said.

Report child abuse: 1-855-323-3237



Signs Of Child Abuse

by Jory Tally

(Video on site)

WEBSTER COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – Nearly two children every minute of every day; that's the number of child abuse cases reported each year in the United States.

Those numbers also hit close to home.

Just this week, abuse arrests were made in both Monroe and Webster counties.

There's a fine line between child abuse and disciplining a child, and charges come when parents' actions go past that line.

“Somebody has to protect these children when the parents do wrong. Now, I'm not saying that is wrong to discipline your child in any way shape or form, you need to discipline your child in a reasonably manner,” says Webster County Investigator Landon Griffin.

There's a range of severities and cases.

“A single-parent household seems like it occurs more. I don't have any stats to back that up, but it does seems like it does occur more in that situation. That and households where narcotics are involved. Usually and narcotics and that type of situation usually come hand in hand.”

Chief Deputy Jeff Mann says most cases they see involve parents being at their wits' end with their children.

“It's bad to say, but I don't think any community is safe from it. A lot of times what it boils down to, sometimes it actually is a decent person wanting to discipline their child, but they involve anger in the situation and usually when they involve anger in the situation, that's usually when it pasts what it should.”

It's those cases which cross the line, that hit home for law enforcement.

Griffin has worked two child abuse cases since he started working at the sheriff's department a year ago.

“Most child abuse cases that we have are coming in from family members, neighbors, aunts, uncles, and grandmothers that know the family, that know something is wrong with it. Some have proof, some have allegations.”

That's exactly how Griffin's second child abuse case unraveled earlier this week, when someone came by the sheriff's department with a video of Stephanie Wofford, abusing her child, landing her in jail with one count of felony child abuse.

Griffin says one of the keys to stopping abuse is for people to step forward.

“If you know about child abuse, you've seen child abuse, and you know what's going on and you don't report it, you will be arrested for condoning child abuse also.”

Wofford is still in jail on a $50,000 dollar bond.



L.A. police, investigating child sexual abuse case going back to 1998, ask victims to step forward

by Sonali Kohli

Los Angeles Police investigators are looking for more people who say they were sexually abused by Amador Valencia Santos, who was arrested this month on suspicion of sexual abuse.

Police allege in a news release that Santos, also known as “Omar,” has been victimizing children since 1998.

Santos, 57, met children through mutual friends and invited them to spend the night in his home, police say.

“Santos groomed the [victims'] trust by taking them to the movies, amusement parks, playing video games and basketball games with them,” the LAPD statement alleges. “Santos showed adult pornography and sexually abused the victims while they were inside his residence.”

He was arrested on Feb. 9 and is being held on $2.8 million bail, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department inmate records. A preliminary hearing for Santos is scheduled Wednesday in downtown.

Police are asking anyone with information about additional victims to call the Southwest area sex crimes division at at (323) 290-2975.


The Mental Health Effects of Child Sexual Abuse on Males

by David Trounce

Many reasons have been put forward in an effort to explain a large amount of under-reporting or even undetected incidents of sexual abuse against boys.

Doctoral research conducted by Scott D. Easton hospitalized, ACSW, LMSW Boston College Graduate School of Social Work in March, 2012 demonstrated that the average reporting time was around 20 years.

In those intervening years many adult males report lengthy periods of depression, anxiety, and fear.

There are a number of reasons for the delay in reporting. Those reasons include fear of not being believed or being considered homosexual for having experienced the abuse.

But the differences do to not stop there. There has been significant research in the last 15 to 20 years on the differences between males and females who experience childhood sexual abuse.

Understanding the Differences

While females will typically internalize their trauma, males are more likely to externalise their experience through some high-risk behaviours.

Females may contemplate suicidal thoughts and develop misconceptions about body image affecting diet. For males who were the victims of childhood sexual abuse are more likely to suffer in educational performance, risky sexual behaviour, social rebellion and criminal activity.

Young men and adolescents are also more likely to engage in binge drinking and experimental drug use.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has also been more prevalent in males than females following the incidence of sexual abuse.

Males also dominate the number of those who are hospitalised for psychiatric assessment.

Perhaps as a consequence of the subsequent educational difficulties that boys face, there is also the suggestion that such men experience significantly more problems developing stable relationships. These include career and employment relationships.

Carrying the Guilt

20 years is a long time to carry around the guilt, shame, and burden of childhood sexual abuse.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse in Australia is seeking to address those problems. One of the positive results has been the increasing number of older men who were abused as children now stepping forward to testify.

Greg Thompson is one recent example. Thompson, who is currently the Anglican Bishop of Newcastle, was abused over 30 years ago at the age of 19. It is only now in 2016 that his story is being heard and the opportunity for some form of compensation to be provided.

Despite some shortcomings, the announcement of a Redress Scheme by the Federal Government in 2016, is a welcome step forward for both men and women who have experienced institutional childhood sexual abuse.

The Federal Government's commitment to compensation which is expected to cost over $4 billion dollars, has been established as a result of proposals made by the Royal Commission.

This Redress Scheme is one of the largest ever undertaken. It would mean creating an independent body that will enable all parties to come to the table. It would include compensation that would also provide the finance needed to assist with ongoing professional psychological and medical support.

However, while some are applauding the Scheme, and though the research continues to show (unsurprisingly) that more female victims than male victims of childhood sexual abuse, the issue of disclosure among males remain a problem.

Beyond the Redress Scheme, there remains the ongoing need for still further support and access. This is especially true for young men who live in a culture where weakness and admission are still cause for shame.


New Hampshire

Ferreting out child sex abuse a complex task

by John McGauley

It's weird to think we need such a “special room” in Keene, but thank God it's there. Maybe it will snare more of the many cruel, sick, wily, duplicitous and manipulative creeps out there.

What's the “special room?”

Ethan DeWitt of The Sentinel wrote about it this past week. It's a room where children who may have been abused can tell their stories to a specially trained interviewer while a camera rolls and experts in a nearby room watch, listen, evaluate, pick up on body language and even offer instantaneous feedback to the interviewer, who's wearing an earpiece.

It's called the Monadnock Region Child Advocacy Center in Keene, and it's been doing this for eight years. The point of DeWitt's story was a new statewide program called “Know and Tell,” which has two purposes — tell residents about how common child abuse is, and point out it is every citizen's legal duty to report suspected cases. Child abusers, like roaches, require darkness and “Know and Tell” is a light switch. If you see smoke, it may be a fire.

Now when the word “abuse” is used, in many cases that reach the newspaper, it's most often sexual abuse. There are many kinds of abuse, from slugging a kid to constantly demeaning them to simply ignoring them. Sexual abuse, though, is an order of magnitude worse. Think about it.

The world of child sexual abuse must be somewhat like what's been talked about on the “dark web,” the underbelly of the Internet where the worst of human nature clings to the side of a slimy cave, a weird hall of mirrors. For therapists, psychologists and police officers who work in this field, it must be hard to wash away the smells or images of this fetid world.

Experts will say it can be extremely difficult to build evidence in a child sex-abuse case, like trying to fish with no bait and no hook. Signals can be ambiguous, testimony unclear or secured using wrong-headed techniques. People lie on a stack of Bibles or could be pointing their fingers at others they hate, a charge of sexual abuse the equivalent of a shotgun blast against a person's reputation. What appears obvious may not be, or the opposite may be true, the guy in the white hat may really be wearing the black hat. Kids can be terribly vague, family relationships murky; people may come in and out of the house at all hours of the day or night. Or it may be happening at the prim, well-kept house with the white-picket fence, all church-going folk.

The special room has to deal with all of this, take it into account. It's not a Star Chamber. That's why there are several experts involved, so mistakes are not made.

Years ago the “McMartin Preschool” fiasco turned everything topsy-turvy in law enforcement's attempt to accurately ferret out child sexual abuse. It started in 1983, when a mother in Manhattan Beach, Calif., told police she suspected her 3-year-old son was being molested by one of his preschool teachers. A wave of parents of students at the school then alerted police that their children had confessed to being fondled, sodomized and forced to participate in pornographic films. Teachers were arrested, the school was shut down and detectives and child therapists determined the school had been the location of ritualistic satanic abuse.

Trouble was, it never happened. But the damage had been done, sparking a hysteria that swept several states, with other schools and teachers arrested.

The problem? Inept and manipulative questioning of the kids. That case spurred better, more refined, techniques. Interviewing really little kids is a high-wire act.

Now, for us civilians who aren't cops, doctors, nurses or teachers, here are our guideposts, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Does the child:

Have nightmares or sleep problems with no explanation?

Appear distracted or distant at odd times?

Have a sudden change in eating habits?

Refuse to eat?

Lose or drastically increase appetite?

Have trouble swallowing?

Suffer sudden mood swings: rage, fear, withdrawal?

Leave “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues?

Develop new or unusual fear of certain people or places?

Refuse to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child?

Write, draw, play or dream of sexual or frightening images?

Talk about a new older friend?

Suddenly have money, toys or other gifts without reason?

Think of self or body as repulsive, dirty, or bad?

Exhibit adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge?

Of course, these “signs” have to be considered in context; a few judgements have to be made. But as the new program says, if you have your suspicions, maybe it's time to talk to someone.


New Uork

Children not equipped to handle needy parents

by Pashmina Rashad

A healthy relationship between a parent and child is characterized by the parent providing caring, support, protection and nurturing to the child.

Closeness between parents and their children is generally healthy and a goal most parents strive for as their kids grow up. However, a healthy relationship with children requires that parents hold certain boundaries constant. In some families, this becomes difficult to achieve for various reasons. The result is often a phenomenon called emotional incest, a term coined by Kenneth Adams, Ph.D. It refers to a style of parenting in which the parent turns to a child for the emotional support that would normally be provided by another adult, usually a partner or spouse. The effects of such parental dependence can often mimic the damage done by actual incest, although often to lesser degree.

In cases of emotional or covert incest, a child is chosen, usually based either on their birth order or gender, to be a surrogate spouse of sorts to one or both parents. This often looks like parents confiding in their son or daughter about adult problems, and looking for emotional support or validation from the child. This has been described by some analysts as “unboundaried bonding” where a parent uses the child as a mirror to support their needs rather than mirroring the child's emotional needs to facilitate their development. This phenomenon is most common in situations where the parents are not able to have their needs met by an appropriate adult, either because they are single or because they are in a dysfunctional relationship. In the latter case, a child may be subjected to a constant narrative about the flaws and failings of the other parent and expected to take sides, or even to defend or intercede on behalf of one parent. Often, both parents use the child as a referee, using his or her judgment as the ultimate victory in their battle with their partner.

Children are not equipped to handle this level of neediness from their parents but are usually unable to recognize this. Instead, they often feel special or “chosen” because mom, dad or both are trusting them in such an adult way. However, make no mistake that this is in fact a form of emotional abuse. The child is being robbed of his/her childhood but cannot realize it because the abuse is disguised as being chosen in an exclusive way by an adult. They feel like they are being trusted and respected in a special way, and may even embrace the role initially because of the positive reinforcement they receive when the offending parent says things like “you are my best friend” or “I know I can always count on you.” However, in trying to meet the emotional needs of their parents, the child is failing to have his/her needs met, and often learns at an early age to bury their feelings in favor of “being there” for mom or dad. In situations where both parents are parentifying a child, the child may end up feeling responsible for holding the family together.

The effects on a child who is subjected to such emotional abuse can be easily imagined as crippling in their journey to becoming a healthy, well-adjusted adult. In next month's column, we will examine these effects, as well the consequences for the entire family in more detail.


Rhode Island

DCYF: We take every child neglect claim seriously

by Carl Sisson

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — While the state Medical Examiner's Office is working to determine how a baby girl died in Warwick, a representative from the Department of Children, Youth and Families says his agency is investigating.

Ryan Beeley, the father of Willow Ramos, is charged with neglect in the 7-month-old's death.

Dennis Riel wouldn't comment specifically on this case because of privacy laws, but he said they take every claim of child neglect seriously.

According to Riel, the DCYF gets 15,000 phone calls about suspected child abuse every year.

Last year, investigators found most of claims unsubstantiated but if it's a confirmed case, it's referred to family court.

“I think that DCYF, it is always in an ongoing effort for all child welfare agencies throughout the us, including Rhode Island, to improve,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count. “So I think DCYF has been under a lot of internal review of its processes, a lot of reforms happening there.”

If the court sustains the allegation, the case is assigned to a social worker, who then works with the family.



Charge: Couple gagged, hog-tied 12-year-old boy with duct tape while they went to Chinese buffet

by Bruce Vielmetti

An Oconomowoc couple were charged Friday with child neglect and suffocation after police say they gagged and "hog-tied" a 12-year-old boy with duct tape while they went out to dinner in December.

The couple — a 40-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman, the victim's mother and stepfather — each face misdemeanor counts of child neglect and felony counts of suffocation as parties to the crime. The woman is also charged with obstructing an officer. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is not naming the couple to protect the boy's identity.

According to the criminal complaint:

The boy checked in with his school principal every day because of the school's concerns about his care. In mid-December, the principal asked the boy about a scrape on his chin and an injury to the right side of his eye. The boy explained he'd been taped up and left in a hallway while his parents went to a Chinese buffet the night before.

Earlier that day, the boy said, he'd gone to a store with his mother and tried to buy Silly Putty with money he'd earned shoveling snow, but that his mother made him return it. When they got home, his stepfather bound him with the tape. School officials contacted police.

Detectives had the mother come to Waukesha. She said they couple had only left the boy a short time while they went to a Pabst Farms grocery store to use the bank, and that he wasn't tied up. The stepfather also came in and said they'd been grocery shopping.

The detective checked a recording that continued after he'd left the interview with the mother, and heard her make a phone call, apparently telling the stepfather what story to tell.

When confronted with the inconsistency during a follow-up interview in January, the woman admitted the couple had left the boy while they went to a Chinese restaurant in Waukesha, but denied he was taped.

She also told the detective, “if you want to remove him, then go ahead and remove him, you can remove him, but I don't want neglect charges because that will take my job away."

The couple are scheduled to make their initial court appearances Wednesday.



How Texas' crusade against sex trafficking has left victims behind

by Morgan Smith, Neena Satija and Edgar Walters

When Mia was 16, she walked out of a Houston children's emergency shelter. She had to go, she told the staff. Her pimp was waiting.

It was 2013, the day before Thanksgiving. She was almost 200 miles from Corpus Christi, Texas, where she grew up.

Mia had been raised by her grandparents and, after they died, by her drug-addicted mother. When her mother went to prison, other relatives took her in.

By the time she was 10, behavioral problems landed Mia in a psychiatric hospital. That's where a state-appointed lawyer told her, as gently as she could, that the aunt and uncle Mia had been living with no longer wanted her.

She entered Texas' long-term foster care system. For the next six years, she cycled through 19 different homes and institutions. She was brutally punished in some of those places – thrown to the ground and restrained, made to stand on milk crates for hours – and sexually assaulted. She attended nine different schools. She wound up in the emergency room twice for suicidal thoughts.

After Mia ran from one foster care facility, police found her in a park; she told them she had been having sex for money. She ran away again, and authorities sent her to the Houston emergency shelter. That's where, 15 minutes later, she ran for the final time, back into the arms of her pimp.

Like too many kids in the state's care, she disappeared into the underworld of sex trafficking.

Mia was still missing a year later, in 2014, when a massive class-action lawsuit against the state's long-term foster care system went to trial. Lawyers had named Mia the lead plaintiff on behalf of all 12,000 children in the system. Federal District Judge Janis Jack would later rule the state had mistreated those children so severely that it violated their civil rights.

Buried in Jack's 2015 decision – and largely missed in subsequent discussions about foster care in Texas – was the fact that Mia was a victim of a crime that top Texas leaders have been publicly battling for more than a decade.

Sex trafficking is “one of the most heinous crimes facing our society,” Attorney General Ken Paxton told reporters at a January news conference, flanked by posters with pictures of kids that read, “I AM NOT FOR SALE.” Gov. Greg Abbott made the fight against sex trafficking — which he calls “modern-day slavery” — one of the 10 key issues of his gubernatorial campaign, and he previously spent years focused on it as attorney general. Neither Abbott nor Paxton agreed to an interview.

Yet for all the energy the state's leaders pour into anti-sex-trafficking rhetoric, most of their focus has been on arresting and convicting pimps, not rehabilitating their prey.

They've devoted hardly any resources to the victims whose testimony is essential to putting sex traffickers behind bars. They have also failed to confront the role the child welfare system plays in providing a supply of vulnerable kids to criminals waiting to exploit them.

Eighty-six percent of missing children suspected of being forced into sex work came from the child welfare system, national data show , and a state-funded study estimated that the vast majority of young victims in Texas had some contact with Child Protective Services. Interviews with law enforcement and child advocates around the state tell a similar story.

Dallas Police Detective Michael McMurray has worked child sex-trafficking cases, many involving foster children, for more than a decade. He used to believe that going after criminals would be the most effective anti-trafficking strategy. He called it the McMurray Theory.

“We'll put all these pimps, all these traffickers in prison, and the word will get out, and people won't be doing this anymore because they'll be too afraid to go to prison. And that'll solve the problem,” he said.

But after 10 years of locking up sex traffickers, the lack of progress frustrates him.

“The McMurray Theory is not working out too well,” he said.

The victims among us

Stories like Mia's are tragically common: Recent estimates suggest Texas is home to some 80,000 child sex-trafficking victims, kids who – in one way or another – end up being sold to adults for sex.

The Texas Tribune has uncovered dozens of these cases buried in criminal files and unfurled in interviews with prosecutors, caseworkers, police officers and victims' advocates over five months of reporting.

Over the next week, the Tribune will tell the stories of four young women trafficked for sex after being failed by the state's most fundamental safety nets.

There's Jean, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who at 16 turned to a Dallas pimp for food, shelter and affection amid a slow-burning crisis in the state's foster care system.

And Lena, a foster child who at 17 became one of the youngest inmates in the Harris County Jail, even though authorities knew she was a victim of child sex trafficking.

And Yvette, who was convicted in San Antonio of trafficking a minor two days after her 23rd birthday, despite suffering at the hands of the man who pimped them both out.

And Sarah, a 16-year-old from Austin who gave police a rare cause for hope after landing a spot at the state's only treatment facility for sex-trafficking victims.

Each of their pimps was punished under the law. None of the girls got the help they needed.

Prosecution over programs

State officials say they have taken steps to address Texas' sex-trafficking problem. Texas was one of the first states to pass a law defining human trafficking, in 2003. Lawmakers have piled on with additional legislation – and great fanfare – in virtually every legislative session since.

They've made it easier to prosecute men and women who exploit minors, as well as the buyers who seek to purchase sex with them. They've established a special team inside the attorney general's office to help unravel sex-trafficking rings.

Top state leaders routinely trumpet the law enforcement stings that round up suspected traffickers. Most recently, Paxton's office claimed a minor role in arresting the chief executive of Dallas-based, one of the largest online advertisers of commercial sex.

Thousands of state government employees have received training to help them identify potential sex-trafficking victims. Child welfare officials also say they are doing a better job of tracking down runaways like Mia, who are among the most vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

But the state's child welfare system – overseen by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services – needs $1 billion over the next two years to shore up its operation, department officials say. State lawmakers have proposed spending just under one-third of that amount.

Lawmakers have also passed few policies aimed at directly helping victims, and they have balked time and again at providing the money to pay for them. That has left a laundry list of empty laws and hollow programs.

“I try to be upbeat about the Legislature, every time I come here,” said state Rep. Gene Wu, a Houston Democrat who's worked on anti-trafficking laws. “But my little joke is, sometimes the Texas Legislature is like the guy who's really insistent on taking you out to lunch, but when the check comes, he's nowhere to be found.”

All talk, little money

Among legislators' unfunded efforts over the past decade:

•  A 2009 sex-trafficking law calling for a victim assistance program to distribute up to $10 million a year in grants to provide housing, counseling and medical care for trafficking survivors. The Legislature never appropriated the money. Eight years later, the program's coffers remain empty.

•  An anti-trafficking measure passed in 2011 meant to establish a stream of funding for victims by requiring convicted child traffickers to pay them restitution. Restitution depends on a defendant's ability to pay, which is often limited. None of the victims the Tribune interviewed said they received any money after their traffickers were imprisoned.

•  A 2013 law authorizing judicial diversion programs for juveniles caught selling sex. Lawmakers provided no money for those programs.

•  A 2015 law allowing police to take “emergency possession” of sex-trafficking victims, as long as they place them in secure facilities providing everything from 24-hour supervision to counseling. But no such facility exists, and no funding has ever been allocated to create one.

In the 2015 legislative session, lawmakers created a child sex-trafficking unit in the governor's office and gave it a two-year budget of $6 million. That money will go toward coordinating services for victims across the state, but not toward addressing the lack of places for them to go.

There is only one facility in the entire state that is licensed specifically to treat victims of sex trafficking, and it can fill just 20 beds at a time. Not one of those beds is available for an “emergency” placement, meaning victims in immediate crisis, like those picked up by police in the middle of the night, don't qualify. And no beds are available for boys.

The end result is that during the precarious period when victims first come into contact with authorities – adults they should be able to trust – they often end up in handcuffs instead. Nearly one-third of trafficking victims recovered by the state's child welfare investigators are sent to juvenile detention.

“The state needs to step up and be prepared to protect these kids,” said Ann Johnson, the former lead prosecutor for Harris County's sex-trafficking unit. “If we don't invest wisely in the front end, we're going to pay for it more later.”

Texas lawmakers say they're proud of their track record.

“We've passed more legislation than any state in America,” said state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the Houston Democrat who has sponsored nearly every anti-trafficking bill for the past several years.

Lawmakers have announced plans to file another anti-trafficking bill this session, which they said will focus on further enhancing penalties for convicted pimps.

Thompson acknowledged the state needs to place more emphasis on helping victims, but she wasn't sure there would be any funding to do so.

“I just hate we have not been able to do more faster,” she said. “But we are catching up.”

Children lost in ‘rickety system'

As lawmakers begin figuring out how much money they can spend in this year's legislative session, the Texas child welfare system is buckling under a $110 million budget shortfall. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services says it fails to check on hundreds of the state's most endangered children each day, and there's a crippling shortage of good homes for children removed from their families.

The class-action lawsuit, a series of high-profile child deaths and a barrage of negative headlines have pressured lawmakers to take action. Leaders in both the House and Senate have again proposed reforms, but so far they largely focus on administrative fixes.

Child welfare officials say they need money.

“We have to spend the funding now,” agency chief Hank Whitman said at a January budget hearing. “Otherwise, these children will end up in the criminal justice system, and they're there for life, and it's a perpetual hell for them.”

Whitman said his agency needs an additional $1 billion over the next two years to hire workers, find more foster homes and make basic improvements to children's care. Lawmakers have so far shown an appetite to spend only about $325 million. The governor has asked them to spend $500 million.

“Do not underfund this rickety system only to have it come back and haunt you,” Abbott said in a January speech to the Legislature.

Lawmakers say they are skeptical more money will improve the agency's performance.

“Problems persist at this agency despite funding increase after funding increase,” state Sen. Jane Nelson, a Flower Mound Republican and the Senate's chief budget writer, said in a prepared statement. “Moving forward, we must ensure that additional resources lead to better outcomes for children.”

Even as the Legislature debates its own reforms, Paxton and Abbott continue to fight Judge Jack's orders to overhaul the foster care system, arguing Texas will do it better without the meddling of a federal court.

Meanwhile, almost two dozen children run from foster care each week. One of those children was Mia, the teen from Corpus Christi who became the anonymous face of the foster care lawsuit.

A few months after she walked out of the children's emergency shelter in Houston and returned to her pimp, child welfare workers got a tip about her location. But they waited two weeks before visiting the address. By the time they got there, Mia was gone.

The next year, Mia turned 18 and aged out of foster care. She hasn't been heard from since.



FBI: “Sex trafficking won't stop until people stop consuming it”

by Alyssa Ivanson

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – One of the biggest questions surrounding human trafficking is how to stop it. Nearly everyone agrees the first step is education.

Recent news stories across the country show training and awareness do work. After getting training on the warning signs of human trafficking, a flight attendant spotted a victim on a plane and got her help when they landed. An Uber driver in California had a similar story. He recognized the red flags while taking a group of three girls to a hotel. He called police. The victim was rescued and her traffickers were arrested.

t's examples like those that highlight why it's so important for everyone to be aware of human trafficking and not let the predators stay hidden anymore.

“You don't have to work in social work or law enforcement to have direct contact with these people and if you're aware you can do something to stop it,” K.D. Roche, a sex trafficking survivor, said.

Society is starting to fight back. Thursday President Trump even announced that stopping human trafficking is a priority for his administration.

“Human trafficking is a buzz word right now and we're trying to educate more people on the issue and the more we educate, the more the word gets out,” Capt. Kevin Hunter with the Vice and Narcotics division on the Fort Wayne Police Department, said.

In Indiana, many agencies try to train as many groups as possible. Wednesday, the Indiana Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (ITVAP) presented at an education day put on by Allen County Superior Court and Great Kids Make Great Communities.

“People will know how to identify victims and what to do when they do identify them. The more training we do, the more reports we are seeing,” Jeremy Greenlee, a regional coordinator for ITVAP, said.

The Northeast Indiana Anti-Trafficking Network also coordinates outreach and education events in the area.

As people recognize that what they're seeing is actually trafficking, Greenlee said new research by the group Polaris shows reported cases of trafficking in Indiana went up 37 percent last year. But, he added that it's still estimated that only one to two percent of sex trafficking cases ever get reported.


The courts and lawmakers are getting educated too. The Allen County Juvenile Center even created a new screening tool last March to better detect victims of trafficking.

“We wanted to make sure that we were identifying them and getting them the services that they needed,” Kendra Miklos, the probation supervisor said.

Hon. Daniel Heath, an Allen County Superior Court judge, said when a child is charged with running away, one of the first things to look for is if he or she was also trafficked. Nationally, it's estimated one in three runaways will be trafficked within 48 hours.

“This is a time we want to help that child and rehabilitate that child and we want to find services for the child,” Judge Heath said.

Changes in Indiana's laws last year also better define youth caught in trafficking as victims.

“It is now a special category recognizing that juveniles engaging in juvenile prostitution acts or sex trafficking (IC 35-42-3.5-1) are victims not perpetrators (IC 31-9-2-133.1) and as a result, there's a whole new section in the Child in Need of Services section (IC 31-34-1-3.5),” Hon. Charles Pratt, a judge with Allen County Superior Court, said.

A bill in the statehouse right now would also remove previous convictions for acts performed while the child was being trafficked from their record. Senate Bill 166 just passed the Senate unanimously.

“It's a pretty high awareness that this is a special interest and a special concern on a statewide level from the top down,” Judge Pratt said.

Educating Hotelshttps

The hospitality industry is also getting in on the education efforts. Last December, a seminar for hotels around Fort Wayne taught warning signs for staff from the front desk to housekeeping.

“It's important. It's something we didn't think about before, but we do now,” Andrea Hill, the director of sales for a Holiday Inn, said. “All of us were shocked. We didn't even know it's happening here in our area, but we knew it was something we wanted to bring awareness to.”

Education on the Highways

“If they can educate truck drivers about what's going on, we can prevent this from high risk areas like rest areas and truck stops,” M/Trp. Jason Ward with the Indiana State Police said.

In January, non-profit group Truckers Against Trafficking teamed up with highway patrol in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio for an education blitz. In Indiana in a week, more than 3,200 brochures and wallet cards were handed out to drivers to teach them the warning signs and the number to report trafficking.

“If they can recognize potential victims when they see it and report it effectively, imagine how many more victims could be recovered,” Kendis Paris, the executive director and co-founder of Truckers Against Trafficking, said.

15 Finds Out road along with a state trooper and the truckers we spoke to were all supportive of learning more about trafficking and helping report it if they saw it.

“They need to understand that, ‘Hey. I'm looking at domestic sex trafficking and I need to stand up and make a call on behalf of this victim,'” Paris said.

While education and awareness are first steps, the real way to put an end to trafficking it to stop buying it.

“We have to teach our young people, boys and girls, that it's not okay to exploit anyone and buying pornography and buying sexual acts is exploitation. Even if you think the person wants to do that, chances are they do not,” Dr. Robyn Eubank, the director of psychological services at the Youth Opportunity Center, said.

An undercover FBI agent in Fort Wayne who focuses on finding and taking down traffickers said it won't stop until people stop consuming.

“If we could get one person who's seeing this [story] to say, ‘I won't do this anymore,' that's one less time the girl they were going to call is going to get raped,” he said.

Indiana Department of Child Services: 1-800-800-5556

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888

National Human Trafficking Resource Center

Indiana Youth Services Association: Human Trafficking

Indiana Trafficking Victim's Assistance Program

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: Child Sex Trafficking


Why the MSM Is Ignoring Trump's Sex Trafficking Busts

by Liz Crokin

Since President Donald Trump has been sworn in on Jan. 20, authorities have arrested an unprecedented number of sexual predators involved in child sex trafficking rings in the United States. This should be one of the biggest stories in the national news. Instead, the mainstream media has barely, if at all, covered any of these mass pedophile arrests. This begs the question – why?

As a strong advocate for sex crime victims, I've been closely following the pedophile arrests since Trump took office. There have been a staggering 1,500-plus arrests in one short month; compare that to less than 400 sex trafficking-related arrests in 2014 according to the FBI. It's been clear to me for awhile that Trump would make human trafficking a top priority. On October 8, 2012, Trump tweeted:

"Got to do something about these missing children grabbed by the perverts. Too many incidents – fast trial, death penalty."

My suspicions were confirmed on Feb. 23 when Trump gave a press conference from the White House addressing how human trafficking is a “dire problem” domestically and internationally. He gave further confirmation when he said: “Dedicated men and women across the federal government have focused on this for some time as you know -- it's been much more focused over the last four weeks.” Trump's press conference was barely a blip in the mainstream media and the massive arrests have been almost completely ignored by the MSM altogether. Here's a rundown of some of the massive sex trafficking rings that have been broken up since Trump took office.

- On Jan. 27 authorities arrested 42 in a human trafficking operation in Tennessee.

- On Jan. 29 authorities announced that 474 were arrested in a statewide California human trafficking operation and 28 sexually exploited children were rescued.

- 108 were arrested from Jan. 18 to Feb. 5 in Illinois as part of a national sex trafficking sting operation.

- 178 people were arrested in Texas for sex trafficking in sting that operated in January till Super Bowl Sunday.

- 16 people were arrested in January in Michigan for sex trafficking during the Detroit Auto Show.

- In February, authorities arrested 11 in Virginia in a child sex sting.

- On Feb. 14 the Polk County sheriff announced that 42 were arrested in Florida in child pornography related cases.

As the MSM has ignored these historical arrests, they have zeroed in on casting conservative icon Milo Yiannopoulos as a monster. They claim he supports pedophilia based on comments he made in a video years ago. The reality is Milo was a victim of child sex abuse, and although he did joke about his abuse in an interview, he in no way promotes pedophilia. The opposite is true, and he addressed this controversy head on in a press conference. Not only is it normal for sex abuse victims to make light of their abuse as a coping mechanism, Milo has personally taken down and exposed pedophiles in his columns over the years

However, the mainstream media and the left ignored this information and demonized Milo. The irony of all this is that the left and MSM have been the biggest proponents of pedophilia. Salon has published articles attempting to normalize pedophilia; however, to maintain their faux outrage over Milo, they deleted them. The face of the very fake news network CNN, Jake Tapper, fired off several tweets condemning Milo. For example, he tweeted:

"My friend, a survivor of sex trafficking: "Milo straight up defended abusing 13 yr old boys...Please don't let that be normalized"

If Tapper is so concerned with sex trafficking, why in the world hasn't he covered the massive sex trafficking arrests that have taken place since Trump took office? It seems he, and many in the leftist media, are only concerned with sex trafficking if it can be used to destroy a conservative.

After the MSM went after Milo, he was disinvited to speak at CPAC and his book deal was pulled. Let's contrast this with one of the left's heroes, Lena Dunham, who was a staunch and vocal Hillary Clinton supporter during her campaign. She got a $3.5 million book deal. In her book, she literally bragged about how she molested her little sister and made false claims that a conservative raped her in college. Has Fake Tapper or anyone in the MSM ever expressed outrage over her? Of course not!

Milo told this column that once one realizes the MSM “cares nothing for real victims and only wants its ideological enemies destroyed, this behavior becomes intelligible. Journalists don't care about children. They care about damaging their political enemies.” Milo is absolutely right. This is why we've heard nothing from the MSM about the mass sex trafficking arrests and this will continue unless a conservative can be targeted.

The good news is that we have a president who genuinely does care about children and he's vowed to make solving the human trafficking epidemic a priority. The recent pedophile arrests are just the tip of the iceberg and, whether Tapper and his ilk in the MSM like it or not, this story will eventually get so big that they will be forced to cover this horrific epidemic that has plagued our country for too damn long.


NAASCA in the news (thank you Trish McKnight)



Hoffman Leading Charge to Crack Down on Human Trafficking of Minors

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In an effort to crack down on criminals that promote the human trafficking of minors, state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, is sponsoring legislation that will increase penalties and extend the statute of limitations for such crimes.

“We need to have serious penalties in place for the perpetrators of these heinous acts,” Hoffman said. “The trauma and suffering felt by the victims of these crimes will last a lifetime, and the fact that a criminal can get off because of a technicality in the law is unconscionable.”

Hoffman’s proposal, House Bill 3629, requires stricter penalties for criminals involved in the human trafficking of minors, creating a mandatory sentence of 25 years. Additionally, the measure being pushed by Hoffman drastically increases the statute of limitations that a charge may be made. Under current law, a minor only has one year after they turn 18 to file charges, Hoffman’s legislation increases that to 25 years.

“Victims of human trafficking are living in unstable environments and do not have the support structures intact to bring charges within a year of turning 18,” said Patricia McKnight, child trafficking survivor and advocate with the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. “We should be doing everything we can to ensure that we are bringing individuals involved with the human trafficking of children to justice, and the way the law is currently written places victims at a disadvantage.”

PRESS RELEASE (pdf file)


White House

Remarks by President Trump at Listening Session on Domestic and International Human Trafficking

Roosevelt Room - Feb 23, 2017

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody, very nice. Nice to see you. Well, I want to thank Dina and Ivanka and everybody for working so hard to set this up. It's been so important to them, and I want to make it clear today that my administration will focus on ending the absolutely horrific practice of human trafficking. And I am prepared to bring the full force and weight of our government to the federal and at the federal level, and the other highest levels, whatever we can do, in order to solve this horrific problem. It's getting worse and it's happening in the United States in addition to the rest of the world, but it's happening in the United States, which is terrible.

Human trafficking is a dire problem, both domestically and internationally, and is one that's made really a challenge. And it's really made possible to a large extent, more of a modern phenomenon, by what's taking place on the Internet, as you probably know. Solving the human trafficking epidemic, which is what it is, is a priority for my administration. We're going to help out a lot. "Solve" is a wonderful word, a beautiful word, but I can tell you, we're going to help a lot.

I'll direct the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies that have a role in preventing human trafficking to take a hard look at the resources and personnel that they're currently devoting to this fight. Now, they are devoting a lot, but we're going to be devoting more.

Dedicated men and women across the federal government have focused on this for some time, as you know. A lot of you have been dealing with the federal government and it's been much more focused over the last four weeks -- I can tell you that. I cannot thank each of you enough, and the dedicated men and women who run my staff and your staffs in getting everybody together was terrific. I was so glad I was able to be here.

You start with really a tremendous amount of energy and blood, sweat and tears. Government can be helpful, but without you, nothing would happen. So, again, I want to thank everybody in this room. It's a very, very terrible problem. It's not talked about enough. People don't know enough about it. And we're going to talk about it, and we're going to bring it out into the open and hopefully we're going to do a great deal to help prevent some of the horrific -- really horrific -- crimes that are taking place.

And I can see -- I really can say, in this country, people don't realize how bad it is in this country, but in this country and all over the world. So thank you all for being here.

Thank you very much.



Bill Cosby's upcoming sex assault trial will hear testimony from one additional accuser

by The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — A judge will let only one other accuser testify at Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial to bolster charges that the actor drugged and molested a woman at his estate near Philadelphia.

The pivotal ruling Friday by a Pennsylvania judge means prosecutors cannot call 12 other women to try to show that the 79-year-old comedian has a history of similar "bad acts."

Cosby is set to go on trial in June over the 2005 complaint by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, who is now a massage therapist in Toronto.

Prosecutors reopened the case in 2015 after newly released court documents showed Cosby admitting he gave drugs and alcohol to young women before sex over a 50-year period.

Prosecutors in suburban Philadelphia had asked the judge to let 13 other women testify, a list they developed after reviewing claims by nearly 50 of the accusers who have come forward in recent years. The defense objected to their testimony, saying the string of old "casting couch" claims are not unique to Cosby and therefore not part of "signature" behavior

Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said he carefully weighed the witnesses' value in providing relevant testimony versus the potential prejudice to Cosby.

The one witness who can testify says she was assaulted by Cosby in 1996 in Los Angeles.

The ruling is one of two key pretrial issues in the case. O'Neill had earlier ruled that jurors could hear Cosby's damaging testimony from Constand's 2005 sexual battery lawsuit. The deposition runs to nearly 1,000 pages and covers a string of Cosby's extramarital affairs and liaisons dating back to the 1960s.

The revelations from the deposition led to scrutiny of the married father of five's treatment of women over the last six decades — from his time as a fledgling comedian to his top-rated turn as Dr. Cliff Huxtable in "The Cosby Show" in the 1980s and beyond.

Cosby's criminal case involves a single encounter with Constand, a former Temple University basketball team employee who has given the media permission to identify her publicly.

She told police he gave her three unmarked pills and then molested her as she drifted in and out of consciousness in early 2004. In a taped conversation with Constand's mother a year later, Cosby described the sex act as "digital penetration" but refused to say what pills he had given her daughter. In his deposition, he said he had feared sounding like "a dirty old man" on the call.

The additional accuser who can testify worked for one of Cosby's agents and had known the entertainer for six years when he invited her to lunch at his bungalow at the Bel Air Hotel to discuss her acting ambitions. She said he was in a robe and slippers when she arrived and offered her wine and a pill that she consumed after he reassured her it was safe. She said she then recalls him sexually assaulting her on his bed.

The defense says she went to the bungalow despite saying she had once rebuffed Cosby's advances before and had no interest in acting.

Among the other accusers who won't be allowed to testify, one said she was an aspiring actress when Cosby assaulted her at a home near Reno, Nevada, in 1984. Another said Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in the late 1960s after befriending her and her 9-year-old son.

Cosby's lawyers had argued that he's a wealthy target for the many women he's met during his time in the limelight. His lawyers have said the accusers were being "paraded" before the media by celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred before their accounts are even vetted by police.

"We have seen a barrage of new accusers claiming, 'Me, too,'" defense lawyer Angela Agrusa said last year, arguing against the "prior bad act" testimony.

Cosby has pleaded not guilty and remains free on $1 million bail. He has attended about a half-dozen court hearings since his Dec. 30, 2015, arrest and is expected in court again Monday to ask that jurors be selected from another county because of pretrial publicity. O'Neill wants to start the trial by June 5.



Worcester groups raise awareness of teen dating violence

by Susan Spencer

WORCESTER - The before and after photos of celebrities examined by a group of Sullivan Middle School girls last week were striking. Minus the Photoshop editing, Kim Kardashian has cellulite, Jennifer Lawrence has curvy thighs as well as noticeable abdominal and arm muscles, and Beyonce has a broader nose and darker skin.

"She looks really white," one student commented about the edited version of Beyonce Knowles, who is African-American.

Maggie Nicholson, a team leader for community-based services at the YWCA, and Jennifer Daly from Girls Inc. led the seventh- and eighth-grade girls in a discussion about media portrayals of women and the pressure - even by doctoring images - to look a certain way.

The Photoshop exercise was part of the Girls Promoting Safety class that the two organizations have offered over the past dozen or so years at the city's middle schools. It is funded by the United Way of Central Massachusetts' Women's Initiative.

Besides learning to recognize social and media pressure, girls talk about what they can do to feel good about themselves, such as writing in their own beauty books about what beauty means to them and replacing negative attitudes with positive affirmation.

"The more we tell ourselves something, the more we believe it," Ms. Nicholson said. "Talk about what we're good at."

It's just one of a yearlong series of exercises designed to prevent violence and help girls develop skills that help them avoid or prevent their involvement with domestic violence.

"All the stuff we do now, research shows it helps prevent dating violence," Ms. Nicholson said.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and several area groups that work with young people highlighted how common the problem is. Social media, with its ability to pressure or shame others, has fueled avenues for dating violence.

Dating violence occurs on a spectrum of controlling, abusive behavior and as with adult domestic violence, can end tragically in injury or death.

One in three girls in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence, according to a report by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency posted on the website.

"It is still one of the more underreported types of violence affecting youth. We know it's a lot more common than it should be," said Jessica L. Griffin, assistant professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at University of Massachusetts Medical School. Ms. Griffin, who has a doctorate in psychology, also is the executive director and principal investigator at the Child Trauma Training Center.

She said, "It has really significant risks on their psychological functioning and their physical health," including sleep disturbances, significant anxiety and depression, and increased drug and alcohol use.

"The prevalence always shocks me, and also how insidious dating abuse starts," Ms. Nicholson said. "When someone is really controlling early in a relationship, it can look like passion and romance."

Kathy Odgren, director of programs at Girls Inc., said one girl in the GPS program disclosed to a friend that she was the victim of sexual assault and learned that others at her school had also been assaulted. "It turned out it was part of a gang initiation," Ms. Odgren said.

She said the curriculum can be adapted to girls' changing needs and local trends.

The definition of dating violence is broad, but according to Ms. Nicholson warning signs include: Any disrespect early on, such as putting a girl down or conversely putting her on an unrealistic pedestal; talking negatively about past partners; disrespecting boundaries such as going through a partner's phone and calling all the time; isolating a girl from her friends or family; and jealousy and moving really quickly in a relationship. Coming from a violent home is a risk factor, but girls learn they don't have to repeat that behavior.

"We're helping them develop confidence. They find it super empowering to talk about these issues," Ms. Nicholson said.

Relationships have changed in the last generation in a major way with the proliferation of social media and young people having smartphones from a very young age.

"What really scares me is they have so much access to social media... that can get them in unsafe situations that they don't even realize," Ms. Odgren said, talking about relationships that develop online with people who aren't who they pretend to be.

Ms. Nicholson added that while social media can provide support, it's very public. "When things go wrong, social media is there to publicize it," she said.

"Images are more pronounced now and our students at this age are so media focused," said Laura A. Murphy, assistant dean of students and director of counseling at Worcester State University.

Social media adds to the pressure to be in a relationship. "Even if it's negative attention, they rationalize it. It's better than nothing," she said.


New Mexico

Lawmakers look to re-write, clarify child abuse laws

by Madeline Schmitt

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) A trio of lawmakers are looking to re-write New Mexico's current child abuse statute, saying it lacks clarity for the different kinds of child abuse.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Antonio Maestas, Rep. Gail Chasey and Rep. Javier Martinez — all Democrats from Albuquerque.

The measure, Rep. Chasey says, would clarify between the different types of child abuse: abandonment, reckless abuse and intentional abuse.

Rep. Chasey says these are very different types of child abuse, but the current law does not support that. For that reason, the New Mexico child abuse statute has been heavily challenged in court, along with many appeals of convictions filed.

“Let's just say…you have your ladder, you're taking down your Christmas ornaments, the kid jumps up on the ladder when you're not watching and he breaks his arm,” she said. “That's a very different case than if you throw the child against the wall and the child breaks his arm.”

Rep. Chasey says the bill, if passed, would make each of these different crimes and their accompanying punishments clear to judges and prosecutors.

She hopes this bill would put a greater focus on the worst cases — intentional child abuse.

Because the measure simply clarifies the law, she believes it will get bipartisan support. The bill does not look to increase the penalties in any way, she says.

Other lawmakers, like Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, are trying to pass legislation to increase child abuse penalties. Rep. Maestas Barnes wants those who intentionally abuse a child resulting in death to go to prison for life — regardless of the child's age.

As the law stands now, a loophole only sends those who intentionally abuse a child younger than 13 to prison when the abuse results in death.



Bill to reduce child abuse introduced to panel

by Seaborn Larson

A bill introduced to the state House Human Service Committee on Wednesday night looks to install a five-year plan that would address the growing child abuse and neglect issue statewide.

Kimberly Dudik, D-Missoula, is sponsoring HB 517, which would require the Department of Public Health and Human Services to form a strategic plan by Aug. 15, 2018. That plan would work to reduce child abuse and neglect statewide over a five-year period.

Dudik told the Tribune while the DPHHS already works to alleviate child abuse and neglect, it has never had a plan mandated by the state Legislature.

“Oklahoma has had such a plan but we haven't seen it in Montana,” she said. “This is geared at having the Legislature say we would like a strategic plan in place to develop this.”

Numbers Dudik used in support of the bill showed child abuse and neglect cases taking leaps in the last six years: 1,030 cases in 2010 jumping to 2,433 in 2016. In Cascade County alone, child abuse and neglect cases climbed from 112 in 2009 to 386 in 2015.

Simultaneously, 230 children were removed from homes in meth-related cases in 2010, compared to 1,050 in 2016.

Dudik said much of the growth in abuse and neglect cases is directly attributed to growing drug use in the state.

“We've really got to get a handle on this in our state to help the next generations of kids growing up here,” she said.

As well as mitigating the factors that cause child abuse and neglect, the plan would look at factors specific to both urban, rural and reservation areas within Montana to quantify cases and attempt to project the case numbers in years ahead. The plan would also examine the effects of abuse and neglect on children, families and society, as well has the developmental issues abuse and neglect leaves on children.

The plan would bring several agencies together in order to compile the information, including the Montana children's trust fund, state advisory council for child and family services, the governor's Montana Kids Commission, tribal communities, juvenile courts, law enforcement and others.

Laura Smith, deputy director of the DPHHS, said the bill would mandate agencies come together for the plan.

“This brings really unique expertise to the table and breaks down silos on a critical issue,” she said before the committee.

Representatives from the U.S. Supreme Court, Montana Association of Christians, Montana Protect Kids Commission and a youth services organizations also testified in support of the bill. No opponents spoke against it.

Currently, the fiscal note attached to the bill requests $18,000 in total expenditures to develop the plan, although Dudik on Wednesday said that number may change. Dudik told the Tribune Thursday that the number is adjustable to the funding appropriated to the DPHHS this year, and the plan will likely be developed if the bill is amended to request no funding at all.

“It was depending on how much of their funding was going to be cut, but some of it was restored,” Dudik said. “Nonetheless, (Smith) is confident the DPHHS can do this within the timeframe given to them.”

Smith confirmed this in her testimony Wednesday night.

“It is important and we will make it a priority,” Smith told the committee.

If the measure passes, the DPHHS would deliver the plan to the children, families, health and human services interim committee and the legislative finance committee prior to the 2019 session.

The House Human Services committee will look to take executive action in the coming weeks. The next hearing is not yet scheduled.



Cops: 4 charged with neglect in death of boy, 9, who weighed less than 15 pounds

by CBS News

TERRE HAUTE, Ind.-- Four people have been arrested in the death of 9-year-old Indiana boy with cerebral palsy who authorities say was malnourished and neglected.

Cameron R. Hoopingarner was blind and weighed less than 15 pounds when officers found him Tuesday at a home near Fontanet, 60 miles west of Indianapolis, Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing said. The officers were responding to a 911 call about a child in cardiac arrest.

Cameron was pronounced dead at a hospital.

“In my 26 years in this office, the pictures that I saw of Cameron and his condition were terrible, beyond terrible,” Ewing said.

State police and sheriff's officials arrested four people who live at the home, including the child's two guardians, Hubert A. Kraemer, 56, and 53-year-old Robin Lee Kraemer, who are charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death and neglect of a dependent. If convicted of neglect leading to death, they could each face up to 40 years in prison.

Their son Chad Allen Kraemer, 33, and his girlfriend Sarah Beth Travioli, 30, are charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death, neglect of a dependent and failure to report child neglect.

Chad Kramer protested his arrest saying “This ain't right! This ain't right!” while being led back to the Vigo County Jail following his initial court appearance Thursday afternoon.

The four are being held in the Vigo County jail with bonds of $250,000.



Yes, Childhood Sexual Abuse Often Does Contribute to Homosexuality

by Michael Brown

What do Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, George Takei, and Milo Yiannopoulos have in common? They are all out and proud gay men, and they were all sexually abused as underage minors. Sadly, this is an extremely common occurrence, as there is frequently a connection between childhood sexual abuse and adult homosexuality.

To say such a thing, of course, is to invite a hailstorm of fierce criticism and ridicule: “You bigoted homophobe! These men were born gay, not made gay, and their sexuality is a gift from God, not the result of sexual abuse. Plus, there are plenty of gay men who were never abused and plenty of straight men who were abused as boys and never turned gay.”

Putting the name-calling aside, there is some truth to these statements.

Not all gay men were molested as boys (since there are multiple causes for homosexuality) and not all boys who are molested turn out gay (probably because they were less predisposed towards homosexuality). Still, it cannot be denied that a disproportionately high number of gay men were abused as boys, and that certainly contributed to their sexual and emotional development.

That's why it was no surprise when Dr. Robert Epstein, the pro-gay editor-in-chief of Psychology Today , noted that gay readers who were upset with an ad that ran in his publication in 2002 sent him letters asserting “that gays have a right to be rude or abusive because they themselves have been abused” (this obviously included being sexually abused).

And that's why it was no surprise when a 2009 report prepared for a bisexual health summit revealed that 74 percent of bisexuals had been sexually abused as children. (For other studies focusing specifically on the connection between childhood sexual abuse and homosexuality, see here .)

As for the notion that people are born gay, not only would that suggest that infants can relate to the concepts of sexual and romantic attraction (which they obviously cannot), but it would also ignore the fact that our upbringing and environment have profound effects on us. Why deny such an obvious reality?

It is well-known that the children of alcoholics have a much higher chance of becoming alcoholics than the general population, and this cannot be blamed on genetics alone. As stated by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Genes are not the only things children inherit from their parents. How parents act and how they treat each other and their children has an influence on children growing up in the family. These aspects of family life also affect the risk for alcoholism.”

In the same way, it is well-known that men who were abused as children are much more likely than the average population to abuse other children as adults. As summarized in a 2001 article in the British Journal of Psychology , “Among 747 males the risk of being a perpetrator was positively correlated with reported sexual abuse victim experiences. . . . A high percentage of male subjects abused in childhood by a female relative became perpetrators. Having been a victim was a strong predictor of becoming a perpetrator, as was an index of parental loss in childhood.”

But again, none of this should surprise us in the least, since the environment in which we are raised, especially if coupled with major, traumatic childhood experiences, has a profound effect on our ongoing mental and emotional and social development.

Yet when it comes to homosexuality, it is taboo to connect childhood sexual abuse with subsequent gay identity since: 1) this would contradict the “born gay” myth; and 2) it would underscore the fact that homosexual attractions are not natural and positive.

As explained candidly by the lesbian feminist and academic Camille Paglia, “Every single gay person I know has some sort of drama going on, back in childhood. Something was happening that we're not allowed to ask about anymore.” (She was speaking of bad relationships with parents as well as sexual abuse or other factors.)

In keeping with this, all the professional counselors I have spoken with (including trained pastors and psychologists or psychiatrists) have told me that the vast number of gays they have counseled were sexually abused as minors (some told me this was the case in every instance they encountered).

You might say, “But gays hardly have a monopoly on this. What about the problem of heterosexual schoolteachers having sex with their students, especially female teachers with male students?”

But you miss the point, since: 1) we all agree that this is terrible and abusive; and 2) most of us would agree that such relationships have the real potential of negatively affecting that child's sexual and emotional development. Yet when it comes to gay men who were molested as boys, we're told this did not contribute to their (homo)sexual development. More disturbingly, in gay circles, such relationships are often looked at as positive and nurturing, since, it is surmised, the boy was already aware of his same-sex attraction and the older man served as a mentor of sorts.

In the words of Harry Hay, the gay icon and founder of the American gay movement, “If the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world.”

You can be assured that such relationships would often become sexual, thereby providing the entry point into the larger homosexual “lifestyle.” (For other quotes from Hay, see here.)

Similarly, the renowned gay activist Larry Kramer opined, “In those cases where children do have sex with their homosexual elders... I submit that often, very often, the child desires the activity, and perhaps even solicits it, either because of a natural curiosity... or because he or she is homosexual and innately knows it. ... And unlike girls or women forced into rape or traumatized, most gay men have warm memories of their earliest and early sexual encounters; when we share these stories with each other, they are invariably positive ones.”

That's why “man-boy love” has been celebrated in homosexual culture through the centuries, that's why there's a page listing “Historical pederastic couples” on a gay Wikipedia site, and that's why George Takei could speak glowingly of his first sexual encounter at the age of 13 (with a 19-year-old male camp counselor), at a time when he admits he didn't know he was gay.

In this light, the outrageous statement by philosopher Michael Foucalt, arguing for lowering the age of consent, doesn't sound as outrageous: “It is quite difficult to lay down barriers [particularly since] it could be that the child, with his own sexuality, may have desired the adult.”

Ah yes, it was the child asking for it again. This too is sickening beyond words.

The reality is that children, especially pre-teens and young teens, are tremendously impressionable and malleable, as confirmed by this account shared by a Christian family activist (reflecting on his pre-Christian youth): “When I was about 14 or 15, I spent an afternoon smoking pot with a ‘gay' guy in his 20's who explained that young people during puberty have a very fluid sexual identity and how easy it had been for him to turn young teen boys into sex partners. . . . A confirming study I later saw said 25% of young teens suffer same-sex confusion but most grow out of it naturally by the end of adolescence.”

Ex-gay Robert Lopez, raised by his mother and her lesbian partner, had this to say: “In a society soaked in porn where sexual orientation is discussed openly in front of small children, there will certainly be 12- and 13-year-olds who think they want sex and think they are ready for it. When we discuss ‘gay identity' with 6th graders, which is very common, what are we discussing? We are talking about sexual acts. Perhaps people need to stand up and resist the Human Rights Campaign's recent push to force such curricula on elementary and middle schools.”

It is truly distasteful to speak of such things, but speak about them we must, given the ever-increasing scope of gay activism, especially in our children's schools. And with the terribly painful issue of childhood sexual abuse coming to the fore in recent days, let's use this as a teachable moment.

We can do this by: 1) being on the lookout for signs that our own children may have been abused; 2) refusing to allow our kids to be experimental pawns in the culture wars, because of which we strongly oppose sex-based LGBT curricula in the schools; and 3) no longer denying the common connection between childhood sexual abuse and adult homosexuality, thereby providing a path for healing and wholeness.

By doing these things, we will not only make this a teachable moment, we will make it a redemptive one.



Kentucky Senator re-files "Erin's Law"


FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - Senate Democratic Floor Leader Ray S. Jones II, D-Pikeville, has re-filed a bill that would allow Kentucky schools to educate children on sexual abuse in a child friendly manner.

Senate Bill 250, which would be named Erin's Law after a victim of child sexual abuse, would allow the Kentucky Department of Education to develop an educational program on detecting child physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect and how to report suspected abuse.

“Child abuse is on the rise in Kentucky and we have to step in,” said Senator Jones.

Erin Merryn, the bill's namesake, is a child sexual abuse survivor who advocates getting Erin's Law in every state and at the federal level. At 6 ½, Erin was raped by an adult male and later was sexually abused by an older male cousin.

Erin said she was never educated on what to do or who to tell. Her goal in getting Erin's Law passed is to help other victims and the people around them recognize abuse and know where to seek help.

Senator Jones has the same goal. “One in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday,” Jones said. “Ninety percent of the time, the child knows the abuser. This often keeps the child from turning to the parent. They are alone in trying to determine between a good touch and a bad touch or in dealing with their fear of repercussion for reaching out for help.”

Erin's Law would allow schools to have age-appropriate education programs about recognizing and reporting abuse, which would prevent more children from becoming victims, Jones added.

Erin's Law has already been passed in 26 other states.



Child sexual abuse and psycho-social well being in adulthood

by Jibril Abdulmalik

Childhood sexual abuse is a very widespread problem that is unfortunately, associated with stigma, shame and a tendency to secretly push under the carpet. Thus, in most instances, it often goes unreported. The family may also wish to avoid the societal stigma and public humiliation if it were to become common knowledge. All of these factors act independently and in tandem to ensure that we hardly ever hear about these cases, even though they may be happening right under our noses.

But this culture of silence and secrecy is unhelpful. On the one hand, it results in a situation where perpetrators often go scot-free; they escape sanctions as well as public ridicule and humiliation for their actions.

Whereas, the burden of shame and the emotional turmoil and scars are borne by the young, and innocent survivors (and their families) for the rest of their lives. What are the emotional consequences for such people who have had these experiences? How can we help?

Low self-esteem and confidence

Individuals who have had such experiences often feel they are somehow ‘damaged' and not like others. Thus, they may suffer from low self-esteem and be lacking in self-confidence. Or they may constantly feel weak and vulnerable. Such perceptions are wrong and should be countered. The reality is that they are ‘survivors' who have every reason to hold their heads high because they were able to withstand the adversity and cruelty of the adult perpetrators and they still have their entire life ahead of them. They need to stop looking back, or at best, do so only to the extent of taking away some lessons from the experience. But, they should be forward-looking, with optimism and work towards achieving their dreams and goals.

Trust and relationships issues

In nine out of every 10 cases, the perpetrator is usually a known and trusted adult who may be family (including household staff such as drivers, gatemen e.t.c.), a teacher, a neighbour or religious personality. So, a relationship of trust and safety was turned on its head and replaced with fear, hurt, threats and intimidation. The sense of betrayal is usually very strong, leading to a lifetime of difficulties with trusting others.

This usually has ramifications for their ability to develop emotional relationships, leading up to marriage. And even where they succeed in getting married, the past experience may continually colour their perceptions and negatively affect their relationships or quality of marriage.

Emotional turmoil and uncertainty

Childhood sexual abuse often results in confusion and several unresolved questions for the child. Why is he doing this to me? But my parents tell me that there is a God who watches over us all? Why didn't my parents protect me? Who can I talk to? Was it my fault? Did I do something wrong? Should I be angry at myself? My parents? The perpetrator? Everyone? So, an admixture of feelings of guilt, shame, fear, anger, and despair may persist with such ‘survivors' for the rest of their lives.

Mental health challenges in adulthood

Survivors are prone to experiencing depression, anxiety and have difficulties with relationships. Some people may indulge in self destructive behaviours such as turning to alcohol and drugs; self-loathing and chaotic sexual lifestyles. Some may exhibit suicidal tendencies.

Have you experienced sexual abuse as a child?

First, no matter what, the abuse was not your fault. It's never too late to start healing from this experience. The entire spectrum of possible consequences listed above, are the negative and traumatic reactions. However, they do not occur to each and everyone who has experienced it. Some may have only a few or none of these negative consequences, and may have successfully turned the corner.

However, if you are still having some of these challenges, you may need to seek professional help from a mental health professional. But be rest assured that with help, you can successfully put it behind you, rebuild your life and go on to enjoy a successful and fulfilling life. You are a gallant ‘survivor' despite the odds.

How can I help a friend with these experiences?

Do not be judgemental or dismissive about their feelings. Avoid statements such as “its being almost 20 years now, so just forget it”. Show empathy, and let them know that you are always there for them. Emphasise that it is not their fault and they should not blame themselves. Constantly check in on them and be a cheer leader for them. Be patient as these symptoms are likely to be long term and may infrequently rise to the surface. Do not become exasperated. However, if you feel symptoms are severe enough, consider seeing a mental health professional.


Washington D.C.


Montgomery leads the way on prosecuting child abuse

CASES INVOLVING the deaths of very young children are not easy to prosecute. There usually are no witnesses, the medical information is often complicated, emotions are fraught, and it is always hard to believe that anyone — least of all those whose care the child has been placed in — would want to cause harm. So a trio of convictions in child deaths won by Montgomery County prosecutors over the past year is noteworthy, underscoring State's Attorney John McCarthy's priority in combating crimes against society's most helpless.

“Trevor would have been 8 years old, he would have been in second grade. He would have had a joyful life. But now there are only tears and sadness and a void that his death left behind,” Assistant State's Attorney Debbie Feinstein told the jury that this month found day-care provider Gail Dobson guilty of second-degree murder in the Sept. 3, 2009, death of 9-month-old Trevor Ulrich. It was the second time the Eastern Shore woman had been found guilty; an earlier conviction was overturned on the grounds of ineffective counsel, and the case became ensnared in an ongoing debate over the validity of Shaken Baby Syndrome and abusive head trauma.

Montgomery prosecutors, who took over the case because of conflicts by Talbot County officials, used Ms. Dobson's conviction — along with the convictions in Montgomery last year of Moussa Sissoko (sentenced to life in prison with all but 50 years suspended for killing his infant son for $750,000 in insurance) and Adou Louis Kouadio (sentenced to 40 years in the murder of his 2-month-old son) — to make critical points: that dynamic head movement and impact can do great damage to young brains and those who might suggest otherwise do a great disservice.

Junk science” was Mr. McCarthy's characterization as he pointed out that the experts who “supposedly should have been called” in Ms. Dobson's first trial were not allowed to testify in the second trial because they failed to meet the legal standard.

The possibility always exists that a person could be wrongly accused in a child's death because of sloppy work by investigators or medical personnel. But testimony in Ms. Dobson's case detailed the painstaking process — including the work of experts at Children's National Medical Center — used to determine the cause of death and how investigators looked for other causes and tried to rule out abuse. The resources that Mr. McCarthy's office has devoted to investigation of child abuse and deaths — including Ms. Feinstein's development into a national expert — set a model that other jurisdictions should follow.



Leaders of religious Alabama boot camp get 20 years in prison for child abuse

by Prescotte Stokes III

All three leaders of the religious Alabama boot camp Saving Youth Foundation for troubled teens were given 20 year prison sentences for their role in the child abuse incurred on children under their care.

Mobile Circuit Court Judge Charles Graddick issued the sentences in front of a filled to capacity courtroom on Wednesday morning.

The leader of the church, Pastor John David Young, 55, received a 20 year sentence to be served concurrently for each of the five counts of aggravated child abuse he faced.

The other school leaders, boys' instructor William Knott, 48, and girls' instructor Aleshia Moffett, 42, both received 20 year sentences to be served concurrently for each of the three counts of aggravated child abuse imposed by state prosecutors.

Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood recommended a 20 year sentence before Judge Graddick gave his ruling. He said that he feels justice has been served for the teens whose lives were forever changed by the treatment at the church.

Some potential witnesses attempted suicide.

"Whatever their intentions were when they started turned into something completely reprehensible and these children were horribly abused and a 20 year sentence is appropriate in this case," said Blackwood.

During the sentencing, Judge Graddick said that if the defendants had taken the initial 10-year sentence offered by the district attorney's office he may have considered their lawyers recommendations for probation or a diversion program. But, after hearing the horrific testimony about the treatment from several teens that were part of the program he felt differently.

"I can't imagine being a child and being taken from my home in the middle of the night, shackled and transported across the country and being forced to work," said Graddick. "Some of the testimony seemed more in line with the treatment we've heard done to inmates in Guantanamo Bay."

Family members and parishioners of the church stormed out of the courtroom after the ruling.

"No, I don't want to talk to you all now," said one woman to reporters in tears. "All the time we were trying to do something good for those children you all never came."

HEAL Alabama, Coordinator, Capt. Charles Kennedy was present for the trial and sentencing. He was one of the first to witness the treatment of the teens after a parent brought the issue to his office in June of 2011.

"As an Alabamian this insulted me," said Kennedy. "We can't say anything about third world countries when we are allowing this kind of thing to happen here everyday."

The defense attorneys for each defendant told Judge Graddick they plan to file a written notice of appeal for today's ruling.



Experts talk child sexual abuse, justice, lasting effects

by Makinizi Hoover

There were 13 arrests for child rape in Athens-Clarke County in 2016.

The discussion of child sexual abuse is prevalent in Athens as February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and the Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation (CEASE) Clinic conference recently took place.

Several Athens organizations are working to combat this issue by bringing justice to perpetrators or tools for recovery to survivors. The Wilbanks CEASE Clinic represents victims of child sexual abuse in civil lawsuits, while also serving as a teaching center for UGA School of Law students.

According to Meredith Gardial, it is the first and only clinic of its kind in the nation.

Another local organization, The Cottage, is a sexual assault and children's advocacy center that works to raise awareness and help the individuals, families and communities of those affected by sexual violence.

With the 13 arrests for child rape and four child abuse cases in 2016, as reported by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, these organizations are fundamental.

According to Kevin McMurry, a senior prosecutor who spoke at the CEASE conference, one in five girls and one in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.

For the survivors of child sexual abuse, the incident has long-lasting effects on their lives. Victims are more likely to abuse drugs, have personality disorders and engage in potentially risky sexual behavior.

The disconnect

Although there are daily reports of child abuse in the media, much of the suffering remains undisclosed, which makes prevention, treatment and justice nearly impossible.

Dr. Julie Medlin, a mental health doctor specializing in child sexual abuse cases, said that she sees a lot of Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) cases. However, most have not been prosecuted, which puts survivors at risk for further psychological problems.

“Most people who have been sexual abused experience some time of emotional, behavior or sexual problem. Counseling can help them work through those problems and the trauma caused by the sexual abuse,” Medlin said.

Ross Cheit, a professor at Brown University, said this issue is partially due to the statutes of limitations many states currently have. He said he believes they should be completely removed for child sexual abuse cases.

“Defense lawyers would be horrified but nobody's horrified that there's not statutes of limitations for murder. In one way, this is soul murder,” Cheit said.

In July 2015, House Bill 17, also known as the Hidden Predator Act, was passed in Georgia extending the statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse until July 2017.

Following this bill, Marlan Wilbanks began working with Peter “Bo” Rutledge, Dean of UGA's School of Law, to extend rights and protections to the victims of child sexual abuse and their families by creating the Wilbanks CEASE Clinic.

“There was a victim of child sexual abuse in my family and when I became a lawyer, I saw that the legal system wasn't doing enough to help those victims," Wilbanks said.

Cheit said that while all states have eliminated the requirement of evidence beyond a personal statement, most prosecutors will not take a case without further proof because juries want more than the testimony of a child.

“That's not really a law problem, it's a society problem,” Cheit said.

Ashley Willcott, previous director of Office of the Child Advocate, said that despite these national impediments, Georgia leads the country in a lot of respects around child abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.

“In terms of safeguards, the due process concerns and the prosecution of adults who are committing these offenses, Georgia does some outstanding work,” Willcott said.

Athens in action

Meredith Gardial, post-graduate fellow for Wilbanks CEASE clinic, said that while many victims never get the justice they deserve, it is not because the resources do not exist.

“We believe that if we educate people about those resources that survivors are going to have more availability and ultimately more justice,” Gardial said.

The Cottage provides resources to victims such as the service of a forensic interview, free therapy and support groups for survivors and their parents.

In 2016, it saw 220 cases for children who were victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse or witnessed murder or violence in their homes.

Dr. Medlin said that counseling is a crucial part of helping victims work through the trauma caused by the sexual abuse such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, sexual problems, depression, anxiety or relationship problems.

Another key component in helping survivors is how others respond to them. If people believe and support them, they are much more likely to process the abuse in a healthy way and tend to be more successful later in life.

“It's important that we empower children with the knowledge that it's their body and they need to tell if they feel like someone is violating their boundaries,” Dr. Medlin said.

She explained that depending upon the study, statistics show that children who are sexually abused are two to 13 times more likely to be victimized as adults. By working to empower children, it may aid in preventing future abuse as well.

Starting the conversation

“[Child sexual abuse] is a problem that not only exists, but is growing. Sexual trafficking is increasing. The growth of pornography through the internet is increasing—and these things put our children at risk,” Wilbanks said.

Awareness is fundamental in helping the community gain a more widespread understanding of the issues surrounding child sexual abuse.

“It's incumbent on each of us to talk and to be aware of it, to believe it can happen, and report it,” Dr. Medlin said.

With many organizations on campus devoted to raising awareness for sex trafficking and campus rape, UGA is becoming a more informed campus about these issues.

“Sexual exploitation is a very sobering injustice. We raise awareness by sharing the message that there is true freedom to be found, and we are ready to fight for it here at Georgia,” said Maggie O'Brien, an awareness director for Free the Girls, an on-campus organization that helps women rescued from sex trafficking.

Considering the younger generation consists of the future lawyers, teachers, politicians and parents, informing students now is a good enough time as any.

“Sometimes you're all that stands in between the perpetrator and the next victim. Whatever piece you play, it makes a difference,” McMurry said.



Greece charges cleric with child refugees' sexual abuse

Police arrest 52-year-old French accused of molesting unaccompanied refugee minors after offering them food and shelter.

by Teo Kermeliotis

Greek police say they have arrested a French cleric suspected of sexually abusing unaccompanied refugee children he had sheltered in his house in Thessaloniki, Greece's second-biggest city.

The 52-year-old man, who belongs to the Franciscan Church of France, allegedly molested four homeless Pakistani boys, aged 14 to 18.

The children, who had been sleeping rough around Thessaloniki's main railway station, told police officials that they accepted to stay at the man's home in January after he had offered to provide them with food and housing.

"When questioned, the children said they suffered repeated and persistent sexual abuse by the man," a police spokeswoman told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

"They say that he took advantage of the fact that they were homeless and without food to sexually abuse them."

The alleged abuse came to light after the boys fled the man's house and one of them found refuge in a Thessaloniki centre for vulnerable migrants.

There, he revealed the abuse to the centre's staff, who contacted police.

Following a search on Tuesday at the man's house in the Toumba area of the northern city, police seized six hard drives and one USB stick, as well as dozens of tablets that fall under the Greek law on addictive substances.

Police on Wednesday said that the French cleric, who has been living in Greece for 12 years, has been charged with sexual abuse and possession and use of drugs.

Three of the boys are currently staying in centres run by NGOs, while one is living at the Diabata refugee camp, according to police.

'Entirely unprotected'

More than 62,000 refugees and migrants are currently stranded in Greece owing to a wave of European border closures and a controversial deal between the EU and Turkey in March 2016.

When the borders closed last year, more than 2,500 children, many of whom had not been registered as unaccompanied, were trapped in Greece, according to Lora Pappa, the head of METAdrasi, a charity working with unaccompanied minors in the country.

"Currently, despite the big efforts that have taken place, more than 1,200 children remain trapped outside facilities in very difficult conditions - on the Greeks islands or in camps," Pappa told Al Jazeera.

"Sad cases, like the one in Thessaloniki, happen when there is no system of checks in place," she said.

For hundreds of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors in Greece, life is full of risk and uncertainty.

Those who officially register with Greek authorities are taken by police. Despite being entitled to protection, they often find themselves facing prolonged arbitrary detention in custody and abusive treatment.

"This is very problematic ... and often forces many of them to lie to authorities about their age to avoid staying in poor and degrading conditions," Eva Cosse, Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera.

For these children, alone in a foreign country without a parent or an adult responsible for their care, sexual abuse is just one of the many dangers they face.

"These are children who are entirely unprotected. They sleep rough, lack access to education and are exposed to sexual abuse, human trafficking and black labour," Cosse said.

"Greece needs to revise its entire system and services to protect unaccompanied migrant and asylum seeking children."



Training helps adults protect children from sexual abuse

by Emily Wenger

MUSCATINE, Iowa — According to the "Stewards of Children" childhood sexual abuse training, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

The Muscatine Community Y, with grant assistance from Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, hopes to reduce such tragedies through training programs for adults like the one held at the Y Wednesday afternoon.

"We just hope to work our way through the community and the more people who get trained to protect children the more it benefits the entire community," said Diana Broderson, family program services director at the Y, who also is the mayor of Muscatine.

Broderson and Holly Brugman, the family program services assistant director, are trained to provide instruction on "Stewards of Children," an evidence-based childhood sexual abuse prevention program. The two-hour class teaches adults ways to eliminate or reduce the potential of abuse, how to recognize warning signs in children, and ways to intervene to help the child.

"Every single child that is saved from this is a win," Broderson said. "So we are happy to provide this training so that everybody knows what to watch for, knows how to report suspicions, knows how to react to a child, and knows what kind of policies and procedures to put into place to prevent this happening to a child."

The training is free and offered in Muscatine County five or six times a year, Broderson said.



Matt Sandusky helps kick off 'pioneering' effort for male victims of sexual abuse

by Christine Vendel

SPRINGETTSBURY--For boys who have been sexually abused, the obstacles to disclosing the abuse can seem overwhelming.

Visiting a treatment center devoted to female victims can add to the feelings of estrangement. That's why Turning Point, a York-based counseling and advocacy center, recently opened a men's center to ensure male victims are as comfortable seeking treatment as female victims.

Matt Sandusky, who has accused his adopted father of sexually abusing him over many years, agreed to serve on Turning Point's advisory board as part of his efforts to combat child sexual abuse. He appeared at the counseling center Wednesday night at a kickoff event for the men's center and his image will be featured on billboards to bring awareness to child sexual abuse and the treatment center.

"It takes men and boys longer in life to even disclose so if we have services in places like Turning Point available to them at a younger age then hopefully we get to them quicker and we know that healing is possible."

Sandusky called the focus on male victims "pioneering."

"Other places around--not only our state of Pennsylvania but across the country-- will look at something like this where we're making it a priority for males to receive help as well."

The center at 2100 E. Market Street launched the expansion with help from a three-year, $230,000 grant from the Victims of Crime Act. Males age 14 and older can seek help at the center.

As a male survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Sandusky said he wrestled with doubts about coming forward with his own story four years ago.

"Will people say I'm gay?" he said. "Will I be believed? Will people think I'm an abuser because I was abused?"

The doubts can make it seem better for victims to keep their mouths shut, Sandusky said. But children who get treatment early can recover more quickly and with less collateral damage in their lives.

In his own life, Sandusky said trying to suppress his abuse caused problems with relationships, prompted self-destructive behavior and even damaged his parenting style: He was reluctant to show his children physical affection because his abuser had perverted normal behaviors such as touching and tickling.

"Because of the abuse, it became an ugly thing," he said. "We're all ticking time-bombs and you don't know when you're going to explode. Or turn to drugs and alcohol. Even I didn't understand fully what was going on until I got into therapy."

Weekly therapy has helped tremendously, Sandusky said.

"It's an important message that we are saying to survivors: You are going to be okay. You can recover."

Sandusky and his wife started their own national nonprofit, the Peaceful Hearts Foundation, which is dedicated to helping child sexual abuse victims and finding cutting-edge ways to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Prevention starts by talking to children at a young age about their body parts and the correct terminology. It extends with continuing conversations to convince children that they are in charge of their bodies and they should stop and report any unwanted touching anywhere on their body, not just in private areas.

"Through grooming behaviors, by the time abusers get to the private areas, it's already too late," Sandusky said.

Educating adults to recognize signs of abuse and avoid stigmatizing behaviors is also key to preventing child sexual abuse, he said.

"Parents think, 'If it happens to my child, they would report it," he said. "But we should be paying attention and we should be the ones to report it."

Kristen Pfautz Woolley opened Turning Point in 2012 as a way to "pay it forward" after benefitting from therapy for her own childhood abuse at the hands of a family friend. The center has treated male patients privately before, but its original mission was for teenage girls and women. Woolley he said her team saw the need to redecorate, expand services and create an advisory board to better welcome and accommodate male victims. The men's center represents a shift in their mission.

Other advisory board members for the men's center include: Delilah Rumberg CEO of Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Dr. David Turkewitz chief of pediatrics of Wellspan.

To learn more about Turning Point Men's Counseling & Advocacy Center, please visit



Delhi Police Is Trying To Shatter The Stigma Around Child Sexual Abuse With This Unusual Play

Breaking the silence.

by Sonam Joshi

A woman recalls how her father forced her to travel with her cousin brother, who sexually abused her at night despite her repeated protests. Another girl reflects on how even as an adult, she is unable to connect with her partner in bed because of the emotional trauma of childhood abuse. A third recollects how she gave up dancing after her mother slapped her for wearing a provocative costume and so 'encouraging' the man who abused her.

These aren't scenes from a film. They are real-life stories of five women from Bengaluru recounting their experiences of childhood sexual abuse in front of an audience in a play. Called called "Positively Shameless", it aims to break the taboo surrounding child sexual abuse and use the stories as a tool to start a conversation with the audience.

Directed by Bengaluru-based drama therapist and psychologist Maitri Gopalakrishna and theatre and dance practitioner Shabari Rao, "Positively Shameless" is a devised theatre performance that grew out of a 12-week drama therapy process conducted by Gopalakrishna during her PhD at Mumbai's Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 2015. All the performers are adult women survivors, who narrate and enact their own stories, but the play also talks about issues that are common to all of them, such as the effect of abuse on their body image, relationships and sexuality. While a lot of the play is autobiographical, the directors edited and dramatised certain sections. So far, the group has held seven performances, many of them been sold out.

This unusual play was recently presented by the Delhi Police as part of its annual Delhi Police Week celebrations, in front of an audience of school and college principals and students, as well as NGO workers. Rao admits that she was initially surprised when the Delhi Police approached and invited them to perform the play. "We didn't think that this was the kind of play they would be looking for because we don't have a moralistic tone and it isn't about advocacy," Rao said. "It is based on real stories."

Far from being educational, preachy or advocacy-oriented, the play looks at the complex web of social issues -- gender, patriarchy, consent and familial complicity in dealing with childhood abuse by an acquaintance or relative. "It points out that child sexual abuse is not just a problem of the person who has suffered it or perpetrated it but something that concerns us all," Rao told HuffPost India . "It talks about social complicity. That's the challenge that the play throws to the audience. At one point, one of the actors asks the audience, 'Do you see your role in this?'"

After the hour-long play has been performed, the team uses the stories to draw the audience into a discussion on child sexual abuse. Since the play is rooted in the experiences of these five women, it is far from being all-encompassing. For instance, it does not have any male characters or talk about child sexual abuse faced by boys. Yet, it is an honest and nuanced portrayal of an issue that is rarely talked about.

The play was called "Positively Shameless" to reclaim the shame associated with child sexual abuse, says the director. "There is shame and blame associated with child sexual abuse. We want wanted to turn that around and reclaim it. What is it to be shameless in a good way, to display our talent, intelligence and strength?" Rao said. In one scene, the actors discuss how they identify neither with the term victim or survivor. "It is as if all we've done is survive. Yet, we are impacted not disabled," an actor reflects.

For the Delhi Police, the play was an experimental but important first step towards talking about child sexual abuse. "We were introducing a new subject so we wanted to break the mould," Additional DCP Manishi Chandra said. "It should be provocative enough to shake people up and stimulate critical thinking." According to Chandra, apart from the umbrella awareness and implementation of the child sexual abuse laws, nothing specific had been devised on the issue yet.

Delhi Police's most successful initiative so far for child sexual abuse is a programme called Operation Nirbheek. Started in 2015 in North-East Delhi, it educates students of colleges and schools, and enables them to file anonymous written complaints through letter drop-boxes. Its success prompted the police to extend it to all the districts in the Indian capital. Yet, the recent case of a Delhi tailor who assaulted 500 girls demonstrates that there many loopholes persist.

For Chandra, the play's most significant achievement is in changing the way the way the police force thinks about these issues. "Five women took decades to gather the courage to speak out. Child sexual abuse is not just a policing issue, it is also about sensitising people," Chandra said. "With every initiative, our (the police's) awareness is also growing and we are learning from it too."

At the end of the performance in Delhi, a police officer went up to the stage and spoke of how the play had affected him and the need to acknowledge childhood sexual abuse. "In this room, half of us have suffered child sexual abuse," he said, "and half of us have done it."


United Kingdom

Young victims of crime ‘still not believed despite Rotherham and Savile scandals'

by The Yorkshire Post

Have your say Children are not being taken seriously when they report violent and sexual crimes despite the recent inquiries into the Rotherham and Jimmy Savile abuse scandals, the Government's victims tsar has warned.

Criminal justice agencies are at risk of failing youngsters who feel they are being let down by the system that is meant to protect them, according to Baroness Newlove.

The Victims' Commissioner today publishes a review which finds that children and teenagers are made to feel like criminals themselves, accused of wasting police time or simply not believed. Citing previous inquiries into the Rotherham and Jimmy Savile abuse scandals, the report says: “It seems that lessons are still not being learnt about believing young victims when they come forward and taking them seriously.” Twelve girls aged between nine and 17, or their parents, were interviewed about the handling of reports of sexual or violent crimes. Many of the children and their families did not feel they were treated with “dignity and respect”, with some feeling they were not believed nor taken seriously because of their age, the report found.

They described feeling as if they had to “prove themselves”, with one reporting that she felt like “a test subject - a monkey in a cage to be prodded”.Many of the youngsters who took part in the review felt they were not believed by police, social workers, teachers or by society as a whole and would be reluctant to report a crime if anything happened to them in the future.

Participants were also frustrated at a lack of information about the progress of their case, and on the whole they did not receive or were not informed about all of their entitlements under the Victims' Code. In one rape case a teenage girl was interviewed by male officers on three separate occasions despite asking for a woman officer each time, according to the report. Baroness Newlove said: “These children and young victims feel let down by the system that is meant to protect them. It is time attitudes towards them were changed.“I want to see agencies working together to make sure young and vulnerable victims feel supported through the criminal justice process.

“They deserve to be taken seriously, for their allegations to be thoroughly investigated and to be treated with dignity and respect.”Some areas of good practice were highlighted in the review. It found that most of the children had an adult with them when interviewed by police, and were informed about special measures to help them give evidence at court.The report said the review “has a limited sample and as such the conclusions cannot necessarily be generalised to the whole population”. Professor Alexis Jay's 2014 inquiry into child sex abuse in Rotherham estimated that 1,400 children were sexually exploited in the town between 1997 and 2013. The report demonstrated revealed that children were often disbelieved when reporting crime and described an embedded culture of not believing children and not doing enough to protect them from further harm.

It highlighted collective failures not only at an operational level, but also ‘collective failures' of political and officer leadership across South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council.A spokeswoman for the charity NSPCC said: “The review pulls into sharp focus how disgracefully our justice system continues to fail young witnesses.“The bravery shown by young survivors of abuse in plucking up courage to relive their ordeals in court is not met with enough compassion or support.”


United Kingdom

NICE advice to look for 'soft' signs of child abuse

by Katherine Sellgren

Teachers, police officers, nursery staff and other professionals should look for "soft" signs that could indicate that a child is being abused or neglected, new guidelines suggest.

Signs may include excessive clinginess, low self-esteem, recurrent nightmares or over-friendliness towards strangers.

The draft guidance from NICE - the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence - is open for consultation.

NICE's deputy chief executive said it was "permission to be curious"

NICE was asked by the Department for Education and the Department of Health to produce information for professionals working with children across a range of settings including social care, schools, early years settings, medical centres or custodial settings.

It says adults working with children should be alert to abuse and neglect if a child displays behaviours that are not normal for the child or for their age.

Professionals should look out for signs like:

•  Low self-esteem

•  Wetting and soiling

•  Recurrent nightmares

•  Aggressive behaviour

•  Withdrawing communication

•  Habitual body rocking

•  Indiscriminate contact or affection seeking

•  Over-friendliness towards strangers

•  Excessive clinginess

•  Persistently seeking attention.

However, the guidelines say some signs are a matter of such concern that social services should be contacted straight away.

These include a child regularly attending school unclean or with injuries, overtly sexual behaviours in children who are below the age of puberty, and parents using excessive physical punishment.

Dr Danya Glaser, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist and member of the NICE guideline development committee, said professionals should use their instinct and experience to make a judgement.

"It's probably a mixture of instinct and experience. It's about [noticing] some change in behaviour if you know the child."

Dr Glaser said there was "far more under-recognition" of child abuse than over-reporting of cases that then turned out to be untrue.

"We are saying err on the side of curiosity - it might be nothing but it might be something."

Prof Corinne May-Chahal, chairwoman of the committee developing the guidelines, said the guidance would help professionals spot signs of abuse and focus on what help can be provided.

"The guideline gives examples of soft signs, the behaviours or emotions a child is exhibiting, which could indicate something may be wrong.

"These may not always be proof of abuse or neglect taking place, but they underline when to check on a child's wellbeing."

Child abuse figures

•  Figures compiled by the charity the NSPCC show there are more than 57,000 children in the UK who have been identified as needing protection from abuse

•  The charity estimates that for every child identified as needing protection from abuse, another eight are suffering abuse;

•  One in 20 children in the UK has been sexually abused

•  One in 14 has been physically abused

Prof Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE said: "We want all professionals to be aware and recognise when they need to ask questions or follow up with colleagues about a child's wellbeing.

"Not all cases will cause concern but if we do not ask, we may miss opportunities to protect children in their time of need.

"I guess we can be a bit British and perhaps aren't curious enough and think we shouldn't ask the questions, so I guess (the guideline is) permission to be curious."

A public consultation on the draft guidelines will run until 19 April.


North Dakota

North Dakota child abuse advocacy center claims FBI award

by The Bismark Tribune

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota organization is being honored with the state's first FBI Director's Community Leadership Award that recognizes groups for public service.

Sanford Health Dakota Children's Advocacy Center was tapped as the 2016 recipient Tuesday for its work with child abuse victims by helping them through the process of social services, crime investigation and mental health care.

According to the FBI, Jessica Ahmann and Shannon Hilfer were specifically recognized for their work. Ahmann examines and collects information from child victims, leading to the identification and conviction of abusers. Hilfer has worked with children from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and has broken open abuse investigations there.

The award was established in 1990 and annually recognizes groups and individuals for their contributions to civil rights and violence prevention and education.


Washington D.C.

Congress bill would require military vets convicted of child abuse to pay restitution

by Hayat Norimine

Federal law currently states that convicted child abusers are exempt from paying restitution to victims if they are military retirees.

A new Congressional bill introduced last week — sponsored by U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Oregon, and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler — would eliminate the loophole in federal law that states convicted child abusers who are receiving their income from military retirement are exempt from paying restitution.

“There is absolutely no reason for the existence of a loophole that puts the rights of convicted child abusers ahead of the survivors they've harmed,” Herrera Beutler said in a statement. “I'm proud to work alongside Congresswoman DelBene to eliminate this loophole and ensure survivors can seek this important measure of justice.”

DelBene said she spoke to survivor Pennis Saum, whose father was sentenced to 17 years in prison for abusing her and her brother as a child. The victims were awarded a civil judgment for $5 million in damages. But because he was an Army veteran, he didn't have to pay any restitution.

“Military retirees shouldn't be exempt from having to pay restitution for something as horrific as child sexual, emotional and physical abuse,” Saum said in a statement.

The bill has 19 original co-sponsors, including Washington representatives Rick Larsen, Dave Reichert and Pramila Jayapal.

More than 58,000 children in the U.S. are sexually abused and 120,000 children physically abused every year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services' National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System.



2 school administrators charged with failing to report suspected child abuse

Teacher later charged with having sex with student

by Peggy Breit

LA CYGNE, Kan. — Two Kansas school administrators have been accused of failing to report suspected child abuse.

Tuesday's charges involve allegations about a former teacher at Prairie View High School in La Cygne. That teacher is accused of having sex with a student. Authorities said there are indications that administrators did not report earlier suspicions.

Tim Weis is the principal at Prairie View. Chris Kleidotsy was the superintendent of Schools in Linn County last year, now he's the superintendent in Tonganoxie.

The charges revolve around behavior at the high school by former teacher Keaten Krell.

Krell taught Sophomore English at the school for five years. He was arrested last May and charged with engaging in sexual behavior with at least one of his students.

Now that principal and the former superintendent are accused of not reporting other potential sex crimes by the teacher before the incidents for which he's now charged.

The law says school administrators are mandatory reporters.

In this town of 2,000, the allegations are another bombshell, compounding what already happened when Krell was charged.

“All the ones involved should be arrested,” said parent Christy Mohr. “We entrust them with our kids, and kids have been telling, and ain't nothing been done.”

Both administrators were taken into custody. They are not allowed to be near anyone under the age of 18, or near any accredited Kansas school while these charges are pending.


New York

Penn Yan will hire behavioral specialist

by The Observer Review

PENN YAN--A plan to hire a behavioral specialist was approved by the Penn Yan Central School District Board of Education at its meeting Wednesday, Feb. 15. Increasing behavior problems at the school prompted the move.

Greg Baker, assistant superintendent for instruction and staff development at Penn Yan schools, presented data that showed on average, about 10 percent of the student body has behavioral and discipline problems that interrupt the learning of all the students. These problems include disruptive behavior, chronic absenteeism, tardiness, lack of motivation, and other problems. He noted this number is trending up, especially at the earlier grade levels. He stated, "PYCSD is supporting our students in many ways, but the needs are becoming more frequent, more intense, and increasingly varied."

Baker explained these behavior problems are complicated and cannot be solved simply with stricter rules or more negative consequences. Rather, they stem from trauma and stress outside the school that interfere with the children's emotional, social, and cognitive development. "I am not blaming our students who are struggling behaviorally," Baker said. "Rather, I recognize something is causing these behaviors."

Baker explained that children with behavior problems are often experiencing severe stress called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). Children exposed to abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction at home, "act out" these problems in school, he explained.

ACEs, also known as childhood traumatic stress, include experiences of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, abandonment, neglect and household dysfunction. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network ( explains this kind of trauma and neglect interfere with the child's brain development. Problems controlling mood and behavior are the result.

Baker explained parents and caregivers experiencing their own severe stress often do not have the personal resources to properly care for their children. Divorce, domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse and incarceration are among the problems faced by children and families at PYCSD.

The new behavioral specialist will work with the school psychologists and social worker to address the children's needs and train teachers in skills needed to address problem behaviors. Baker explained that all behaviors, even negative ones, have a function. The new behavior specialist will work with children in grades K through 12, helping them to understand themselves better and replace negative behaviors with positive ones.

The grant-funded position has been approved as of March, 2017. It requires professional certification in one of the following fields: education, psychology, counseling, human development, applied behavior or another related field.



Effects of adverse childhood experiences focus of summit

by Ashley Mott

A Wednesday summit and documentary screening held at the University of Louisiana Monroe will focus on adverse childhood experiences and the long-term ramifications these experiences can have on physical and mental wellbeing.

An adverse childhood experience is defined as a traumatic or stressful incident that can lead to serious consequences with child development. They can include physical, sexual or emotional abuse or growing up in a dysfunctional home with domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, parental separation or an incarcerated family member.

An ongoing study between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kaiser Permanente health system launched in 1998 and has tracked the number of ACEs each of the 17,000 respondents experienced and their responses on subsequent mental and physical evaluations.

According to the study, a link exists between ACEs and a range of health and social outcomes, including depression, smoking, illicit drug use and alcoholism.

Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana is behind the Wednesday summit, which seeks to provide professionals who work with children and families in the Monroe area with information regarding ACEs. Foster parents are also welcome to attend.

After a presentation focused on ACEs, the documentary Paper Tigers , which focuses on an at-risk high school in Washington that turned around their graduation rates when they began using trauma-informed care to work with the students, will be screened. The summit will conclude with a guided discussion where attendees will think of ways to apply this knowledge to the work they do every day.

Sheri Hogg, an ACE educator and family nurturing center director for Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana, will co-present with Gatha Green, another ACE educator who works for the Children's Coalition for Northeast Louisiana.

Hogg said the closing conversation will help people take information learned during the summit and apply it in their work.

"(We will) have table discussions," Hogg said. "Like a café style experience. Now we know what ACEs are, now how do you take this and implement it in your daily career or when you bring these kids you know who have trauma into your home."


What Failed to Happen For You as a Child?

by Jonice Webb PhD

Emotional Neglect: A parent's failure to respond sufficiently to your emotional needs.

In other words, Emotional Neglect is something that failed to happen in your childhood.

To demonstrate why Emotional Neglect is so invisible, let's do an experiment.

First, I'd like you to think of an event that happened yesterday. It can be anything, big or small…just something that happened.

Second, I'd like you to think of something that didn't happen yesterday.

My guess is that the second request was quite a bit more difficult than the first. That's because our brains record events as memories . Things that fail to happen go unnoticed, unseen, and unremembered.

We have long been aware of the fact that what happens to us in childhood has a tremendous effect upon who we become as adults. But the opposite is also true. What doesn't happen for us in childhood has an equal or greater effect.

Remember that Emotional Neglect is a parent's failure to respond enough to a child's emotional needs. Because it's a parent's failure to act , rather than a parent's act ; just like we saw in our little experiment, it goes unseen, unnoticed, and unremembered.

Emotional Neglect comes in an infinite variety of forms. It can be incredibly subtle, such that 50 people could be watching it not happen , and be completely unaware.

An Example of Emotional Neglect in Action:

Joey's friends gang up on him on the soccer field one day. So Joey comes home from school feeling sad. Joey's parents don't notice his sadness. Neither says, “Joey are you OK?” or “Did anything happen at school today?” No one seems to notice that anything is wrong.

This probably seems like nothing. Indeed, it happens in every home, and it generally is nothing.

So how could an incident like this damage a child, leaving scars that remain into his adulthood? The answer lies in the natural, developmental needs of children. In order for a child to grow up with a complete and solid sense of himself, who he is, and what he's capable of, he (or she) must receive enough awareness, understanding, and acceptance of his emotions from his parents. If there is a shortage from the parents in any one of these areas, the child will grow up feeling incomplete, and lacking some of the skills and self-knowledge and self-care that are necessary to fully thrive in this world.

And now back to our boy Joey, who came home from school feeling sad. If this happens on occasion, it's no problem. If it happens with enough frequency and depth: that what Joey feels is not noticed, responded to or validated by his parents, Joey will grow up with a hole in his emotional development. He may deeply believe that his feelings are irrelevant, unimportant, or even shameful or unacceptable.

As a psychologist, I have seen time and time again that these subtle parental failures in childhood leave the adult with a feeling of being incomplete, empty, unfulfilled, or even questioning his own purpose and value.

This becomes even more difficult when the emotionally neglected adult looks back to his childhood for an explanation for why he feels this way. I have heard many emotionally neglected people say, “I had a great childhood. I wasn't mistreated or abused. My parents loved me, and provided me with a nice home, clothing and food. If I'm not happy, it's my own fault. I have no excuse.”

These people can't remember what didn't happen in their childhoods. So as adults, they blame themselves for whatever is wrong in their lives. They have no memory of what went wrong for them, so they have no way of seeing it or overcoming it, to make their lives happier.

In addition to self-blame, another unfortunate aspect of Emotional Neglect is that it's self-propagating. Emotionally neglected children grow up with a blind spot when it comes to emotions, their own as well as those of others. When emotionally neglected children become parents themselves, they're unaware of the emotions of their own children, and they raise their children to have the same blind spot. And so on and so on and so on, through generation after generation.

My goal is to make people aware of this subtle but powerful factor. To give everyone the ability to look back and see the invisible; have the words to talk about it, and an opportunity to correct it and stop blaming themselves.

I want to make the term Emotional Neglect a household term, so that parents will know how important it is to respond sufficiently to their children's emotional needs, and understand how to do it. I want to stop this insidious force from sapping peoples' happiness and connection to others throughout their lives, and to stop the transfer of Emotional Neglect from one generation to another to another.

I want to give answers to those many people who are living their lives feeling disconnected and unfulfilled, and wondering what is wrong with them.

To learn more about Childhood Emotional Neglect, how it happens and how to recover from it, see and the book, Running on Empty.

Since CEN is so subtle and invisible, it can be hard to know if you have it. Take the Childhood Emotional Neglect Test.


8 Things People Like Milo Yiannopoulos Get WRONG About The Sexual Abuse Of Boys

by Joanna Schroeder

(Videos on site)

What you've been told is probably a lie.

Provocateur and famed Alt-Right personality Milo Yiannapoulos is facing criticism because of some horrific things he'd said in interviews about when he was abused by a priest.

On the Joe Rogan show he said, "If it weren't for Father Michael, I would give far less good head."

He has since said he was joking (though you should listen to the Rogan interview and judge for yourself), and now that he is facing such heat, is walking the statement back a bit.

But it's clear that Milo does not believe that the adult priest who abused him when he was 13 or 14 years old was to blame.

He even calls himself the "predator" in the abusive relationship in a follow-up interview with The Drunken Peasants.

Despite my dislike of Milo, in this case my first thought was NOT about how horrible he is...

It was about the awful messages being reinforced about boys who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA).

In the Rogan interview, Milo challenges Joe to think about whether he sees an attractive young teen and feels desire, insisting it is natural.

The host rightfully insists that it isn't normal for a grown adult to look at any minor with desire, and that the only thing he sees when he looks at a teen girl is a child.

Milo also minimizes the impact that abuse like this can have upon the boys who are victimized, even saying that gay men often credit an early sexual experience with an older man for giving them sexual maturity.

There are many articles about how Milo's general "irreverent attitude" is dangerous . I don't need to recount those here.

But I want to take a moment to quickly debunk some very common myths about male survivors of sexual abuse, some of which Milo perpetuates in his interview.

Because male survivors deserve for the world to know the truth, so that they can get the support they need, and stop being blamed for the abuse they endured.

1. Myth: Very mature minors can consent to sex with adults.

Truth: No, they cannot. Regardless of maturity, minors cannot consent to sex with adults.

Age of consent varies place to place, but if a person is considered a minor, than no matter how many times they may say "yes", it is not really consent.

Depending upon the age and circumstances, it's either rape, child sexual abuse, sexual battery, or statutory rape (or a combination of those).

Because the state (or country) has determined that a person younger than age of consent is not able to fully think through the consequences of saying "yes" and is especially vulnerable to an umbalanced power dynamic between a child and an adult.

It's also important to note that many abusers will manipulate "consent" from their victim in order to make the child feel like they are responsible for the harm the adult is doing to them.

It is a way to keep the child quiet, and an attempt to make the abuser seem like an accomplice as opposed to a grown-up choosing to take advantage of or harm a child.

2. Myth: Gay men are more likely to commit sexual abuse.

Truth: There is no good science supporting the claim that people who identify as gay commit more sexual abuse.

In fact, the vast majority of male abusers of kids identify as heterosexual, even abusers of boys.

As the Gunderson National Child Protection Center clarifies, "Abuse is about power and control and is not anchored by sexual orientation."

3. Myth: Gay boys are "asking for it" when they are abused by men.

Truth: I shouldn't even have to debunk this. But I will. NOBODY asks for it, ever. Not boys, not girls, not gay kids , trans kids, or any kids ever have been to blame for the abuse someone else chose to commit.

The only person responsible for abusing a child is the abuser or abusers.

The end.

4. Myth: You can be made gay if you are a boy abused by a man.

Truth: You can't make someone gay. That's not a real thing.

There is some evidence that boys who were abused by men go through confusing phases in their sexuality where they have trouble sorting through the abuse they endured from their own authentic sexuality. But that is not the same thing as being "made gay". There are also gay men who were abused as kids. But it was not the abuse that made them gay.

5. Myth: If you "enjoy" the abuse, or have an orgasm or erection, it wasn't really rape/abuse.

Truth: Erection and even orgasm are reflexes, like when the doctor hits your knee with the little rubber hammer. That is not consent.

Similarly, many abusers will try to create a sense of pleasure with their victims, again because they want the victim to feel like a "conspirator" rather than a victim.

It also compounds shame for the victim, which can further force a child into keeping the secret and protecting the abuser.

Repeat after me: Erection and orgasms are NOT the same as consent.

6. Myth: Abused boys grow up to become abusers.

Truth: The vast, vast majority of boys who were abused will never grow up to abuse anybody.

This is a myth born out of too many criminal defenses of child abusers trying to gain sympathy in court. Certainly some people who have been abused do abuse others. But being abused does NOT make a boy become an abuser.

As comics artist and abuse survivor Dean Trippe said in an article I wrote about male survivors in 2016, "We're not the danger,” Trippe said. “We're the ones who know how terrible the danger is.”

7. Myth: A person in a position of power can "mentor" a minor boy's sexuality.

Truth: If the man learned some things about sex from his abuser that he later enjoys in his consensual sex life, that does not negate the fact that the abuse was a crime.

An adult having sex with a minor is abuse. And that's it.

8. Myth: A boy or man cannot be raped by a woman.

Truth: Yes, they can. The same legal rules apply to minor boys and adult women that apply to minor boys and girls raped by people of the opposite sex.

The biggest difference between a boy who is raped by a woman and a girl who is raped by a man is that society makes the boy into a hero (see Bill Maher's "lucky bastard syndrome" for a ghastly example) when he really needs support and protection.

While society turns the girl into a victim, or worse, a slut who was "too fast" for her age and "asked for it". Both stereotypes are dangerous, but in different ways.

And some recent studies report that female-perpetrated abuse and rape rates may be higher than we ever expected.

The biggest truth is this:

EVERY child deserves to be protected from sexual abuse in all forms.

Boys and girls are equally deserving of the right to say "no" and to experience sex with a true peer when they are sexually and developmentally ready to consent.

Adults who abuse minors are abusers, and nothing more. It isn't "sex" it is rape.

If you are a survivor of abuse or rape, know that hope and healing are possible. Reach out to,, or RAINN for support if you are not able to find support in your area.


United Kingdom

New internet security device launched to safeguard schools against child abuse

by Andrew Merrington

Computer experts at the University of Plymouth have created a new device that provides round-the-clock monitoring against online child abuse and radicalisation for primary and secondary schools.

ICAlert plugs straight into a school's network, checks all web traffic, and immediately generates an alert if there is any attempted access of illegal material, such as child abuse images, terrorist material or extremism websites.

The University is now working with South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to offer the safeguarding service for schools across the region, and SWGfL has seconded specialist police officers with extensive experience at handling child pornography offences to be the points-of-contact.

The technology has been developed by academics within the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics. Bogdan Ghita, Associate Professor of Computer Networks, co-led the project with Paul Dowland, until recently Associate Professor of Information Systems Security, now of Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia.

Bogdan said:

"The challenge was to encapsulate the service offered by SWGfL in a self-contained, reliable and affordable box that required minimal set up and no input thereafter. The resulting solution brings together hardware that connects seamlessly into a school's network infrastructure, with efficient software that delivers the required analysis. ICAlert offers long-term, effective monitoring of a school's network and is flexible enough to deal with increasing internet traffic or number of users."

The low-cost devices are supported by the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) and manufactured by Cornwall firm Selectronics Limited. Once plugged into a school's network, the device is ready to use and requires no additional management by the school. The tool receives periodic updates that include the latest list of banned web content links, as published by the Internet Watch Foundation, in an encrypted format. It is against this list that ICAlert compares internet traffic at the school.

The team say it provides an alternative solution to 'filtering', where access to banned sites is simply denied and the attempt to perpetrate an offence goes unnoticed.

South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL), and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) under a Home Office regulated project, have been piloting this alerting capability (for illegal content) with its connected schools since 2006.

David Wright, Chief Executive at SWGFL, said:

"Over this period there have been a number of alerts that have led to successful prosecutions and the removal of potential threats to children and wider school communities. This is something that SWGfL is particularly proud of, and ICAlert now extends this alerting capability to any school – firstly in the region and potentially nationally thereafter."



Effects of child abuse don't start and end within the family

by Darren McGarvey

We've all seen the standard image used by news and media outlets to signify child abuse. It's the child, usually between five and ten, sitting on some stairs in what appears to be the family home, their face often obscured by a visual effect or by their hands. Whenever we see this image, it is normally part of an advert for a charity or, increasingly, an item on the news accompanied by a presenter speaking in that special, lower-than-usual ‘now we're talking about child abuse' register.

Great care is taken to present the issue of child abuse in a manner that does not upset us as an audience. In fact, sometimes we are even forewarned to prepare ourselves for ‘distressing' images in advance of them being broadcast. Most people, when faced with such a serious and sensitive topic such as child abuse or neglect, will experience a natural level of empathy for the victims and a corresponding anger and disgust for the offenders, often the parents or guardians of the victims.

In our hearts, we feel genuine sympathy for these kids, over there, who didn't have much of a chance. Something must be done, we tell ourselves, before moving on to the next news item. The next news item might be about young people being unruly; engaging in various forms of criminality or nuisance behaviour. Or perhaps about the blight of violence and rise of addiction in our communities. We think to ourselves ‘what is it with young people these days?' or ‘what the hell's going on with their parents?'

There's a simple reason for that. These sanitised images, used to portray child abuse and neglect without upsetting us, serve only to distort the true nature of the problem. These pictures create a false impression that the victims are perpetual children, frozen in time, just waiting for us to reach into the photograph and remove them from harm. As children, they receive unlimited sympathy and professed compassion from us, the compassionate public.

But the second these kids are legally culpable, our entire posture towards them changes. We adopt the role of the abusive parent or guardian, with a short temper and unrealistically high expectations. The moment they stop looking like children we collectively reject, exclude, punish and condemn them. When the truth, whether we want to accept it or not, is that in many cases, the neglected and abused kids, the unruly young people and the lousy, irresponsible, violent, drug-addicted parents are all the same person at different stages of their life; human beings, manufactured by poverty, scuttling on the conveyor belt toward complete social exclusion with the assembly line always – without fail – beginning in a dysfunctional home.

It's almost cliché to point out the correlation between poverty and the sort of social deprivation that creates the conditions for cultures of abuse and neglect to thrive, but there is simply no getting away from it.

And while it's important that we retain an air of perspective and rational objectivity when trying to find solutions to generational social problems, it's also important we don't get so distant from the reality of human suffering that the issues become dinner party anecdotes or political footballs.

This is not to say that all kids living in poverty have their lives predetermined, or that they lack agency when they become adults. Nor is it to absolve people of responsibility for their actions. But let's be frank, the various advances we've made in recognising both the rights and needs of children will remain nothing more than window dressing until we quit the partisan political point-scoring for long enough to come to some sort of consensus around tackling this issue.

Because when these problems do flare up, they are rarely self-contained within the family or the community. Instead, they spill out into our society and multiply.

They spill into over-crowded casualties and high-dependency hospital wards. They spill into six-month long waiting lists to access clinical psychologists and psychiatric counselling facilities. They spill into over-run social work departments and inundated supported accommodation projects barely keeping their heads above water. They spill into stressful housing offices, packed-to-capacity crisis centres and outmoded addictions services. And for some they spill into police stations, sheriff courts, children's homes, secure units, young offender institutions and prisons.

A vulnerable family, living in constant economic uncertainty, job insecurity or subject to an inhumane sanctions regime often lacks the capacity to absorb, process and practically address life's unpredictable adversities. Poverty is about having no margin for error while living under increasing stress and unpredictability. A stock image of a child sitting on a step outside a room in a house does not adequately express this complexity and creates a false impression in the public mind of what is really driving child abuse and neglect – it's poverty, stupid.

In these homes a bereavement, job loss, benefit cut or sanction can spread like wild-fire throughout the family, engulfing everyone in the flames of emotional distress. Instead of lending one another support, family members go into emotional retreat, unable to cope with the situation. Resentment and tension builds as communication breaks down; creating fertile ground for explosive emotional outbursts and incidents that prolong stress – setting the scene for unhealthy coping strategies that later develop into addictions.

It's in these households, where addiction is present, that cultures of abuse are more likely to take root and where child abuse is concerned, this is the factory floor. So, next time you're confronted by a drug-addict, a drunk or an unruly young person terrorising your community, take that wee picture out your pocket, of the kid sitting on the steps, and rather than rolling your eyes before dialling 999, stop and search your heart for a change.



Effects of adverse childhood experiences focus of summit

by Ashley Mott

A Wednesday summit and documentary screening held at the University of Louisiana Monroe will focus on adverse childhood experiences and the long-term ramifications these experiences can have on physical and mental wellbeing.

An adverse childhood experience is defined as a traumatic or stressful incident that can lead to serious consequences with child development. They can include physical, sexual or emotional abuse or growing up in a dysfunctional home with domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, parental separation or an incarcerated family member.

An ongoing study between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kaiser Permanente health system launched in 1998 and has tracked the number of ACEs each of the 17,000 respondents experienced and their responses on subsequent mental and physical evaluations.

According to the study, a link exists between ACEs and a range of health and social outcomes, including depression, smoking, illicit drug use and alcoholism.

Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana is behind the Wednesday summit, which seeks to provide professionals who work with children and families in the Monroe area with information regarding ACEs. Foster parents are also welcome to attend.

After a presentation focused on ACEs, the documentary Paper Tigers , which focuses on an at-risk high school in Washington that turned around their graduation rates when they began using trauma-informed care to work with the students, will be screened. The summit will conclude with a guided discussion where attendees will think of ways to apply this knowledge to the work they do every day.

Sheri Hogg, an ACE educator and family nurturing center director for Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana, will co-present with Gatha Green, another ACE educator who works for the Children's Coalition for Northeast Louisiana.

Hogg said the closing conversation will help people take information learned during the summit and apply it in their work.

"(We will) have table discussions," Hogg said. "Like a café style experience. Now we know what ACEs are, now how do you take this and implement it in your daily career or when you bring these kids you know who have trauma into your home."


Why Team USA gymnasts spoke out about alleged sexual abuse

by CBS News

Three former Team USA gymnasts are suing a former team doctor, Lawrence Nassar, accusing him of sexual abuse. Speaking out for the first time Sunday on “60 Minutes,” Jamie Dantzscher, Jessica Howard and Jeanette Antolin claimed Nassar disguised the abuse as pain treatment. Nassar's attorney defends the treatment as legitimate.

“I think it's important that we take these things that have been hidden for so long and expose them because there hasn't been a change in the sports for 30 years,” Antolin, who competed with the U.S. national team from 1995 to 2000, said Monday on “CBS This Morning.”

Dantzscher, a bronze medalist in the 2000 Olympic Games, told “60 Minutes” she went to Nassar as a teenager for back treatment. “He would put his fingers inside of me and move my leg around,” she described in an interview with CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.

Dantzscher said she never questioned it because she trusted Nassar and USA Gymnastics.

“So for me to speak up and come forward is about making sure this doesn't happen to little girls and that also, you know, other victims are out there right now,” Dantzscher said on “CBS This Morning.” “This is happening all over the U.S. And it's important for them to know that they have a voice and that if they do speak up, they're going be believed.”

Nassar, who worked with U.S. Olympic and national teams for decades, was charged last year with child pornography and criminal sexual conduct in different cases. More than 60 women have filed complaints against Nassar.

“I think for all of us, we just realized in the last five or six months that this was abuse and this happened to us. And then we connected over — you know, even in the last few months, it's the first time we've ever talked about it,” said Howard, a national champion in rhythmic gymnastics.

Antolin also had not spoken to others about her experiences with Nassar.

“There was tons of treatment that you got, including like getting your ankle taped. So it's not — you don't go and tell people, ‘I got my ankle taped today.' It's just a normal thing,” Antolin said.

Howard said she is speaking out against the “culture of abuse, both emotional and physical and sexual, just to not be a part of our sport.”

“We all love our sport and we want it to come across to everybody watching to everybody who might fall in love with it, that it's safe — and it's not safe right now. Emotional abuse is rampant and physical abuse is out there and sexual abuse is a byproduct of what happens when that is the culture,” Howard said.

In a statement, USA Gymnastics told “60 Minutes” that it is “appalled that anyone would exploit a young athlete or child in this manner.” They said they “first learned of an athlete's concern about Dr. Nassar in June 2015.” Five weeks later, after an internal review, it “reported him to the FBI and relieved him of any further assignments.” USA Gymnastics said it has long had a policy that adult staff should “avoid being alone with a minor.”



Letter to the Editor

Stopping the cycle of child abuse

Thanks to Maxine Bernstein for illuminating the insidious epidemic of child abuse ("10-year-old boy who was sexually abused says kids must speak up," Feb. 13).

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, one in six children will experience abuse before their 18 th birthday. In a study for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Anda called child abuse "the gravest and most costly public health issue in the United States."

I applaud the boy for speaking up. I applaud his mother for believing him, protecting him and supporting him throughout the legal process. And I applaud the judge for recognizing that many adults facing criminal charges are victims of abuse or neglect themselves.

At some point, the sooner the better, we need to acknowledge the problem and stop the cycle. We need to de-stigmatize the issue so victims can speak. We need to provide children safe environments and age-appropriate education about abuse and neglect. We need to inform caregivers about the signs and symptoms of abuse, so they can better protect children and intervene early. We need to remove perpetrators from the environments in which they prey. And most importantly, we need to create communities that so deeply value and care for children that abuse and neglect are no longer tolerated.

Obviously, we'd prefer the elimination of abuse and neglect. But vigorous prevention efforts, early intervention and trauma-informed care are steps in the right direction. And research suggests that, with treatment, children can overcome such trauma and lead healthy, productive lives.

-- Tom Soma, Oregon City

Executive director of the Children's Center



Investigation: Child abuse cases overburden system

by Jason Pohl

Last year was not normal.

Northern Colorado was rocked by a series of high-profile child abuse cases rife with shocking allegations and marred in tragedy.

A convicted child abuser on parole with documented anger issues confessed to Fort Collins police in September that he became frustrated with his girlfriend's daughter and fatally struck the 11-month-old with a chair.

The case came a few months after a babysitter threw a fussy 7-month-old boy across a living room because the child tugged on a cord for the man's PlayStation 3 video game console.

As those two cases entered the criminal justice system, the lengthy trial of Doug and Leah Dyer wrapped up in Eighth Judicial District Court. Convicted of neglecting their daughter's medical condition and allowing her to all but waste away, the couple was sentenced last week to 15 years in prison.

Three cases. Three children. Three felonies.

A monthslong Coloradoan investigation into child abuse illuminates a system that is complex, overburdened and in constant need of maintenance.

The findings will be explored in coming weeks. Of note:

•  Larimer County's efforts to stop the rate of caseworker turnover have been mixed. Changes were triggered after nearly half the roughly 90 child welfare case workers in the county quit in 2016.

•  A 2015 shift in Colorado law has allowed incarcerated men and women to remain on parole after “technical violations," such as missed appointments or drug use. Case in point: Juan Canales-Hernandez was on parole and had violated its conditions when he killed 11-month old RaeLynn Martinez. We will share more about Canales-Hernandez next week, including a rift in parole philosophies.

•  The state's inadequacies in addressing underlying behavioral health and substance abuse problems put children, including RaeLynn, at risk.

"Any time one of our most vulnerable members of society, a child, is victimized, that's awful," Larimer County District Attorney Clifford Riedel said in a recent interview. "And we take those cases very seriously.

“One case is too many.''

The number of filed cases involving felony and misdemeanor allegations of child abuse have generally held steady, as have convictions and other outcomes. But it's the magnitude of these recent cases that breeds unease among prosecutors, case workers and others.

More than 21,000 misdemeanor and felony cases filed in Colorado over the past five years included at least some form of child abuse, according to state records. Prosecutors or judges dismissed the vast majority of cases — about 70 percent — as part of plea bargains, judge's orders or due to insufficient evidence.

Others resulted in a host of outcomes, from deferred sentences to years in prison.

Of the 21,030 cases reviewed statewide for this project, 801 involved felonies. There are likely more, but there are limitations in when a case is filed and resolved, and not all cases were captured. Cases filed in December, for example, are in various stages of resolution.

“The conversation is always, 'Why does it occur in the first place?' " Riedel said. "That's something that we'll continue to try to figure out.”

A database compiled by the Colorado Judicial Branch, which contains more than 400,000 data points, traces instances of child abuse charges during the past five years in Colorado.

It helps explore the crime's complexities and nuance. Abuse allegations can tear apart families or lead to incarceration. It can span from low-level misdemeanors to serious felonies. It's not an allegation limited to population centers or certain cities. And it's an age-old topic that experts continue to grapple with.

Dr. Desmond Runyan is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado and executive director of the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect.

Runyan said he has testified in court more than 300 times, mostly in family or juvenile court and more commonly for prosecutors in criminal court.

"It's probably misplaced to think we'll transform the courts into something they're not," he said when asked what needs to happen to ease the prevalence of child abuse. "Courts currently are combats between attorneys making the cases."

So rather than focusing on criminal charges and telling people what they should or shouldn't do, the answer will come from helping to "engineer families" for success. When he explains it to families, he says it's not unlike how drivers education and vehicle safety features have engineered the driving experience.

"Ultimately," he said, "The courts are not going to be a perfect solution to this.”



Report: 3,173 cases of child abuse in one year

Recently exposed case of child abuse rates are only the tip of the iceberg: according to estimations, 1 out of every 5 children in Israel are experiencing some form of abuse.

by Rotem Elizera

Thousands of children in Israel are abused by their parents every year, according to the annual report published by The Israel National Council for the Child, whose new statistical data only refers to cases exposed by the Israeli health care system—in hospitals and community clinics.

On Sunday, the Haruv Institute (prevention of child abuse and neglect) launched a new campaign in collaboration with the NCC (National Council for the Child) in order to raise the awareness among professionals—medical personnel, teachers, counselors—on the topic.

The data reveals that 3,173 abused children were discovered by medical teams in 2015. Forty-one percent of the children were either neglected or prevented treatment, while 29 percent had been physically abused, 12 percent were mentally abused, 9 percent had been sexually molested by a stranger or a non-relative individual, 5 percent had been sexually abused or molested by a family member, 3 percent suffered financial abuse or withheld rights, and 1 percent had suffered some form of threatening harassment.

The numbers represent only a small part of the abuse or sexual molestation cases experienced by children since the data consists of only the cases exposed through the health care system.

"The numbers are only the tip of the iceberg," said Prof. Asher Ben Arieh, Chair of Haruv Institute. "There are thousands of other cases that have been reported to the welfare system," he continued.

According to Prof. Ben Arieh, not all children have symptoms, like fractures or external injuries, that may indicate abuse.

"Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in the number of children diagnosed, especially in light of the training more doctors and nurses are receiving on the subject. After many years on the job—the medical teams can now identify such cases better than they used to."

Nowadays, new technological advances exist, which were not available in the past, enabling radiologists for instance, to recognize whether a fracture was intentional or incidental.

Moreover, doctors are instructed on the type of questions they should ask the parents arriving to the ER in such cases, and what 'warning signs' they should be looking for.

In the health care system, it is still difficult to follow therapeutic history. The most recent case of abusive parents discovered at Tel Hashomer Hospital was exposed due to a doctor's alertness, having noticed a record of repeated hospitalizations.

However, in some cases, parents turn to different hospitals each time in order to avoid being discovered.

"There should be a central computerized system, connecting all ERs, and when the suspicion of the medical team arises, they would be able to quickly check whether the child had prior hospitalizations with physical injuries," suggested Prof. Ben Arieh.,7340,L-4924905,00.html



Women also sexually abuse children, but their reasons often differ from men's

by The Conversation

Data from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recently revealed that, between 1950 and 2010, 60% of all abuse allegedly took place at faith-based institutions. Evidence showed that, in Catholic institutions, 95% of alleged offenders were men. This means the remaining 5% (or 96 of the 1,880 accused) were women.

This may come as a surprise. There is a common misconception that all child sex offenders are men. But women child sex offenders do exist, although they differ from male counterparts in several ways.

How many women abuse?

A study for the Home Office in the UK in 1998 indicated less than 5% of child sex offences were committed by women. This is supported by data coming out of the Royal Commission – that 5% of the alleged abusers associated with the Catholic Church were religious sisters – as well as research based on correctional services data in Australia.

The author of the UK report acknowledged the number may be lower than the reality. A 2015 study looked at virtually every substantiated child sexual abuse case reported to child protective services in the United States in 2010. It concluded more than 20% of child sexual abuse cases reviewed involved a primary female perpetrator – so estimates vary significantly.

In 2009, the BBC reported a large rise in the number of children calling the UK charity Childline to report sexual abuse by a female. Between 2005 and 2006, 2,142 children reported they had been sexually victimised by a female.

Why do women abuse?

There are some important points of difference between male and female perpetrators of child sex abuse. Generally speaking, females tend to offend against younger victims and are less discriminant about victim gender.

There are a number of theories as to why women sexually abuse children. Researchers suggest some women abuse their own daughters as a result of narcissistic tendencies. In these cases, an older woman's need for admiration and exaggerated sense of self importance, for example, leads to jealousy of her daughter.

A significant number of females who sexually abuse children fall into the “teacher/lover group”. This comprises women in their 30s who victimise males with an average age of 12 years. The women may see the relationship as based on love, and may not see it as abusive or recognise its inappropriate nature.

Women in this group can be driven by a need for intimacy and trying to compensate for emotional needs not met elsewhere. This group can include the female teachers who become sexually involved with male pupils. They are invested in the idea of a relationship, find adolescent boys less threatening than men of their own age, and have more control over the relationship.

Another category is one researchers have termed the “predisposed molester”. Women in this group often experience abuse themselves and may have addictive personalities.

A similar category, of the “mother molester”, may comprise a significant proportion of female child sex offenders. Research has routinely indicated that women are 4.5 times more likely to offend against their biological child, as well as other children in their care.

Indirect and co-abuse

There's another group of women who harm their own children. These are “male-coerced offenders” – passive females in relationships with abusive males who would do just about anything to keep their man happy. They may think co-abuse will actually bring them closer together as a couple.

The “male-accompanied offenders” who are not coerced may sexually abuse their children out of anger or jealousy.

Another group comprises the “criminal homosexual offenders”, who may have an entirely different motivation for their offending histories. Many of the offences include forcing behaviours – such as forcing young girls into prostitution. Here the motivation might be more economic than sexual in nature.

I worked on a case involving a childcare worker who took indecent images of children and distributed them across a paedophile network. During the police interview she expressed no sexual gratification in the acts she photographed.

In my experience, I have never seen a man involved in the sexual abuse of children or paedophile rings who did not express a sexual attraction for children.

But female child sex offenders are a mixed group and while for some, the sexual abuse of children is purely financially driven, other women engage in abuse as well. An example would be the infamous UK case of Marie Black, who was jailed in 2015 for 23 offences including rape, conspiracy to rape, and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Her victims were five young children: two boys and three girls. And her crimes included taking them to sex parties and “raffling them off'” for abuse by others.

A key point of difference between male and female sexual abusers of children is in the power relationship with their victims. Sex crimes perpetrated by men are considered crimes of power over the victim. But while female sex offending can be control-driven, the need for intimacy seems to play a larger role than domination.

Is child sexual abuse by women on the rise?

Estimates indicate somewhere between 90 to 95% of all sexual abuse goes unreported, and the number is probably even higher for female-perpetrated sexual abuse.

The evidence does not necessarily indicate child sexual abuse by women is increasing. But it may indicate that – due to increased media attention – more children feel comfortable to speak out without fear of stigmatisation.

Our current understanding of women who sexually abuse children is founded on very limited research. Therefore, we need to reconstruct our ideas about child sex offenders to include woman as a distinct sub-group, and undertake considerably more research to get a better understanding of the causes behind these offences.



Solutions: What Texas can do to help child sex-trafficking victims

Over the past week, we've exposed how Texas leaders who crusade against sex trafficking have done almost nothing to help child trafficking victims. We asked those closest to the issue how they would begin addressing the problem. Here's what they said.

by Neena Satija, Morgan Smith and Edgar Walters

Over the past week, the Tribune has exposed how empty laws and hollow rhetoric from Texas leaders has done almost nothing to help child sex-trafficking victims. Our interviews with advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and victims offered plenty of ideas for how the state could — and should — do a better job.

These are five ways Texas could help sex-trafficking victims:

1. Spend some actual state dollars on victims' services

•  The missing $10 million: Dozens of nonprofits across the state provide health care, counseling and other services to sex-trafficking victims like Jean — but get hardly any state money to do so. A 2009 state law called for distributing up to $10 million in grants to such organizations; Texas lawmakers never appropriated the money.

•  Fund treatment beds: The state doesn't offer money to build facilities that treat child sex-trafficking victims; it relies on the private sector to do that. Texas has only one such facility, which can only afford to treat 20 children at a time — all girls like Sarah, not boys. Advocates say they shouldn't have to raise millions of dollars, with no help from the state, to build places like this.

•  Create emergency beds: Advocates also say the state needs to fund facilities that take child sex-trafficking victims on an emergency basis, such as when they are recovered by law enforcement in the middle of the night. Right now, no such facilities exist in Texas, which is one of the reasons Lena ended up in jail after she was recovered by police. Building them would cost tens of millions of dollars, according to foster care providers.

2. Spend more state money to help vulnerable children in general

•  The $155 million gap: The Department of Family and Protective Services has asked the Legislature for $155 million to increase payments to facilities that treat foster children with behavioral and emotional problems — which could include many child sex-trafficking victims. The average cost of housing a high-needs foster child like Lena or Jean in a residential treatment center in Texas is about $300 per day. Right now, the state pays $260. The payments are so low that many facilities have closed their doors.

•  $900 million for the rest of the child welfare system: Increasing foster care payments are just part of the solution to shoring up Texas' child welfare system. Officials say they need more than $900 million in state money to address a host of other issues, including more resources to prevent abuse and neglect of children like Jean, and more staff to investigate child abuse.

•  $3 million for homeless youth: Homeless youth are among the most vulnerable to sex trafficking. Advocates are asking the Legislature to appropriate $3 million over the next two years for things like transitional living shelters that can help youth without a stable place to live — like Yvette — learn how to be independent.

3. Stop treating sex-trafficking victims like criminals

•  Halt the arrest-first approach: Police often arrest sex-trafficking victims because there's no other place for them to go, or to make sure they'll testify against their pimp.

•  Remove the criminal stigma: Sex-trafficking victims like Yvette often have criminal records because their pimps may have forced them to do drugs or commit other crimes. They can have repeat arrests for prostitution, which becomes a felony after three convictions. Criminal records make it difficult, if not impossible, for victims to get jobs or apartments and rebuild their lives. Advocates say this could be fixed with legislation allowing victims to get their records expunged or sealed.

•  Raise the age of legal adulthood: In Texas, 17-year-olds are considered adults in the criminal justice system, which means they can be sent to jail or prison. Many support raising the age of adulthood to 18, or even older, though the Legislature has rejected such a change in the past. Raising the age would keep 17-year-old sex-trafficking victims like Lena out of jail.

•  Support diversion programs: A state law in 2013 authorized diversion programs for children involved in the sex trade. If they complete the program, their criminal records are sealed. But the three such programs in the state rely mostly on local funding and have long waiting lists. Judges and administrators in those diversion courts say they need more state funding.

4. Do a better job of tracking and finding missing children

•  Properly report all missing children: Federal law says all missing foster kids are supposed to be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a well-resourced nonprofit with a nationally recognized track record for finding missing kids. But many — like Lena — are still not reported by child welfare officials.

•  Keep better records on missing foster children: The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has improved its tracking of missing foster kids but still reported having incomplete information on more than half of the foster children who ran away in fiscal year 2016.

•  Collect trafficking data statewide: There is no good statewide information on incidents of sex trafficking. Though state task forces have called for better data collection for years, lawmakers have done little to address the issue. One recommendation from 2016 directed the state to develop a pilot data-tracking project statewide requiring certain counties and cities to collect comprehensive data on trafficking-related cases. No such project exists yet.

•  More boots on the ground: The Texas child welfare agency says it needs another $161 million from state lawmakers to hire more workers to check on at-risk children in a more timely way and to better look for missing kids like Lena and Jean.

5. Create a statewide approach to dealing with sex trafficking

•  Decide who's responsible: State agency officials, speaking frankly, say they do not know who should “own” the issue of sex trafficking. Is it a criminal justice problem? A child welfare problem? For all of politicians' hand-wringing over the issue, it is unclear which state agencies should be held accountable for it.

•  Coordinate investigations and services: There is no statewide procedure for handling cases of suspected trafficking. Such a system would provide law enforcement at the state, local and federal levels with the information they need to build their investigations and make arrests. It would also allow the appropriate social service agencies to begin finding treatment options for victims.

•  Increase training and awareness: Advocates say more public employees, especially those who deal with children, need to receive training on human trafficking. They've also proposed requiring businesses like motels, bars and strip clubs to post signage in bathrooms advising victims how they can get help.

There's not a solution that will work for every victim. But everyone agrees they'll all need certain things: specialized care that could involve everything from legal services to substance abuse counseling; an advocate or mentor who stays in their life; and a place to stay where they feel safe. That will cost money, and if lawmakers truly want to help more sex-trafficking victims get treatment, some of that money will have to come out of the state budget.

“We have to build the places. We have to create the places. That money has to be raised,” said Brooke Crowder, who's in the middle of raising more than $6 million to build a facility for 48 child sex-trafficking victims in Bastrop. “At the end of the day, the state has to be willing to put resources for infrastructure to house and care for these children.”



Online predators could mean long-term problems for child victims

by Ashley Michels

PARKER, Colo. – A disturbing Facebook post from a father in the U.K. has gone viral, after he says online predators sent inappropriate messages to his kids.

The man claims within a few minutes of signing on, other users playing the game Roblox asked him to “follow them to their [virtual] homes and bedrooms”, “lay on top of them” and “imitate sexual movements” with the avatars.

Roblox is an online game that lets users create and explore virtual worlds. The game also has a chat feature that allows users to interact.

According to the site, “Roblox is committed to fully complying with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to ensure the privacy of our users age 12 and under and prevent them from sharing personal info via chat messages or in-game. Although users age 13 and older can adjust more account settings and have an expanded vocabulary list, Roblox employs a filtering system and moderation team to help keep players safe and restrict sharing personally identifiable information.”

Roblox is listed as a “kidSAFE” program, which certifies the site as having met online safety standards. It has several parental controls that can block users or content not appropriate for children.

“Roblox uses a state-of-the-art filtering system that actively filters for inappropriate chat everywhere on the site and in-game. This system is monitored and dynamically adjusted to prevent any new subversions as they arise,” the site says.

While kid-friendly settings are a step in the right direction, Aurora-based Clinical Social Worker Dr. Larry Curry says they are not foolproof.

“There are predators out there that will find ways of getting through to your child,” he said.

Dr. Curry says if a child is exposed to content like what was described in the Facebook post, he or she could suffer long-term psychological and emotional stress.

“When we look at things like pornography, when we look at things like sexual abuse, early sexual encounters for a child, it would be the same thing as if they had an assault take place upon them,” Dr. Curry said. “They're traumatized. So they're stuck at that stage, or they get the wrong impression that it's totally okay.”

He suggests utilizing the parental blockers in combination with regular monitoring of games and other social media accounts.

“Don't just depend on the safeguards alone. From time to time, look at their computer. Look at who they're talking to. Look at how much time they're spending on their computer,” Dr. Curry said.

That way your child can still enjoy the game the way it was meant to be played.



Mercer students seek to educate Bibb students about sex trafficking


Bibb County leaders and Mercer students are joining efforts to try to stop sex trafficking in the county.

The Mercer group -- Traffick Jam -- is holding a press conference Tuesday to shine light on the issue which they say is a problem in central Georgia.

Zoe Haynes says something shocking is going on within the walls of Macon high schools.

“We found that one in six students either know someone who is being sex trafficked, knows someone who has been sex trafficked, or is being sex trafficked,” said Haynes.

The group is working to teach freshman in high school about sex trafficking and how to prevent it.

“To see that some of them were shocked, and to see that some of them were just really quiet about it,” said another member Mary Marudas.

She is one member who goes into the high schools and talks to them.

Marudas says one of the biggest problems is that people do not know exactly what sex trafficking is.

"Anytime someone is used against their will for sex, pornography, or anytime a minor is used in that way -- even if it's consensual -- it's considered that," said Marudas.

However, Marudas says it is a serious problem and people outside of schools need to know about it.

“This is happening. Be aware, be aware of where your child is going. What your child is doing,” said Marudas.

The group is holding a press conference for the community to hear from speakers about the issue and ask questions.

Another member, Mike Masille, says this could be a huge step towards winning this fight.

“A huge opportunity for us to educate the community on what's going on behind the scenes that people don't realize is happening in our town,” said Masille.

The press conference is Tuesday, February 21, at 12:30 p.m. in the Mercer Innovation Center.

If you are interested in learning more about the organization or donating, click this link.



Lawmakers look at child sex trafficking education

by Caryn Foehringer

MISSOULA, Mont. - There's a new focus to educate children on the warning signs of child sex trafficking in Montana, and it's coming from Montana State Senator Terry Gauthier. The bill proposes to require child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking prevention education in public schools.

The bill states the state has not undertaken significant statewide activities to provide the necessary education on difficult topics, to provide parents with information on the warning signs of child sexual abuse, or to prevent sexual abuse or sex trafficking of children.

The bill was introduced in the Montana Legislature on Friday and Senator Gauthier hopes it passes.

“The more I learned about the bill, the more of a passion I developed for it,” Senator Gauthier said. “I didn't understand there was such a problem and I guess that's the problem that we have to educate people that there is a real problem out there.”

In the United States alone, nearly 300,000 children are trafficked for sex every year. Since 2007, Montana has received 315 calls about human trafficking and totaled 74 cases. More recently in 2016, 52 calls were made with 15 human trafficking cases reported.

Sixth grade teacher Marlee Rosenthal said children should learn so that if they were ever in a situation, they could get themselves out.

“I believe that it is a good idea,” Rosenthal said. “I think using appropriate language and appropriate planning before hand to make sure it's appropriate for the grade level is really important.”

Senator Gauthier said if the bill passes and schools pick up the curriculum, children fifth grade through 12th grade could learn the material.

Rothenthal said she thinks it's a good idea if the material was implemented into schools.

“The exposure to content that is as serious as child trafficking is important to have dialogue about it so the more that it is talked about, perhaps the students questions can be answered,” said Rothenthal. “Hopefully there won't be a stigma about not talking about it because it is an issue that does need to be talked about.”

According to the fiscal report, the act will end on September 30, 2021. Over the next four years, the report states that $348,331 would be spent on personal services and operating expenses if the bill were to pass.

For more information about the bill, click here.