National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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"News of the Week"  

June, 2017 - Week 3
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio, for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.
NOTE: To see the original source for any article we use (presented in a new tab) simply click on the URL linked at the bottom of each article.


Can we use big data to fight child abuse? The answer is complicated

Predictive analytics may help prevent violence against kids, but it comes with risks

by Ellen Lee

The mother's age. The parents' history with drug or alcohol abuse. The young person's experiences with child protective services.

These are among the hundreds of factors that could be digitally analyzed to predict whether a child is at risk of being abused or neglected — and child welfare agencies in places like Pennsylvania, Florida and California have been exploring whether this “big data” can be harnessed to protect the most vulnerable kids.

“We have checklists that help our child welfare workers gather information,” said Emily Putnam-Hornstein, an associate professor at USC's School of Social Work. “But we often fail to assemble and make good use of historical data.”

Analyzing historical data to forecast an event is called predictive analytics, and it's already being used in some industries; credit card companies, for instance, use predictive analytic tools to detect fraud . In the case of child and family services, these tools could be used to process historical data culled from multiple sources — such as birth and arrest records — to help flag cases where a parent or caregiver is most likely to harm or neglect a child again.

The interest in predictive analytics comes as local child welfare agencies continue to face scrutiny. An estimated four to eight children die every day from abuse or neglect in the United States, according to a national report last year by a commission appointed by Congress and then-President Obama.

In one high-profile case last year, an 11-year-old boy was found dead in his mother's closet in Los Angeles. Yonatan Daniel Aguilar, who weighed 34 pounds at the time, had been reported to the county's Department of Children and Family Services six times, but his case was never thoroughly investigated, according to the Los Angeles Times .

“Anytime a tragedy happens, the community wonders, ‘How did we not connect the dots? How did we miss that this child was in danger despite multiple referrals and other red flags?'” said Putnam-Hornstein, who co-directs the Children's Data Network , a team of researchers studying how data can be applied to make better decisions about the health and well-being of kids.

The Children's Data Network received a grant last year from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the California Department of Social Services' Office of Child Abuse Prevention. It is building and testing a predictive analytics program, one that could potentially be deployed to California's 58 counties. It taps into historical child welfare data, running the information through a computer algorithm to determine the likelihood that a child will be re-reported to the child welfare agencies.

Such a tool could make a difference in how future cases of abuse or neglect are evaluated. Currently, social workers can have varying responses when they look into a child's situation, depending on their personal biases, level of experience or the information they rely on. With predictive analytics, the same standards are consistently applied. A computer can also quickly assess reams of data, connecting dots that a social worker might miss.

Critics, however, caution that the technology could reach too far, comparing it to the “ Minority Report ,” the futuristic Tom Cruise movie about a program that predicts crimes before they occur. Skeptics also question whether such a program could be embedded with bias, leading to heightened scrutiny of poor families, particularly poor families of color. Could the technology prompt investigations that aren't warranted, and therefore needlessly scar children? Could the results be relied on too much, so that they override a social worker's own judgment, training and intuition?

These concerns are among the reasons Los Angeles County is taking a cautious approach to predictive analytics tools. In 2014, Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services teamed up with SAS Institute, a technology company based in Cary, North Carolina, to develop a pilot project using predictive analytics.

The results were mixed . Though the experimental program correctly identified a high percentage of children who were at risk of abuse, it also flagged nearly 4,000 cases that were unfounded. Unsatisfied with the results, county officials are setting aside the system until it can be refined. In a recent report , Judge Michael Nash, the executive director of the Office of Child Protection, recommended establishing clear standards, such as determining who will receive the information and how it will be used, before any program is rolled out.

Despite concerns, other jurisdictions are nevertheless moving forward with predictive analytics. One of the first counties in the nation to adopt it was Pennsylvania's Allegheny County, which launched its system last summer and continues to use it.

In a report this spring, the county detailed how the new system is being used and the precautions being taken: When a call comes through its hotline, a screener collects information and assesses the case. Next, the child's identity is run through its predictive analytics tool. The case is given a score from 1 to 20; the higher the score, the more likely the child is at risk for abuse or neglect. Finally, the screener, in consultation with a supervisor, decides whether the case should be investigated further.

The county emphasized that the new data analytics tool isn't meant to replace human decisions — a case with a low score could still trigger an investigation. Rather, the new program should help its staff make better, more informed decisions.

In an ethical review of the new program, researchers concluded that there will always be the possibility that the wrong decision could be made: “The question is, how can we make the fewest errors in our efforts to protect children and families? (Predictive analytics) seems an ethical and potentially important contribution to that effort.”


United Kingdom

NSPCC: Social media networks failing to tackle online child abuse

Bosses at the charity have set out a three-step “rulebook”, which they want enforced by independent regulators.

by the Belfast Telegraph

Social media firms have failed to tackle online child abuse, grooming and bullying, a leading children's charity has said.

The NSPCC has called on the Government to create new laws forcing internet giants such as Facebook and Twitter to do more to stop the rising problem, with those that fail to meet the standards sanctioned and fined.

The calls come weeks after Prime Minister Theresa May put pressure on social media networks to clamp down on terrorist or extremist content on their sites in the wake of the Manchester bombing.

NSPCC bosses have set out a three-step “rulebook”, which they want enforced by independent regulators. It would mean “safe accounts” with the highest privacy settings for under-18s, grooming and bullying notifications for youngsters being targeted and child safety moderators employed by all networks.

The charity's chief executive Peter Wanless said leaving sites to make up their own rules was unacceptable, adding: “Enough is enough.”

“We need legally enforceable universal safety standards that are built in from the start,” he said.

“We've seen time and time again social media sites allowing violent, abusive or illegal content to appear unchecked on their sites, and in the very worst cases children have died after being targeted by predators or seeing self-harm films posted online

“It makes no sense that in the real world we protect children from going to night clubs or seeing over-18 films, but in the online world, where they spend so much of their time, we have no equivalent safeguards to protect them from harmful strangers or violent content.

“Government must urgently bring in safe accounts, groomer alerts and specially trained child safety moderators as a bare minimum to protect our children. And websites who fail to meet these standards should be sanctioned and fined.”

The safe accounts would have location settings switched off, would not be searchable by email or phone number and would see new followers needing approval.

Grooming alerts would flag harmful behaviour, such as adults with a high rejection rate of friend requests to under-18s. It could also use artificial intelligence to pick up on “sinister messages”.

Research by the NSPCC and O2 found four out of five children feel social media sites aren't doing enough to protect them from pornography, self-harm, bullying and hatred.

Last year, Childline gave 12,248 counselling sessions about online safety and abuse. Of those, 5,103 mentioned cyber-bullying – up 12% from the previous year.

Over the same period, there was 2,123 counselling sessions about online child sexual exploitation – up 44%.



Can a child sexual offender be cured?

by Jane Lee

In a row of suburban cafes, one shop's windows are covered in grey stickers. You might mistake it for an abandoned takeaway restaurant.

The work that happens behind them is very private. And very important.

This is Dr Karen Owen's practice. It is here that she treats some of the most damaged and potentially damaging men in the state. Men who have, or who might one day, sexually abuse a child.

Here Owen and her team of six psychologists and sexual health counsellors see a steady stream of clients who struggle daily to battle either a sexual attraction to children or an impulse to abuse them. That they do this largely hidden from public view tells us something about the crime and about ourselves.

Most crimes can be understood, and many can be forgiven. But when it comes to child sex offenders, society tends to turn away in disgust. Some react with anger to those who try to look dispassionately at what is happening. But what if, in refusing to look, we are failing to do everything we can to prevent these crimes?

Conventional wisdom has it that child sex offenders lurk among us until caught, and that they can never be cured. But psychologists around the world who have dedicated their careers to studying and treating sexually abusive behaviours have discovered over decades of research that we are only partly right.

While there is no pill that can cure child sex offenders, there are therapeutic methods that can help prevent them from reoffending. Corrections Victoria staff and psychologists who treat sex offenders in the community say that therapeutic treatment can halve the rate of recidivism.

German researchers from the University of Erlangen conducted a meta-analysis of outcomes from psychological programs for sex offenders around the world. The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology in 2005, found that those who received treatment were about 37 per cent less likely to re-offend than those who received none.

It also found that the results of the programs had not improved significantly since the 1970s.

One problem with such treatment is that it's difficult to find. If you are an adult who wrestles every day with a sexual attraction to children or some other desire to abuse them, there are few places to get help outside of jail.

Another, is that when we think about child sexual abuse the word that comes to mind is often "paedophile".

In fact, paedophiles make up only a very small minority of the adults who sexually abuse children. A paedophile is defined as someone who is primarily and deviantly sexually attracted to children. They are extremely difficult – some say impossible – to treat.

Yet most child sex offenders can be drawn to abuse children for a variety of reasons, many of which are not even sexual. They are generally considered more amenable to treatment.

And most adults who abuse children will never reoffend. Even without treatment only a minority – experts estimate between 10 to 25 per cent – go on to do it again. But given the enormous damage this small number are known to cause, reducing this group even further is down to people like Karen Owen.

Owen did not set out to work with with child sex offenders. As a nurse who specialised in treating intellectually disabled patients, she wondered: why did so many act out sexually?

It was partly to answer this question that she started studying psychology in the 1980s. In 1993, she was one of two people tasked with turning a pilot program at Pentridge Prison into Victoria's – and Australia's – first sex offender treatment program. (Previously, the only programs available were those available to non-sexual offenders, like anger management and stress reduction.)

She travelled to Canada to learn from Bill Marshall, who helped establish some of the earliest sex offender treatment programs in prisons, and is a prominent advocate for the view that cognitive behavioural therapy can help prevent abuse.

Though she expected to bear witness to some kind of dramatic transformation, the reality of trying to change human behaviour proved much less glamorous. Marshall told her: "'All you need to know is that this bloke knows that you're not going to muck around with him and that he needs to be in the room on Monday. You start unpacking the rest of it from that day on."

The sex offender treatment program Owen went on to establish for Victoria's prisons priorities of treatment for those who pose a higher risk. It is centred on group sessions involving a range of sexual offenders (not just those who abuse children), and focuses on diminishing their ability to manipulate others, improving their relationship skills and reducing feelings of isolation.

Since 2013, the program has focused on helping prisoners build on their strengths and identify the triggers that might lead them to reoffend.

In NSW, the state government runs programs with both prisoners and sex offenders released in the community. A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman says treatment includes "programs that encourage offenders to acknowledge their sex-offending behaviour and prepare them for more intensive treatment".

Sex offenders assessed to have the greatest risk of reoffending are a priority. One program for high-risk sex offenders, Custody Based Intensive Treatment involves group-based therapy and targets issues such as sexual behaviour, drug- and alcohol-related offending, anti-social attitudes, coping mechanisms and relationship problems, she says.

While judges can order lower level offenders to attend treatment programs in the community, prison remains the main avenue by which adult offenders can receive therapeutic treatment in Australia.

This means we rely on prisons to treat such people, but only once they have already abused children.

Psychologists argue we could do more to prevent them committing crimes in the first place. That brings us to another popular misconception: that these men don't want to seek help.

In 2008, Owen left Corrections, partly because the workload of assessing child sex offenders before the courts grew too great. She started her own private practice, expecting most of the work to come from consulting on criminal and family law cases.

Within a week, however, she started getting calls. Some had seen her in prison and tracked her down after release. Others told her they had never abused children but feared they would, and had heard that she could help them.

"One of the misconceptions I had was that men only want to come to treatment once they get caught because they have to," she says."It's just not true. There are men who struggle with these issues, some who have offended, and some who haven't but know they're heading in that direction who genuinely know they don't want to do it and want to seek help."

She and her colleagues usually treat their patients fortnightly for about a year. Some patients visit a GP for a referral for anxiety or depression, which allows them to claim a Medicare subsidy for up to 10 psychologist sessions a year. But most – from a range of backgrounds – pay hundreds of dollars a session up front.

While she supports the prison system's continuing focus on group therapy to minimise harm, Owen also sees an important role for individual treatment to tackle the way offenders view themselves and what they have done and create lasting behavioural change.

Most of the clients she sees are not so much deviant as damaged. Many have experienced some form of abuse or neglect in their own childhoods that affects their ability to develop social skills. They often suffer sexual performance problems and lack basic sexual education. As a result, says Owen, they form distorted ways of viewing relationships, women and sex, which, once deeply embedded in their minds, are easily used to justify their abuse of children.

Only a minority meet the clinical diagnosis for paedophilia; Owen estimates about 40 per cent of her practice's clients have an intellectual disability. Often, she says, "They're trying to achieve intimacy or avoid feelings of loneliness."

These distortions can develop at an early age following exposure to abuse in their own families, or over a long period of time, to be cemented when they become isolated in later life.

One of her former patients initially believed he was helping the children he met online, in teaching them about sex and protecting them from further harm.

Owen helps her patients unpack the reasons for these distortions, undo them and, most importantly, to take responsibility for them. Together they develop strategies for healthy sexual relationships, to avoid situations where they risk abusing children and develop empathy for their victims.

She helped the patient who saw himself as a "saviour" realise that he was actually trying to groom under-age children for his own sexual pleasure.

It turned out he was not exclusively attracted to children. But his intense fears of intimacy drove him to them, as there was less chance they would reject him than other adults.

This does not mean that therapeutic treatment works every time.

Owen calls herself the "ultimate sceptic": she does not pretend her job is easy. One of the first times she assessed an offender's risk of reoffending, she says her inexperience led a man became so aroused describing his own crimes that he ejaculated on the other side of the table from her. Patients also try to intimidate her to avoid confronting their personal issues.

"I want to work collaboratively with them but my job is community protection," Owen says. "So if I think they're a risk to themselves or others everyone's going to know it."

Since 2011, a Victorian state inquiry and a royal commission have exposed how major institutions have responded to historic child sexual abuse.

The County Court - which deals with most of Victoria's child sexual abuse cases - is bracing itself for greater numbers of cases following the state inquiry and royal commission into child abuse. However in recent years the number that have been resolved by the court have fluctuated across different crimes - though cases of sexual penetration of a 16 or 17 year-old, jumped from 20 in 2014/15 to 36 in 2015/16.

Generally, only those who are sentenced to more than 18 months' jail can hope to secure a place in prison treatment programs in Victoria. Corrections Victoria says they assess on a case by case basis but they believe that treatment for less than 18 months is ineffective.

About 101 adults who offend against children will participate in prison sex offenders programs each year.

Given there are only a handful of private therapists in Victoria who, like Owen, specialise in treating child sex offenders, most offenders rely on Corrections to support them after they are released, either by supervising them or referring them for treatment to public mental health service Forensicare. Very few who struggle with these issues refer themselves there.

Some offenders are able to nominate support people, who Corrections trains to look out for signs they may re-offend. But Owen says this assumed child sex offenders had friends and relatives in the community willing to do this: "It's only good so long as people give a shit about you and not many of them do."

It takes a certain type of person to take on this demanding task. Andrew*, who has been involved in prison fellowships for most of his life, is that type of person. Not much fazes the soft-spoken, white-haired man. He started screening movies for prisoners as a teenager, and went on to organise visitors for those who had none of their own.

He runs a weekly support group for child sex offenders in the community, but will not publicly reveal the place they meet weekly to talk and pray.

Andrew does not think there is a permanent cure for child sex offenders. "Some can resist it, but when a damaged person still longs for intimacy and can only find it where they have total power, that's the direction they will go in."

"The longing for intimacy is such a powerful thing in all humanity and it can be such a blessing or (a curse)."

The answer, he says, is to create a community for them to live in. "Often it's not just a fact of whether we accept people. It's whether they can really comprehend they are accepted, they can see it, feel it and know they have friends."

Owen says dangers lie in the absence of such a community. Offenders may serve lengthy sentences, but most are ultimately released. While some may be supervised closely in the community, most have no personal support.

So offenders are largely left alone with their thoughts and in the full knowledge of the community's hatred for them and their crimes.

"You can do offence-specific treatment all your life ... but if they don't believe that they're worth being on the planet then they're not going to implement the strategies," she says.

Owen also says a move in recent years towards greater monitoring of sex offenders in the community also provides a "false sense of security" and often has little impact on the likelihood they will abuse again.

"One of the risks we run is that we rely on the monitoring to do what treatment could have much more effectively done if we had even more resources."

Could we do more to keep the community safe from the risk of child sexual abuse?

Professor Doug Boer, the past president of the International Association for the Treatment of Sex Offenders, offers no easy answers.

Boer, who treats adolescents and works with prison programs in Canberra, believes that our ability to significantly improve the way we support offenders is limited, in many ways, by stigma around child abuse.

It is difficult, he says, to assess whether prison treatment programs are truly effective because they are always voluntary and affected by "selection bias". While Corrections argues most offenders participate because they are motivated by the prospect of being released early on parole, Boer says there is no way of knowing how many have declined treatment who could have benefited from it.

One alternative, he offers, would be to make the sex offender treatment program compulsory in prisons, though this approach "requires a bit of back-bone" because it would require us to provide treatment to all offenders, while accepting that some may still go on to reoffend.

And limited political appetite exists to devote more resources to helping offenders and those at risk of becoming offenders particularly when the outcomes remain unclear.

"My argument would be that our society is hung up on statistical significance ... But I suspect if one less child was victimised, society would think it was worth it."



Agony of stolen parenthood

by Victor Paul Borg

I experience no joy on Father's Day. I can't even call my young daughter, so I spend the day in quiet mourning. My predicament is that, despite my former centrality and involvement as a parent, our relationship has been reduced to a couple of hours' contact every week in the presence of a minder. And in the absence of my daughter, not even the chance to hear her chirpy and innocent voice on Father's Day, I shall descend into fantasy and superstition: I speak to her in my mind; I pray for her during Mass; and I think of her during my swim (she loves swimming). I like to imagine that I can project my thoughts and they could touch her, that I can telepathically protect her.

There are many other men like me, unable to see their children through no fault of their own, spending a joyless Father's Day. It's an agony that is caused by a parent who manages to separate the child from the other parent after marital separation. It's called parental alienation, it's a worldwide phenomenon, and although it afflicts both sexes – perpetrators can be women or men – women are twice as likely to alienate children. Statistically, about 70 per cent of alienated children are estranged from their fathers.

Parental alienation has come to symbolise men's struggle for shared parenting after separation. It seems that, as the concept of shared parenting after separation gains traction in law and in practice, a significant percentage of women (as well as men to a smaller extent) resort to alienation attempts in a desperate bid to maintain a clutch on the children.

Alienators often employ deviousness, in­doctrination and psychological abuse of the child to sever the relationship between the other parent and child. The child is held hostage by the alienating parent.

This phenomenon was comprehensively described as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) more than 30 years ago by the psychiatrist Richard Gardner. In Gardner's enunciation, PAS could only occur once the child adopted and internalised the disparagement of the other parent as the child's own reasoning. In this psychological alignment between alienator and child, the child would then spurn the other parent vehemently and unjustifiably. PAS has not been accepted as a diagnosable condition in psychiatry; many psychiatrists reject its validity.

But the existence of parental alienation as an empirical phenomenon is not in doubt – it has generated many studies, books, articles, documentaries, and campaigns – the consensus in psychology is that it causes insidious psychological damage that can run through the child's lifetime.

Alienators employ a similar set of strategies. The child is subjected to a constant campaign of denigration of the other parent; all signs of the other parent are banished – the child is not allowed to have pictures of him, or to call him – and any affectionate talk about that parent is met by denunciation. The alienating parent belittles, even throws out, things given by the other parent; and activities to which the child is taken by the other parents are disdained as inappropriate or dangerous.

Whether the alienation works or not depends on a range of susceptibilities. These include the age of the child (children of between nine and 15 are most susceptible to alienation), the cognitive capacity of the child, the individuation between alienating parent and child (children more psychologically independent from parents are less likely to be alienated), and other complex factors in the child's personality. Moreover, not all parents rejected by children are due to the other parent's alienation: the child could be contemptuous of a parent due to that parent's own parenting deficiencies or dysfunction, as well as abuse. And sometimes the child turns against the alienator.

Obsessed alienators will stop at nothing. If the campaign of denigration doesn't work, they resort to more drastic ploys: they concoct allegations of child abuse, especially sex abuse. And that works like magic: an investigation is launched, contact between child and targeted parent is either suspended or limited to a modicum of supervised contact, and the alienator, with one fell swoop, grasps total control of the child. The child is effectively separated from everything associated with that targeted parent – extended family, friends, pets and so on – the alienator sometimes even isolates the child from community.

This process of isolation generates emotional dependence between child and alienating parent, the child becomes a (psychological) hostage of the alienator, and this gives rise to a cult-like induction: the child is brainwashed, the allegations concocted by the alienator are implanted into the child's mind.

So why would a parent subject one's own child to such psychological abuse? In most cases the parent would have emotional problems, sometimes arising from abuse in his or her own childhood (many of the alienators suffer from personality disorders). In other cases the motive would be an intertwined set of reasons, including vindictiveness and financial considerations.

In several countries, most notably the US, parental alienation is considered a form of child abuse (American family courts tend to give custody of the child to the other parent in cases of unreformed alienation). In some countries it's a criminal offence.

Social workers and psychologists in Malta are painfully aware of the perniciousness of alienation on the child's mental health; courts less so (psychological abuse is underapprecia­ted in Family Courts). Yet more consequential are infamous delays: the delays in conducting investigations (in alleged abuse) and any ensuing prosecutions give ample time to the alienator to complete his or her handiwork.

In this sense the delays unwittingly encourage allegations of abuse; the system, due to its inefficiencies and tardiness, plays into the hands of the alienators. And the lost time before normality is restored means that the relationship between targeted parent and child may never be rebuilt to its full extent. The targeted parent is left scarred and embittered, the child comprehensively damaged psychologically, and the alienator hardly ever held to account for eviscerating a family.

Victor Borg is documenting for a media project cases in which parents were falsely accused of abuse. Make contact on (Confidentiality is assured).



Texas, the State With the Country's Second-Highest Child Marriage Rate, Finally Bans It

by Christina Cauterucci

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Thursday that closed a few loopholes allowing child marriage in the state. The new law prohibits marriage people under age 18 unless they are emancipated minors, and therefore legal adults. Since Texas only allows emancipation for minors aged 16 or 17, the state now sets a hard age threshold on marriage at age 16.

Previously, 16- and 17-year-olds could get married with the permission of just one parent, even if the other parent objected. If a judge approved, consenting parents could marry off children of any age. According to the Tahirih Justice Center, an anti­–gender violence advocacy group that helped write the new Texas law, judges and law enforcement officials were not required to look into whether the minor being presented for marriage was a victim of abuse or coercion.

This law is a big deal for Texas, where the child-marriage rate is one of the highest in the nation. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center report , nearly seven of every 1,000 miminors aged 15 to 17 were married in 2014, a rate second only to West Virginia's. The national average is five per 1,000, and every other state in the country has a rate under six per 1,000. (Tahirih has also noted that the Pew report may underestimate rates , since it doesn't count children under 15 or minors in the 15 to 17 age range who were married but have already divorced.) Between 2000 and 2014, almost 40,000 minors were married in Texas, Tahirih says, citing Texas Department of State Health Services statistics. Most of these minors were child and adolescent girls, some as young as 12 years old, marrying adult men.

Trevicia Williams was 14, a freshman at a high school in Houston, when her mother married her off to a 26-year-old in 1983. The man already had a criminal record; he's now a registered sex offender. In April, Williams submitted written testimony in support of the bill Abbott signed this week, detailing the physical and emotional abuse she endured at the hands of a husband she'd met just a few months before her mother picked her up from school one day and told her she was getting married. She got pregnant at age 15, had a daughter, and filed for divorce after her husband got locked up. Williams' mother never told her why she forced her daughter into wedlock.

Girls who marry before age 19 are 50 percent more likely to drop out of high school than their peers and four times less likely to finish college. They experience higher rates of psychiatric disorders and face rates of intimate-partner violence nearly three times higher than the U.S. average.

Yet most U.S. states still allow child marriage under certain circumstances. In March, the Republican majority in the New Hampshire legislature voted down a bill that would have raised the legal marriage age to 18. Currently, with parental and judicial consent, boys as young as 14 and girls as young as 13 can legally marry in the state. Republicans argued that banning child marriage would keep members of the military from getting benefits for their underage partners and disadvantage babies born to unmarried teen girls. In Virginia, until the state banned child marriage last year, a pregnant minor could legally marry the person who'd gotten her pregnant, encouraging rapists to avoid charges by convincing their victims' parents to let them get married. Republicans in Virginia opposed the bill on the grounds that pregnant minors would be more likely to opt for abortions if they couldn't marry a man.

Abbott is taking great pains to erode services and protections for women and children in his state—he recently c alled a special legislative session for the primary purpose of passing abortion insurance restrictions and anti-transgender bathroom legislation. On the day he signed the child marriage ban, he also signed a bill that will allow child welfare programs to refuse to place children with LGBTQ or non-Christian families on religious grounds. But, unlike his fellow Republicans in other states, Abbott did not argue that adults who get children pregnant should be allowed to marry them. On the issue of child marriage, on the superinflated curve by which we must grade today's GOP, Abbott gets an A!




Philly schools must prioritize trauma-informed learning

by Daun Kauffman

Powerful and surprisingly prevalent horrors are blocking access to education and ravaging children's lives. Sadly, they remain the elephant in the classroom: adverse childhood experiences .

Adverse childhood experiences include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, including bullying; physical and emotional neglect; a missing parent, due to separation, divorce, incarceration, or death; witnessing household substance abuse, violence, or mental illness; and witnessing environmental violence.

Developmental (or childhood) trauma after these adverse experiences often goes unidentified or misunderstood, and is often worsened within school systems. Experts call it a crisis.

Trauma during development is especially heinous. Some adults normalize the pain and fear of the injured child, thinking they'll get over it. Actually, it's the opposite . Young children have fewer coping mechanisms, and their immature brains are still developing. The impacts of trauma are greater on the still-developing brain.

Students deciding to take their own lives in Philadelphia is an on-going, crushing indictment of the school district.

Trauma impacts learning and schools, via its laser-like effects on the physical structure of the brain. It damages cognition. The specific changes to brain architecture damage children's memory systems , their ability to think and organize multiple priorities, and hence to learn , particularly literacy skills.

The changes to the trauma-impacted children's neurobiology predispose them to hypervigilance and suspicion, leading them to misread social cues . Their aggressive, hair-trigger defenses are often set off by deep fear memories outside of their explicit consciousness.

Adults' view of students' seemingly illogical, or oppositional behavior, is often one of shock, confusion, frustration, and maybe anger. If we act on our uninformed views, we risk re-triggering more of the child's trauma, and even more aggression.

In the spirit of zero tolerance, schools often blame and punish students for logical behaviors connected to their trauma-based injuries. Punishment can seem appropriate in the moment, but does not address the child's injury. Instead, the data says, it feeds the school-to-prison pipeline.

If schools are to be guided by data, the data says more than two-thirds of children — of all incomes, all colors, all social levels, all educational levels — experience at least one adverse childhood experience. It is all of us.

CDC scientists found that even in beautiful, suburban San Diego about one-fourth of middle class, mostly white, college educated, working folks with medical insurance had three or more adverse childhood experiences! The lifelong impacts are shocking and alarming.

Three or more ACEs is significant because it correlates with doubled risk of depression, severe obesity, drug abuse, lung disease, and liver disease. It triples the risk of alcoholism, STDs, and teen pregnancy. There is a 5-fold increase in attempted suicide.

Nevertheless, the School District of Philadelphia does not train or fund or allocate staff to recognize and respond to the devastating impacts of developmental trauma. Three or four district staff, based downtown at headquarters, is a shameful, inappropriate investment in addressing the massive scourge across Philadelphia, with more than 200,000 school children.

District leaders and staff, given insufficient training and resources, can fail to connect the curse of developmental trauma to behavior and academic learning. So the crisis continues.

The least of the impacts is continuing damage to students' cognitive functions. In turn, their self-confidence is shattered, further damaging learning “results” and the educational mission. Trauma-impacted children's natural, aggressive defenses can then be escalated more by uninformed adults. Next, frustrated learners and families lose trust in their school. All this, in turn, dissolves public confidence in public education, which finally, in a perfect storm, destroys public willingness to invest in public education.

Meanwhile, as a result of low-priority, and unidentified developmental trauma, all SDP children are denied equal access to their education.

“Denied access” includes SDP students who are trauma-impacted and then the rest of our students in the same classrooms trying to learn in the midst of frequent chaos around their trauma-impacted peers. Ultimately all of us are damaged, including all students' families and the citizens of Philadelphia.

The SDP's inaction and ignorance aggravates and intensifies children's injuries within the very system accountable for their safety and growth. It is crucial to re-prioritize the scarce funds in public education towards system-wide, trauma-informed practice, driven by a vision of equity and educational process leadership in Philadelphia.

SDP leaders must be held accountable for their inaction in the interim. They have clear data and strategies that can help stop further damaging trauma-impacted children. Doing nothing is unethical and morally wrong. It is time to stand up and indict SDP leadership.



A Home Away from Home

by Charita Goshay

WOOSTER For nearly 50 years, the pastoral campus of the Christian Children's Home of Ohio has served as a refuge for children in need of the kind of therapeutic care and treatment they can't get at home.

Sitting on a former 175-acre farm, the faith-based agency offers residential services, clinical counseling and support for children 6 to 18, most of whom who have undergone abuse, neglect and trauma.

CCHO also offers Encourage, a private foster and adoption service, and Encompass, which has clinical counseling sites at 14 locations throughout Northeast Ohio, including Jackson Township.

Executive Director Kevin Hewitt said the hope is that in helping abused and neglected children to heal, it will help their future spouses and children, and “soon, you're helping the entire community.”

CCHO was founded by a small group of Christian men who saw a need for residential services for children who can't remain at home.

“I can't imagine their surprise at how many people have been helped,” Hewitt said.

Children are referred to CCHO through children's services agencies, the family courts and parental placement. They have served children from 64 of Ohio's 88 counties, Hewitt said. The average length of stay is about 10 months.

A newly added service, Hewitt said, is TRAC, or Trauma Resolution and Connection Program.

“By the time a child is referred to our residential services, there's been a trauma history,” he said. “The child at that point can't function in the family, or they need more structure.”

“Normal stuff”

The campus features four residential age-appropriate “cottages,” which has the capacity for 36 children. There is a waiting list.

“That makes me sad,” Hewitt said, noting that they've seen an increase in referrals because of the opiate crisis.

Hewitt said CCHO supports Ohio House Bill 50, which would provide more support services to young adults after they “age out” of foster care at 18.

“It's a safety net for kids,” he said. “They have every right to emancipate themselves, but even if you helped them last year, once they turn 18, there's nothing you can do for them.”

On campus, the children's days are consumed by school and therapy, but there also are ample opportunities for recreation, regular field trips and weekly visits to town.

“I get real excited when our kids do normal stuff,” Hewitt said. “Some of them have been social-worked to death.”

By law, children's residential centers are required to offer a minimum of one hour of instruction, five days a week. But Hewitt said CCHO residents undertake a full school day, provided by Summit Academy, a charter school system. Summit Academy teachers come to the campus.

“Many are behind their peers,” Hewitt said, adding that Summit Academy designs individual learning plans.

The arrangement has come under criticism from public school districts, which are responsible for educating the children living in their districts. The public districts are upset because while they're held responsible for children being educated, the money designated to educate them gets diverted to charter schools.

Peggy Smith began her 24-year career at CCHO as a foster-care intern. Today she is CCHO's director of residential services.

Smith said many of the children who come to CCHO wrestle with anger, and attachment and trust disorders.

“That can show itself in a lot of different ways,” she said.

Smith said it's why each cottage has a therapist and two case managers. Each child undergoes two hours of daily personal therapy and four hours of daily group therapy.

In the cottages, every child has his or her own room. Residents share a common kitchen and laundry areas and TV room. Residents can earn allowances through a chore system, Smith said.

Network of support

The campus, she said, is designed so that every child is under observation “24-7.”

There also are plans to install “sensory rooms” in the cottages for when residents feel overwhelmed or need a timeout,” Smith said.

Smith said a few children brought to CCHO have emotional problems that are so severe they don't stay because they require a different kind of residential service, Smith said.

“Some kids just don't feel safe enough to stay,” she said.

CCHO's annual budget is $8.5 million, with 50 percent coming from Medicaid, 30 percent from private insurance, and 20 percent through private donations.

Increasingly, behavioral health care for children is being provided through managed care, Hewitt noted.

CCHO also is supported by a network of about 250 churches also offers support and donations. Recently, 1,000 people attended a fundraiser barbecue held on the campus.

Future plans include a cafeteria and a gymnasium.

“We're the best-kept secret in Northeast Ohio,” said Joe Franz, CCHO's director of communications. “We impact so many children. The staff is an amazing group of people. They love kids and the love serving the Lord to make an impact over generations.”

Earlier this year, Franz and co-worker Jamey Codding co-wrote a book, “Father's Day Miracle,” donating the proceeds to CCHO. For information visit .

Smith credits CCHO's leadership for its support of the staff, and its advocacy of training and development.

Hewitt said CCHO is unapologetically Christian, but no one is required to attend religious services.

“We are Christian, we're going to stay Christian,” he said. “But we believe that the principles of honesty and integrity transcend religion. We don't want (residents) to just survive; we want them to thrive. We want kids to consider themselves the next generation of leaders.”

For more information, visit



'Once it's online it's very difficult to get back': The dangers of posting sexual images on the net

by The Journal

A STARK WARNING about taking and sharing sexual images has been given by an Irish garda who specialises in sexual crimes and crimes against children.

He says that as the age that children are given mobile phones gets younger and younger, parents need to ensure they talk to their offspring about safety online.

In addition, he says that gardaí investigating such cases have to view disturbing material in order to confirm that an offence has taken place.

Detective Superintendent Declan Daly has worked for 27 years in An Garda Síochána, and been a detective for 22 of them. He is currently a Detective Superintendent in the Garda National Protective Service Bureau, with responsibility for the investigation of sexual crimes and crimes against children. Daly is also responsible for the investigation of online exploitation of children.

On top of all this, Daly is Ireland's representative on the Violent Crimes Against Children International Taskforce, a specialist group for combating child abuse material on the internet. He spoke this week at the NOTA (National Organisation for the Treatment of Sex Abusers) conference on best practice in combatting online sex offenders.

‘There are online predators'

After his talk, Daly outlined to how parents need to talk to their children about keeping safe in an era where images can go viral in a matter of minutes.

“The internet is a great and wonderful too,l and it's an educational tool when used properly,” says Daly. “But at any given time on the internet, unfortunately there are dangers and there are online predators that are there who are seeking to exploit unaware and vulnerable children online.”

Some of the examples he gives make for disturbing reading. “If you post an image online and you give an image to someone who says they are a 15-year-old boy – that may not be a 15-year-old boy, that could be a 50-year-old man who has a sexual interest in children. You have to be very careful” he says.

Young people may be in a relationship – they may have shared images of each other, and that is a danger then because that relationship could end and the images could be shared by one person. Or we had a situation where a child takes an image of themselves and gives the phone to someone else inadvertently, who goes through and sees the image, and then it's shared.

He and his colleagues also deal with cases where someone uses a nude or sexual image to blackmail another person. “[They say] ‘I have this image of you, I am going to give this to all of your school if you don't give me [something].”

There have been reports of young people taking their lives due to such blackmail.

“Internationally that has happened and it has been well-documented cases where children, young people have taken their lives because they have been victim to this crime,” says Daly.

“The hardship and the emotional impact that this has on a child, maybe a 14-year-old child, maybe an image of her naked is sent around school or Facebook – you can imagine the impact that has. And it's really, really tragic stuff. That's why in An Garda Siochána we take this type of crime exceptionally seriously.”

So the message is do not post sexual images online – that's the important message.

He said that he and his colleagues have dealt with “very young” children in relation to such cases. “Children are internet enabled from a very early stage now,” he says. “Not just on the phone, you have online gaming for example.”

He is very clear on sharing sexual photos and how, once they're online, they're almost impossible to remove.

“It's very difficult to get it back and it's very difficult to get it down,” he said of such images. “I did say humorously at the conference that really this was an effective yardstick – before you post an image online [ask yourself] would I show this image to my mother? If the answer to that question is no, you should really have a conversation with yourself.”

“When they are on the internet they may have tendency to let their guard down,” says Daly of young people's behaviour online. “Face-to-face they might be more reserved. Once that guard is down they are more open to attack from a predator.”

Starting young

Daly says that children as young as 12 are getting phones for big events like Confirmations, so the conversation around behaviour needs to start young.

When a parent gives a young child of 12 or 13 a phone, it should come with that conversation piece and should come with certain rules.

He says that if a parent saw their child talking to a stranger, they would immediately want to know who they're talking with – and it should be the same with a phone or the internet.

But he says parents can be “very comfortable giving a child access to the worldwide internet and all that entails” without that chat taking place.

But Daly also understands that parents' knowledge of the internet and social media can vary, with some lacking knowledge and not having confidence in their advice. He says that any advice they do give can be very simple, alerting the child to dangers, and telling them about appropriate and inappropriate behaviour online.

He also says that parents should want their child to feel it's OK to come talk to them about any issues they are experiencing – and not to feel worried that they may be punished.

Following the evidence

The bureau Daly works for covers a very broad brief: human trafficking, organised prostitution, adult sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, missing persons, and sex offenders.

How do they go about investigating such behaviour?

“Every interaction on the internet leaves an electronic footprint,” he says, adding that the case may then go to ‘mainstream policing' and warrant being sent to the DPP, who will decide whether to prosecute.

“Follow the evidence,” says Daly, with an emphasis on keeping the victim protected.

As part of their job, Daly and colleagues have to view some disturbing images to verify that an offence of child sex abuse is taking place, which he says is “obviously difficult”, but they have support in work to help them deal with what they see.

“It's not a nice part of our work but it's a necessary part of our work,” he says. “But there are welfare supports there, they are very strong and very gifted and diligent people working in this area.”

He also notes that in terms of law enforcement worldwide, “we are a very small family”, so the gardaí can call on their colleagues in the FBI, Interpol, Homeland Security and others.

This collaboration is essential when the internet is essentially borderless.

His final message? “Use the internet well and use it appropriately, but for parents and children and young people, that awareness that there can be dangers on the internet should be there, and on no account should they post any explicit images online for any purpose, for any reason to anybody and really that's a really important safety net right there.”

“Once it's online it's very difficult to get it back,” he warns.

In addition, he adds: “You'd never meet somebody or arrange to meet somebody online ever, that is absolutely a no-no. If that happens, if anyone makes an approach online you should go to your parents or go to trusted adult. And all this should be reported to An Garda Siochána, or to Tusla (the child protection agency).”


United Kingdom

Thousands of child sex abuse victims miss out on compensation because of cruel time limit on claims

Children who were molested have just two years after their 18th birthday to make an injury claim – even though they may still be coming to terms with the abuse they suffered

by Grace Macaskill

Victims of historical sex abuse are losing out on thousands of pounds in criminal compensation due to a cruel legal loophole.

Children who were molested have just two years after their 18th birthday to make an injury claim – even though they may still be coming to terms with the abuse they suffered and nowhere near ready to relive and share their horrific experiences.

Today, campaigners urged a change in the regulations – and the Sunday People joins them in a plea for the Government to lift the cap and give survivors of child abuse the payouts they deserve.

Nick French, who was assaulted by his stepfather, said: “It's like the abuse never happened once you turn 20. It feels like nobody believes your story.”

Another victim, whose dad raped her when she was 13, told of how she managed to secure a conviction 11 years later – but was still denied a payout.

She said: “The courts allow victims to come forward when they choose, yet the criminal injuries board doesn't allow them to do the same. It doesn't make sense.”

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority states that victims of historic abuse have two years from their 18th birthday to make a claim if the crime was reported to police when they were children.

The same two-year rule applies to survivors who make a police complaint as adults.

But lawyers, victims and campaigners say it puts pressure on people to share harrowing details of their abuse before they may be ready to do so.

Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said: “This is deeply unfair and prejudiced. Victims feel shame, embarrassment and guilt, and sex abuse often erodes or destroys people's self-esteem.

“To go down the route of obtaining justice or compensation takes some doing and people can feel very intimidated.

“Some victims don't feel they deserve a payment after what's happened to them and setting a time limit just makes it worse.

“Sex abuse is an area of criminality that remains taboo and is very much swept under the carpet. This policy reinforces that.”

One 26-year-old, who was raped and assaulted by her dad as a teenager , is ­appealing the injury board's decision to deny her compensation.

The woman, from the Milton Keynes area, made a police complaint when she was 14 but felt unable to go through a lengthy court case .

When she finally found the strength to take her dad to court in October 2015, he admitted guilt and was sentenced to ten years – but she was denied a payout because of the two-year time limit.

She said: “Compensation isn't something that even goes through your mind when you're dealing with abuse. You're just trying to get by day to day.

“I wasn't even aware I could claim until close to the end of the trial, when Victim Support shoved some leaflets into my hand. My abuse meant my education ­suffered and I wanted to use the money to make a fresh start and go back to university for a PhD so I could ­really make something of my life.”

The woman was abused after her dad got in touch with her after three years of estrangement.

“He took me out for dinner in London and gave me alcohol ‘like a grown-up', then took me to stay at his and raped me,” she says.

“But it didn't stop there. He started calling me every night and asking me questions, like what was I wearing. It went on for about six months.

“I told my mum and we went to the police. I gave statements but I felt I couldn't go through with a court case because I felt so scared.”

Tortured by her ordeal, she took the case to court to find some sense of closure – but being told she was not entitled to compensation was another blow.

Company boss Nick French, 45, was molested by his stepdad Gary Moscroft as a teenager and he complained to police about physical abuse in 1987, when he was 15.

Moscroft, now 78, of Brighton, was given a police caution at the time. But he was jailed for ten years in January 2015 after Nick, having had two children of his own, could bottle it up no longer and went back to the police.

Yet when Nick applied for criminal injuries, he was told he was not entitled because he had not made a claim before he was 20.

He said: “You don't suddenly turn 18 and think, ‘Oh well, I must make that claim'. It took me years to come to terms with what had happened to me, let alone share the abuse with police officers.

“But because I had complained about Moscroft when I was 15, I was told I wasn't eligible for anything.

“It put me into a real depression . I felt that the abuse wasn't believed.

“Then I became enraged. It wasn't about the money and became about other child victims. How can you put a time limit on such trauma?”

Nick's abuser was convicted of ten offences, including indecent assault, gross indecency with a child and child cruelty.

Nick said: “It fell under the remit of a historical case because of the previous complaint, yet Moscroft had been convicted.

“It feels like this is a loophole for the Government to save money.” Nick said he was “haunted” by the memories of his abuse, ­adding: “It was horrendous. It's taken me years to get over it.

“It was only when I had my own ­children I realised the real extent of what had happened to me. It became more real and I thought, ‘How can someone harm a child?'.

“I was having flashbacks and nightmares, and I've had psychological help to come to terms with it all.”

Nick appealed and was eventually awarded a payment but he had to recruit lawyers at leading firm Bolt Burdon Kemp to win his case.

The firm's Kathleen Hallisey, a solicitor specialising in child abuse cases, said: “The system needs to be changed.

“It's called historical child abuse for a reason and victims often feel unable to talk about it for years, let alone feel strong enough to make a claim.

“Being turned down by the CICA for an entirely arbitrary time limit is ­traumatising for a survivor.

“It feels like one more person who hasn't believed them, a fear they had carried all their life and one of the ­reasons they didn't report it to the ­police sooner.

“Rather than appealing denials from the CICA, I fear many survivors are so overwhelmed they give up.”

The CICA states clearly on its website that if abuse was reported to police before the victim turned 18, they can claim up to the day of their 20th ­birthday. If it was not, adult survivors are also given two years to claim from reporting the crime to police.

The Ministry of Justice failed to ­provide statistics of cases like Nick's.

A spokesman said: “Where a case involves a child victim who did not ­report the abuse until they became an adult, an application for compensation can be made up to two years after the abuse was first reported to police.

“If the time limit is not met, an ­application can still be considered if there were exceptional circumstances that prevented an application from ­being made sooner.”



Sex Trafficking's True Victims: Why Are Our Black Girls/Women So Vulnerable?

by Fredrick Reese

Mimi Crown's story is like millions of others that have been and are being told across America. At age 21, she was abducted and forced into sexual solicitation.

“I had to ask permission to eat, to sleep, to buy myself feminine products or even to use my phone,” Crown said of her detention. “It felt like I was in a prison that I'd never get out of. I had no limits on what I should have been doing, however, sexually. I secretly did what I could to mentally deal with this at the time.”

Sexual trafficking represents a critical threat to the well-being of this nation's girls. In 2016 alone, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 7,572 human trafficking cases, with 5,551 of these cases being sexual trafficking cases. One of the least acknowledged and under-appreciated facts about the statistic, however, is that the face of the typical victim is not that of Jaycee Duggard or Amy Smart, as media depictions of sexual trafficking suggest.

The typical face of sexual trafficking in America today matches the faces of the 501 juveniles that have gone missing in the D.C. area in just the first quarter of this year. According to the FBI, 40 percent of victims of sex trafficking are African-Americans , with that number being significantly larger in the major metropolitan areas. In Los Angeles County, the African-American victim rate reaches 92 percent. In overwhelming numbers, the persons most likely to be victimized are vulnerable Black girls and women.

“Compared with other segments of the population, victimization rates for African American children and youths are even higher,” the National Center for Victims of Crime reports . “Evidence suggests that Black youths ages 12 to 19 are victims of violent crime at significantly higher rates than their white peers. Black youths are three times more likely to be victims of reported child abuse or neglect, three times more likely to be victims of robbery and five times more likely to be victims of homicide.”

Per the FBI, 59 percent of all juvenile prostitution arrests involve African-Americans. With law enforcement more likely to see a Black sex trafficking victim as a prostitute and not as someone needing help, trying to find solutions toward keeping our girls safe may require a radical examination of the core beliefs American society is currently based on.

“I actually did not know what ‘human trafficking' was, until it happened to me,” Crown, who wrote the book “Stuck in Traffic” about her experiences, added. “I was reading an article, literally just last year about a young woman who was rescued from trafficking and, in the story, it gave details of what happened to her. I said, ‘Wow, that sounds just like what I went through.'

“I would tell [the politicians] to stop treating victims/survivors of human trafficking like criminals,” she said. “These women have gone through unimaginable ordeals and the last thing they need is to have the finger being pointed at them.

“Did she rob someone? Yes, but she would not have done it had her pimp not first held a gun to her head. So, stop judging and start helping.”

At the Intersection

Understanding why African-American girls are being targeted requires taking a critical look at those that are actually taking the girls.

Statistics show that African-American men are overwhelmingly the individuals that kidnap and traffic the majority of America's sex trafficking victims. However, these traffickers are marketing and selling the services of their victims to a largely white, affluent base.

Due to this, prosecutions of offenders devolve into a question of credibility between a politically advantaged white offender and a vulnerable brown victim. Typically, the result of this is the victim being silenced and blamed for what was done to her.

“Most people who buy sex are those that have disposable income; they tend to be white men that are married that have an education,” Marian Hatcher, the senior project manager and human trafficking coordinator for the Cook County Sheriff's Office of Public Policy, told Atlanta Black Star, quoting both national and internal research. “The people who are being bought are the people who needs are not being met, which typically are African-Americans. We are the ones that typically end up in the criminal justice system, so there are more of us that are involved in jail or juvenile detention.”

Hatcher, who as an adult was subjected to sexual trafficking herself, attributes this to the nation's racial history. Drawing parallels to the United States' Department of Homeland Security's definition of human trafficking – which is “modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.” – Hatcher argued that sex trafficking victims are typically treated as chattel property, similar to African-American enslaved in the antebellum South. The mindset of being able to “buy a person” is a notion that is deeply ingrained in the American psyche and that never really left, despite changes in the legal reality.

In 2010, the Urban Institute conducted research in attempting to estimate the size of the underground commercial sex market in the United States. In the report that was released in 2014, in eight major American cities – Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington – the 2007 economic worth of the market per city was approximately $40 million and $290 million, with pimps and traffickers that participated in the study reporting taking home between $5,000 and $32,833 per week. The study found that while street-level solicitation has declined, the proliferation of social media and websites such as and (which has, since the publication of the report, removed its adult services section) have led to greater proliferation of the solicitation of those involved in the sex trade.

The logic of why someone would engage in sex trafficking is clear; unlike drug trafficking, which deals with the selling of a consumable product, a sex trafficked victim can be sold repeatedly and traded to other traffickers. For the offer of protection, adventure, a better life, or an escape from the hardship of their current lives, girls everyday are willingly or forcibly placed into the possession of those that would sell access to their bodies.

If one was to create a Venn diagram of the forces that influences sexual trafficking, one would see that four different phenomenon are intersecting: white privilege/white access, racism, gender identity/gender objectification, and poverty. In order to find a valid solution to the question of the disproportionate way sex trafficking affect the African-American community, each of these phenomena must be taken on.

“The problems lie in the fact that most Americans see the typical sex traffic victim as a white, blonde hair, blue eyed girl and the typical juvenile prostitution arrestee as a Black woman,” Hatcher added. “Most people don't realize that the two are the same person.”

“It is often when a women or child is exploited or prostituted, she may have to get services from agencies that are not culturally inclined,” Ne'Cole Daniels, founder of Survivors on the Move and founding co-chair of the anti-sex trafficking community World Without Exploitation, said to Atlanta Black Star. Daniels has shared that she was a victim of sex trafficking. “They are getting services from an agency that doesn't understand our history, typically, a white social services agency. They are facing racism in the criminal justice system, being forced to pay higher restitution fees, getting more jail time, dealing with biased family service officers, and facing care plans that are difficult or impossible to complete, leading to a return to the life and recidivism. “

On Being Vulnerable

For many, sex trafficking is a mostly invisible crime. The average American's exposure to the crime has been national media reports of recovered victims such as Amy Smart and the movie series “Taken.” While the notion of a child or woman being grabbed from the streets or from their homes and the unlikeliness of this happening tend to drive the imagination of those that would dissent to the notion that sex trafficking is a serious concern, the reality reflects what it means to be vulnerable in America.

“From my experience, traffickers are more likely to target girls with questionable family networks, teenage runaways, homeless girls, girls in the foster system; girls that can be easily plied away,” Helen Taylor, the director of intervention and outreach for Exodus Cry, a Christian-based sex trafficking abolition program, told Atlanta Black Star. Taylor argues that when it comes to sex trafficking, America has a perception of the “good victim” – the white, typically blonde, typically blue-eyed girl that was taken from the street – that is blinding response efforts to the truth. This notion of the “good victim” has historically led law enforcement and first responders to interpret non-conforming victims to be not victims at all, but rather runaways or teenaged prostitutes.

These perceptions persisted despite most states having statutory rape laws that dictate that a minor cannot consent to sex.

“A lack of education, poverty, having a criminal record, or otherwise being prone to accept a large front-end enticement tend to make these girls vulnerable to traffickers,” Taylor continued. “The trafficker will go after the girls that would cause the minimal risk, who would slip through the net.”

“Racism and misogyny play their parts in the buying of sex from these victims. These buyers are not the stereotypical ‘lonely guy'; they are married or have girlfriends, but they choose to buy these sex acts as an act of violence that dehumanize, humiliate, and hurt these girls.”

In her reflections of her life while being trafficked, Mimi Crown shared on her last day of captivity. “The sun was shining, but there was still a darkness that surrounded my window, making it impossible for me to glisten. I sat on my hotel bed, waiting for the next man to come in and use me like a rag doll, then there it was. A heavy knock at my door, and as I walked to open it, I told myself that he would be the very last man. Little did I know it wouldn't happen at all. Upon opening the door, there stood a short, nicely built man with the biggest smile on his face. We greeted one another then I turned to him saying this, ‘I know what you came for. I know what I am supposed to do right now. Collect my money and lay on my back just to be able to eat tonight, but I no longer care about the food, or being able to pay for another night at this upscale hotel. What I want is to go home.”

Her would-be buyer took pity on her and paid for her return flight home. Most victims are not as lucky.

Hypersexualization and Kylie Jenner

To a certain extent, those that would purchase sex need neither rationalization nor justification to make sense of their acts. However, one must be cognizant of the risk factors modern day life is presenting to African-American girls.

A recent example occurred when social media darling Amber Rose “broke the Internet” by posting a bottomless full body pic of herself to Instagram. While Rose presented the pic as a feminist image in promotion of her upcoming SlutWalk, by the time most people heard of the image, the meaning has been stripped away from it. What was left of a self-affirming political message after it completed its media cycle was an overtly sexual one.

This proliferation of sexuality, arguably, has raised expectations for a certain class of men. Among these men, women and girls are increasingly being objectified as nothing more than sexual objects. This is best seen in the media coverage of Kylie Jenner. Jenner – at the age of 19 – is one of the most photographed and Instagrammed women in the world. The problem with this is that she started her career at the age of nine.

With Jenner admitting that she had body altering surgery, a key component of her brand is her sexuality. This has created a pitched public debate over if it is okay to sexualize a minor – even if that minor consented to being seen as a sex image.

With social media being driven by the use of sexual imagery to drive traffic and followers, this hypersexualization is “reprogramming” the perceptions of some men.

“We've seen three trends associated with these images,” Kenyon University sociologist Sarah Murnen said to the PBS NewsHour , “It's now common to see more parts of the body exposed. There is more emphasis on the size of women's breasts. And easy access to all these images has made it all more acceptable to us.”

Shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras” are increasingly moving the bar on what is feasible to look at with a sexual perspective. This is creating a predator class for a population – tweens and teenagers – that was previously considered sacred.

“We as women should have the freedom to respect our bodies and celebrate our sexuality and womanhood. We are, however, responsible for the images we portray,” Ne'Cole Daniels added. “Situations like Amber Rose's may be excusable to some because she is an entertainer, but this is who our children are looking up to as role models.”

“You can celebrate your liberation as a proud, beautiful woman, but this must be tempered by an effort to not allow yourself to be degraded to just being a sex object. What you may believe you are conveying is not always what is perceived.”

Where We Go From Here

In Chicago, there has been as ambitious effort underway to reverse the narrative on sex trafficking. Taking their cues from the fact that sex buyers are rarely punished in American jurisprudence, Chicago has embraced a version of the “Nordic Model.”

The “Nordic Model” is a theory in sex trafficking policymaking, saying that those that have been prostituted should not be punished. Instead, the buying of sexual acts is criminalized, with offenders facing stiff fines and possibly imprisonment in repeat or extreme cases.

One of the Swedish researchers that penned the protocol, Cecilie Høigård, shared why the model was drafted. “We spent several years doing fieldwork and we developed close relationships with the prostituted women,” Daisy Elizabeth Sjursø translated . “We heard about their experiences of past abuse, extreme poverty and violence. We were prepared for these stories, because of our previous studies on outcasts and marginalized people. But what the women told us of their concrete experiences of prostitution was unexpected and shocking.”

“They told us what it was like to use their bodies and vaginas as rental apartments for unknown men to invade, and how this made it necessary to separate their body from their self: ‘Me and my body are two separate parts. It is not me, my feelings or my soul he fucks. I am not for sale.””

With a minimum of 16,000 women and girls prostituted in the Chicago metropolitan area, according to Cook County Sheriff's Office statistics, and with 61.7 percent of those prostituted first exchanging sex for money before they are 18 years old, Cook County has a significant sex trafficking problem. Host of the nation's largest airport, the Chicagoland area has become one of the largest centers of sex trafficking and juvenile prostitution in this country, with 100 percent of all women prostituted reporting receiving violence in some form, including rape, beatings, physical assaults, and threats involving a weapon.

The Cook County approach differs from other law enforcement agencies in this country because the county commits to offering services to victims at the time of arrest. Upon being identified as a victim in need by the sheriff's Vice Unit, the Human Trafficking Response Team is deployed to escort the victim through getting needed counseling and other services, having adequate court representation, and receiving the resources needed to leave “the lifestyle” and to successfully reenter the community. Cook County has also joined other law enforcement agencies nationwide to go after sex buyers; the National Johns Suppression Initiative – which ran from Jan. 18 through Feb. 5 – saw 101 alleged sex buyers arrested in Cook County, with 29 sex traffickers and 723 sex buyers arrested nationwide.

The narrative about sex trafficking, however, will not change until behaviors and perceptions change – including that of the “good victim.”

“As a prosecutor, I dealt with the issue of the ‘good victim' and the ‘bad victim' repeatedly,” Lauren Hersh, national director of World Without Exploitation, said to Atlanta Black Star. “There are definitely victims that are white with blonde hair and blue eyes, but most victims of the sex trade do not look that way. The idea of the ‘good victim' patently flies in the face of anything that can help us combat this issue. If we are only talking about trafficking and we are not talking about racial inequality, and we are not talking about gender inequality, and we are not talking about income inequality, we cannot tackle this issue.”

“For years, the victims of these crimes were labeled ‘throwaway kids,' people that didn't matter too much to society. We are starting to come around on this, but there are still people out there that choose to look away because these kids may not look like their kids. We must continue to press this issue and make this issue relevant and heard. Adults and children who have been trafficked or sexually exploited should be treated as victims of a crime, not as criminals themselves.”


North Carolina

To prevent child abuse, check your gut

by Amanda Lamb

When our kids are little, we are very vigilant about teaching them about things like good touch and bad touch. As they get older, I think we just assume they know the deal, and that they will be safe. As a journalist who has covered child sexual abuse for 28 years, I think this is a bad assumption.

I spoke with Cary clinical psychologist Don Azevedo about this topic. He counsels families, couples and children and has worked with survivors of child sexual abuse.

"You are at the greatest risk from the people you trust the most," Azevedo points out. He says family members are the most likely sexual predators. Next in line are those he calls "significant others," people who are integral to our children's lives - at school, in sports, in church, in all outside activities.

Truly, it's not just about educating kids, it's about educating parents on what to look for when it comes to protecting children of all ages, including teenagers, from abuse.

It's important to review this information as a family, especially as the summer begins and children head to camp or participate in teams or activities where you don't know the adults in charge.

"It's about being mindful without being paranoid," Azevedo says.

Most national organizations have a policy where a child is never allowed to be unsupervised with an individual adult. In Boy Scouts and at many churches, they have a policy called "two-deep leadership," meaning if your child needs to go to the restroom, ride in a vehicle or be in any other confined space, there must be two adults present so that the child is never left alone with one adult.

Some organizations flip the equation and make sure that every adult is always with more than one child. This is especially important in overnight camps or on overnight trips. This is a fair question to ask when your child is participating in an activity - what is their policy is on this issue?

Azevedo says all volunteers who work with children should ideally be trained in this technique because it not only protects kids, but it protects adults from someone making a false accusation.

"Grooming" is a common technique that child predators use, especially with older children.

If any adult is giving your children "special attention," flattering them; spending time with them outside the regular hours of the activity; buying them things, including meals, treats or gifts; hosting parties at their home; or taking them on out-of-town trips, these are signs something may not be right. Ask any investigator or prosecutor and they will tell you that these are some of the major signs to look for even in adults you think you know well.

"Every time an adult gives special attention to your child, it is always a bad thing? No. But there are appropriate ways to do it - seeking permission first from the parents. Otherwise, it can be a big red flag," Azevedo says.

With teenagers, the equation gets even trickier. In North Carolina, the law does not permit teenagers to consent to a sexual relationship with an adult. The adult, not the teenager, is always at fault under our laws. But perpetrators can be very convincing in making the young person believe they are complicit.

"They'll convince the teen this is actually love," Azevedo says.

In many situations, incidents involving child sexual abuse are swept under the carpet to avoid negative consequences for the organization and shame to the victims. Azevedo points out this fails to support the greater good and often leads to more child abuse in a new setting for the perpetrator.

"People want to get them out of the situation they are in and be done with it, wash their hands of it. But what about keeping the next kids safe?" Azevedo says.

It is part of our culture to trust people, especially people who work or volunteer with young people because we want to believe their motives are pure. For the most part, they are. But, like every other issue in parenting, dealing with this problem takes a village. If something doesn't feel right in your gut, it probably isn't.

I have interviewed many adult survivors of sexual abuse over the years. Bottom line, it destroys lives. So, talk to your kids, check your gut, and help keep the village safe.



Nigeria: Group Worries Over High Rate of Child Sexual Abuse

by Gavriel Olawale

Worried by high rate of child sexual exploitation in Nigeria, rooted in culture, tradition and religious beliefs with children and women been most vulnerable victims, Jose Foundation teamed-up with Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to address the menace.

Speaking ahead of a workshop slated for August 15-21, 2017, Jose Foundation President, Mr. Martins Abhulimhen said recent findings by the National Population Commission, with support from UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on 'Nigeria Violence Against Children' revealed high prevalence of violence against children in Nigeria.

"The study revealed that approximately six out of every 10 Nigerian children under the age of 18 years, experience some form of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18 years.

"One in two children experience physical violence, one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence, and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence."

He said less than 5 percent of children who experience violence receive support .

"The shocking rape of a six-months-old baby in Kano recently that left the nation in shock further reinforced the call by experts to tighten security around minors against child sexual exploitation.

"The upcoming workshop will have in attendance experts from abroad who will offer advice on how to curb the menace in Nigeria while participant will be drawn from various groups and discipline.

"We have taken responsibility to work with the Nigerian government to tackle CSE and that is why we choose to submit our programme details for government scrutiny and full participation", he said.

He noted that the Foundation planned to launch a book on Child Sexual Exploitation written in three of Nigeria's major languages and the setting up of a Jose Foundation Therapy Centre in Nigeria to be managed by UK experts to train Nigerians on how to handle victims.

The book is to act as a day to day guideline that children must read to checkmate any kind of abuse from perpetrators.

He said the seven man team of experts from the UK on CSE will be led by Jayne Senior, a Councillor in Rotherham. She was credited for revealing a pattern of exploitation in the town that saw large numbers of children and young people groomed, gang raped and tortured by groups of men.


Viet Nam

Some 4,300 children sexual abuse vcases consulted by Vietnamese labour ministry in 2012-2017

by Xinhua

HANOI, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Over 4,300 cases of child sexual abuse in Vietnam have asked for phone consultation in 2012-2017, according to the countrys labor ministry on Monday.

In the five-year period, child sexual abuse accounted for more than 3 percent of the total cases consulted, said Nguyen Thuan Hai, head of Consulting Section under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA).

In the first quarter of 2017, a total of 395 cases received consultation related to childhood sexual harassment, said Hai.

In recent years, the issue has become increasingly complicated in Vietnam with 1,200 children reported being sexually abused in 2016 while some 5,300 children suffered between 2011 and 2015, according to the MoLISAs statistics.

However, the ministry admitted that the reported number may be only the tip of the iceberg since more cases remained undetected. In Vietnam, sexual abuse, especially of children, is such a culturally sensitive issue that the families of both victims and offenders do not want such incidents to be publicly revealed.

Due to the seriousness of the situation, MoLISA has taken 2017 as the year to fight against child sexual abuse.



Doctor holds training for families on signs of child sex abuse

by Nestor Montoya

WACO, Texas (KWTX) Many families spent part of their Sunday afternoon at the First Methodist Church of Waco learning about child sexual abuse prevention.

The organized class known as Camp Careful was created by Waco pediatrician, Dr. Soo Battle.

Battle created Camp Careful in 2008, and held the first class in 2011 because she said there was a need to address the topic to families with young children.

"This topic of sexual abuse is very secretive, it's very taboo. People don't want to talk about it, but the more we talk about it, the more we can protect our children," said Battle.

Classes are divided by age groups and topics which include teaching kids the proper names of body parts, which areas should be private, and how to protect themselves.

“I go into specific situations if they're at camps, sporting activities, dance and art classes, things where they're not around their parents. I teach them how to be safe when they're not protected by parents and what they need to do to keep their bodies safe and keep away from potential sexual predators," said Battle.

She said the topic is especially important after a number of new child sexual abuse cases have surfaced.

"The epidemic of child sex abuse is so prevalent but a lot of people don't know about it. Studies have shown that about 1 in 4 girls, 1 in 6 boys are affected by child sexual abuse by the time they're 18," she said.

Battle said she plans to hold more Camp Careful classes in Fall.



Dad's conviction in child sex assault case heals old wounds for singer Sara Stokes

by Kristen Jordan Shamus

R&B singer Sara Stokes, the Port Huron native who told her story of abuse and molestation in the Free Press in December, said she is relieved and saddened by her father's recent conviction and sentencing on child sexual abuse charges.

Jay Christopher Miller , 63, of Port Huron, pleaded guilty in 31st Circuit Court in St. Clair County in late April to two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor under age 13, and a single count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, second offense.

He was sentenced May 22, and will serve 10-30 years on the first two counts, and 10-15 years on the second-degree count. The earliest possible date of his release is Nov. 8, 2036. He'll be 82.

"When I spoke up and said he did this to me at 12 years old and when he did this to my friend, nobody did anything," Stokes said. "And then I also said it again at 16 that he had molested me and nobody did anything. So if they would have listened to me, and actually investigated that, this young little child would have never experienced that or anybody else that he possibly did it to but never got caught.

"It hurts me that it took this long for him to finally face the consequences of his actions and that someone else had to be hurt, too. I'm happy he is off the streets for that, but it's bittersweet because it is my dad. I just hoped he would have gotten help before all of this."

Stokes, 40, appeared in the first two seasons of BET Centric's reality show, "From the Bottom Up," and is working now on a documentary about her life. She said revealing the truth about her history of abuse has helped her move on.

“In a way, it set me a little bit more free that now everyone can hear him say that he really did do this, but then it also was hurtful because he never acknowledged that he did it to me," she said.

“I feel like making this step, and really being honest, and not worrying what anybody was going to say, you know, even family, was important. Because a lot of family was upset about me being open and letting the world know about this. Everybody wants to be hush-hush about something like that in the family because it's embarrassing. It's like, oh, don't put the business out there.

"But I was suffering in silence, so I'm like I'm not going to keep on protecting the person that hurt me, even if it is my father. And it's painful that it was him. ... But by being honest, it really is helping me heal the wounds that I've had my whole life.”

Stokes was cast as an extra in the movie, "8 Mile," and in 2002, won a spot on an MTV reality show called "Making the Band 2." Sean (P. Diddy) Combs went on to sign Stokes and her hip-hop group Da Band to his Bad Boy Records. He helped them produce an album, "Too Hot for T.V.," which was released in 2003.

"A lot of children are scared. I was scared to tell," said Stokes, who released a new R&B single, " Fragile Heart ," last year. "I want to get the word out that you need to let someone know that you trust. And there is help out there. Otherwise, you're going to be living with all this hurt and pain, and it can mess up your future."

Every eight minutes, a child is sexually assaulted in the U.S., and 93% of them know the perpetrator, said Renee Creal, a behavioral health therapist with Henry Ford Behavioral Health who works with sexual abuse survivors, in a previous interview with the Free Press.

"The word needs to be out because there are so many kids, and young women that are going through this and nobody knows," Stokes said. "It's so swept under the rug and nobody wants to talk about it. And yet all these babies are being hurt and these young women are destroyed by it. So if that's one of my purposes in life ... no matter what anybody thinks, even family, then this is what I have to do because I feel it in my heart."

Creal said survivors of sexual abuse are four times more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and to suffer depression than those who have not suffered the same trauma. They also are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder as adults.

Part of healing from the abuse, Stokes said, is acknowledging it happened.

"The wounds that you have, they really can be healed," she said.


If you suspect a child is being sexually or physically abused, contact the state's Child Protective Services office at 855-444-3911 or tell someone who is required to report suspected abuse to the state, such as a doctor, nurse or other medical professional, a social worker, a teacher or other school employee, a police officer or other law enforcement


Additionally, several local agencies can offer crisis assistance as well. They include:

In Wayne County

Wayne County SAFE offers forensic medical exams for rape and sexual assault victims in Wayne County and provides help for victims of any kind of sexual violence, including rape, sex trafficking, child abuse and incest. Call its crisis pager 24-hours a day for crisis intervention at 313-430-8000. Learn more at .

Macomb County

Turning Point offers a 24-hour help hotline at 586-463-6990. The agency also offers an emergency shelter for victims and their children, counseling, advocacy, safety planning and more. Details: .

Oakland County

HAVEN offers a 24-hour toll-free crisis line at 877-922-1274 along with live chatting on its website, . The agency also offers emergency shelter for victims and their children, counseling, advocacy, safety planning and more.

Washtenaw County

SafeHouse Center in Ann Arbor offers a 24-hour crisis line at 734-995-5444 for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The agency also offers emergency shelter, counseling, support, safety planning, advocacy and more. Learn more at: .

Livingston County

LACASA Center provides comprehensive services for victims and survivors of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. Its 24-hour help line is available by calling 866-522-2725. Services and programs include a crisis shelter, and Safe Pet Place for shelter residents' family pets; individual counseling and support groups for children and adults; legal advocacy services, and private and a confidential Sexual Assault Response Center. Learn more at .


New York

Child Marriage to be Outlawed in NYS

by Patricia Fahy

On Thursday, the Assembly passed a bill raising the minimum age for marriage in New York from 14 to 17 , a reform which was severely overdue. The Assembly's legislation takes critical steps by abolishing any possibility of marriage for 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds. It would require court approval, pursuant to specified guidelines, under which a judge must consider specific factors, such as the existence of any undue power imbalance and the existence of domestic violence, prior to permitting a 17-year-old to marry. The bill has also been passed by the Senate and will be signed by the Governor.



Ending Child Abuse and Maltreatment In The U.S.: What We Know And How To Move Forward

by Zion Griffin

According to recent data from the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, one in 34 children is confirmed as abused or neglected in Massachusetts each year. That's one case confirmed every 15 minutes.

To get a better picture of the issue, I sat down with Suzin Bartley, executive director of the Children's Trust , an organization with a mission to stop child abuse in Massachusetts. Bartley also serves as a co-chair of the Massachusetts Legislative Task Force on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse . In our interview, we discuss some of the systemic contributors to child abuse, the costs that abuse incurs for the individual and the community, and the most effective ways to end the epidemic.

Does public understanding and definition of child abuse differ across culture and region?

Yes, cultural norms play an important role in shaping parenting practices.

There have been social workers or others who are not necessarily sensitive to cultural parenting practices like corporal punishment or non-Western medicine, and will call them child abuse.

Are they? Yes. Are they intentional or malicious? No.

The key is working with parents to help them create a toolkit of positive disciplinary techniques. Once parents see that those techniques are effective, they will use them. Most parents don't want to hurt their child.

Are there systemic contributors to child abuse?

Yes. With wealth comes the privilege of access to an extended system that supports you in your parenting role. That is not to say that folks with wealth never abuse their children. But, on the other side, poverty can mean very limited choices.

Lack of access to education, mental health resources, and substance abuse programs also increase the prevalence of child abuse.

Is it the parent's fault that they can't find resources when they are already so overwhelmed in dealing with employment, housing, medical issues, and extended family crises? We can do a better job connecting parents to existing community resources and supporting them in their critical role as a parent.

The issue of child sexual abuse crosses every single class, race, and gender. We often put the onus on kids to spot the stranger or to speak up, when we know that 90 percent of kids are victimized by someone they know.

In Massachusetts, the tragedy of the Archdiocese of Boston blew apart our preconceived images of sexual abusers and their victims, especially in understanding that young boys are often silent victims.

We need to do a better job of creating a standardized culture of accountability and safe environment policies within child serving institutions. All organizations should have policies and procedures in place, including screening of staff, codes of conduct, safe environment policies, and training of staff and parents.

What are some of the consequences of child abuse, for the individual and the community?

We now know more than ever about the development of the brain, the bulk of which occurs from age zero to three. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that toxic stress caused by adverse childhood experiences, including child abuse and neglect, impedes brain development and increases the prevalence of health issues. We as a society are collectively paying for those poor health outcomes.

The CDC estimates that over the lifetimes of the children confirmed as abused and neglected, Massachusetts will pay over $2.6 billion annually to “fix” the problems caused by that mistreatment. We're talking about long-term costs associated with health care (from cardiac issues to asthma to mental health), substance abuse programs, homeless shelters, and the list goes on and on.

What factors and policies, if any, has research shown to decrease the occurrence of child abuse?

Twenty-five years ago, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Child Abuse and Neglect called home visiting the “single most promising intervention in the prevention of child abuse.” We know from a growing number of studies, including a longitudinal study of the Children's Trust's Healthy Families home visiting program, that home visiting is effective.

In the past we have focused more on the treatment of child abuse after the fact. Now we are shifting towards looking at the systemic factors that contribute to these situations.

So upstream investment in child abuse prevention?

Right. The evaluation conducted by Tufts University demonstrates that our home visiting program lowers risky behaviors, including substance dependency, the use of corporal punishment and the instigation of domestic violence for moms, both short-term and five years later.

In the current U.S. political climate, much of the social safety net is facing substantial budget cuts. Do you see these cuts as potentially impacting the rates of child abuse in the U.S.?

We've heard the federal budget director say that Meals on Wheels is “a nice thing” and that there is no evidence that children who have good nutrition do better in school, which is absolutely incorrect.

Given what I have read, I do have deep concerns that some do not understand how short sighted these cuts are and what their impact will be on families, including homelessness and unemployment, and on communities. The additional financial and emotional stress to families could easily increase incidences of child abuse.

So in the long run it would be reasonable to say that these cuts are going to result in higher costs for our system?

Absolutely. The ACE study tells us that. Brain science tells us that.

What can the average person do to combat child abuse in the U.S. and their own community?

Be engaged in the legislative process and let your representatives know that you support child abuse prevention programs. The research shows that legislators often don't hear from their constituents about the plight of children in their communities.

Get involved in programs that are working to prevent child abuse and support families.

Know what kind of parenting supports exist in your communities. The Children's Trust's One Tough Job website has a resource finder for parents in Massachusetts. If there isn't anything in your area, maybe form a mom's group or a dad's group. Step up and get organized.

Those of us in Massachusetts should go to to find ways to raise awareness about the issue of child abuse and learn more about how, together, we can stop it.

Zion Griffin is a second year MA in Sustainable International Development student at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University . He recently completed his practicum year with The Children's Trust as a communications intern. He has also worked as an editorial intern for Dollars & Sense: Real World Economics , and volunteered as an English teacher while in the Netherlands. Prior to the Heller School, Zion attended Brandeis University as an undergraduate member of Brandeis' first Liberal Arts Posse from Atlanta.

Need help? Visit RAINN's National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website .


New York

Child Abuse Survivors Say Cuomo Has Gone Silent On Child Victims Act

by Jake Offenhartz

Back in January, Cuomo promised that passage of the Child Victims Act—a law extending the amount of time that abuse victims can seek justice as adults—would be one of his top priorities. But six months later, in the waning days of the state's legislative session, some survivors of sexual assault are beginning to wonder if the governor has hung them out to dry.

"[Cuomo] looked me in the eye three times while shaking my hand and said to me 'I got this, Andrew, I got this,'" Andrew Willis, a childhood survivor of rape and the founder of the Stop Abuse Campaign , told Gothamist. "But I'm getting nervous. There's very few days left for the governor to show that he's got it, and I keep saying to myself: Why wouldn't he want to get this bill passed?"

The bill, which passed 139-7 in the State Assembly last week, extends the current statute of limitations for childhood abuse victims seeking to bring civil or criminal charges against their abusers. Under current state law, most victims can only bring charges against their abusers until the age of 23. In the assembly's version of the CVA, that statute of limitations would be extended between five and fifty years (depending on the nature of the suit). Additionally, the bill would create a one-time "look back" window for one year, in which victims of any age would be permitted to bring civil suits against individuals or institutions.

These changes would throw a life raft to the estimated 43,000 children who are abused in New York each year, Willis says, as research shows that a majority of childhood victims wait at least five years before telling anyone. Willis himself was raped at the age of 10, but says he was too racked with guilt to mention it to anyone until he was almost 50 years old. The teacher responsible was eventually accused of abusing more than 100 other students, Willis told me.

As it stands, most victims of abuse have only five years after they turn 18 to bring civil or criminal charges against their abusers—thanks to statute of limitations laws that rank among the most prohibitive in the nation, according to leading victim abuse network Safe Horizon . On Monday, Safe Horizon announced a last-minute campaign by survivors to travel to Albany and personally convince Cuomo and the state senate of the importance of passing the legislation, alongside a social media campaign called #FaceItNY.

Back in January, Cuomo promised that passage of the Child Victims Act—a law extending the amount of time that abuse victims can seek justice as adults—would be one of his top priorities. But six months later, in the waning days of the state's legislative session, some survivors of sexual assault are beginning to wonder if the governor has hung them out to dry.

"[Cuomo] looked me in the eye three times while shaking my hand and said to me 'I got this, Andrew, I got this,'" Andrew Willis, a childhood survivor of rape and the founder of the Stop Abuse Campaign , told Gothamist. "But I'm getting nervous. There's very few days left for the governor to show that he's got it, and I keep saying to myself: Why wouldn't he want to get this bill passed?"

The bill, which passed 139-7 in the State Assembly last week, extends the current statute of limitations for childhood abuse victims seeking to bring civil or criminal charges against their abusers. Under current state law, most victims can only bring charges against their abusers until the age of 23. In the assembly's version of the CVA, that statute of limitations would be extended between five and fifty years (depending on the nature of the suit). Additionally, the bill would create a one-time "look back" window for one year, in which victims of any age would be permitted to bring civil suits against individuals or institutions.

These changes would throw a life raft to the estimated 43,000 children who are abused in New York each year, Willis says, as research shows that a majority of childhood victims wait at least five years before telling anyone. Willis himself was raped at the age of 10, but says he was too racked with guilt to mention it to anyone until he was almost 50 years old. The teacher responsible was eventually accused of abusing more than 100 other students, Willis told me.

As it stands, most victims of abuse have only five years after they turn 18 to bring civil or criminal charges against their abusers—thanks to statute of limitations laws that rank among the most prohibitive in the nation, according to leading victim abuse network Safe Horizon . On Monday, Safe Horizon announced a last-minute campaign by survivors to travel to Albany and personally convince Cuomo and the state senate of the importance of passing the legislation, alongside a social media campaign called #FaceItNY.

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, the sponsor of the assembly bill, it's "irresponsible" of the state's chief executive to allow the bill's fate to remain uncertain for so long. "How many years do survivors have to come to Albany to beg to pass something?" she wondered. "My heart feels for them because it's something that New York has to do to provide access to the courts and make up for so many lives that have been ruined. The assembly did it and the senate is wasting time."

Getting the senate to pass an acceptable bill, Rosenthal argues, would require some arm-twisting on the part of the governor. "He said at the beginning of the year that this was one of his goals," she recalled. "But I have not seen a program bill. I have not seen a statement. I know a lot of survivors are saying: Where is the governor and where is his leadership?"

"He was bold in January and it's now June and I don't see that same bold and determined governor speaking out in public," the assemblymember added. Indeed, survivors who have closely monitored the governor's comments on the CVA say that he's not mentioned it in any of his six regional State of the State addresses .

Reached for comment, Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi told Gothamist, "These victims deserve justice and we have been actively working with advocates to build support for this in both houses of the legislature. All options remain on the table." He added that top aides will be meeting with advocates in the coming days, but would not elaborate on what the governor plans to do to help the bill.

Over a month ago, a Cuomo spokesperson gave a nearly identical statement , while similarly sidestepping questions about whether the governor would push the Senate to pass a bill.

Asked why the governor appeared to be dragging his feet on a professed priority, both Willis and Rosenthal said they couldn't think of any good reasons. Elsewhere, Lauren Evans of the Village Voice has noted that politically powerful institutions such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church have vocally—and financially—opposed the bill. (A spokesperson for the Catholic Church declined to comment, pointing to the church's memoranda outlining their opposition ; The Boy Scouts did not respond to a request for comment).

Those institutions have said that they're concerned the look back window will lead to false claims that clog up the courts. "The ill-advised 'window' to reopen decades-old claims is, in the end, contrary to justice, because simply too much time has gone by in many cases to mount an effective defense, particularly for institutional defendants," the New York State Catholic Conference said earlier this month.

Their argument, according to both Willis and Rosenthal, is not made in good faith. "We've passed this bill in many other states, and in no other states have there been a problem with false claims, or clogged up courts," Willis said. "When you look for facts behind their position, they're just not real."


North Carolina

Report claims NC hospital nurses refused to report child sexual abuse to DSS


MONROE, N.C. (WBTV) – A report obtained by CBS North Carolina's Charlotte affiliate WBTV shows the nursing staff on duty at CMC-Union Hospital one night in November 2016 refused to call DSS after a child disclosed facts that implicated sexual abuse.

The report was filled out by James Jackson, who was working at the hospital as a security guard.

According to the report, the nurse in charge of caring for the young male patient refused to report the boy's allegations of possible sexual abuse.

“I told his nurse about it and she said that she would not believe anything that he says because of his history at the hospital,” Jackson wrote in his report.

State law requires anyone aware of possible child abuse to report it to social services.

Jackson wrote in his report filed at the time of the incident that he called the nursing supervisor and, later, the charge nurse about reporting the boy's allegations of sexual abuse but both of them declined to take action, too.

Ultimately, Jackson reported the boy's allegations to Union County DSS himself and the agency opened an investigation into the claims.

“From what I can understand from being here, it's not the first time this has happened,” Jackson said. “But this is the time it happened with me on duty and I couldn't let that go. I couldn't let it go that a child is being sexually abused like that and no one do anything about it.”

Jackson told WBTV that he tried to file a complaint with the North Carolina Board of Nursing but was told by a board staff member that it was having problems investigating his complaint because the hospital would not return phone calls.

Carolinas HealthCare System refused multiple requests for an interview but issued the following statement:

“Carolinas HealthCare System policy, in accordance with North Carolina statutes, requires that all cases of suspected child abuse or neglect be reported to Department of Social Services (DSS). Calls to DSS are initiated by any CHS employee who identifies potential abuse or neglect.

We take all reports of abuse and neglect seriously and work closely with DSS and other governing authorities when the situation warrants. Every day, our doctors, nurses and teammates care for vulnerable patients and advocate for children who are victims of abuse and neglect. Elevating hope and advancing healing is not just part of our mission, it is integral to who we are as a healthcare system.”

While we cannot discuss the specifics of this case due to patient and employee privacy laws, we can say that after reviewing this issue, we do not believe the version of events represented accurately reflects what occurred. We are dedicated to the health and well-being of all patients in our care and will continue to cooperate with the proper authorities and assist with any inquiries that may arise.”

A spokeswoman for the hospital did not provide any additional facts to support the assertion that Jackson's account of what happened – as documented in his report filed at the time of the incident – was incorrect. The hospital also did not elaborate on what, specifically, it felt was inaccurate.

Jackson ultimately left his job as a security guard at the hospital after, he said, he received growing pressure as a result of blowing the whistle on what happened. But he said he would do it again.

“We must report this. I couldn't understand why they wouldn't do it,” he said. “I don't ever want to see another child go through this here or anywhere else.”



L.A.-area cops convicted of child abuse at Camp SLO, but they're still on the job

by Matt Fountain

Two of three Southern California police officers accused of abusing at-risk youths at a boot camp held at Camp San Luis Obispo in 2015 accepted plea deals with San Luis Obispo County prosecutors, pleading no contest to roughly a dozen misdemeanors.

Both remain at their jobs, though it is unclear what maximum punishment they face when they are sentenced July 17.

The alleged abuse did not involve any local residents or Camp San Luis personnel, however, and the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office prosecuted the cases because the crimes occurred in the county.

Officers Edgar Yovany Gomez, 37, and Carlos Manuel Gomez-Marquez, 33, brothers who both work at the South Gate Police Department, pleaded no contest on June 5 to more than a dozen misdemeanors charges of willful cruelty to a child and corporal punishment resulting in injury. Misdemeanor charges of battery against both men were dismissed.

South Gate Police Department Capt. Darren Arakawa declined to comment on the case Monday but said both Gomez and Gomez-Marquez are still employed by the department.

A third officer, Marissa Elizabeth Larios, 38, of the Huntington Park Police Department, has pleaded not guilty and is preparing to go trial on similar charges in August. A spokesperson for that department could not be reached for comment.

Larios, Gomez and Gomez-Marquez were arrested with a fourth officer in August 2015 and immediately posted $20,000 bail through their attorneys.

Officials have released few details of the alleged abuse, but an attorney for the alleged victims previously told The Tribune that their clients were slapped, punched and stepped on by drill instructors during L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Empowerment and Discipline), a 20-week program sponsored by both Southern California police departments and the California National Guard.

The abuse occurred between May 17 and 24, 2015. An investigation was launched after local authorities were contacted by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services about alleged physical and verbal abuse of one child at the camp. Investigators later identified 15 male and female victims, between the ages of 12 to 17.

Greg Owen, one attorney representing the children, previously told The Tribune that officers stepped on kids' hands and backs while they were ordered to do push-ups. He said some victims who didn't meet camp expectations were ordered into a dark room, held up by instructors and beaten in the face, head and stomach.

Following a hearing in September 2015, Larios' attorney, Michael Schwartz, said the allegations against his client were “grandiose exaggerations or embellishments,” and suggested the alleged victims were motivated by financial gain and a pending civil lawsuit.

Information on whether a lawsuit has been filed was not available Monday.




Child welfare reforms hold promise, but not enough

We've seen the headlines for years.

Children sleeping in state offices because there are no other safe spaces. A broken foster care system that often harms vulnerable children instead of helping them. Kids dying despite Child Protective Services involvement. Massive turnover for caseworkers who are burned out by the toxic combination of extreme caseloads and low pay.

This has been the tragic story of child welfare in Texas.

The question is whether state lawmakers and Gov. Greg Abbott have finally taken enough action to change the narrative.

In January, Abbott declared child welfare reform one of four emergency items for the 85th legislative session. Lawmakers delivered with mostly promising and meaningful reforms. The reforms follow $150 million in emergency funding last year to address low pay and high turnover at the agency.

But lawmakers and Abbott shouldn't pat themselves on the back just yet. The funding and reforms were long overdue, fueling the child welfare crisis. Among the changes:

The Department of Family and Protective Services will become a stand-alone agency. Breaking it out from the sprawling Texas Health and Human Services Commission should give more attention to child welfare issues.

More money for kinship care. Family members who do the right thing and take in a child from a troubled home will now receive $350 a month. It's not nearly enough — it costs much more to properly feed and clothe a child — but it's more than the $500 a year such family members had been receiving from the state.

Keeping more families together. Many cases of child neglect are tied to poverty, not necessarily malice. Part of these reforms ensures that courts don't separate families when children suffer neglect due to poverty or because a parent has committed a nonviolent misdemeanor.

The general rule of thumb in child welfare is to keep families together. That's not always possible, and it's certainly not always best. But in broad strokes, it's the best practice. This legislation bolsters that principle.

Privatizing case management. Of the reforms, this is by far the most controversial, and we do not support it. The legislation opens the door for private nonprofits to take over case management duties from the state. It's unclear if private nonprofits have the bandwidth to manage so many cases, or if these contracts will influence case decisions.

For example, what if the best decision for a child runs counter to the performance metric in a contract?

Looming in the background is a 2015 federal court ruling from U.S. District Judge Janis Jack , who declared the state's foster care system so broken it violated children's rights.

Jack assigned special masters who have made myriad recommendations to improve child welfare — recommendations that would be costly and Texas officials have fought.

Abbott and other state leaders have said these reforms, coupled with the emergency funding, showed the case should be dismissed.

This is incredibly premature, especially with so many questions about the privatization of case management.

A better approach would be to see how these reforms are implemented and how they serve vulnerable children, troubled families and overburdened caseworkers.

If Abbott is serious about making Texas an exemplar of child welfare — and we believe he is — then instead of calling on the foster care lawsuit to be dismissed, he should build on these reforms and keep child welfare a priority.


New York


Compensation plan offers healing for Staten Island clergy abuse survivors

by Shaun Doughert

The New York Archdiocese compensation program provides access to compensation for adult survivors of child sexual abuse even though their claims may be barred under New York law. Clergy sex abuse survivors in Staten Island have a very small window to pursue their abusers in court--one of the shortest in the country and one that is woefully inadequate. New York's "statute of limitations" leaves survivors with little recourse; however, for a short period of time the New York Archdiocese is offering its own compensation program, and I encourage all eligible survivors on Staten Island to participate before it's too late.

As a survivor of clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania, I understand how difficult it can be to come forward. I was abused at 10 years old by Father George Koharchik, who was my priest, teacher, and coach, as well as a close family friend. I kept silent about my abuse and years passed before I could share my story with family and friends.

During this time, I struggled in school and in relationships and experienced depression, addiction and even a suicide attempt. I am now happily married, have built a successful restaurant in Long Island City, and am an outspoken advocate for survivors in both Pennsylvania and New York. I've been fortunate, but I still struggle. I know others do too, which is why survivors need to be able to access services and support that can help them rebuild their lives.

New York State's strict statute of limitations means that most survivors cannot look to the courts for aid. Under the law, anyone abused as a minor has until the age of 23 (five years after turning 18), to take legal action. As any survivor will tell you, this is nowhere near enough time. State Senator Brad Hoylman and others have sought to change this with the Child Victims Act, but the legislation is currently stalled in the New York Senate.

But survivors in Staten Island have an alternative source for healing. Any survivor abused by a New York Archdiocese priest or deacon [and there were many priests and deacons among the more than 30 churches in the borough], may be eligible for the Archdiocese's Reconciliation and Compensation Program, which was established in October 2016 to aid victims of clergy sex abuse. The program is now allowing those who have not previously come forward to register. The deadline for the program is fast approaching--victims only have until Nov. 1, 2017 to file their claim.

Survivors can register confidentially. By registering, survivors may receive an offer to settle their claim, which is important when there are so few options. Once the November deadline passes, an opportunity like this might not arise again.

As a survivor from Pennsylvania, I am prevented from participating in the program, but I urge those in Staten Island to register. I believe that disclosing abuse and naming those responsible can aid with healing and can help stop this from happening again. Seven priests who served in the borough have already been identified as abusers by survivors who were brave enough to come forward. Those named include Revs. Ralph W. LaBelle, Patrick Quigley and David Carson, and each of these priests were defrocked by the church after the allegations became public. The community needs to know if more are out there.

I also believe that the success of the program in New York could encourage other dioceses, like mine, to adopt similar plans. The New York Archdiocese is the second largest in the country after Los Angeles. If enough survivors come forward here, it will be harder for the church to turn a blind eye to clergy-child sexual abuse. Coming forward and filing claims will help protect children in the future.

For far too long, survivors of clergy sex abuse have lived in the shadows. Those in Staten Island now have the chance to come forward and be counted in a meaningful way, and I urge all those eligible to take this opportunity before time runs out.


United Kingdom

Tougher Punishments Proposed For Blaming Others In Child Cruelty Cases

by Haden Smith

Abusive or neglectful parents could face tougher punishments if they try to shift the blame for their crimes under new sentencing proposals.

Draft guidelines for courts to follow when handling child cruelty cases specify for the first time that blaming others for an offence should be considered as an "aggravating factor".

The proposal aims to ensure mothers, fathers or guardians are held to account if they attempt to shirk responsibility by pointing the finger at others.

It follows analysis of court transcripts which found cases frequently involve one parent or carer seeking to blame the other for what happened in order to avoid prosecution.

The new aggravating feature is included in proposed guidelines being published by the Sentencing Council on Tuesday.

They cover three offences - cruelty to a child, causing or allowing a child to die or suffer serious physical harm, and failing to protect a girl from the risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The guidelines relate to a wide range of offending that comes before courts, from incompetent parenting to deliberate abuse.

It could include parents or guardians leaving children home alone or in insanitary conditions, putting them at risk through alcohol or drug abuse, or subjecting them to sustained and deliberate ill-treatment and violence that leads to serious injury or death.

Sentencing Council member Mrs Justice Maura McGowan said: "These offences are committed against particularly vulnerable victims - children - and so we want to ensure that sentencing properly reflects the harm they have suffered.

"Offences vary greatly - some offenders may be guilty of a one-off lapse of care which puts their child at risk of harm, while others may have inflicted a campaign of deliberate cruelty.

"The proposed guidelines set out a clear approach to deal with such a range of offending and ensures that cases involving significant force, a weapon or multiple incidents of cruelty are always treated as being in the highest category of culpability."

Last year 623 offenders were sentenced for the offence of cruelty to a child, with approximately 42% dealt with in magistrates' courts and 58% in Crown Courts.

For the first time the proposed guidelines for this offence take into account "developmental harm" to victims.

This could be seen through milestones that a child has not met, such as standing, talking, crawling or progress at school.

The draft document contains guidance for sentencing those convicted of causing or allowing the death or serious physical harm of a vulnerable adult or child.

These offences were introduced to cover prosecutions when a child has died or been badly hurt, but where there is insufficient evidence to prove who committed the act.

In the Baby P case, three defendants including the child's mother were jailed in 2009 for causing or allowing his death.

In 2016, six offenders were sentenced for causing or allowing death, and 23 for causing or allowing serious physical harm - although it is not possible to differentiate between cases involving child or vulnerable adult victims.

For the offence of failing to protect a girl under 16 from the risk of FGM, the guideline advises courts to consider the level of harm caused to victims.

It says: "For all cases of failing to protect a girl from the risk of female genital mutilation there will be serious physical and psychological harm (likely both immediately and long-term) but there are factors that may increase it further."

There have been no convictions under laws relating to the practice, despite estimates suggesting it has affected tens of thousands of women and girls in England and Wales.

Sentencing guidelines must be followed, unless a judge or magistrate feels it is not in the interests of justice to do so.

The draft guidelines, which cover England and Wales, will now be subject to a public consultation.

The Ministry of Justice welcomed the proposed guidelines.

A spokesman said: "Child cruelty is abhorrent and the impact on victims can be immeasurable. Those who harm children should feel the full force of the law."




We must focus on prevention of child abuse


In the past four years alone, the Indiana Department of Child Services has added 550 case managers and supervisors in trying to keep up with Indiana's horrifying surge in child abuse and neglect cases. It hasn't been enough.

Even with the additional employees and increased funding, DCS has still failed to comply — for the past six years — with a state law that requires limits on case managers' workloads.

How far short has DCS fallen in meeting the legal standard? Case managers are supposed to handle no more than 17 ongoing cases or 12 initial assessments. Yet, case manager Mary Price, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in a lawsuit filed against DCS, was responsible for as many as 43 cases at one time in 2015. No one handed that workload, no matter how dedicated and talented, could adequately protect vulnerable children.

Still, it's too simplistic to blame DCS for this problem. The agency has aggressively added workers in the face of a 65 percent increase in the number of suspected abuse and neglect cases since 2010. It will use another $200 million in state funding, approved by the General Assembly and the governor, to hire even more case managers this year and next. But even that might not be enough to keep up with the need. The explosion in heroin and other opioid addictions across the state continues to strain the ability of state and local agencies, hospitals, law enforcement and nonprofits to cope with the damage. What can be done? DCS spokesman James Wide hit on the best long-term solution this week when he brought up the need to focus on prevention. The case manager system, by necessity, is set up to be reactive — investigators respond to suspected abuse and neglect. But the state and its nonprofit partners must find ways to better identify and help at-risk kids before they suffer harm.

Preventative measures must address not only abuse but drug addiction as well. Indiana is one of 16 states now receiving Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding to reduce overdoses. State leaders need to closely monitor progress on those initiatives and quickly invest more money in the efforts that show progress. Such steps not only can help ease the state's drug abuse epidemic but also better protect kids from neglect and abuse.

Does the state need more child abuse investigators? Without doubt. But continuing to pour more and more resources on the back end of the problem without better confronting the conditions that lead to abuse will yield limited results.

We've tried reacting to this problem and made important but inadequate progress. We need to do a much better job of working to prevent children from ever being hurt in the first place.



German study reveals the scope of sexual abuse within families


Nearly 70 percent of child sex abuse cases in Germany took place in the family or social circles, a report has found. Researchers also said that children often received delayed help because mothers did not intervene.

An independent commission investigating child sexual abuse in Germany released an interim report on Wednesday after conducting interviews and gathering responses from hundreds of victims and witnesses.

The report found that a majority of reported cases occurred within the family or close social circles, followed by abuse in institutions such as schools.

The vast majority of victims are female, said commission head Sabine Andresen while presenting the report in Berlin.

The highest number of reported cases occurred in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, followed by the southern state of Bavaria.

Little help from families

In cases of sexual abuse that occur within the family, children often received no help or delayed help because mothers failed to intervene, researchers said.

According to victims and witnesses, the vast majority of sexual abuse was carried out by the child's father, followed by their brothers or stepbrothers.

However, the report underlined that mothers played an integral role, stating that only in a few reported cases did mothers believe their children once they spoke about the abuse and intervene on their behalf.

A majority of sexual abusers in the family are fathers and brothers, the report found .

The commission noted that some mothers tolerated the abuse due to powerlessness in the relationship, violence in their partnership or dependency. Additionally, some mothers feared that they would also become the subject of abuse or that they would lose their partner or the whole family.

"The report grants a deep insight into the failure of mothers, but it also shows how little they know about how to help," child abuse commissioner Johannes-Wilhem Rörig told news agency DPA.

Breaking the silence

The independent commission hopes to use the data gathered from surveys and interviews to develop better abuse prevention models, and called for more financial support to continue their research.

The independent commission was established to investigated several forms of child sex abuse in Germany as well as in former East Germany in order to uncover structures that may have fostered abuse in the past.

Next year, the commission is set to release its reports on child sexual abuse in churches as well as its findings on cases in former East Germany.


A Disturbing Portion Of Marine Corps' Courts-Martial In 2017 Are For Child Sexual Abuse

by Jared Keller

A significant portion of court-martial proceedings for Marine Corps personnel since the start of 2017 have included charges involving the sexual abuse of children, according to Department of Defense data reviewed by Task & Purpose, further detailing the growing scourge of child sexual abuse that's marred the armed forces in recent years.

According to general and special court-martial disposition overviews of judicial proceedings published by Headquarters Marine Corps each month since January, nearly 18% of cases involved sexual assault or abuse of a child, attempted sexual assault or abuse or a child, or the possession, solicitation, distribution or production of child pornography.

Of the 23 Marines brought up on charges, only two were acquitted. The rest faced punishments ranging from forfeiture of all pay and allowances and reduction in rank to dishonorable discharge and 15 years confinement. Many of the cases included multiple charges.

How the child-abuse problem among Marines compares to other branches remains unclear. When reached by Task & Purpose, a Marine Corps public affairs officer declined to comment. The Department of the Navy's Office of the Judge Advocate General and Office of the Secretary of Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A 2016 investigation by the Associated Press revealed 840 substantiated instances of sexual abuse of “military dependents” committed by enlisted service members between 2010 and 2014, according to a 286-page Naval Criminal Investigative Service report obtained by the AP. Officers were reportedly involved in 49 cases.

A previous AP investigation in 2015 revealed that 61% of the 1,233 inmates confined in the military's prison network at the time had been tried and convicted of sex crimes — and in 133 of the 301 cases (44%) that occurred between January and November 2015, children were victims.

Despite the worrying statistics, the perceived increase in courts-martial among Marines may actually signal better prevention. In February, the DoD issued a directive expanding policies and responsibilities regarding child abuse prevention and family advocacy programs at various military facilities to increase reporting on instances of abuse. And according to Darkness to Light, the child sexual abuse-prevention program of choice at Marine Corps Base Quantico, implementation of that directive may have increased visibility and judicial treatment of the crisis.

“The directive didn't just come down for FAP [Family Advocacy Programs] to provide prevention training that included child abuse, but created a requirement to report,” Darkness to Light communications director Gwendolyn Bouchie told Task & Purpose. “A lot of this was once handled on base or locally, but now it's been made clear that if there's a report to be made, it must be made to law enforcement or child social services or whoever.”

But that duty to report doesn't always translate into judicial action. While the sexual assault of children is explicitly prohibited under Article 120b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (child pornography falls under Article 134 ), the opaque military justice system has faced difficulties in appropriately addressing the growing crisis of sexual abuse in the Corps's ranks.

One arises from the new reporting structure: While the DoD has pursued state-level policies to encourage civilian law enforcement to report suspected abuse to the military (15 states have adopted such measures), a June report from indicated that the potential career-ending ramifications of an investigation induce military families to close ranks, keeping reports from reaching civilian authorities in the first place.

And even when service members eventually face court-martial, the outcome of their proceedings is murky. As the AP's 2015 investigation noted, military judges are not permitted to review pretrial agreements offered to defendants in exchange for a guilty plea. In civilian courts, judges have the “final say” on any plea bargain, as the AP put it, but in military courts, suspected abusers “always get the lesser sentence.”

Rates of child abuse among military families have rapidly outpaced the rates among civilian families in the last 15 years, according data from the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress at UCLA and Duke University, an increase that coincides “with the post-9/11 rise in overseas military operations and deployments and the return of service members with physical and behavioral health issues.” Given that the Navy and Marine Corps have maintained a wartime operational tempo despite drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq, it's likely that military communities are now experiencing the consequences.

“Military families are more vulnerable, especially in deployments with a single parent or someone acting as a single parent, stationed somewhere with a lack of support and forced to rely on people outside their innermost circle,” Bouchie told Task & Purpose. “If you compare branches and chart deployments and operations against rates of abuse, you'll likely see some correlation there; when deployments happen, these vulnerable situations are created.”

It's unclear how far this problem goes, but the 23 Marine Corps courts-martial pursued so far this year may only be the tip of the iceberg. While not every perpetrator of child sexual abuse is a pedophile, some 70% of child sex offenders have “between one and 9 victims,” according to Darkness to Light; another 20% of offenders have 10 to 40 victims, suggesting that countless other victims of American military personnel are languishing in silence.

Most recently, decorated Marine Col. Daniel Wilson was in November 2016 slapped with three charges of sexual assault and sexual abuse of a child in, removed from his duty post at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, and confined to the brig while NCIS investigators explored unrelated sexual abuse allegations.

The victim was reportedly 6 years old.


New York

Child sex abuse victims call on Cuomo to help pass bill that would let them win justice as session's end looms

by Kenneth Lovett

ALBANY — Child sex abuse survivors and advocates on Wednesday issued a call to Gov. Cuomo to convene a meeting with legislative leaders to hash out a deal on the Child Victim's Act.

"With less than a week to go until the end of the 2017 legislative session, time is running out for survivors of childhood sexual abuse in their fight for justice," the 28 victims and advocacy groups said in a statement obtained by the Daily News.

"If the governor is serious about justice for survivors, he needs to convene a leaders meeting and hammer out the Child Victims Act now."

The legislation would raise or eliminate the legal timeframes that adult victims of child abuse can bring criminal and civil cases. It would also treat public and private institutions the same when it comes to child sex abuse.

Supporters also want a one-year window that would allow old cases currently time-barred under law to be revived — perhaps the biggest obstacle to a bill getting done.

In their statement, the survivors and advocates said they've seen Cuomo “stand up against powerful institutional opponents before and break logjams in the Legislature with decisive action, so we know he can lead here too if he chooses. It is no longer enough to have meetings that don't deliver, while survivors fight openly on the frontlines.”

They added that “the governor put the Child Victims Act on the agenda in his January State of the State address. Six months later it's long past due to bring legislative leaders together and get it done. History will judge the results, not the rhetoric.”

Among the survivors signing on to the statement are Bridie Farrell, Mary Ellen O'Loughlin, Kat Sullivan, Melanie Blow, Andrew Willis, Ana Wagner, and Connie Altamirano.

SafeHorizon, the Stop Abuse Campaign, Call To Action, Foundation for Survivors of Abuse, and Clergy for Child Victims are some of the groups that are also calling for Cuomo to convene a meeting on the issue with legislative leaders.

A Cuomo spokesman had no immediate comment.

The Assembly last week passed a version of the Child Victims Act that would allow survivors to bring civil cases up until their 50th birthdays and felony criminal cases until their 28th birthdays. Currently, they have until their 23rd birthdays to bring cases.

The Assembly bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) also includes the one-year window to revive old cases and treats public and private institutions the same. Currently, those abused in a public setting like a school have just 90 days from the incident occurring to formally file an intent to sue.

It's the first time since 2008 the Assembly has passed the Child Victims Act.

The Senate, which is is controlled by the Republicans, has never passed the measure.

In the Senate, the Assembly version of the Child Victims Act— a tougher one — is sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan).

Sen. Jeffrey Klein, who heads a breakaway group of eight Democrats aligned with the GOP, introduced his own bill that would do away with the statute of limitations on civil and criminal child sex abuse cases and treat public and private institutions the same.

But Klein's version of the one-year window to re-open old cases would include the creation of a five-member commission that would determine whether a person's case is warranted or frivolous.

A number of advocates are backing Klein's bill, though some remain opposed.

But a bill won't make it to the floor without the GOP majority allowing it.

Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif had no comment on Wednesday about the call for a leader's meeting, but said on Tuesday "we take this issue very seriously and it continues to be reviewed."



Teaching children how to protect themselves against sexual abuse

by Lina Giannarou

A new program is soon to be introduced at Greek public schools which aims to teach kids how to defend themselves against sexual abuse. “I bought you a cool tablet, come sit on my knee and let me show it to you.” “You're too young to wear the upper part of your swimsuit, take it off.” “Give me a kiss, right here.” Which of these are innocent and which are not? If even some adults aren't quite sure, how can we expect a 5-year-old to know? This is what the “Safe Touches” national school program, geared toward children aged 5 to 9, focuses on.

The Eliza Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children came up with the initiative, which is funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. A pilot run of the program is being tested on 2,000 children at schools in Attica and on Crete. Plans are in place to introduce the program to the rest of Greece. “The goal is for us to be in every public school, for a child in Karpathos to get the same information as a kid in Athens,” says child psychologist and managing director of Eliza, Afroditi Stathi.

Today, it is known that one in five children under the age of 18 will experience an instance of sexual abuse at least once during their childhood. Some 45 percent of the victims won't reveal it for at least five years. Many victims will never speak out about it. It is also known that 90 percent of cases of sexual abuse involve somebody the child knows either in their family or circle of friends.|

It's been shown that the best way to prevent sexual abuse is to teach children how to say no, and to be confident in their expression.

‘The secret'

“Perpetrators rely on ‘the secret,' and make the child feel like its their fault. This is something a small child cannot overcome,” explains Stathi. The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has been using the program to teach kids what an unsafe touch is for years. “It is that which makes them feel uncomfortable. We teach them how to protect their bodies, what's theirs and that they have private parts.

We teach them to say no, and to distance themselves, to tell a trusted grown-up, to make themselves a list of grown-ups they trust so they have an alternative if one doesn't respond,” says Stathi. How do you talk to children about such things, though? The Safe Touches program uses puppets. “It is created through the eyes of the child and shows them different scenarios which gradually train them for all kinds of instances,” she adds.

While training youngsters, the program also shows parents and teachers how to identify and respond to instances where a child has been sexual abused. “We hear of many cases from teachers who see things but don't realize that they must report them. Recently a parent came and thanked me, telling me that he had been sexually abused as a child and had not told anybody about it,” Stathi says.



Report shows Oklahoma lags nation in child well being, but improving

by Dale Denwalt

Oklahoma ranks 36th when it comes to childhood well-being, according to a national report that examines more than a dozen health, education, family and economic indicators.

The latest Kids Count survey has bright spots, though. Oklahoma is progressing faster than the national average on the proportion of teens who abuse alcohol or drugs. The data on teens giving birth show a marked decline from 5 percent to 3.5 percent over five years.

“While Oklahoma is still awful in that category, look at the improvement,” said Joe Dorman, CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. “If we don't have these statistics and look at where we fall in these rankings, oftentimes those issues are overlooked.”

The nonprofit is the state partner for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which released the national Kids Count report this week. Dorman said Oklahoma has improved in the overall standings significantly over the past decade.

Still, there are sore spots.

Sheree Powell, communications director for the Department of Human Services, said there are many indicators in the report that influence rates of child abuse and neglect.

“As Oklahoma improves, all these areas that impact child well-being, we should also see a positive impact in the families affected by child abuse and neglect,” Powell said.

Perhaps the biggest discrepancy between state and national indicators is the report on eighth-grade math skills. According to the report, 77 percent of Oklahoma eighth-graders are not proficient in math compared to 68 percent nationwide.

Levi Patrick, director of computer science and secondary mathematics education for the state, said middle school math is some of the most complex and meaningful math in the entire system. For example, how would you write twenty-three and eight-thousandths — with numerals?

Patrick also said the Kids Count data shows performance before Oklahoma adopted similar education standards as other states that have performed well.

"We knew that our middle school math standards weren't good enough, and we've known for some time. That's why we initially adopted Common Core," Patrick said.The state later dumped Common Core and reverted to older standards with less rigor, he said, before distributing a new set.

“This report pulls from two years in the past, and I think that two years in the future we'll see growth,” Patrick said. “When you have standards that we had in the past that repeated concepts and did not take a meaningful look at the learning progression, you're going to have students who underperform in eighth grade.”



Camp Confidence creates community for children who have been abused

by Sabrina Garrett

The following statistics may be shocking, but they are real.

Did you know that 2 in 3 adults who struggle with substance abuse were physically or sexually abused as children?

Did you now that 1 in 3 children who are abused or neglected grow up to continue that cycle - abusing their spouses or children?

Did you know that Camp Confidence is the first camp of its kind in the country attempting to break this cycle and create an environment where abused kids can simply be kids?

The Keith Edmonds Foundation is gearing up for their inaugural Camp Confidence next month.

Camp Confidence is the brainchild of child abuse survivor Keith Edmonds. It will be a day-camp held from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Monday, July 10, and Tuesday, July 11, at Cumberland University in Lebanon.

Although the camp is based in Wilson County, it will be open to campers ages 8-12 from other Middle Tennessee counties. Referrals will come through Judge Barry Tatum and the Department of Children's Services.

"Camp Confidence doesn't exist right now in the country," Edmonds said. "This is something I needed as a kid."

Edmonds reiterated that children who are abused or neglected deal with feelings of anger, loneliness and alienation.

Edmonds has experienced all three. As an infant, abuse nearly took Edmonds' life when his tiny face was held to a heater by his mom's boyfriend.

As a result, Edmonds abused substances as a teen and adult.

"I remember my high school wrestling coach always talking with me. He was a man of faith and was always saying that God is the answer. I didn't listen," he said. However, several years ago, Edmonds became a Christian and said it changed his life.

His wrestling coach is now traveling to Tennessee from Michigan in July to give introductory remarks at Camp Confidence.

"We want to connect these kids with empowered survivors and create a community. This is where the transition starts," Edmonds said. "This is an opportunity where a kid can be a kid and let their guard down."

The camp will be run by volunteers who have completed background checks and trauma training.

Edmonds stressed that the camp is going to be a great time - with self-esteem building, arts and sports.

"We need the community to support this camp," he said.

He hopes the camp will grow. He is already planning monthly activities for the children in months that follow.

"We want to do a bonfire in August and a bowling night, Halloween party in October," he said, noting the September activity will be a game night, with the theme of Minute to Win It. Each monthly event will have a theme and a take away for the child. "The camp is going to be great, but we are going to continue the community afterward."

Edmonds foresees the camp growing not only across the Volunteer State, but nationwide.

If you wish to donate to Camp Confidence, contact Edmonds at (615) 651-0714 or via e-mail at Checks can be mailed to the Keith Edmonds Foundation at 155 Legends Drive, Suite J, Lebanon, TN 37087.



Police handling 200 online child abuse cases in Northern Ireland at any one time

by Sue Doherty

The PSNI are investigating around 200 cases of online child sex abuse at any given time, a senior officer has revealed.

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, Det Chief Constable Drew Harris said there is "a constant flow of people through our courts every week" in relation to online sexual abuse of children online.

"At any one time, in the order of 200 investigations are open into actual suspects from Northern Ireland, not just information, but moving forward to gather evidence," he explained.

"As we put more resources to it, we are detecting more. There's a constant flow of people through our courts every week in relation to this."

Dealing with this type of crime is a relatively recent challenge for the police he said, and work that is largely "invisible" to the public.

"When I joined the police, such offending was unknown, entirely unheard of and possibly beyond our imagination.

"The internet is being used for very dark and evil purposes and it is very difficult to police. The policing of that is invisible to society."

The PSNI is devoting substantial resources to protecting vulnerable children and working with partner organisations here as well as with the police in England, Scotland, Wales and the Garda Siochana in Ireland.

"Whether it's growing or not it's hard to say, it appears to be growing but our detection techniques are improving." He said that, more and more, police work takes place "on the fringes of society", trying to protect people who are vulnerable, whether victims of domestic abuse or child victims of abuse or sexual exploitation.

This kind of worse, he said, can be especially stressful. "Police officers find themselves very often dealing with people in dire straits, people who are in entirely hopeless situations and who feel powerless about what they can do, and that is very stressful, especially when you know the situation is going to re-occur and re-occur."

He spoke of the vulnerability of the many young people who go missing in Northern Ireland.

Of around 12,000 people reported missing in Northern Ireland each year, he said, 60% are aged 17 and under.

"A lot of that is concentrated on children who go missing from care homes or very difficult family situations.

"There are some episodes of children going missing every week, children from fractured families or in care system.

"They are in a position where they can be easily abused, without the checks and balances of a support system of family and friends that they can turn to."


United Kingdom

Update on Crowdsourcing Europol's "Stop Child Abuse-Trace and Object" Campaign

by Christiaan Triebert

Following Bellingcat's attempt to support Europol's call for help to identify objects related to child abuse, several objects have been positively identified. Here's an update.

Objects Successfully Identified

One of the plastic bags was quickly identified bag from Tesco, a British multinational grocery retailer. Tesco operates in other European countries too, but we assume the company could provide Europol with more relevant information related to where these bags are distributed.

Two other plastic bags were identified by a Twitter-user as bags from JULA and REMA 1000 respectively. Both stores are operating in several countries, including Sweden (both), Denmark (REMA 1000), and Poland (JULA).

“Bo”, a member of the Check verification team, identified the objects seen in another image as a shoe-type phone shoe, which for example can be bought on Alibaba .

Another object that has been identified by a Reddit-user , and is a Tatty Teddy girl's swimsuit .

Yet to be Identified Objects

There is still a lot of objects that need to be identified. However, there are leads on several ones including this polo shirt . The logo on the shirt has been identified as one recurring on shirts sold by, among others, H&M and the brand appears to be L.O.G.G.

New Objects to Identify

Europol says it has received around 10,000 tips from all over Europe following their call for support. The tips have not yet led to arrests, but the law enforcement agency of the European Union are convinced that the information shared is of use.

Europol has published several new images it asks the online community to identify. We have added these images to the crowdsourced verification platform Check and hope Bellingcat's audience will continue to identify the objects in the images, harnessing the talent of our open source investigation community.


United Kingdom

The Signs of Child Sexual Abuse That All Parents Need To Know About

by Rachel Hosie

As a parent, it's normal to worry about your children. But there are definitely some situations that are more cause for concern than others.

One woman recently explained in a Mumsnet discussion that she was particularly worried about her five-year-old daughter's behavioural changes, and many people thought it sounded like the daughter may have been sexually abused.

“Over the past month we have seen an alarming switch to ‘manic and aggressive' with intrusive thoughts,” the mother wrote.

“Manic meaning fidgeting constantly, running everywhere, talking nonsense, not listening or trailing off in the middle of sentences and beginning a new conversation, unable to sleep, impulsive behaviour (stealing food from others' plates).

“Aggressive being shouting, swearing (in the ‘child' sense, think ‘shut up,' ‘stupid,' ‘hate you!'), being violent to myself and her father, going from 0-100 (in terms of calm to raging) and not being able to calm down once she is up a height. She has also kicked the cat in her rage. We have told her we will get rid of him if we even think she might do that again, for his safety.

“Intrusive thoughts are mostly about private parts (I'll spare you the details) but essentially the growing realisation that everyone has them, and that she wants to look at everyone's all the time. Or saying that she is ‘thinking about private parts' all the time.

“She's also making up horrible songs/rhymes in her head (and telling us, in guilt) that she can't get out. She's asking us constantly if we are going to ‘tell on her' for every little infraction and believes the police/school are going to get her if she does anything wrong.

“The worst ones are the things she has come out with such as ‘I want to punch someone to death with my hands' and thinking the recent fire in london was ‘really funny.'”

The mother said she doesn't know what to do.

Many people in the comments said it sadly sounds like the daughter may have been sexually abused in some way, and the NSPCC agree:

“The way the parent describes their child's behaviour is a real cause for concern,” Emily Cherry, Head of Participation at the NSPCC told The Independent . “Sudden, unexplained changes in the way children are acting can often be signs of abuse or bullying.

“Most children go through a phase, particularly in their early years, of becoming fixated on genitalia, and this can be a normal stage of development. But when that is combined with other really noticeable behaviour changes it can be an indication that some form of abuse has either happened or is happening.

“A particularly worrying sign is that the child is fearful of being told on to teachers and police. Abusers will use fear, shame and guilt to silence their victims and prevent them from speaking out.”

Cherry says it's really important that the parents reach out to a GP and the child's school for support, and it might be necessary to make a referral to children's social services.

The NSPCC says there are certain signs that a child has been sexually abused.

What to look out for:

•  Aggressive mood swings (particularly in young children)

•  Bed wetting/soiling themselves

•  Urinary infections

•  Eating disorders

•  Problems sleeping

•  Genital area soreness

•  Using sexual language or information you have not talked with them about sex and relationships

•  Becoming withdrawn

•  Avoiding or becoming fearful of seeing particular people, places or situations

•  Being aggressive

•  Self harm and suicidal thoughts

If you have any concerns, the NSPCC suggest calling their counselors on 0808 8005000.

They also have a useful resource for parents to help prevent sexual abuse - it's called PANTS or the Underwear Rule .

“This simple conversation can help empower children to understand their body belongs to them, no means no and they can speak up,” Cherry says.


United Kingdom

Every Child has a right to receive lessons about sex-soaring child abuse statistics reveal parents can't do the job

by Janet Street-Porter

Some things should never be entrusted to parents, and sex education is one of them.

Consider the facts – currently, child abuse dominates the news, with widespread concern about the rise of cyber bullying and “sexting” by children as young as eight. Half of all court time is now spent dealing with rape and child abuse and one in five prisoners are guilty of a sexual offence. Three decades ago, porn was sold via top shelf magazines and DVDs, but now it's available to the smartphone generation at the click of a button, with every single perversion catered for. Parents routinely give their children phones as a safeguard – but what are they unleashing?

In this environment, it's not surprising that politicians, charities, the Church of England and law enforcement agencies all united to praise Government plans to introduce compulsory sex education in all schools from the age of four.

Parents, though, have reacted very differently. Half the mums I've been speaking to are furious that their tots are going to be acquainted with words like “genitalia” – and some said they weren't happy that the stark facts about how a baby is made being part of the school day. Personally, I'd rather the real words were used, other than airy fairy terms like “bits” and “fairy garden” and embarrassing clichés about how humans reproduce. Most parents are hopeless at talking to their kids about sex in a calm and considered way.

When I was about ten, mine just left a leaflet in my mother's knicker drawer, knowing that I would read it. I didn't find out anything about masturbation or even know what all the parts of the female anatomy were called until I studied biology at secondary school.

Now, porn is our living rooms, body parts are displayed as “free expression” on the street and as we shop in the local supermarket. Flesh and sexual imagery are pretty hard to ignore, whether you're four or 104. In this hothouse environment, teachers are best placed to deliver valuable life-messages about relationships, and appropriate behaviour.

Teachers spend far more time with children than most parents. They are trained to deliver rudimentary social skills, and impose boundaries, while most parents spend their time out at work, watching television, lavishing treats one minute and imposing rules the next. And all the time their teenage offspring remain closeted in bedrooms viewing God knows what online.

Boys and girls are routinely pilloried if they refuse to participate and swap sexual imagery and pictures of body parts. Many are blackmailed and bullied, without parents having a clue. Low self-esteem and anorexia are soaring as a result of a breakdown in sexual education. Primary school teachers operate in a carefully controlled environment – the best place to start telling very young children about their bodies and how to develop meaningful relationships. Of course very small children are not going to be told inappropriate details – sex instruction is part of a wider conversation about trust, and the meaning of consent. Hopefully, by the time they reach secondary school they will have the equipment to withstand difficult pressures from social media and their peers.

Sadly, the Health Minister's good intentions will be scuppered from the outset if she allows parents to withdraw their children from sex education lessons – which I predict many religious groups will do. And why should faith schools be allowed to teach a special version of the curriculum? Sex education has to be compulsory, with no exceptions – political correctness has gone way too far. Religion is being used as a means of separating children and instilling divisions when we need to build community, not division.

Critics complain that children are “losing” their right to a childhood, but turn on the television or go online and see that rape, abuse and grooming have become the fodder of prime time entertainment, with series like National Treasure and even Poldark highlighting it as a cornerstone of a storyline. The highly praised new series of Broadchuch , which aired on ITV this week, included the harrowing story of rape and a teenager caught “sexting” at school. Worthy drama or capitalising on our (justifiable) fears?

The police say they cannot cope with the rise in child abuse – they are currently investigating 70,000 allegations and make 400 arrests every month. The only way to combat child abuse, and protect childhood, is through compulsory sex education.