Police: Mom attacked child in attempted exorcism
by the Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A Northern California woman was in custody Sunday on suspicion of beating, biting and choking her 11-year-old daughter in an attempt to perform an exorcism on the child, authorities said.
Kimberly Felder, 45, stripped her daughter naked and shoved sand into her mouth and into her eyes before a witness tried to stop the attack at a secluded beach in Ferndale, a North Coast town about 115 miles north of San Francisco on Friday, the Humboldt County Sheriff's office said.
The witness, John Marciel, said Felder told him she was trying to remove demons from her daughter and continued to hit the girl's head with a piece of driftwood while he tried to restrain her. He said he stayed on the phone with 911 operators as he tried to wrestle Felder to the ground. Deputies who arrived to the scene managed to separate Felder from her daughter and place her in handcuffs.
“She questioned me about my faith,” Marciel told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Felder was arrested for investigation of attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, child abuse and aggravated mayhem.
The girl was taken to the hospital with multiple injuries, including severe damage to her right ear. She will be placed in protective child custody, sheriff's
Sgt. Greg Allen said.
Authorities said if Marciel hadn't intervened, it was very likely the girl would have been killed by her mother.
Marciel said he decided to take some out-of-town visitors to the beach before heading to his son's high school graduation. He said he was glad he got there to stop the attack.
“The worst thing was when we got the child away and into the sheriff's truck, she said people drove by and nobody stopped,” Marciel said.
“When you see something like this, it shakes your foundation and faith in people,” he said.
Investigators planned to forward the case to prosecutors on Monday, Allen said.
He said Felder took a toxicology test to determine whether she was under the influence of drugs, but the results have not returned yet.
What Every Incest Survivor Needs To Know
Healing can take different forms
by Alisa Zipursky
Incest sucks. And it happens all the time.
Those eight simple words raise issues that are never talked about, but need to be. Incest — specifically sexual abuse of a child at the hands of a parental figure — is unfortunately remarkably common.
Incest is generally only brought up in “polite company” after watching Cersi and Jamie Lannister on Game of Thrones, but it's time it was talked about as a fact of real life. The conversation we desperately need to be having is about the 1 in 9 girls and the 1 in 53 boys that are sexually abused before they're 18 years old — 80% of whom are sexually abused by a parent, according to RAINN.
The silence that surrounds incest can make survivors feel isolated, even though it is a very common experience. Sam*, an incest survivor, says that it wasn't until they started sharing their own story that they realized they have actually been surrounded by other survivors their whole life.
I began sharing my story of survivorship, and through that, I have found that the feelings of shame have, over time, melted away. I realized that incest happens all the time, and we are not alone,” they tell Teen Vogue .
This piece is about and for survivors, but it is also for people who may not have experienced incest themselves, but know someone who has. Survivors are in our classrooms, houses of worship, and even our homes, and we may not even know. The taboo around the topic can make it hard to understand how this form of sexual violence exists in our communities, access information, and get support.
Here are 6 things every incest survivor, and their loved ones, need to know.
1. Incest happens all the time, everywhere, and there are so many ways it can look.
Incest is hard to talk about, partially because of all the different forms it can take. The way it manifests is different for everyone and this can make it difficult to identify. Incest can include rape, molestation or unwanted touching; the adult exposing their genitalia, masturbating in front of a child or forcing the child to masturbate. It can also be emotional, which involves the parent treating their child like their romantic partner and relying on the child for all their emotional needs.
What is shared among survivors is that feeling of being unsafe and violated by the actions of the trusted parental figure. Licensed professional counselor Paul Dunion explains that a common experience is a feeling of “icky-ness.”
“Survivors know in their bodies somebody physically, sexually or emotionally came too close,” he tells Teen Vogue .
2. You are not alone and there are people here to support you.
Surviving incest can be isolating, but it is important to know you are not alone. Many survivors don't talk about what they experienced because they feel afraid, ashamed, and confused, but talking can be an important part of the healing process. Often survivors find it helpful to identify a trusted person in their life, like a friend or family member, who makes them feel safe and with whom they can share their experiences and feelings.
However, for many survivors, talking about it with someone they know feels daunting, in which case confidential support can be a helpful option. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is a national organization that offers free, confidential services for survivors through the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) and confidential web chat where survivors can connect with trained advocates to get support and information.The folks at RAINN are there to help survivors figure out how to heal in a way that works for them.
3. Incest can affect the health of a survivor's mind and body and that is totally normal.
Surviving incest is traumatic and trauma can affect both bodies and minds. According to Dr. Elizabeth Miller, the Director of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, there is no “one,” “normal,” or “right,” way to cope with that trauma. Every survivor handles what happened differently, and that's okay.
“Trauma impacts our bodies and health in really diverse ways,” she tells Teen Vogue . “It's everything from having difficulty focusing at school, being uncomfortable in loud places, feeling anxious, and out of control of our own emotions, and experiencing nightmares.”
Survivors also may not have clear memories of exact instances of trauma; It's normal to have vague memories and to remember more as time passes. Dr. Miller said that memory loss is a way for the brain to protect survivors from the pain of their trauma. Because they lack of clear memory, survivors sometimes have to rely on a gut feeling that they know something happened to them that wasn't okay.
“It is like the memory is shattered glass, and over time, a few little pieces of that glass come back together, but it isn't a whole and complete memory,” Miller said.
It is also normal for survivors to experience a range of conflicting emotions— from anger, sadness and anxiety to feelings of guilt and a sense of needing to protect their perpetrator and their family. Incest can be wrapped up in messages of love and family obligation from the parental figure, which can feel confusing.
4. Healing can take different forms too.
Just as trauma can take many different forms, so can healing. Part of the healing process is identifying coping mechanisms, resources, and self-care practices that work.
“Trust yourself and the way you feel,” said Diane Dahm, a social worker and expert in trauma counseling, “There are no wrong feelings and there are professionals all across the country ready to help you.”
Examples of strategies for dealing with trauma include breathing exercises, journaling, exercise, music, and meditating to help feel present in the body and manage emotions. And as mentioned above, talking can be an important step, particularly with a professional. Visit RAINN's Center Locator to find a trauma counselor near you.
5. Choosing whether or not to report to the police is a personal decision.
Whether a survivor chooses to report their incest as a crime to the police or not, each survivor must do what is right for them. The decision to report can be complicated for survivors. Some of the concerns survivors weigh when choosing whether or not to report can include: uncertainty of what will happen to their families, fear that their memory isn't clear enough, and the risk of possible re-traumatization by the police. RAINN's hotline trained advocates can help survivors talk through all the considerations of reporting.
It is important for survivors to know that many adult professionals, such as teachers, coaches and doctors, are legally required to report to state authorities if they learn of a person under the age of 18-years-old is being abused, including sexual abuse and molestation.
To learn about the mandatory reporting laws in your state, check out RAINN's online State Law Database.
6. Most important of all, survivors are entitled to live full and healthy lives.
The most important thing for a survivor to know is that they are worthy of a full and vibrant life filled with love. Survivorship is a part of the complex fabric of a person's identity, but does not mean anyone is fated to a certain kind of life.
“Survivors can hold their trauma as one of the truths of their life, along with their ambition, brilliance, their love for others and a deep love for themselves,” Sam said.
Survivors are deserving and capable of lives filled with hope, resiliency and love, and while healing can be hard and exhausting work, there are people ready to support and stand beside them every step of the way.
*Name has been changed.
If you need help or support, call the [National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) or use their confidential web chat. To find a trained trauma counselor near you, visit RAINN's Center Locator.
Iowa child abuse reports rising in wake of adopted girls' deaths, stretching embattled case workers
by Lee Rood
The Iowa agency blamed for failing to act on several red flags before the deaths of two adopted teens is facing a growing workload even as its staffing across the state has shrunk.
More calls are coming into Iowa's child abuse hotline, more are being accepted for investigation and more children are being found to be abused, a Reader's Watchdog probe has found.
Abuse hotline calls in the wake of the horrific, high-profile deaths of Natalie Finn of West Des Moines last October and Sabrina Ray of Perry in May have topped where they were last year, reaching 25,100 since the end of last month.
And 61 percent of calls this year are being investigated, versus 52 percent five years ago.
Add to that the fact that Iowa for years has removed children from homes at a higher rate than most other states because of abuse or neglect allegations.
The result: More Iowa birth parents have permanently lost custody of their children because of neglect, often resulting from drug abuse, as well as physical and sexual abuse.
Over the past five years, there's been a 16 percent leap in terminations of parental rights — from 1,446 in 2012 to 1,682 in 2016 — placing pressure on the state to find more suitable foster and adoptive parents.
All of this weighs on the embattled Iowa Department of Human Services, whose employees' actions have been under a microscope since the deaths of Sabrina Ray and Natalie Finn and the alleged abuse of other children adopted from state care.
"We see such horrendous abuse incidents with such specific causes, and it seems easy to address politically,” said Steve Scott, a lobbyist and former head of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa who has worked in the field for more than 20 years. “But we also need to look at long-term problems that have been building for 15 years.”
How legislators and Gov. Kim Reynolds ultimately decide to address some worsening problems in the child welfare safety net will play a huge role in whether children are really safer, Scott and others say.
But stark realities face those leaders and incoming Human Services Chief Jerry Foxhoven, chief among them a huge $100 million state budget shortfall.
What they also need to reckon with: The loss of more than 1,100 Human Services workers since Gov. Terry Branstad took office again in 2010, and abuse investigators responsible for covering larger swaths of the state.
Keeping kids with families
Iowa's social workers have done a better job the past four years of finding relatives to care for kids whose homes are considered unsafe.
But coalitions of Iowans have been lobbying legislators to keep more children found in risky situations with their parents or, if that's not possible, family members.
Angela Schumaker, a 43-year-old Omaha mother who was in Iowa foster care and group homes for five years, said Iowa needs to do more to provide more help to parents because children are abused in out-of-home care more than state statistics suggest.
Schumaker says she was neglected and abused after her father lost custody for beating her when she was 9. She said she remained in state care until she was 13 because her mother, who divorced her husband, only had an efficiency apartment.
“I should have never have been in foster care,” she said.
Schumaker said not all of her foster care experience was bad. But she didn't receive medical or health care for four of the five years she was a state ward, even though foster children receive state-backed health insurance and subsidies.
State workers do background checks, monthly home monitoring and require nationally recognized training to provide licensed foster care.
Still, many Iowans are calling for better scrutiny of foster-adoptive parents.
Sabrina Ray and Natalie Finn, both 16, and their siblings were severely abused and malnourished after concerns were raised to Human Services.
Lawmakers are conducting probes of those deaths, and a national consultant has been hired to review its practices.
Republicans in the Statehouse have yet to announce what moves they would like to make.
But Democrats have called for the immediate hiring of 25 new social workers, a review of all cases that involve home-schooled foster and adoptive children; and medical checkups for every child whose parents receive foster or adoptive subsidies.
“We're calling for additional action today to quickly evaluate other children who may be in the same situation while continuing to review progress at DHS to ensure this never happens again,” state Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque, a ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, said recently.
Research suggests early intervention and prevention cab help keep more kids safety at home and has lowered foster care placements in states such as New York that have invested more money in prevention.
That also reduces the trauma children suffer when they are taken from parents and relatives.
Foxhoven, the former head of Drake University's legal clinic, is known to be a promoter of that kind of early intervention, said Liz Cox, the current director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa,
The bad news is that a large slice of the money the state spends on child welfare comes from the federal government.
Some congressional leaders have been critical of the fact that nearly all of that money is available only after children have been removed.
Foxhoven says he does believe in the concept that "it's a lot easier for everybody to buy smoke alarms than fire trucks."
But, he added, "you still need fire trucks."
He said he won't necessarily be lobbying for changes in how federal money is distributed to states, but he will respond if others in Iowa decide to take action.
Frayed over time
In the meantime, short-sighted moves now by state leaders could easily make outcomes worse, Scott and Cox said.
In the years leading to a 2014 restructuring at Human Services, state leaders dramatically scaled back agency offices across the state, shaved office hours and slashed workers.
Today, 56 counties in Iowa do not have a full-time child abuse investigator. One investigator covers five counties in northwest Iowa.
In 2014, Department of Human Services leaders decided to accept for formal investigation and oversight far fewer complaints of neglect coming into their centralized abuse hotline.
Instead, those families were assessed and offered voluntary services by private providers so experienced investigators could focus on the most serious abuse.
The number of abused children in Iowa — which had been as high as 13,445 a decade ago — dropped almost 40 percent in one year, reaching 8,892 by 2016.
But caseloads in many counties remain high: In Polk County, prosecutors say workers are juggling 50 cases at a time while struggling to find foster homes.
And county attorneys in Polk and elsewhere across the state are not always providing back up by reviewing abuse reports rejected for investigation, as is required under state law.
"We have access to them, but we do not go in on a daily basis and read rejected reports," Polk County Assistant Attorney Andrea Vitzthum told lawmakers at an oversight hearing this month.
Last year's child abuse rate of 12.25 per every 1,000 kids was still “too high for reasons that are chronic and inexcusable for a state like Iowa," Scott said.
“It's going to take quite a bit of effort to make changes because we were already swimming upstream.”
Poverty, single parents, drugs
Iowa generally ranks as one of the best places in the country for child well-being, according to national research based on 16 different indicators.
But the state has a growing number of children living in single-parent homes and a steady but high number of kids living in poverty — about 1 in 7, according to the new 2017 Kids Count report.
Adoptions of abused foster children have risen more than 16 percent — from 2,066 to 2,405 — in five years from 2013 to 2017. The number reflects an identical leap in more parents losing legal rights to children who are state wards.
The true caseloads of child protective workers — which has been a matter of debate between legislators and Human Service leaders — are expected to increase because social workers are being required this year to formally investigate more cases of hard drug use.
Human Services administrators said they wanted the change because too many drug-affected children were being repeatedly reported for abuse.
Since the deaths of Natalie Finn and Sabrina Ray, social workers also have been told to investigate any case when they have doubts about children's safety.
Steve Quirk, chief executive of Youth Emergency Services and Shelter in Des Moines, said the state's move to privatize Medicaid also has resulted in less access to residential care for the most troubled kids “in a system that was already pretty tight.”
The state pays for about 80 fewer emergency shelter beds across the state than five years ago — about 160 now compared with 240 then, he said.
The shelter also loses $50 a night for every child ordered by the courts to be there because state reimbursement rates are lower.
The most troubled children needing emergency care have a mix of acute problems — past sex abuse, drugs, suicidal tendencies, behavior problems and criminal histories.
They also include plenty of children like Natalie Finn and Sabrina Ray, who were malnourished or had other dietary problems that grow from long-term neglect, Quirk said.
Some children literally have nowhere to go because no one — in their families, in foster care or in the community — will take them, Quirk said.
“We have two kids here right now who are about to celebrate one full year here,” he said.
More independent review needed
Foxhoven says he is glad the department hired a national firm to find ways to improve child-protection efforts after the deaths of Natalie Finn and Sabrina Ray.
The two teens and their siblings were being malnourished and abused in the care of adoptive parents receiving subsidies. In both cases, the parents claimed the teens were being home-schooled.
The outside agency, the Alabama-based Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, is expected to review agency policies, training and data around the effectiveness of the system.
But lawmakers are questioning why the $39,550 contract did not include a full review of how the two girls' cases were handled.
State Sen. Matt McCoy, an oversight committee member who has been highly critical of the handling of both cases, said the agency needs to determine exactly where it failed.
"Unless they are willing to look at every single call made to the abuse hotline on behalf of these children and how that call was handled, then how in the world would they ever be able to determine that?" he asked.
Paul Vincent, who heads the firm, said in addition to assessing current performance and best practices, Human Services asked consultants to take a look at how the centralized child abuse hotline is working, signaling a possible source of problems.
Vincent also said high workloads are counterproductive to child safety, even in states with more money for child welfare.
"What you do with your resources is as important as what resources you have," he said.
Limits on fostering and adoption?
Only about nine to 17 families a year are denied adoptions out of the state system because of past criminal activity, child abuse or some other inability to meet the child's needs, Reader's Watchdog found.
Alan Blair, a former juvenile court officer supervisor in Fort Dodge, said he raised red flags to child-protective workers years ago about one family living on an acreage that included 17 foster and adoptive 17 kids.
He said the father traveled for his job and the mother had called police wanting to file criminal charges against the children because she couldn't control them.
“She didn't have enough support,” said Blair, who retired not long after working on that case a decade ago. “Not even Superman and Superwoman could take care of 17 kids.”
Blair said he spent five years of his career working at Human Services and 25 in the judicial branch. In that time, he came across several families in which added income appeared to factor in the decision to take in more children.
“Some foster families actively ‘recruit' special needs children so that they can receive larger foster care payments,” he said.
Iowa's Human Services doesn't place restrictions on how many children can be adopted.
Many adoptive parents say they could not meet their children's special needs without the subsidies, which account for about 65 percent of what it takes to raise a child.
But neither the state nor federal government requires checks on children whose parents receive them, even though the subsidies are the most expensive item in the child welfare budget.
The Register requested how many adoptions fail each year because parents can no longer handle the children in their care. The agency said it could not release a figure, saying it would require a case-by-case review.
Blair said if workers better tracked failed adoptions, they could better ascertain what changes may need to take place in foster and adoptive recruitment and placement.
Human Services workers also are not required to look at all abuse allegations before placing a child in foster or adoptive care.
Currently, state code mandates that past founded abuse be evaluated when placing foster and adoptive children, but not allegations that could not be confirmed.
But “DHS licensing staff and Iowa KidsNet licensing staff assess a family's ability to foster or adopt based on the foster family's history of concerns, how those concerns were resolved, and the likelihood of those concerns resurfacing,” spokeswoman Amy McCoy said.
“If the concerns are serious and unresolved, or continue to occur, action can be taken to revoke their license or deny approval to adopt.”
Young children vulnerable
The circumstances surrounding the deaths of Natalie Finn of West Des Moines and Sabrina Ray of Perry were different than most children who died after abuse was reported to Human Services.
Most children are not school-aged or adopted.
For example, 2-year-old Mason Wyckoff of Grimes and 7-month-old Cody Seals of Indianola both died last year after child protective workers were called to investigate prior abuse.
Both babies were in the custody of birth parents when they died.
Mason died July 22 last year from an intentional drug overdose induced by his mother, who also died from an overdose. The mother had been reported two months earlier as a prescription drug addict.
Cody's mother was reported to child protection in April 2016 for mental health, substance use and housing instability issues. The baby ultimately was placed with his birth father but was shaken and killed by girlfriend, Tori Bittner.
By the numbers
In all, Iowa assessed about 25,707 cases of alleged child abuse and neglect last year.
About 71 percent of those cases were investigated, and no abuse was found 64 percent of the time. In about 8,900 cases, children were found to be abused.
The state spends $64.1 million on social workers, $45.5 million on foster and group care, and $34.6 million on services for families.
By far the most money — state and federal — is spent on adoption subsidies: $74.4 million.
Child abuse reports double since Northern Terrority Intervention
by Damien Murphy
The Federal Government's controversial intervention in the Northern Territory has been exposed as a multimillion-dollar failure that only worsened the abuse of Indigenous children.
About 50 per cent of Indigenous children in the NT now come to the attention of the child protection system by the age of 10, the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory was told on Monday
Clinical child psychologist and researcher Professor Sven? Silburn? said in addition to the wider problem one in four children had a substantiated child protection concerns.
"In public health terms you'd consider that to be of epidemic proportions," he said.
"And as a public health concern [given] what we know about the detrimental long-term effects on health, behaviour and learning, we'd see this as a public health if not a humanitarian crisis."
On the eve of Wednesday's 10th anniversary of the federal intervention, royal commissioners were told child protection notifications, substantiations and out-of-home placements had all more than doubled since 2007.
Professor Silburn, of Darwin's Centre for Child Development and Education at the Menzies School of Health Research, said the child protection service model for responding to child vulnerability in the NT was not sustainable in its present form.
"The continuing high rates of neglect and abuse in children's early years have considerable long-term social and economic implications for governments and society," he said.
He said the child protection system's capacity to respond to the increasing volume of notifications will become unsustainable unless there is a substantial investment in primary prevention and early intervention.
In 2014-15 there were 7365 Indigenous children notified to the NT child protection system, 1439 with a substantiated concern and 1067 who had an out-of-home care placement.
Professor Silburn said the marked increase since 2007 could reflect increased awareness and changes in reporting after the NT government's Little Children are Sacred report, changing legislation and the introduction of mandatory reporting of family violence.
But he said the widening gap between notifications and substantiations could indicate the number of children at risk of harm is increasing and/or that the investigative capacity of the child protection system is being overwhelmed by the increasing volume of notifications.
He said ideally longer term 10-year strategies should see federal and territory governments services work together to provide a more cohesive, co-ordinated and evidence-informed strategy with substantially greater early investment in children and families.
The royal commission was also told increasing numbers of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children were coming into contact with the protection system which also contributed to youth crime.
"As in every other jurisdiction in the world there is known to be a strong association between child protection issues and offending, particularly youth offending," Professor Silburn said.
Commissioner Mick Gooda? asked one witness why the Australian Federal Police were involved in child protection in the NT.
"I'm not sure," said Joy Simpson, manager, investigation and assessment, Territory Families. "Maybe its an overhang from the intervention."
Computer program seeks, destroys child-pornography images
by Earl Rinehart
There's a new program crawling around the internet in search of child pornography.
Created by a child-protection group in Canada, Project Arachnid finds photos and videos of child sexual abuse and erases them.
Child pornography victims say that beyond the sexual abuse, knowing that images of them could be in tens of thousands of computers and phones worldwide means the pain never subsides. They talk of wondering whether someone who looks at them for more than a half-second has seen those images.
“Day in and day out, these survivors must manage the residual impact of this crime, knowing their abuse has been recorded and shared online,” said Signy Arnason, associate executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
The nonprofit center operates Project Arachnid through its Cybertip.ca tip line, where electronic providers and the public can report online sexual exploitation of children.
“By curbing the public availability of this content, it helps to address the very real fear that someone they know may come across an image of their abuse on the internet,” Arnason said.
After a year of testing, Project Arachnid became operational in January. Since then, it has reported detecting 8.3 million web pages hosting child sexual-abuse material and 58,000 images.
Once the illegal content has been identified, a message is sent to the hosting provider requesting its immediate removal. Some do so in a matter of minutes; others take days or weeks to comply.
If a provider fails to remove the content, Cybertip.ca can notify law enforcement in that jurisdiction, which could decide to investigate the provider, Arnason said.
The content Arachnid hunts down has the digital fingerprints of images and data supplied by law-enforcement agencies as widespread as Interpol to local police, as well as nonprofit groups that fight child exploitation.
David K. Frattare, commander of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in Ohio, said his agency receives 400 tips a month about child-exploitation material from electronic service providers, the general public and its own investigative work.
Those images and videos are maintained in the database of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in Alexandria, Virginia, and the digital fingerprints are shared with Cybertip.ca.
“Project Arachnid is an amazing tool,” said John Shehan, vice president of the center's Exploited Children Division. “It's proactive and a way to help reduce the re-victimization. We are proud to partner with them on this victim-centric initiative.”
Eradicating child pornography is a global initiative, Frattare said. But it's unlikely every image and video can ever be eliminated if they have been changed or if many users keep them and do not share the material.
Aranson said Project Arachnid provides survivors psychological relief.
“For the first time, we are offering victims some comfort in knowing there is a system solely designed to find and trigger the removal of this illegal content,” she said.
New age progression image shows Kyron Horman at 14 years old
by Paul Craig
(Pictures on site)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -
A new age progression image released by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children shows what Kyron Horman might look like at 14 years old.
Kyron was last seen at Skyline Elementary School on June 4, 2010 when he was 7 years old.
No arrests have been made in the case, but Kyron's disappearance remains an open investigation.
Investigators have said Kyron's then-stepmother, Terri Horman, was the last person to see him, but she has not been named a suspect.
During her first public interview with People Magazine last year, Terri Horman said she did everything she could to assist in the investigation and blamed failed polygraph tests on a hearing impairment.
Terri Horman also appeared on the "Dr. Phil" show last year.
Kyron's mother Desiree Young has long stated her belief that Terri Horman is responsible for her son's disappearance.
Kyron's father Kaine Horman was granted a restraining order against Terri Horman shortly after his son disappeared in 2010. The couple's divorce was finalized on Dec. 31, 2013.
A $50,000 reward has been offered in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office tip line at 503-261-2847.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children previously released an age progression image of Kyron in 2012.
Thursday is National Missing Children's Day.
Ferdinand, special documentary screening on impacts of child abuse planned.
by Local Sources
Did you know that childhood abuse and neglect puts children at greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison time and even early death?
“Resilience,” a documentary covering the science of how adverse childhood experiences can forever change a child's biological make-up and impact their risk factors, will be screened at the Ferdinand Community Center, 1710 Community Drive, Thursday, June 29 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Data compiled in the Indiana Youth Institute's 2017 KIDS COUNT in Indiana Data Book shows that there are 17 cases of abuse or neglect for every 1,000 Hoosier children. While the rate in Dubois County is slightly lower at 15.6 cases per 1,000 children, rates in some neighboring counties are more than double the state rate.
Addressing child abuse and neglect is a community issue. To spark discussion of this critical issue and much-needed solutions, IYI and Crisis Connection teamed up to host the free community screening of the documentary “Resilience.” The film will help attendees understand the impact stressors, such as abuse, have on children.
Devina Jani with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, a division of The Villages, will facilitate the event and lead a group discussion following the film. The discussion is designed to engage participants and motivate them to act on behalf of children, their families and the communities in which they live. This discussion also will emphasize that research shows how interconnected systems create a thriving community and support important strategies for our children and families to build resilience.
As part of IYI's Youth Worker Café program, the forum and lunch are free, but reservations are required. RSVP at www.iyi.org/ywc. If you have trouble with the link, please contact IYI Statewide Outreach Manager Debbie Jones via email at email@example.com. For more information on the event, please contact IYI's Southwest Indiana Outreach manager Joe Shrode at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aboriginal children in chilkd protection a 'humanitarian crisis', royal commission told
by Georgia Hitch
About half of all Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory will be the subject of at least one child protection notification by the time they are 10 years old, the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT has heard.
Research conducted between 2010 and 2014 showed approximately one in two Aboriginal children had at least one notification and one in four had a substantiated concern, Professor Sven Silburn from the Menzies School of Health Research said.
Notifications are allegations made to an authorised department that a child has experienced abuse or neglect, and lead to further departmental investigations.
Substantiations of notifications occur when the investigation concludes there is reasonable cause to believe the allegation was true.
Counsel assisting the commission Tony McAvoy SC asked Professor Silburn what the statistics meant in relation to broader public health.
"As a public health concern where you've got what we know about the detrimental long-term effects on behaviour and learning, we'd see this as a public health, if not humanitarian, crisis."
Substantiations for Aboriginal children were highest for neglect (47 per cent) and emotional abuse (34 per cent).
For non-Aboriginal children, emotional abuse accounted for 35 per cent of substantiations, while physical abuse made up 32 per cent of substantiations.
Professor Silburn also said the number of combined notifications, substantiations, and out-of-home placements had doubled since 2007 - the same year laws were introduced that extended mandatory reporting of child abuse to all NT residents.
"I think it's a very sobering indication of the continuing severity of this issue," he said.
The royal commission heard increasing numbers of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children coming into contact with the protection system also contributed to youth crime.
"As in every other jurisdiction in the world there is known to be a strong association between child protection issues and offending, particularly youth offending," Professor Silburn said.
The royal commission continues.
We all have a role to play in protecting children
by Liz Cox
When the horrors of child maltreatment, torture, sexual abuse, or starvation strike our community, we tend to quickly look for someone to blame. The recent deaths of two 16-year-old girls in Central Iowa, Natalie Finn and Sabrina Ray, underscore the value each of us has in weaving a safety net that strengthens families and protects Iowa kids.
We all have a role to play in the development of our children. This includes becoming involved in situations where children's well-being is or can be jeopardized. Our responsibility cannot be outsourced to a single agency or department, and we must hold those who victimize our children accountable.
Fifty-six percent of adults in Iowa report experiencing some type of abuse or household dysfunction growing up according to Iowa's 2016 Adverse Childhood Experiences data.
The traumas of neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, domestic violence or substance abuse in the home during childhood have lifelong impact on the victim. The removal of a child from a parent is also traumatic, no matter the circumstances. Prioritizing prevention in our policies and funding — at the state, federal and local level — can help break the intergenerational cycle of abuse.
Public-private partnerships have never been more necessary in our state.
Certainly the loss of these two young ladies and the trauma their siblings endured are a call to examine policies on home schooling and foster and adoptive family oversight in Iowa. We are one of 11 states that does not require families to register home-school students with their local school district. We are one of 24 states that has yet to pass Erin's Law requiring public schools to implement child sexual abuse prevention programs that teach safe body practices to youth and help parents and teachers identify the warning signs of sexual abuse and how to respond. Contacting legislators helps them know you support evidence-based prevention programs and policies that safeguard our children.
More than 5,800 children were in foster care in Iowa in 2015. Sen. Chuck Grassley and other Iowa congressional leaders are champions of the Family First Prevention Services Act that improves flexibility in federal child welfare funding (Title IV-E) to Iowa's Department of Human Services, providing more supports for children before entering foster care and updating requirements of foster care oversight and accountability. More access to prevention services reduces the number of children unnecessarily placed in foster care. This federal legislation, along with the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting reauthorization, are opportunities to invest in prevention in our state.
Safeguarding our kids requires a personal investment in the life of a child and not just our own child, but also the children of our neighbors, faith family or co-workers. Connections matter. Relationships help us cope, heal us, build trust and are a sanctuary when in times of stress. Invest in the lives of kids in your community. Mentor a teen, get to know your neighbors, build the sort of trusting relationships that empower a community.
Knowing the signs of abuse or neglect is everyone's responsibility. Lack of adequate supervision, poor hygiene, sudden fears of being touched, low body weight, unusual knowledge of sexual matters, burns, cuts, or bruises, may all be signs of abuse. Child victims are often traumatized and afraid to come forward. Listen to a child. If you are unsure about whether to make an official report or just need support, contact an Iowa child advocacy center at (515) 401-9897 that can help evaluate your suspicions or report directly to the Department of Human Services at (800) 362-2178.
A teacher recently reminded me, every child is one caring adult away from being a success story. Be that child's life saver!
• Liz Cox is executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa. Coments: email@example.com
Republican state senator voices support for Child Victims Act breaking ranks with party
by Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY — A GOP state senator broke ranks from his colleagues Monday — saying he'd vote for a bill to help child sex abuse survivors.
“If it comes to the floor, I'll support any of the versions that are out there,” Sen. James Tedisco (R-Schnectady) told the Daily News. He urged state leaders to strike a deal before Wednesday' scheduled end to the legislative session.
Child sex abuse, he said, “can cause psychological, mental and physical problems for a lifetime.”
His position was first reported by News10 in Albany.
Tedisco is the first Senate Republican to say he'd vote for the Child Victims Act, which two weeks ago overwhelmingly passed the Assembly with strong GOP support.
“I always said if a vote came to the Senate floor, we'd get Republican votes,” said Gary Greenberg, an upstate investor and child sex abuse survivor. “The Senate should take the bill up.”
Also Monday, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made a last-ditch plea to pass the Child Victims Act in a letter to legislative leaders.
In the letter, first reported Monday afternoon by the Daily News on its website, Schneiderman noted the Assembly recently passed the bill.
“After years of emotional debate, this important progress should be the impetus for a final legislative agreement,” he wrote. “We need to seize the unprecedented momentum this issue has gained in the halls of the capitol this year to finally enact real, meaningful reform that will deliver justice to child sex abuse victims across New York.”
Gov. Cuomo, who introduced his own bill last week that was identical to what the Assembly passed, angered advocates when he said two days later he does not believe the measure will become law this year.
The Senate GOP, as it has for years, has refused to bring the measure to the floor for a vote.
Klein introduced a compromise bill that also seemingly hasn't gained traction in the chamber.
With the legislative session scheduled to end on Wednesday, time is again running out for survivors.
“I respectfully call upon you to act now to right this long-standing wrong,” Schneiderman wrote. “The time to act is now.”
Schneiderman said as a state senator he voted to eliminate the statute of limitations on first-degree rape and other high-level felony sex offenses. He also cosponsored legislation that would have extended the timeframe that criminal and civil cases could be brought by victims of child sex abuse.
Now as attorney general, he noted that “today, New York stands with just three other states – Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama – in denying child victims of sexual abuse their day in court due to unreasonably restrictive statutes of limitation.”
The Assembly and Cuomo bills would allow survivors to bring civil cases up until their 50th birthdays, and felony criminal cases until their 28th birthdays. Currently, victims have until their 23rd birthdays to bring such cases.
The bills also include a one-year window to revive old cases and treats public and private institutions identically. Currently, those abused in a public setting, such as a school, have 90 days from the incident to formally file an intent to sue.
Passage in the Senate this year is still considered a longshot. The GOP privately discussed the issue Monday, but still has major concerns about creating a one-year window to revive old claims, a source said.
Department of Child Safety is still letting children down
by Alan Baker
IN 2004, then premier Peter Beattie called a snap state election, ostensibly to fix a crisis in what was then called the Families Department.
Following a public inquiry by the Crime and Misconduct Commission, Beattie said publicly that both his government and the department “had failed” and stated his intention of seeking a mandate to fix the crisis, claiming he was “putting the children first”.
As a result of the CMC's recommendations, after the re-election of the Labor government, the name of the Families Department was changed and a stand-alone Department of Child Safety was created to “focus exclusively on core child protection functions”.
Unfortunately, not much else has changed over the past 13 years.
Sure, successive state governments have increased funding and resources, but not enough to cope with the rising level of child abuse in the community, caused by multiple factors, particularly drug and alcohol abuse.
However, the renamed department has not changed its culture as was hoped because its primary focus seems to be on keeping families together, even where there is obvious risk to children.
That this is the case is evidenced by the tragic and unnecessary deaths of toddlers Joshua Migala, Mason Lee and Maddilyn-Rose Stokes, whose families, it has been reported, were known to the department.
The department's website says: “We are committed to the safety of children and young people. Their best interests and rights are paramount in all of our decisions.”
If only this was always the case.
There appears to be a problem of conflicting values and priorities.
The department's policy is that “if a child or young person has been harmed or is at risk of harm, it is important for the whole family to be supported … Vulnerable families and children will have access to high-quality services at the right time to help them to maintain the family unit”.
Obviously, the department needs more funding and resources to keep Queensland children safe from abuse. But it seems that it also needs a massive cultural shift.
It is called the Department of Child Safety for a reason. It is not the Department of Second Chances for Unfit Parents, nor is it the Department of Family Preservation.
While it must be acknowledged that many child safety officers are doing a very difficult job the best they can, they need to make tough calls more often – to put the health and safety of children first and remove them much sooner from harm's way.
The Government has the responsibility to provide clear legislative direction and sufficient resources to ensure that children who are at risk of serious emotional, physical or sexual abuse are taken into care. And, if after a reasonable period, their parents are still unable or unwilling to protect them from harm, it must allow these children to be adopted into families which will provide them with the love, nurture, stability and security they need.
With 9262 Queensland children living away from home, but only 10 local adoptions a year, the current system is failing our most vulnerable kids.
Alan Baker is a member of the state committee of the Australian Family Association
7 Foster Care Skills You Need Before Becoming a Foster Parent
Love is a given. But it takes more than love.
by Patrick Watt
Regardless of what we would like to believe, being a foster parent is a tough job. Over 400,000 children in the USA enter foster care every year. Even before studying the laws governing foster care in your region, you should examine yourself to determine whether or not you are ready to become a foster parent. Do you really understand how foster care program works? If you lack any of these skills, you can take the time to develop them before going ahead to adopt a child. Here are 7 skills you need before becoming a foster parent:
#1 — Patience
Patience is one of the most important skills in foster parenting. Your friends, kids and even wife might not exactly understand your decision or may not offer sufficient support. The new child will be starting a new life, and it might be considerably different from what he or she was used to. Your house already has its culture and rules, and the child will need to take some time to understand them. Some will even need more time to appreciate the new schedules. If you have no support from your own family, you will have to exercise your patience even more.
In many cases, children who end up in foster care have a history of physical or emotional abuse. This greatly affects their capacity to communicate and also influences their overall self-esteem. Many foster fathers have unrealistic expectations that the child will be very happy to be in your home since their previous family was abusive. However, this is rarely the case since these kids are already used to the abuse.
As the foster father, you will need to understand the situation and dedicate yourself to providing unconditional love to the child.
#2 — Communication Skills
As stated earlier, children in foster care usually lack self-esteem, given their past. Talking to you about their lives can be a form of therapy and will do a lot to help them grow into emotionally strong people. As a foster father, you should be able to encourage children to talk, even when the subject is not very pleasant. Some kids have trouble communicating because of conditions such as autism. Proper skills will help you understand the form of communication appropriate for such young ones.
Good communication skills will also help you get your family through a potentially difficult time raising a foster child. At the end of the day, you will experience emotional fulfillment from the whole activity.
#3 — Proper Disciplining Skills
In general, children communicate through behavior and actions. Just like all other children, foster kids need to be taught proper behavior so that they can grow up into responsible adults. In many places, it is illegal to discipline children by inflicting physical pain. This includes having them perform exercises because of their wrong actions. That form of punishment has also been identified as less effective ways of instilling discipline in children.
You should know what types of discipline tactic to use in different situations. As you go about disciplining your children, it is important to understand their background so that you can gauge their situation.
#4 — Be a Team Player
Raising a foster child is not a one-man activity. If you have a wife, you have to work with her to raise the child. When you fail or have no idea what to do, your wife and friends should be there to help you out. You also have to be in constant contact with the child's birth family.
In many places, foster parents have to engage with social workers continuously. During the meetings, you will exchange ideas on how to best raise your foster child, and knowing how to participate in these activities will help you manage your kid properly.
#5 — Adaptability
Men who quickly adapt to different situations will find it easier to be foster parents. The child might have medical and emotional issues, which could disrupt your regular routine. You may end up having to drop many social functions and events because of your new commitment. Are you ready and capable of changing your schedules at the last minute to attend to your foster child? If your response is in the affirmative, then you are well placed to be a foster parent.
Over time, you will also develop a bond with the child. Again, being a flexible man will help you say goodbye when the time comes for the child to leave your home.
#6 — Motivation and Energy
Foster children are not always easy to deal with. In fact, because of what they might have gone through in the past, they are likely to be very difficult to handle. Many times, you will have to move swiftly in order to diffuse a situation with your foster child. Although the laws don't provide for an upper age limit of foster parents, it is important to evaluate your energy levels before making a decision to adopt a child.
Otherwise, you will burn out and lose the child quickly. It might also become too stressful for you, and can even potentially affect your health. If you don't have the capacity to handle stressful kids, there isn't really a need to subject yourself to the pressure.
#7 — Ability to Show Love to Children
Kids in foster care often have a history of love depravity, and this often affects their behavior and emotional state. Knowing how to show them your love and appreciation will go a long way in correcting the wrongs in their past. This will help them grow up into responsible adults. A warm personality and a capacity to know what to say to your child will make them feel loved and appreciated.
Taking care of such children is a sacrifice, and the only thing that will keep you going when things get tough is a wealth of love. With the ability to show love to children, you will naturally know how to become a foster parent.
Becoming a foster father can be a fulfilling experience. It will change the life of a child, and teach you many lessons regarding kids and life in general. However, taking care of foster children is a hard job. So, what do you need to become a foster parent?
Typically, parents with the above skill sets have an easier time filling this role. If you lack any of the skills, you should take the time to learn. Some people even advise to first gain some experience taking care of children before deciding to take the role of foster parenting. Once you feel capable of handling the task, you should go through the local laws to learn the steps to becoming a foster parent.
Flight Attendants Learn How To Recognize Sex Trafficking Victims
by Cheryl Fiandaca
BOSTON (CBS) – Sex trafficking is a $100 billion industry that some are calling a new form of slavery. Now the victims have help at 30,000 feet. They are flight attendants who are looking for victims hidden in plain sight.
According to investigators, sex traffickers often move their victims through airports and on airplanes both domestically and internationally. That's why flight attendant Sherry Martin Peters says employees in the air travel business have to learn to spot the signs and report it.
Sherry recently ran a training course at Logan Airport to teach airline employees what to look for. “They are branding the girls,” she said pointing to the back of her neck where traffickers often place identifying marks on their victims.
It's part of a program Sherry launched with the help of the Department of Homeland Security. It's called “Angels at 30,000 Feet.”
“It's such an epidemic; it is just hitting us like a ton of bricks,” Sherry said.
Jasmine Marino knows how devastating it can be to be trapped in a life of trafficking for years. Her then-boyfriend forced her into the business when she was just a teenager. There was no one to turn to and few people recognized the signs. “I would never say ‘I am a victim of sex trafficking'”‘ she said.
According to Peter DiMarizio of The Department of Homeland Security Investigations, the sex trafficking industry is showing no signs of slowing down. “Drugs are being sold one time, but a human can be sold 10 or 15 times a day. That amounts to cold, hard cash,” he said.
Investigators say airline employees can help in the fight against sex trafficking. When they are trained to recognize the signs they can alert the pilot who can notify authorities who can meet the alleged trafficker and the victim at the gate. Sources tell WBZ that's just what happened on a recent flight.
Jasmine wants to raise awareness about this growing problem and is grateful for anyone who can offer help to victims. “Once you have sold your body once, you'll never be the same,” she said.
Woman Who Says Relative Sexually Abused Her Fights For Other Victims To Sue Later In Life
by Caitlin Nolan
It took a made-for-TV movie, a friend recognizing there was something wrong and almost a decade of passed time to give Kathryn Robb the courage to finally talk about the man she says abused her.
It was another five years before she spoke about him again, finally sharing what a relative did to her for years after she went to bed in their Long Island home.
“It's like a flood, and you're drowning in the truth of it, and you have to shut it off,” Robb, 57, told InsideEdition.com. “It comes in layers.”
For Steve Jimenez, from Brooklyn, N.Y., four decades of therapy went by before he felt he could confront the Catholic Church about the sexual abuse he endured at the hands of a Xaverian brother in the 1960s.
“For years I thought, ‘What's wrong with me?'" Jimenez said. “I thought I had done something.”
But for Robb, Jimenez and many others like them, their realizations that they deserved justice came too late.
Under current law in New York State, a child sex abuse survivor has five years after they become an adult — or until they are 23 years old — to bring either criminal or civil cases against their abusers.
“New York has been the biggest battle,” said Robb, an attorney who has worked to extend statutes of limitations in Connecticut and Massachusetts as well. “It's probably one of the worst states in the country in terms of shutting victims out from justice. And for the past 11 years in New York, I've been trying to change the law to make kids safer; for victims to have this little thing called justice.”
The state's statute of limitations is one of the shortest in the country, and advocates say it's to the detriment of those who have survived child sex abuse.
They're now hoping New York legislators will pass the Child Victims Act, which would increase the window of time in which victims can bring a civil suit. The state senate has until Wednesday to put the bill to a vote before the legislative session ends.
“You really have to be an adult to understand that you had no childhood, and that it was robbed of you,” Marci Hamilton, CEO of the advocacy group Child USA, told InsideEdition.com. “For the vast majority of victims, it takes decades to come forward.”
Robb was about 8 or 9 years old when the relative began sexually abusing her, she said.
“Most of the abuse occurred in the middle of the night; he would come into my bedroom,” she said. “And I never told anyone... the family, the home is the safe place to go, so [after abuse occurs] it's no longer safe. That makes it really, really difficult — certainly in my experience, it feels like you are indicting your family. So it's not like I could run to my parents and say ‘the man down the street raped me'... but to say it's someone in the family? The family is sacred. It tightens that secret; it mutes your voice even more.”
The abuse came to an end when Robb was about 14 years old, she said.
“It was the first time I fought back. ... He was also abusing my younger sister,” she said of way of explanation, noting she wasn't entirely sure what made it stop.
Years later, the man told someone he was "playing doctor to someone to minimize it," Robb said.
She found the courage to speak out when she was about 22, telling a friend what happened after reacting to a made-for-TV movie, which had final credits urging victims to seek help for abuse.
"My friend looked at me and said 'what's wrong?' I said nothing and she said b*******," she said. "She saw a pain in my eyes. I opened up with her and then I clammed up. And I shut up for a few more years."
When she was 26, she finally spoke about it again. And then she learned for the first time that her sister had been abused as well.
"She came to me and that opened it up a little bit more," Robb said. "I think it's pretty clear that the evidence is showing it just takes victims a really long time to talk."
Court records show that Robb and her sister sued the relative in Connecticut, where both women lived at the time, in hopes that the state's more favorable statute of limitations would bring them closure.
The lawsuit was later dismissed over a lack of jurisdiction. The court never considered the merits of the case.
That lack of accountability has left Robb wanting to make the landscape surrounding justice for child sex abuse survivors better.
“I have such a visceral reaction to injustice. It so irritates me whether it's injustice … it's not just for me, it's for the sake of justice. And it's for the sake of justice that I feel pretty compelled to continue.”
The relative Robb identified as her and her sister's abuser did not return InsideEdition.com's requests for comment.
Jimenez was in the fifth grade at what was then called Holy Name of Jesus Elementary School in Brooklyn when Brother Romanus of the Xaverian order began what was first thought of as a mentorship, he said.
“The abuse really began in the classroom... then there were outings,” Jimenez said.
Brother Romanus, who died in 1992, brought him to parks, to go ice skating, and to pools as well as bath houses, where Jimenez said he would be abused in shower stalls, steam rooms and even under the boardwalk at Coney Island.
“My parents trusted him; my mom would drive us to the ice skating rink — she'd even get us tickets to shows at Radio City Music Hall,” he said.
He thought the abuse would finally end when he graduated elementary school, but then he received a letter from him the summer before high school.
“He wrote me a pornographic letter. It freaked me out,” Jimenez said. “I didn't say anything... my mom said, 'Is something going on? You don't seem to want to have anything to do with [Romanus].' And I just exploded. I said, ‘I don't like the way he touches me.'"
It wasn't until the early 2000s that Jimenez felt ready to report the abuse to church officials, he said.
“I had gone to therapy for not years, but decades,” he said of finally being ready to face what happened head-on.
Jimenez said the Xaverian Brothers ultimately offered him a settlement that he accepted since the statute of limitations prevented him from pursuing a lawsuit.
“We found Steve to be credible and we believed his claim,” Brother Lawrence Harvey previously told the New York Daily News.
The Diocese of Brooklyn offered Jimenez therapy through a member of the church, which he declined, he said. A spokeswoman for the Brooklyn Diocese told the News: "Anytime a child is hurt within a Catholic institution our entire community is devastated and we all share responsibility."
The Xaverian Brothers and the Diocese of Brooklyn did not return InsideEdition.com's calls for comment.
“Immediately it was [from the Xaverian Brothers], ‘Why haven't you come forward?'" he recalled. "I said, ‘This has been with me for a while. I've gotten here after years and years of help.'"
Because of this, Robb, Jimenez, Hamilton and other advocates say they have been working tirelessly to get legislators to pass the Child Victims Act bill, which would give survivors the ability to bring civil cases up until their 50th birthday and felony criminal cases until they turn 28.
It also includes a one-year legal window to revive old cases and affords the same treatment to public and private institutions, removing the 90-day period those in a public setting like a school have to formally file an intent to sue from the time they were abused.
The bill overwhelmingly passed the State Assembly, and last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced his own Child Victims Act bill, which mirrors the Assembly's version.
“This is about justice. Victims should have ability to hold their abusers accountable, something they've been denied,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.
On Monday, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote to legislative leaders pleading for the bill's passing.
“After years of emotional debate, this important progress should be the impetus for a final legislative agreement,” he wrote in a letter first obtained by the News. “We need to seize the unprecedented momentum this issue has gained in the halls of the Capitol this year to finally enact real, meaningful reform that will deliver justice to child sex abuse victims across New York.”
The bill now sits in limbo in the Senate, where Republicans for years have blocked legislation allowing survivors of child sex abuse the ability to seek justice — and theoretically have until Wednesday, which is when the official legislative session ends, to put the bill to a vote.
“The Republican State Senate Majority could introduce the governor's bill for the floor for consideration at any given time,” Sen. Brad Hoylman, the Manhattan Democrat who sponsored the bill in the Senate, told InsideEdition.com. “The State Senate Republican Majority needs to listen to the people of New York State; to the Assembly who had passed the legislation; to the Governor... to the State Attorney General.”
The bill's detractors oppose its one-year window, claiming that such a window could bring forward an onslaught of fake claims that would bankrupt churches or organizations that could potentially fall under fire — but advocates and supporters of the bill say that just isn't the case.
“I believe opposition to the Child Victims Act is based on, largely, a misunderstanding what happens when individuals have a right to bring a claim... There are states that have successfully passed similar versions of this legislation and to date, there have been zero instances of false claims filed,” Hoylman said. “It's a persistent myth — that institutions, private schools, organizations, could be sued into bankruptcy. The evidence shows that's just not true.
“It really confounds me why we treat the survivors of child sexual abuse with such suspicion, and I would argue, disdain.”
But those opposed to the concept of a window have supported it when it comes to victims of other forms of crime.
Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican who opposed the window in the Child Victim's Act, has introduced legislation that would allow victims of medical malpractice to bring cases when they discovered the error instead of when the error occurred. The bill also includes a one-year window to revive old cases that would otherwise be unable to proceed due to time passed.
He and other Senate Republicans have also supported legislation raised every two years to extend the statute of limitations to soldiers exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Without such support, those cases would have been needed to be brought by 1985.
“I think it's sad that a double-standard is being applied to survivors of child sexual abuse," Hoylman said. “These are individuals who had decades of dealing with torment; the most insidious crimes against them literally stole their childhood away. We need to give them the benefit of the doubt, just like we do the victims of medical malpractice; just like we do to individuals who have been victim to other crimes; just like we do to children in every other venue.”
InsideEdition.com has reached out to DeFrancisco for comment.
Even though the state legislative session is scheduled to end Wednesday, Hoylman said he's holding out hope for the bill, which in its many forms has failed to make it to a vote for more than a decade.
“What I would ask the State Senate to do is to bring the bill to the floor for a vote of conscious,” he said. “Let's let the people know how you stand on an issue as important as child sex abuse... rather than keeping it so hidden and secretive, without any public accountability. I think it's possible to convince the Senate to bring it forward for a vote.”
For Robb, she says it's a simple fact that she was never the same after the first time that family member came into her room at night.
“It changed my entire life. It changed the way I look at anything,” she said. “Still to this day, I have body image issues; it changed my understanding of who I am.”
It's also changed her perception of normalcy.
“If I'm in a grocery store — this is what happens to the mind; I'm an intelligent, well-educated, three-degree [holding] person, this shouldn't happen. If I hear a child cry, but I can't see the child, I automatically think the child is being molested,” she said. “It literally changed the pathways into my mind, the way I understand things.”
Jimenez struggled with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts for years, spending his freshman year in college suffering through panic attacks and night sweats that kept him up, he said.
In one instance, the award-winning journalist said he had to fight with himself to not succumb to the overwhelming thought that things would be better if he just threw himself out of a fifth floor window.
“The wounds of this will always be there,” he said. “Beyond feeling frustrated, I'm outraged, I'm furious that [lawmakers] continue to do this. It's one thing to actually go through the abuse to begin with, but to have this constant opposition and the smugness... when this bill is actually in front of legislators, they can see — this is a form of long overdue relief and it makes sense legally and morally.”
It will also put an end to an endless cycle of shame and guilt that has made it possible for abusers to continue victimizing, advocates said.
“The research suggests that perpetrators have multiple victims and they continue victimizing children sometimes well into their 60s, 70s and 80s,” Robb said. “If we continue with these antiquated laws... if we prevent them from having justice, then essentially we allow perpetrators to continue to abuse children. I don't think people see that link.”
Mecklenburg gets new hotline as DSS, child abuse calls exceed those in 6 states
by Anna Douglas
Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services plans to roll out a new phone hotline this summer to process reports of possible child abuse and neglect.
It's one of several major changes local leaders are making in light of outside and internal reviews that show the department has struggled to meet some state and federal standards for child protective services.
The county's “CARE Line” is a 24-hour hotline operated 365 days a year to take reports of abuse, as well as questions about social services. Separating the child abuse/neglect hotline from other services will help the department streamline its reaction to urgent calls and assist social workers in responding to cases of possible child endangerment, DSS officials say.
Currently, Mecklenburg County – with a more than 1 million population – takes more than 15,800 calls to the CARE Line annually. That's more than the annual call volume for similar hotlines in six states and the District of Columbia.
DSS plans an awareness campaign to introduce the new hotline. The current CARE line will continue to operate while the new hotline is planned to open in August.
These calls are often the first step in the intake and assessment process for Youth and Family Services in Mecklenburg County DSS. Recently, an internal audit found deficiencies related to some intake and assessment steps. The new child abuse/neglect hotline comes along with other proposed changes at Youth and Family Services.
On Tuesday, county commissioners may approve a budget request from DSS to hire 17 more workers for jobs that relate to protecting vulnerable children and adults. The additional staff for DSS's Youth and Family Services will include social workers, employees who would focus on improving the department's policies and procedures, and training and support staff positions. The budget request is for a $305,000 increase over last year's department budget.
The requested new hires could ultimately help DSS turn around some issues documented in a recent internal audit, which showed social workers have had trouble performing family and home assessments within the 45 days required when abuse or neglect is suspected. The audit report also shows instances of employees not performing background checks quickly enough in DSS' “intake services,” the office in charge of screening referrals related to suspected abuse or neglect.
Other problems in the audit report include staff not entering names of child abuse offenders into a central state perpetrator registry and some documentation issues that left auditors unable to verify that DSS had promptly notified local prosecutors and police of child abuse or neglect evidence. DSS leaders say they're tackling each issue cited in the audit report and, in some cases, changes have already been implemented.
Along with scrutinizing its internal operations, Mecklenburg County DSS is also reviewing a recent high-profile child fatality, where police say a 2-year-old boy was killed by his mother's boyfriend.
DSS records show social workers and doctors investigated reports of child abuse in the boy's home in the two months before he died from traumatic brain injury. The child, A'dan Blackmon, sustained child abuse injuries so bad that police say he was unable to breathe without a ventilator when he arrived at a Charlotte hospital on June 7.
Murder by child abuse in Mecklenburg County is rare, according to child fatality data.
One 2011 report from the county health department collected nearly 10 years of data to find 27 cases of infants or children died from child abuse. That was out of thousands of reports of possible abuse or neglect in local homes.
And, some research in North Carolina indicates most child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect don't happen on DSS' watch.
Researchers from the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy produced a report for North Carolina's Child Fatality Task Force in 2013 that showed most homicide cases in the state involving abused or neglected children hadn't previously been DSS cases. Nationally, researchers found less than half of child fatalities were preceded by DSS or social services involvement.
New state law to require child abuse, sexual abuse education for K-12 students
by Katie Heinz
INDIANAPOLIS – A new state law will require students as young as kindergarten to learn about sexual abuse.
Previously, Indiana's law required child abuse and child sexual abuse education for students in grades second through fifth, but the new law will expand that instruction to those in grades K-12.
The new law will go into effect July 1, 2018.
The Indiana Youth Institute finds a case of child abuse or neglect is reported every 2-and-a-half minutes in Indiana. Advocates believe it's important for all children to recognize the signs of abuse early.
Isha Haley said she experienced more than a decade of abuse during her childhood and is credited with helping to pass the new law.
Haley said a female family member began sexually abusing her as a child.
"It started with her asking me to scratch her hair. and we started playing beautician. From there, we played doctor. She asked me to touch her in other private parts,” said Haley.
At the age of 14, her new step-father started sexually abusing her.
"It was the old-fashioned grooming. He would buy me gifts; he would tell me not to tell my mom. We had secrets,” she said.
Haley said if the new law were mandated when she was a child, it could have made a difference for her.
"Nobody saw my pain, nobody asked me what was happening at home. I would go to school with the most scantily clothes you can imagine,” said Haley. “It would have intervened. I'm not sure it would have stopped the first abuse. But, I know by the time I was 11 or 12 years old, if someone came into my school, I would have known it was wrong."
The Indiana Department of Education will create age-appropriate materials for public and private schools that will go into classrooms next year.
Kids Count annual report points to spike in child abuse
by Andrew Sheeley
The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its annual KIDS COUNT report recently, detailing the latest national rankings of states across 16 key measures within four domains, including economic well-being, education, health and family and community. The findings are based on data collected from 2015, the most recent year from which the results have been compiled.
Within Missouri, the report found improvement in family economic well-being, with more parents employed full-time and fewer families spending a burdensome amount of their income on housing costs. Despite these positive trends, also found was that a substantial number of Missouri's children continue to live in high-poverty neighborhoods, making it harder at multiple levels to thrive.
Dent County's results revealed both positive and negative trends. The positive outcomes include Dent County being below the statewide average for its high school dropout rate and referrals for law violations by juveniles. Among the negative findings are that Dent County is above average for childhood poverty, and had double the state average for child abuse cases and teenage births.
“The majority of issues we are seeing impact children right now stems from drug abuse and poverty,” says local Chief Deputy Juvenile Officer Clinton Massey. “Unemployment in these children's families also remains a local concern, and the drug abuse among parents that often comes with that. We've got to figure out a way to break the cycle.”
The Kids Count numbers also say Dent County's children are in far less legal trouble than their statewide counterparts. The Missouri average from 2011 to 2015 was 26.6 referrals for law violations by juveniles per 1,000 children, while Dent County's average was 13.7 cases.
“Our grant program to work with local schools, mental health providers and the Children's Division has led to an increased awareness of children being at risk,” Massey says. “There is a big push going on right now to get these services into these families to help these kids get on the right path before they get into trouble. It's a lot of work and effort, but it is successful.”
The local high school dropout rate was 1.1 percent, or seven individuals according to the Kids County report. That figure is below the statewide average of 2.1 percent. Local students also exceeded the state MAP test averages in fourth grade math scores and eighth grade English language arts.
Among the areas of concern in the report was a large one-year increase in the number of substantiated child abuse and neglect cases from 2014 to 2015. In 2014, Dent County saw 14 such cases, which was slightly below the state average. However, in 2015 there were 37 cases, which was more than double the state average of 4.5 cases per 1,000 children.
Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act will help prevent sex abuse in sports
by Kimberlee D. Norris and Gregory S. Love
In March 2017, the United States Senate introduced Senate Bill 534 (S.534) aimed at preventing child sexual abuse in youth sport contexts. Two months later, the United States House of Representatives introduced House Bill 1973 (H.R.1973) , virtually identical to its sister bill in the Senate, but more expansive.
Both pieces of legislation seek to broaden existing federal statutes. Though not yet law, each bill received near unanimous approval in respective chambers. It can be reasonably anticipated, therefore, that congress will pass the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2017 in a form incorporating the identical provisions from each bill.
The catalyst for the proposed pieces relates to recent failures to report child sexual abuse in gymnastics. Clearly, the challenges faced in gymnastics are not unique; child sexual abuse in youth sport is widespread. Creating a uniform mandatory reporting requirement has value, but this requirement, alone, does not solve the problem.
Both bills include a requirement that all adults working with a National Governing Body (NGB) immediately report suspicions of abuse to appropriate law enforcement agencies, as determined by state and federal law. Both bills extend the mandatory reporting requirement to covered individuals, interpreted broadly as adults authorized to interact with minor or amateur athletes.
In essence, the anticipated legislation creates a mandatory reporting obligation in youth sport.
Essentially, reporting statutes require if you see or suspect something — say something. In many youth sport scenarios, however, the problem is not that an individual failed to say something, rather that the person failed to see or suspect. In other words, youth sport personnel must be trained to recognize and understand suspicious behaviors: specifically, the grooming process of the sexual offender. The grooming process is the method utilized by an offender to gain access to a child within the offender's age and gender of preference, groom that child for sexual interaction, then keep the child silent.
When coaches, referees, umpires and parents understand an offender's grooming process, common grooming behaviors, and how these behaviors might manifest in youth sport – they will begin to recognize behaviors before a child has been sexually assaulted. In the state of Texas, a state-approved version of Sexual Abuse Awareness Training is required in various child-serving industries.
Relevant training should include facts vs. misconceptions about sexual abuse and sexual abusers, abuser characteristics, the grooming process, common grooming behaviors, peer-to-peer abuse, impact of abuse on children, reporting requirements and what to do if a child makes an outcry. When all adults working with an NGB learn the facts, they are better equipped to protect young athletes in youth sport programs. The proposed mandatory reporting requirement mandates reporting of abuse – after the fact.
Important? Yes, but prevention is the key; and prevention starts with awareness.
Youth sport stakeholders should be aware of these new requirements, assuming the legislation passes as expected, and respond appropriately. Though the proposed House and Senate bills specifically identify NGBs, other sport organizations (leagues, school associations, unions, teams) should take note of the proposed legislation. The proposed legislation creates an industry-wide standard of care for youth sport: a reasonable standard or practice for a particular activity or industry.
With the passage of these bills, all youth sport organizations are on notice that child sexual abuse is a real risk in youth sport, and reasonable steps should be taken to protect young athletes – including mandatory reporting, effective training, tailored policies, oversight practices and periodic safety system reviews.
Involvement in youth sport provides enormous benefit to young athletes. The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2017 will attempt to preserve those benefits by addressing the risk of child sexual abuse inherent in youth sport.
Gregory S. Love and Kimberlee D. Norris are partners at the law firm of Love & Norris, a national sexual abuse litigation practice, representing hundreds of victims of child sexual abuse, and co-founders of MinistrySafe, a consulting organization designed to help churches and Christian ministries understand and address the risk of child sexual abuse.
I survived child abuse and now I'm a trustee for the small charity that helped me
I know how important it is to have small, highly-focused charities that are close by when someone needs to talk
by Dawn Neville
As a survivor of child abuse and rape, I've always been passionate about doing work that makes a real difference to people's lives. As a charity communicator, some of my proudest achievements have been for small charities.
That's the reason I recently volunteered to support the National Association of People Abused in Childhood (Napac), by becoming one of their trustee. The other reason is that, a few years ago, when I finally came face-to-face with my own childhood experiences, if I hadn't been able to talk to someone on Napac's support line, I don't know who else I could have turned to.
Napac is a small national charity that makes a serious impact with just 10 staff and about 30 volunteers. In small charity week, it's vital to recognise the amazing work of charities like Napac, which shows the real impact a small charity can have.
Five years ago, the charity used to get about 10,000 calls a year. But since the Jimmy Savile report in 2013, demand has shot up. In 2016/17, it received a staggering 88,000 calls. But its funding has not increased on the same scale.
This intense increase in demand for the charity's services is partly due to the media coverage the charity receives following every high-profile case or TV programme, such as the BBC's Three Girls drama based on the true stories of victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale.
On some days, callers struggle to get through. We don't have the marketing might to reach out for funding in the same way that big charities do, yet a relatively small increase in funds would make a big difference.
I know only too well how important it is to pick up these calls. Child abuse profoundly affects a person's whole life: their mental and emotional health, their physical health, with trauma being linked to chronic disease, and their relationships.
If someone is brave enough to pick up the phone, this may be the first person they are ever telling about it. One in seven callers to our charity are sharing the abuse they suffered with someone for the first time. Imagine if nobody picks up.
When callers get through to our charity, we can make an incredible, positive and lasting impact on their lives. Even people in their twilight years, who may have never told a soul about their experiences, can start on the road to recovery. It's heartwarming, and if it weren't for this small charity, making a huge impact, where would they be?
In spite of its small size, Napac leads the way in terms of child abuse recovery, and has developed highly effective support tools based on its unrivalled expertise in trauma-focused work with survivors. This includes highly effective survivor support groups (when we have funding for them), for which demand massively outstrips supply.
Being a small charity focused on this one issue has enabled Napac to really understand what it takes to help survivors turn their lives around.
One of the ways I'm looking to help is by investigating different forms of funding, including corporate partnerships and sponsorship.
Napac , and the countless other small charities in the UK who do great work, are always looking for support, whether as a volunteer, regular donor or an advocate for the wider needs of adult survivors of abuse.
Child emotional abuse reports surge 200% amid cuts to child protection services
'Devastating' rise in reports of parents telling their children they hate them or wish they were dead
by May Bulman
The number of children being reported as victims of emotional abuse has soared by 200 per cent in seven years, more than any other form of child abuse, according to new figures released by the NSPCC.
Helpline staff have heard accounts of parents telling their children they hate them or wished they were dead, threatening them with extreme violence and blaming them for issues they are facing themselves such as unemployment or financial problems, the charity warned.
New figures published in the NSPCC's How Safe Are Our Children? report show the number of calls made to the charity's helpline about children being subjected to emotional abuse increased from 3,341 in 2009/10 to 10,009 in 2016/17.
Last year alone (2016/17), the NSPCC's child protection experts dealt with 10,009 contacts relating to emotional abuse – the equivalent to 27 a day – with three quarters deemed so severe they were referred to the police or children's services.
The full scale of the problem could be much greater and is demanding that the Government commissions a nationwide study that looks at the prevalence of child abuse and neglect in the UK, the NSPCC warns.
It is unclear how many more children in the UK are suffering from emotional abuse, or any other form of maltreatment, it adds, because of a lack of research in to the extent of abuse.
The last study of this kind took place in 2009, and the charity warns that since then there have been significant changes for children's lives, not least the increase in reporting of online abuse and big increases in reporting of child sexual abuse.
Helpline practitioners identified common themes raised by callers concerned that a child was being emotionally abused included domestic violence, alcohol or substance abuse and mental health issues.
Ongoing emotional abuse can make children feel worthless and unloved and can have a profound effect on a child's development, which can lead to issues in later life, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance misuse and suicidal feelings, the NSPCC said.
The figures come amid growing concern over cuts to child protection services in local councils, which the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned is leading to “increasingly scarce resources” to deliver “crucial services” for children.
Responding to the figures, Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said: “The dramatic rise in the number of children reporting emotional abuse is extremely concerning.
“Councils have worked hard to protect funding for child protection services, but ongoing cuts to local authority budgets are forcing many areas to make extremely difficult decisions about how to allocate increasingly scarce resources.
“Pressure on children's services is growing rapidly. In the last 10 years alone we have witnessed a 140 per cent increase in child protection enquiries and a funding gap of £2bn is projected by 2020.
“Councils have responded to this funding crisis by reducing costs and finding new ways to deliver services. But there are very few savings left to find without having a real and lasting impact upon crucial services many children and families rely on.”
Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, meanwhile commented: “Hearing reports from our Helpline about parents or carers who are consistently verbally assaulting, bullying, isolating or humiliating their children is devastating.
“The huge increase in people recognising and reporting emotional abuse to our Helpline indicates people are willing to take action, but the disturbing truth is that the UK has no idea how many other children are suffering from emotional abuse or in fact, any type of abuse.
“We urgently need Government to step in now, before another eight years go by, and commission a study that gives us the clearest possible picture of the extent of child abuse and neglect in the UK.”
Sex trafficking happens here too, FBI agent says
by Louise Wrege
BENTON TOWNSHIP — Sex trafficking happens everywhere, FBI special agent Timothy Simon told more than 50 people Wednesday at Southwest Michigan ALPACT's forum on Sex Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Child Exploitation and the Common Clues.
“I run into law enforcement contacts all the time who say, ‘It doesn't happen here. We're in west Michigan. This is somehow some better place where this doesn't happen,'” he said.
But, he said that's not the case.
“It happens in our back yard,” said Simon, who has been with the FBI for 12 years and has focused on Grand Rapids-based sex trafficking for four years. “It happens around us.”
He talked about several cases in the Grand Rapids area.
“I think we don't truly, truly know how big it is,” he said. “We don't know how many girls are right now being trafficked on the streets. ... But, it's happening here, and it's happening too much.”
Part of the problem is most victims don't see themselves as victims. And he said once law enforcement gets them out of the life, they often go back to it.
He said most victims he has dealt with were coerced into becoming prostitutes. He said most of them were underage females who have run away from a possibly abusive home and found a guy who promised them a better life.
“We're talking about kids,” he said. “We're talking about people who are vulnerable, people that don't have a lot of things that help them see the world clearly.”
He said the guy will often offer the girl a place to stay and will gradually introduce her to prostitution.
Simon said it's very rare for victims to be snatched off the street by a stranger.
He said the FBI works with federal laws, which often have harsher sentences than state laws but can be tougher to prove if the victim is over 18. Under federal law, he said a person can be found guilty of sex trafficking an adult only if it is shown force was used.
He said a person can be found guilty under federal law of sex trafficking a minor even if force is not used.
He said people can help stop sex trafficking by becoming aware of the signs. He said physical signs include the victim having no identification or the ID is held by another person, the victim looking young but dressed provocatively or there being multiple cell phones.
Behavioral indicators include the victim letting other people talk for her or displaying over-sexualized behavior.
“There's no easy solution,” he said. “It's not something that's going to go away quickly.”
Simon said a lot of sex traffickers use BackPage.com to advertise their victims.
Cathy Knauf, founder of the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, said people can help stop trafficking by using the TraffickCam app to take photos of the hotel rooms they stay in. She said this helps the FBI to find victims when photos of them are placed on the internet to find customers.
She said most of the hotels in Berrien County have already uploaded photos from their rooms because of the support she has received from the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council.
“What we're saying to the traffickers and the pimps, ‘Don't come to our hotels and take pictures and put them on BackPage,'” she said. “Because all these pictures are downloaded to law enforcement and the FBI. It downloads right to their servers. It sends a big message to the traffickers to just bypass our county.”
To report human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
ALPACT stands for Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust.
Time limit lifted on damages in child abuse cases in Scotland
by Jenni Davidson
A bill lifting the time limit on damages for child abuse cases has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.
MSPs unanimously voted to approve the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill yesterday.
The bill removes the current three-year limitation period for personal injury actions in cases of child abuse where the person was under 18 at the time of the abuse.
It will apply to all cases of child abuse after 26 September 1964.
The aims of the bill have attracted broad support, but some concerns have been raised about the potential costs to organisations such as councils, religious organisations and charities of paying out compensation for a large number of historic cases.
In its submission to the Scottish Parliament's Finance and Constitution Committee, local government umbrella body COSLA said: “COSLA supports the intent of the legislation is and is clear that removing any barrier to justice for survivors of historical childhood abuse is a positive move.
“However, despite our strong support for the legislation, we recognise that it will have a potentially significant financial impact on local government.”
As well as the bill, the Scottish Government has made other commitments to survivors of abuse.
These include investment of up to £3m per year between 2016 and 2021 to expand and enhance support for survivors of abuse in care and an additional £1.8m in 2017-18 to improve services for adult survivors of child abuse.
It has also established a public inquiry into the abuse of children in care which is being carried out at the moment.
Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing, said: “I would like to thank survivors who have been at the heart of this process – for their bravery and their persistence, for bringing to our attention the plight and injustices they have suffered, and for not giving up their fight to set these injustices right.
“I am humbled by the courage they have shown, not only in campaigning for this legislative change but also coming forward and sharing their experiences.
“While our police and prosecutors continue to pursue perpetrators even many years after their crimes, this bill will strengthen access to justice through the civil courts.
“It recognises the unique position of survivors of childhood abuse as children who were betrayed by those they should have been able to trust – reflecting the abhorrent nature of the abuse, the vulnerability of the child at the time, and the profound impact of abuse; an impact which lasts well into adulthood and which, itself, prevents people from coming forward.
“Survivors have been let down repeatedly: they were severely and fundamentally let down by their abuser and by the adults who were meant to protect them at the time.
“While raising a civil action may not be the right way forward for everyone, this Bill widens the options available to survivors seeking redress.”
The reform is fulfils one of the recommendations from a consultation the Scottish Human Rights Commission carried out with survivors and other key stakeholders.
The recommendations also called for an apology law to be considered and the Scottish Government supported the Apologies (Scotland) Act 2016, which is intended to promote a change in attitudes to apologising and allow recognition of past events.
The Apologies (Scotland) Act 2016 came into force fully earlier this week.
Childhood sexual assault: healing at Heartfelt house
by Aslan Shand
Moving forward from childhood sexual abuse and creating a positive life is a challenge – supporting people to achieve this is the purpose of Heartfelt House (HFH) in Wollongbar near Lismore.
Since 2005 they have worked with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse through an 18 week group program called Taking the First Steps. This program is based on trauma informed care from the blue knot foundation. It aims to provide a healing environment where survivors feel heard, nurtured, understood, safe, validated, supported and accepted.
This Saturday, 24 June they are opening Hearfelt House and its lovely gardens to anyone interested in their work and programs to enjoy morning tea and a chance to learn about their program from 10am to 12noon.
The recent Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse identified the ‘Lismore diocese as the fourth worst diocese in Australia meaning that there are hundreds and possibly thousands of victims here,' said Kate Loubet, the new CEO of Heartfelt house.
Operating as a not for profit organisation HFH has sustained its programs on a range of non-permanent funding providing support to both adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse as well as their families and friends. Alongside this they also provide training sessions for professionals who may come into contact with abuse survivors from nurses to lawyers.
‘The grants we have received so far don't cover all the costs of running our programs,' continued Kate.
‘We are hoping to get renewed funding in the next round of commonwealth grants mid this year. We are also urging state and local government to contribute to help meet our costs.'
Since the royal commission they have also received increased enquiries from men who would like to take the course.
‘There is a men's course written that ran a few years ago but there is currently no funding to support it,' said Kate.
‘The men as asking”what about us?” but there is nothing for them within 800 ams.'
For more information on HFH phone (02) 6628 8940, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website here.
How can we protect vulnerable children from the perils of enhanced communication
by Leigh Day
Katharina Theil asks what needs to be done to combat the perils from enhanced communication facing the most vulnerable children in the world
As a Nottingham man is sentenced to life for a rape over the internet in the first conviction of its kind, Katharina Theil writes about what needs to be done to combat the perils from enhanced communication facing the most vulnerable children in the world.
A 57-year-old retired maths teacher was last week jailed for life for virtual child rape over the internet in what is believed to be one of the first convictions of its kind.
Paul O'Neill was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court, after pleading guilty to offences including rape, arranging the commission of child abuse and child prostitution.
O'Neill, a recently retired British school teacher, had forced children in the Philippines to be subjected to severe sexual abuse whilst he watched from his home in the UK. Sometimes, the judge noted, he had also recorded the abuse so that he could watch it on repeated occasions.
He was found guilty of the offences, including the rapes, because they were carried out according to O'Neill's instructions, which is why he was the one to be held responsible.
The evidence that enabled the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to prosecute included lengthy chat logs retrieved from O'Neill's computer showing his instructions to adult abusers in the Philippines.
Over the last two decades the internet has had a revolutionising influence over most parts of our lives.
Email and video calls have profoundly changed the way we are able to communicate with people near and afar. Along with the positive opportunities that this entails, however, this has sadly also created new ways of abusing and exploiting the most vulnerable.
One of the most horrendous examples of this is the use of online platforms such as the one used by O'Neill to arrange for and watch from afar whilst children are sexually abused in front of a camera.
Where fast advances in technology, such as the introduction of high speed broad band internet, take place in societies with a high level of poverty and inadequate regulation and support, children are left vulnerable to exploitation.
The fact that the charges against O'Neill included rape despite the offences occurring far from O'Neill's home is a sign of the progress the CPS is making in prosecuting these sorts of crimes.
At an event organised by Leigh Day in November 2016 on the subject of ‘Tackling the Globalisation of Child Sexual Abuse' John Carr OBE, one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of the internet and associated new technologies, described online abuse as the new frontier in the area of tackling international sexual abuse and stressed that each time an image or video is shared a child is put in danger again.
The criminal conviction of O'Neill is an important step in the right direction. Perpetrators have to be held just as accountable for sexual abuse instigated and directed online as for sexual abuse carried out by the perpetrator physically.
This is crucial in particular where comparatively rich Western abusers try to hide behind the cloak of the internet in exploiting vulnerable children who live in poverty. For the children, the abuse is just as real.
In addition to the crucial work of the CPS in convicting perpetrators of these crimes, more needs to be done to ensure that survivors of such spiteful abuse have a chance to live a normal life again.
First, questions need to be answered about whether access to servers that host online platforms used to stream and distribute images of child sexual abuse could be blocked. This would encourage internet providers to play their part in preventing the transmission of sexual abuse via their servers.
Secondly, the survivors should have means to obtain justice and support. In the International Abuse team at Leigh Day, we have seen that survivors of sexual abuse need to be able to pick up the pieces of their lives again, to get medical treatment and an education.
In countries where Governments do not provide the required support, civil claims for compensation against the perpetrators based in the UK and elsewhere in the West are one way of obtaining the means for this.
Sam Bee Asks Why New York Killed A Bill Helping Survivors Of Child Sexual Abuse
by Andrea Gonzalez-Ramirez
Samantha Bee took a break from dragging the Trump administration during last night's episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee to focus on more local issues. Specifically, she decided to discuss the Child Victims Act, a bill aimed at helping survivors of child sexual abuse in the state of New York.
The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Brad Hoylman, "revives civil actions for certain sex offenses committed against a person less than eighteen years of age." The goal is to increase the statue of limitations for child sexual abuse cases. At the moment, survivors must file a claim by the age of 23 or the statute expires. If the Child Victims Act became law, that cutoff age would be raised to 28 in criminal cases and 50 in civil cases.
According to Hoylman, the 23-year-old cutoff is "the most restrictive statue of limitations in the country."
So, it may seem like this would be a measure legislators could get behind to give survivors at least some sort of justice, right? Well, Senate Republicans didn't seem to think so. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan killed the bill Wednesday night — again.
Bee had one question: "Why have they been blocking this bill for 11 years ?"
The answer? Institutions such as churches and the Boy Scouts of America have lobbied pretty hard against the bill. In fact, New York's Catholic Conference spent $2.1 million between 2007 and 2015 to lobby against several proposed measures, including the Child Victims Act.
"Way to fight the stereotype, guys! Does your flock know where the bake sale money is going?" Bee said. "You know what? Every day Catholics want to make things right , not have their church known as Our Lady of the Perpetual Bad Touch."
So, why do these groups oppose the bill? Hoylman told Bee religious and youth organizations presumably fear that the passage of the Child Victims Act could potentially bankrupt them. Yep.
"I don't know, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that if you're an institution that has hurt so many children that paying out civil settlements would make you go bankrupt, maybe you should ," she said.
Some people lay low and don't say publicly that they're against the bill. Others, like Bill Donohue, president of the "religious and civil rights" organization Catholic League, are very outspoken about their contempt for the legislation.
He's said the Child Victims Act is "a vindictive bill pushed by activists and lawyers to rape the Catholic Church." Great choice of words there, buddy. Oh, and he also used clipart of the word "losers" in a blog post to make fun of survivors after the bill failed in the 2016 legislative session.
Majority Leader Flanagan has never allowed the Child Victims Act to be introduced to the floor and go through the debate and vote process. Bee ended the episode by putting his phone number, along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's, on the big screen. (They're 518-455-2071 and 518-474-8390, in case you're interested.)
Flanagan didn't give an explanation on why he killed the bill again or why he's presumptively siding with the logic of people like Donohue. Maybe he would like to explain it to his constituents, instead.
Father of missing 5-year-old California boy Aramazd Andressian Jr. arrested again on suspicion of murder
by Minyvonne Burke
The father of a 5-year-old California boy missing since April has been arrested again, this time on suspicion of murdering his son.
Aramazd Andressian Sr. was taken into custody Friday in Las Vegas. He's being held on a $10 million bail, ABC reports.
The Los Angeles sheriff's office is said to have worked with authorities in Vegas to make the arrest after investigators provided LA County prosecutors with evidence.
What evidence authorities have against the 35-year-old father has not been revealed, but it was enough that prosecutors could order Andressian be taken into custody. It's also not clear why the California native was in Nevada at the time of his arrest.
A spokeswoman for the sheriff's department said more information on the case would be released during a press conference Monday.
Andressian was initially arrested in mid-April on charges of child endangerment and child abduction after he was found unconscious in South Pasadena's Arroyo Park with his son, Aramazd Andressian Jr., nowhere to be found.
The boy's father spent only a few days in jail. He was released after investigators decided not to move forward with charges.
Authorities have spent the past few months searching for Aramazd. The toddler was last seen April 20 at Disneyland in Anaheim with his father.
A few days before the outing, Aramazd spoke with his mother, Ana Estevez, via a Skype video chat. Police were alerted that the toddler was missing when his mom called to report that her estranged husband had failed to drop their son off at a pre-arranged meeting place.
In addition to trying to locate Aramazd, police are still trying to determine why the boy's father was passed out in the park. Investigators previously noted that there was no evidence that Andressian had been attacked. They also said his statements on what happened to his son were "convoluted and contradictory."
Aramazd's mother has released a statement pleading for his safe return.
"To my son, this message is for you my love: be brave, honey. I am counting the days until I see you honey and I will never stop looking for you," she said.
Grand Jury: Napans need to know about the Child Abuse Hotline
by Maria Sestito
It may be the first place to report suspected child abuse or neglect in the county, but if residents don't know about Napa's Child Abuse Hotline, they won't be calling it.
The 2016-2017 Napa County grand jury took interest in the hotline following 3-year-old Kayleigh Slusher's murder in 2014. Kayleigh's mother, Sara Lynn Krueger, and her mother's boyfriend, Ryan Scott Warner, were recently convicted of beating the girl to death. Their sentencings are scheduled for July 27.
Although Slusher's death is what ignited their interest in Napa's Child Abuse Hotline, the grand jury said that it wasn't their intent to investigate one child's death but to examine efforts to protect all children in the community.
The grand jury found that despite well-intentioned and committed staff, the current operation of the hotline is inefficient, untimely and contributes to worker burn-out. The grand jury also found that public awareness of the hotline is inadequate.
Carlos Solorio, management analyst with the Napa County Executive Office, said that he was not able to comment on the report's findings. The county typically does not respond to grand jury reports until an official response is approved by the Board of Supervisors.
During regular business hours, phone calls to the Child Abuse Hotline are answered by social workers in Napa Child Welfare Services' Emergency Response Unit. During off hours and on holidays, an off-site answering service takes the calls and refers them to an on-call social worker who may then need to travel back to Napa in order to respond to cases, possibly taking up to two hours to respond.
There is a plan already in place to improve after-hours effectiveness by creating a Crisis Stabilization Unit, where these calls would be answered, at the Napa Health and Human Services campus, the jury said. The jury went on to say that it is “imperative” that the Crisis Stabilization Unit be evaluated for effectiveness in improving after-hours functions.
“Most of the long response times are because many of the workers live outside Napa County,” the jury said. “The high cost of housing remains a well-known and ongoing factor in recruiting and retaining qualified staff to Napa County.”
The jury reported that core training and continuing education has been insufficient, noting that several staff members said it was difficult to meet requirements for licensing as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Because of this, the jury said that the department has begun focusing on “Back to Basics Training.”
Turnover at CWS is a problem due to changes in leadership and assessment protocols over a short period of time that have resulted in many of the social workers feeling stressed and frustrated, the jury said.
The department has seen some stabilization since the recent hiring of an acting director with experience at CWS, the grand jury said.
Hornberger's child abuse records bill advances
Legislation would mandate recording interviews
by Emily Pauling
The House Judiciary Committee recently advanced legislation introduced by state Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Township, to bring clarity to legal matters involving allegations of child abuse.
The measure is part of a three-bill bipartisan package requiring all forensic interviews conducted with children involved in abuse and neglect investigations to be recorded on video, a press release from Hornberger's office states.
The legislation would allow recorded interviews to be used in certain court hearings and would provide protocols for accessing and storing the recordings. It also would increase penalties for intentionally disseminating recorded interviews to unauthorized individuals.
“The children who are involved in these cases are extremely vulnerable,” Hornberger said in the release. “Recording forensic interviews spares children the additional stress of having to relive the traumatic events over and over during multiple interviews.”
Hornberger represents the 32nd District, which includes portions of Macomb and St. Clair counties, including the city of New Baltimore and portions of the cities of Memphis and Richmond, as well as the townships of Chesterfield, Casco, Columbus, Ira, Kenockee, Kimball, Riley and Wales.
The reforms require a best practice meant to ensure that all jurisdictions are following the proper standards and procedures, she noted.
“It's essential to ensure that absolutely no deception or coercion is occurring during the forensic interview process,” she said. “Having a recording on hand guarantees there is an accurate record of the child's account of events for the evidence.”
The package, which includes House Bills 4298 to 4300, now moves on to the full House for consideration.