Here's how to prevent hot-car deaths
by Robert Gundran and Kevin Jenkins
PHOENIX — The recent deaths of two Arizona children after being left in hot cars have sparked outrage and accusations of neglect and carelessness.
On Friday, 7-month-old Zane Endress died after being left in a car in northeast Phoenix for about four hours, according to Phoenix police. About 24 hours later, 1-year-old Josiah Riggins died after being left for hours in a hot car.
Pediatric experts say any parent or caregiver, "even a very loving and attentive one," can forget a child is in the back seat when busy, distracted or experiencing a change in routine.
On average, nearly 40 U.S. children die in hot cars every year. According to KidsandCars.org , there have been 30 hot-car deaths this year. There were 39 such deaths in 2016 and 24 in 2015. The deadliest year within the recorded period was 2010, when there were 49.
Car-related heatstroke can strike with outside temperatures as low as 57 degrees, since the temperature within a car can climb 20 degrees or more in 10 minutes. Young children are more susceptible to heatstroke because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults' bodies.
Advocates suggest that new technology should become standard for drivers who have small children in a rear seat. In an era when buzzers remind drivers to put on their seatbelts or take their keys out of the ignition, a dashboard reminder involving child seats could be next.
Some people have suggested low-tech solutions, such as putting stickers on the steering wheel to remind drivers if the back seat is occupied, or to keep a stuffed animal in the child's car seat that gets moved up front by the driver when the child seat is occupied.
On June 7, three members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation they're calling the Hot Cars Act of 2017, an acronym for Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats.
The bipartisan sponsors of the bill said the measure would require the Transportation Department to issue a final rule requiring cars to be equipped with an electronic system to alert drivers if a passenger remains in the back seat when a car is turned off.
“No child should endure the tragedy of dying while trapped in a hot vehicle. The unfortunate reality is that even good, loving and attentive parents can get distracted. Studies have shown that this can happen to anyone, anywhere,” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said in a press statement at the time.
“The belief is that it can't happen to you, always someone else. Unfortunately it happens over and over again, even to the most conscientious parents. Technology is available and it can be placed in new vehicles to protect innocent children. It's really that simple,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.
The timing of the bill's introduction coincided with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention Campaign, but no timeline for action on the bill was announced.
With Monday is National Heatstroke Prevention Day.
In the meantime, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following strategies to minimize child deaths in hot cars.
• Do not leave a small child alone in a car under any circumstances. Not even for a minute. Not even if the car and air conditioning are on.
• Avoid distractions while driving, especially using a cellphone.
• Keep your car locked when no one is in it. Some hot-car deaths happen after children climb into unlocked vehicles. Experts say to store car keys out of a child's reach.
• Teach children cars are not play spaces. Keep rear fold-down seats upright to stop kids from crawling into the trunk from inside the car.
• Consider the shoe trick. Leave something in the backseat you can't leave without, such as a shoe, cellphone or purse.
• Be extra alert when your routine changes, such as when you take a different route or when someone else is driving your child. Ask your child-care provider to call if your child is more than 10 minutes late.
• If you see a child alone in a backseat, call 911 immediately. The child's temperature is rising every minute.
U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan seeks greater protection for kids in custody cases
by Beth Brelje
More than 580 children were murdered by a parent in the midst of a divorce, custody or support case in the U.S. in the past decade, according to the Center for Judicial Excellence, a California-based national advocacy group for abuse survivors in the family court system.
"Many of these were preventable murders, with parents repeatedly warning family courts about life-threatening danger to their children, but they were ignored," said Kathleen Russell, the center's executive director.
That is why last week, U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, a Delaware County Republican representing part of Berks County, and U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a Democrat from New York, introduced a resolution calling for hearings on family courts' practices. The resolution also advises state courts to improve adjudications of custody issues when family violence is alleged.
"An estimated 58,000 American children are ordered by our courts into the custody of abusive parents, in many cases over the objections of another parent," Meehan, a former local and federal prosecutor, said in a statement. "This resolution will encourage states to develop standards that will help keep our courts from inadvertently delivering children into the hands of abusive parents."
The resolution describes the problem and offers specific suggestions for states.
It says allegations of domestic violence, child abuse and child sexual abuse often are discounted when raised in child custody litigation. Abusive parents often are granted custody or unprotected parenting time by courts. And a child's risk of abuse increases after a perpetrator separates from a partner, even when the perpetrator has not previously abused the child.
"This is an area of advocacy we've been looking at for a long time," said Christine Gilfillan, chief operating officer of Safe Berks, which serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. "These are formidable issues. We've had survivors in the midst of these issues.
"While the research shows that a person who abused their partner is also likely to abuse their children, that is often not being taken into account."
In Berks County, there have been 420 initial custody filings in 2017 as of Thursday. Each case could represent one or more children. There are also many unresolved cases started in previous years, plus custody modification cases working through the court system.
In custody cases involving allegations of abuse, a psychologist often is assigned to study the parties and write a report.
But most states lack standards defining required expertise and experience for court-affiliated professionals in custody litigation or the required contents of expert reports, the resolution said.
Also, custody litigation involving abuse allegations is sometimes very expensive.
The resolution makes these six suggestions:
Child safety is the first priority in custody cases. Courts should resolve safety risks and claims of family violence before assessing other best interest factors.
Quasi-scientific evidence should be admitted by courts only when it meets admissibility standards for scientific evidence.
Evidence from court-affiliated or appointed fee-paid professionals regarding adult or child abuse allegations in custody cases should be admitted only when the professional possesses documented expertise in the relevant types of abuse, trauma and the behaviors of victims and perpetrators.
States should define required standards of expertise for professionals who provide evidence to the court on abuse and should specify requirements for the contents of professional reports.
States should consider models under which court-appointed professionals are paid directly by the courts, with potential reimbursement by the parties after due consideration of the parties' financial circumstances.
Congress should schedule hearings on family courts' practices with regard to the fair adjudication of children's safety and civil rights.
Safe Berks offers help for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Epidemic of shame: Sexual abuse twists lives, contorts society
by Louis Weisberg
The courtroom testimony last month in the sex abuse case of former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was all too familiar to Milwaukeean Karl Larson.
From the ages of 10 to 16, Larson was abused by a similar kind of man – a popular, charismatic, respected local church and Boy Scout leader, he said. The stories told by Sandusky's victims mirrored Larson's shattering experience.
Like Sandusky, Larson's abuser “groomed” him, he said, courting him with flattery and attention and providing him with things that his father couldn't. The sexual abuse started slowly, with exposure, then escalated. Experts say this pattern is typical among abusers of boys, who manipulate their victims to win their friendship and then pressure them into sexual acts.
Sexual abuse thrives in silence, and Larson's abuser was menacing in his demands for secrecy. When Larson questioned what was happening, his abuser tried to console him by saying, “Don't worry, it happened to me, too,'” Larson remembered.
Sandusky, 68, was convicted this summer on 45 charges of sexually abusing 10 boys over the course of 15 years. He faces more than 400 years in prison.
Larson said he discovered that his abuser “had a farm of young men.” His perpetrator has never been apprehended, and he's continually worked in positions affording him access to boys and male teens, Larson said.
Larson's focus these days is not on perpetrators but rather on healing the psyches of their victims. He and James Kaminski recently founded the Spiritual Health Network, an educational nonprofit organization at 2923A S. Delaware that focuses on male issues.
Kaminski, who does custom artwork and interior finishing, is transforming the unassuming storefront space in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood into an ethereal haven of safety. The entrance area, with white paint layered like clouds on white walls, is reminiscent of a high-end Third Ward gallery. The space, scheduled to open at the end of August, will become the home base for Larson's Claiming Sanctuary ministries for men.
Kaminski and Larson have created a comfortable room in the rear of the building – complete with a fireplace – where they hope male abuse survivors will establish support groups and sessions. In essence, they're creating a space that they believe will facilitate healing, and they hope male abuse victims will use it to support each other.
“There is no place for men to go to heal – it's either bars or bars,” Larson said. “Either you go to a bar or you're locked up behind bars.”
“There are so few therapists who really know about this topic,” Larson added. “It's hard to know how to heal someone from this unless you've been through it yourself.”
When Larson, 65, decided to devote his life to working with male sexual abuse victims, he obtained a master's degree in spiritual psychology and became an ordained non-denominational Christian minister. He decided against the conventional path of obtaining a master's degree in social work, because licensed clinicians are required to keep clinical records. Men are reluctant to talk about their sexual abuse “if they know it's going to wind up as part of a file,” Larson explained.
As a non-denominational Christian minister, Larson can provide counseling without even recording his client's names – which he doesn't.
Larson counsels men both one on one and in groups. He also does workshops, such as “The Men's Series,” which he conducted in Janesville. In 2002, he founded the Ministries for Men Foundation in that city.
Larson has long been active in men's personal growth programs, including the Wisconsin-based Mankind Project. It was the project's New Warrior Training Adventure weekend where he had his first emotional breakthrough surrounding his abuse. That's when he began to overcome the guilt and shame it produced in his life.
And also the anger. “He took something away from me,” Larson said of his abuser, including his innocence, his virginity and his childhood. His perpetrator, he continued, robbed him of the ability to discover his body and develop sexually at his own pace and in his own way.
Since his initial emotional breakthrough, “I've helped other groups and organizations where they have men's weekends,” Larson said. He's developed a reputation for his ability to help men access their repressed feelings and memories of abuse.
“If (facilitators) have a problem where a man is stuck, they call me over,” he said. “I get them to the point of what's really going on. And that's when the tears roll.”
While there's a large body of knowledge and established support networks surrounding female victims, the sexual abuse of boys remains a relative mystery that comes to light only occasionally, in high-profile cases such as Sandusky's. “It's a quiet epidemic,” Larson said. “People don't realize how extensive its tentacles are.”
By tentacles, he means the exponentially damaging effects that abuse has on the abuser's partners, families, friends and society.
Unlike young female victims, who tend to internalize their reaction to abuse, male victims tend to externalize the trauma, research shows. As adolescents, they're more likely to engage in extreme use of alcohol and drugs, aggressive/criminal behavior – including bullying, Larson said – poor school performance and sexual risk taking.
Among all children who suffer some form of child abuse, 59 percent are more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28 percent are more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30 percent are more likely to commit violent crime, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Even when abuse does not produce such drastic behaviors, it often results in sexual shame, based on feelings of responsibility for the abuse that occurred. This frequently leads to such adult sexual problems as excessive promiscuity and fear of intimacy.
Parents, including Larson's, often refuse to believe boys when they report sexual abuse, particularly if the perpetrator is a respected family friend, as his abuser was. The resulting anger and feelings of abandonment toward the parents can create an additional layer of emotional problems, experts say.
Although it's generally believed that one in six boys is sexually abused before age 16, Larson said he believes the real number is one in four. That doesn't include male victims molested by adult females, he added. Those incidents are seldom reported.
“You never hear about the mother, the stepmother, the aunt or the nun who sexually abuses boys,” he said. Actor/director Tyler Perry drew some attention to the issue when he announced on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that he was sexually abused as a child by three men and the mother of one of this childhood friends.
The American Psychological Association says female perpetrators represent 14 percent of the cases that are reported by boys and 6 percent of the cases reported by girls.
Specific research into the prevalence and long-term effects of male sexual abuse has been complicated by the reluctance of men to report it. Guilt, shame and the social stigma still attached to homosexual acts fuel the silence, according to experts. So does the victim's fear that he will be seen as someone who will become an abuser.
Moreover, one out of every three incidents of child sexual abuse is not remembered by the adult who experienced it, according to a 1998 study.
Larson, 65, didn't begin coming to terms with his abuse until the 1980s, when he was married and a father. “I began realizing that there was something going on in my life, that something wasn't right,” Larson said. “It's like my body was telling me something was wrong.”
He began having “troubling dreams” and experiencing marital discord as well as issues with male authority figures. Later, he was able to trace his problems to anger over his parents' failure to protect him and his loss of power to his abuser.
Larson, who was molested while he slept, developed sleep apnea so severe that it could have been fatal, he said.
His feelings about his abuse are summed up in a poem Larson wrote titled “I Can't Do This …”:
I was trained to become one of the damned.
A paranoid male … always looking sideways – wondering who knew?
Can they see the naked shadows clinging to me? …
I put this veil of shame between you and me
Disguised with expert maneuverings so you can't see
The naked shadows clinging to me …
In addition to victims, Larson has worked with perpetrators. When he facilitates perpetrator group meetings, he always lets the attendees know that he's one of their victims.
Unfortunately, Larson said, he's seen “very little regret” among perpetrators. When Larson confronted his own abuser, the man laughed at him “in a mocking way,” he said.
“They know what they're doing isn't right, but everything is OK unless you're caught,” Larson said. “And they don't think they'll ever get caught.”
Despite homophobic myths spread by fundamentalist Christian organizations to marginalize gays, statistics compiled by the American Psychological Association show that heterosexual and gay men are equally likely to sexually abuse children. “A perception that most perpetrators are gay men is a myth and harmful stereotype,” the APA states.
Many abusers of boys have conventional marriages or outwardly successful relationships with adult partners or spouses, just as Sandusky did. The relative ease with which these men blend into society limits the ability of parents and school authorities to recognize them.
There are practical measures that can be taken to protect children from abuse, such as thorough background checks of people who work with kids, screening tests to identify potential abusers and parental watchfulness for signs of abuse. Those signs might include: sudden trouble walking or sitting, a chronic state of alert and fearfulness, an age-inappropriate knowledge of or interest in sex, fear of changing clothes in front of others and unusual efforts to avoid a particular adult.
Larson and others who work in the field hope that the high-profile incidents of abuse involving youth and religious leaders in recent years have heightened public awareness of the problem and will result in greater vigilance and more aggressive reporting and prosecution of perpeatrators.
Since the Penn State scandal came to light in November, lawmakers in more than a dozen states have introduced bills adding coaches, athletic directors and university officials to the list of “mandated reporters” of suspected child abuse or neglect.
The bankruptcy of archdioceses such as Milwaukee due to lawsuits over clerical abuse has incalculably increased the incentive of religious organizations to ferret out abusers. Churches and universities also are putting more money than ever into legal defense funds to fight sex abuse charges.
The unprecedented penalties that the NCAA imposed July 23 on Penn State create a dramatic new incentive for institutions to protect youths from perpetrators. The NCAA fined the school $60 million, imposed a four-year post-season ban on Penn State football, placed the program on probation for five years and enabled any current or incoming player to transfer and play immediately without restriction.
But sports writers noted that the most stinging sanction was that the NCAA vacated all of Penn State's wins from 1998 to 2011. That means the late Joe Paterno, who successfully oversaw the university's football program for nearly 46 years but turned a blind eye to complaints about Sandusky, is no longer the all-time winningest coach at college football's highest level.
In announcing the sanctions, NCAA president Mark Emmert said he hoped the extreme punishment would deter the sort of indifferent environment in which Sandusky's abuse flourished. He said that while examining the case, the NCAA “kept foremost in our thoughts the tragic damage that has been done to the victims and their families. No matter what we do here today, there is no action we can take that will remove their pain and anguish.”
Who are the perpetrators?
• Most children are abused by someone they know and trust.
• An estimated 60 percent of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, such as family friends, babysitters, childcare providers and neighbors.
• About 30 percent of perpetrators are family members, for example, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins.
• Just 10 percent of perpetrators are strangers to the child.
• Child pornographers and other abusers who are strangers may make contact with children via the Internet.
• Not all perpetrators are adults – an estimated 23 percent of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by individuals under the age of 18.
• Common characteristics of perpetrators include: a history of abuse (either physical or sexual); alcohol or drug abuse; little satisfaction with sexual relationships with adults; lack of control over their emotions; mental illness in some cases.
Delays common in reporting child sexual abuse
by Radio Pennsylvania
(Harrisburg) -- Last Monday, the State Attorney General announced charges against another priest accused of sexually abusing a child.
The alleged abuse happened two-and-a-half decades ago.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the case against retired priest John Thomas Sweeney outside the Westmoreland County Catholic school where the alleged abuse occurred in the 1991-92 school year.
In outlining the accusations, Shapiro noted that it is often decades before such abuse allegations surface, due to misplaced shame and confusion in the young victims.
"It is no surprise that the victim kept this secret for so long. It often takes victims of child sexual abuse years or even decades to comes forward," he said.
The Attorney General's office maintains a clergy abuse hotline for reporting suspected abuse: 1-888-538-8541.
Secret Islamic networks in U.S. doing the unspeakable to young girls
'They're luring them in with lies, like you're going to be on vacation'
by Leo Hohmann
Female genital mutilation is a form of human trafficking that Maine legislators are currently choosing to allow in their state, say child advocates.
Maine will try again on Aug. 2 to become the 25th state to ban the barbaric Third World practice that involves cutting the genitals of young girls.
Liz Yore is an attorney who has served as general counsel to child welfare agencies and a former member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited children. As an international child advocate, she said she never thought she would see such a gruesome practice taking root in America, preying on its defenseless little girls.
Yet, it's been a struggle to get some lawmakers to see the necessity of passing state bans on the FGM.
The fickle nature of the federal FGM ban, adopted in 1996, was exposed for all to see under President Obama – his Department of Justice under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch simply closed its eyes to female genital mutilation, never prosecuting a single case.
That lack of interest in a form of torture on young girls persisted even though the evidence is now breaking open, thanks to a federal investigation in Detroit launched by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
What Sessions' staff is discovering is that it's not just Minnesota and Michigan that are at risk. There's a secret underground of at least eight states involved.
Maine has been identified as one of the eight “high risk” states, largely because of its large population of Somali refugees. More than 97 percent of women in Somalia have had their genitals mutilated by the time they reach adulthood. The numbers are similar in Egypt, Sudan and Indonesia.
Yore said FGM bears similarities to human trafficking.
“In the 1990s when I was at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, we were seeing Muslim fathers abducting their children born in the U.S., and the mothers left behind were telling me about FGM, and that's when I first became aware of it,” Yore told WND.
“I thought I had seen everything but to have this brutality imported into our country is extremely troubling,” she said. “It's especially heinous, and very much like human trafficking.”
Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transporting, or harboring, of persons by means of abduction, coercion, fraud and deceit. It involves an abuse of power, for the purposes of exploitation.
“The difference is there's a profit motive in regular human trafficking. Otherwise, it's identical with FGM. Trafficking usually involves sexual exploitation or labor, but these little girls are brought to their mutilators often across state lines, or trafficked overseas and then brought back to their homes,” Yore said. “It's done in secret. Money changes hands, but it is primarily for to fulfill a religious custom.”
Thanks to the federal investigation into the Detroit area mutilations, the methods of the FGM network in America are beginning to come into focus.
“These little girls were trafficked from Minnesota and other states to Michigan, with the case now expanding to Chicago, New York and L.A., and what was originally believed to have been just two young victims is now more than 100,” Yore said.
Maine's bill to criminalize FGM, dubbed L.D. 745, has been voted down multiple times by state lawmakers who are putting personal politics above the protection of their youngest citizens, she said.
“The trafficking of humans has been described as modern-day slavery that robs individuals of their freedom and dignity,” Yore said. “FGM is exploding in the United States because of the growth of migrants and the conspiracy of silence among its traffickers.”
The silence in Maine and Minnesota, both of which have tried but so far failed to pass bans on the grisly practice, is deafening to activists such as Yore.
But another key vote is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 2. If Maine does not pass this bill, Yore said the state will become a safe harbor for human traffickers and child abusers who perform these unspeakable horrors, which involve cutting off part or all of a girl's clitoris, depriving the girl of future sexual pleasure while instilling a life of pain and misery.
Victims of FGM often face problems later in life, including painful urination and menstruation, painful intercourse, infections and even death.
“It's only because of the FBI hotline that we are beginning to uncover the network, and breaking through this code of silence that's been in existence for many years,” Yore said. “This doctor in Michigan has been operating on girls since at least 2005.”
That doctor is Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, an Indian Muslim who worked as an emergency room doctor at Henry Ford Hospital in Dearborn. She performed FGM on girls between the ages of 6 and 9 in her private, unnamed clinic in Lavonia, Michigan . She is part of the Dawoodi Bohra sect of Shia Muslims based in western India, but the practice of FGM is widespread among both Shia and Sunni Muslims across Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East.
“Now, I think the doors have been flung open and here come the floodgates, and we're going to begin to be able to put the pieces together because of this confidential hotline,” Yore said.
Even if the practice were limited to the Dawoodi Bohra, this sect has 22 mosques across the United States.
“That is a lot of potential victims, a lot of mutilators, and that's just one cult,” Yore said.
But Yore believes the Dawoodi Bohra represent just the tip of a much larger network of FGM operating in the United States.
That belief is buttressed by the Centers for Disease Control's 2016 estimate that 513,000 girls and young women are at risk of having FGM done to them in the United States.
‘It just hasn't been on anyone's radar'
“Nobody has been looking at this in the United States until now, it just hasn't been on anyone's radar. You have to look at this network like you look at human trafficking – it's a network that is secret, and they're luring girls in with lies, things like ‘you're going to be on vacation, it's a big party,' and then the girls are held down while their genitals are cut off.”
“This is mothers taking their little girls to have a sexual abuse done on them.”
The scars are emotional as well as physical.
“The reconstructive surgery that has to be conducted on women, so it's not as simple as the ACLU lawyers are arguing, it's a severe mutilation and the recovery is a lifetime for these girls,” Yore said.
“I've done hundreds of child-abuse investigations, and what you find is these children who are abused have been silenced, intimidated into silence, and it's only when they get older and learn what is criminal and what is not criminal, that they will speak up.”
She said public awareness has been raised, thanks to the Detroit investigation, but like all human trafficking it's going to take time and years of commitment by both the federal government and the states to knock out FGM in America.
“It's going to be a very tough slog to identify the victims, identify the mutilators, and break up the network,” she said.
Politicians will have to stand up to the ACLU, which is on the record as a powerful voice against banning FGM at the state level. ACLU lawyers use several arguments, all of which are bogus and deceitful, Yore said.
One of the arguments is that there is already a federal law against FGM, so states don't need to enact duplicate legislation.
This is deceitful because the ACLU knows the feds don't have the time or resources to go after all of the FGM cases, but rather will try to make an “example” of a few doctors.
“The ACLU demanded states have stalking laws, even though there is a federal stalking law. They demanded states pass human trafficking laws when there is already a federal law against that, so this argument doesn't hold water,” Yore said.
‘Religious freedom' argument opens door to Shariah in U.S.
Another argument against the ban is religious freedom. This is the argument being claimed by Dr. Nagarwala's attorneys, and if it is accepted by the courts, then doors will swing wide open to the legalization of other Islamic practices, such as honor violence, polygamy and child brides.
The freedom to practice one's religion does not extend to killing, maiming or other law-breaking, and this is backed up by hundreds of years of natural law in Western civilization, not to mention legal case law.
So Yore believes the ACLU and other leftist organizations are hiding the real reason for why they refuse to go to bat for little girls facing FGM torture.
“They worship at the altar of cultural diversity and tolerance as opposed to protecting voiceless and precious little girls,” Yore said.
“And in Maine there are some female legislators who give lip service to stopping violence against women, and then they are silent on FGM,” she continued. “I can't imagine a more abusive practice against women and girls, and yet on the left so many so-called feminists are silent. It's shocking to me. They should be at the forefront of fighting this battle. Little girls are being sexually disfigured for life, they should be outraged.”
“But they are afraid of being labeled as Islamophobes.”
It's interesting that this fear of criticism extends to no other religion other than Islam in today's world.
“Would we have claimed religious freedom for the bizarre practices of Jim Jones or Warren Jeffs? What about the Children of God cult? No, and nor should we claim this right for Islam,” Yore said.
“This is where we have to make a stand. If we cannot call this out for what it is, sheer brutality toward little girls and oppression of their femininity, and the pursuit of happiness, that is what this is all about,”she adds. “They are denying little girls the future of having sexual pleasure and bringing children into the world without this barbaric practice.”
‘Not backing down'
Yore said she, for one, will not back down to any pressures from Islamic apologists or multicultural blindness.
“This is child abuse 101 and they can try to minimize it but if you read the affidavit from the FBI case in Detroit it just sends chills up your spine,” she said. “Their attorneys say ‘oh it's just a little nick.' That's a lie. We have got to draw the line.”
The Obama administration turned a blind eye, but President Trump's Justice Department seems willing to make FGM a priority. The moment for states to act in like manner is now, Yore says.
“Because if we allow this to continue, it's Katie bar the door, it's honor killing, it's throwing gays off buildings, it's child brides.”
Addressing the Lack of Research on Male Childhood Sexual Abuse
by Dr. Michael Pittaro
On Thursday July 20, fans across the world mourned the loss of Chester Bennington, the lead vocalist for the world-renowned band, Linkin Park . Bennington's suicide by hanging at the age of 41 stunned fans, but it also brought to light a rarely discussed topic: male childhood sexual abuse. One in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 16—yet the issue remains underreported, undertreated, and highly stigmatized.
Bennington had openly stated in a number of interviews that he was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. He shared how it had significantly troubled him over the years and contributed to his excessive use of drugs and alcohol, which he used to repress the trauma of being victimized.
Male survivors of childhood sexual abuse are at an increased risk of developing a wide range of medical, psychological, behavioral, and sexual disorders. Research studies have outlined the extensive short- and long-term effects of childhood sexual victimization. For example, sexual victimization can lead to a host of troublesome psychiatric disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse and dependence, depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior.
Sexually abused children are nearly twice as likely to run away from home, which is not surprising, since 90 percent of all child sexual abuse victims know their abuser and want to escape the abuse. As many as 40 percent of all victims were victimized by an older child, not an adult, as was the case of Chester Bennington. These victims view their perpetrator as physically stronger and are often emotionally manipulated by the perpetrator.
Sexual Abuse Victims and Future Crime
According to the organization Darkness to Light , delinquency and crime are more prevalent in males who have experienced sexual abuse in their childhood. In fact, male adolescents who were sexually abused are three to five times more likely to engage in delinquency. Behavioral problems include, but are not limited to, physical aggression, non-compliance, and oppositional defiance. This is what we refer to as “victim turned perpetrator” in which past abuse can contribute to future delinquent and criminal acts. This is not to suggest that past victims of sexual abuse will lead a future life of crime, but it does place victims at an increased risk; therefore, early intervention is critical.
A 2009 research study concluded that male prisoners have higher rates of past child sexual abuse victimization when compared to those who have never been incarcerated. Once again, this validates the notion that past childhood sexual victimization could lead to significant behavioral problems in which victimization is a pathway into criminality.
When I was an undergraduate student, I was taught that most people who have been sexually abused would become future abusers. However, the research does not support that statement, but rather supports the fact that most boys who are sexually abused will NOT go on to sexually abuse others.
Resources for Victims of Male Sexual Abuse
As a researcher who has worked with both perpetrators and victims of sex crimes, I can attest to the fact that there is an abundance of research on female victims of child sexual abuse, but very little on male victims. This is likely because girls are more likely than boys to be sexually abused, so this is where researchers have concentrated.
However, we should also aim to locate and shed light on the gaps within the literature. Because of the perceived stigma, many boys do not disclose past sexual abuse and when they are ready to do so, support groups specifically for male survivors are challenging to find. A precursory search for, “male sexual abuse survivor groups in Pennsylvania,” (my home state) resulted in two findings, both of which were not even remotely close to my residence.
In addition to locating a support group for male survivors of sexual abuse, finding a therapist or specialized clinician who is specifically trained and knowledgeable in the gender-specific issues associated with male survivors can be daunting. A visit to a therapist who lacks specialized training can make the experience more traumatic rather than therapeutic, and could cause the survivor to withdraw further into negative coping responses such as drugs or alcohol.
Debunking Common Myths
Part of the problem is that many people cannot differentiate between the myths and the facts about male child sexual abuse. The organization, One in Six , shared a number of common myths that must be addressed.
MYTH: If a boy experienced sexual arousal during the abuse, he wanted and/or enjoyed it, and therefore, it is his fault.
Fact: Males can respond to sexual stimulation with an erection and even an orgasm. However, that does not suggest that they willingly welcomed the abuse or exploitation. It is simply a biological response to being sexually aroused, even if the experience is traumatic.
MYTH: Sexual abuse is less harmful to boys than to girls.
Fact: The harm caused by sexual abuse mostly depends on issues unrelated to gender including the abuser's identity, the duration of the abuse, whether the child told anyone at the time, and, if so, whether the child was believed and helped.
MYTH: Most men who sexually abuse boys are homosexual .
Fact : Research studies to date suggest that men who have sexually abused a boy most often identify as heterosexual and often are involved in adult heterosexual relationships at the time of the abuse. There is no indication that a homosexual man is more likely to engage in sexually abusive behavior than a heterosexual man and some studies even suggest it is less likely.
MYTH: Boys abused by males must have attracted the abuse because they are homosexual.
Fact: There are conflicting theories as to how sexual orientation develops, but experts in human sexuality do not believe that sexual abuse or premature sexual experiences play a significant role. Sexual orientation is a complex issue. There is no single answer or theory that clearly explains why some identify as homosexual while others identify as heterosexual or bisexual.
MYTH: If a female used or abused a boy, he was “lucky” and if he does not feel that way, there must be something wrong with him.
Fact: In reality, premature, coerced, or otherwise abusive or exploitive sexual experiences are never positive. Female abusers often hold a position of power over their victim, such as an older sister, sister of a friend, babysitter, neighbor, aunt, or mother.. At a minimum, the victimization can cause confusion and insecurity and can adversely affect trust and intimacy.
MYTH: Boys who are sexually abused will go on to abuse others.
Fact: As a professor, I encounter this one quite often from students in my courses. This myth is especially dangerous because it can create terrible fear and anxiety in boys and men who feel they must not be around children. They may not only fear becoming abusers themselves, but that if others find out that they were abused, they will be seen as potentially dangerous to children. Sadly, boys and men who tell of being sexually abused are often viewed as potential perpetrators rather than as victims who need support and guidance. While it is true that some child sexual abusers were abused as children themselves, most will not go on to sexually abuse others.
Where to Get Help
For those seeking help, I would encourage you to contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), which is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org ) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country. It also operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
NY to spend $4M to boost investigations of child abuse
by My San Antonio
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York state will spend $4 million to boost child abuse investigations.
The money announced by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday will pay for video recording equipment and other technology used in child abuse investigations. It also will pay for the hiring of professional interviewers who are specially trained to interview young victims.
Cuomo says the "critical" investment will improve investigations while ensuring that child victims receive "effective emotional support."
The grant funding will be divided among 26 different law enforcement departments, victim assistance groups and mental health agencies.
Upcoming workshops teach child abuse prevention, intervention
by Jessica Rogness
A workshop to train adults to identify and intervene when a child is being sexually abused is offered twice this month in Solano County.
The training is scheduled on two days in Vacaville and Fairfield.
“It is so important to keep our children safe and to educate our community in prevention, setting boundaries and what to do when a child discloses,” said Christina Baird, an authorized facilitator for Darkness to Light, a nonprofit organization that provides this training. “As a survivor myself, I feel so strongly about keeping our children protected and safe.”
She believes education is one of the most important components in this effort.
The Stewards of Children program aims to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child-protective behaviors.
The program is for any responsible adult who cares about the welfare of children, and is also appropriate for organizations and personnel that serve youth, according to Baird.
The training will cover the following topics:
• Facts about the problem of child sexual abuse
• The types of situations in which child sexual abuse might occur
• Simple, effective strategies for protecting children from sexual abuse
• The importance of talking about the prevention of sexual abuse with children and other adults
• The signs of sexual abuse so that you might intervene and be able to react responsibly
Participants can expect these outcomes:
• Increased awareness of the prevalence, consequences and circumstances of child sexual abuse
• New skills to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse
• Individual commitment to action via a personal prevention plan
The Vacaville workshop will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 19 at Three Oaks Community Center, 1100 Alamo Drive. There will be a $5 workshop fee and an $11 workbook fee. To register for the Vacaville workshop, visit any of the Vacaville community centers or recweb.cityofvacaville.com. Call 469-4020 for more information.
The Fairfield workshop will be from 12 to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Family Justice Center, 604 Empire St. There will be a $15 workbook fee. To register for the Fairfield workshop, call Baird at 738-9962 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Men urged to report 'stumbled upon' child abuse images
by the BBC
Young men need to know more about how to contact the authorities if they stumble across child sexual abuse images, an internet group has said.
A survey for the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) suggests fewer than half of young men would contact police if they found such images online.
And 38% admitted they'd never tell their family if they stumbled across images or videos of child sexual abuse.
The IWF has an anonymous hotline to report illegal CSA images.
The Comres survey of 1,035 UK males aged 16-24 found that 44% of respondents would contact police if they inadvertently found images of child sex abuse online.
Some 54% said accidentally clicking on child sexual abuse (CSA) images and grooming was their main online worry.
Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the IWF, said while it was encouraging that a large proportion of young men would contact the authorities, the rest needed to be told how to report images of abused children.
"We need to get that message out to more young people - and let them know that they can report these disturbing illegal images to our hotline, anonymously," she said.
'Complex online world'
Since its launch almost 21 years ago, the IWF has identified and removed more than a quarter of a million web pages showing children being sexually abused.
Three-quarters of British men aged 16-24 (75%) told the pollsters that they had not experienced any of the online incidents tested in the IWF survey in the last 12 months.
These include sexting, cyber bullying, identity theft, online grooming, exposure to images showing sexual abuse of children online, or being a victim of online shaming or revenge pornography.
New South Dakota center tackles child sexual abuse
by Nick Hytrek
VERMILLION, S.D. | No one wants to see children fall victim to sexual abuse, much less be victimized by it for their entire lives.
A new center at the University of South Dakota aims to marshal statewide resources to cut down on the abuse of the state's children and open discussions on the issue.
"There's a perception that it's hard or embarrassing to talk about sex abuse. We'd like to open up the conversation and make it not such a taboo subject," said Carrie G. Sanderson, who was hired in April as the first director of the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment, which was established and funded by the South Dakota Legislature and is under the umbrella of USD's School of Health Sciences.
It's believed that at least 4,000 South Dakota children experience or are exposed to sexual abuse each year. Sanderson said that number is probably low because so many children never report being abused. The center's goal is to see that number reduced while at the same time providing resources to help victims.
"It's truly providing the resources," Sanderson said of the center's task. "When child sexual abuse is uncovered, you'll know where to go next and how to support the victim and the family as a community."
The center is the result of work that began in 2014, when state legislators who kept hearing constituent requests to address child sexual abuse formed the Jolene's Law Task Force and Coalition, named for a woman who was abused as a child and as an adult began to share her story. The task force included representatives from social services, advocacy groups, law enforcement, criminal justice and state agencies and came up with a 10-year plan with six goals and 48 objectives.
To carry out those goals, the task force realized a central unit was needed to move the work forward. The Legislature in 2016 approved a $210,000 general appropriation funded through the South Dakota Board of Regents to create the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment, which the regents placed at USD with the blessing of School of Health Sciences Dean Michael Lawler, who was a member of the task force.
Sanderson was an assistant U.S. Attorney in South Dakota prosecuting violent crimes, some of them involving child maltreatment, when she heard a presentation about the task force's findings last summer. She liked what she heard and applied for the director's position.
"At that point, I thought I could do more for the children in South Dakota," she said.
It's been challenging to get the center up and running, but the task force had developed a plan that determined what work needed to be done and what tasks should be accomplished. With that blueprint in hand, Sanderson said the center has picked up where the task force left off.
"The goal of the center is to connect resources with the service industry and facilitate the work that needs to be done," she said. "We have this work plan. My job is to set a base for the work to get done."
Some first steps already have been taken, Sanderson said.
Mandatory sexual abuse reporters will receive new training on how to respond and react. Sexual abuse kits designed specifically for child sexual abuse cases have been distributed to medical providers and law enforcement agencies.
There's a push to streamline reporting and responding to reports of sexual abuse and connecting service providers to make it easier for victims and their families to access services.
And maybe the biggest task: raising public awareness. Sanderson wants South Dakotans to be able to recognize signs of abuse and feel free to step forward to report it and do something about it. A website -- www.sdcpcm.com -- was set to launch Monday. It will include statewide databases for mental health and other agencies and groups.
There will be countless more discussions, leading to more ideas, and the center eventually will branch into addressing physical and emotional abuse of children, too. As the center establishes itself and finds other funding sources for its initiatives through government agencies and grants, Sanderson said she believes it will make people more willing to discuss child sexual abuse and find solutions.
"I think people in South Dakota are ready to have this information and excited there is a group taking the lead on it," Sanderson said. "People are wanting to work together to address this issue. We're creating a vehicle for change."
A change that could benefit children and adults statewide.
Ex-School Aide Charged With Child Sex Abuse, Attempting To Spread HIV Virus
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — More information has been released in the case of a former Charles County instructional assistant and track coach who is HIV+ and accused of child sexual abuse.
Charles County State's Attorney Anthony B. Covington announced Monday that 30-year-old Carlos Deangelo Bell, who worked at several schools in Maryland, allegedly assaulted 24 students between May 2015 and June 2017.
That more than doubles the number of children that investigators initially believed Bell had victimized. Bell was arrested in late June, and some information about his case was released at that time.
A newly unsealed 119-count indictment charges Bell with 12 counts of child sexual abuse, 48 second-degree sex offense charges, 44 accounts of filming child pornography, six counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, five counts of displaying obscene matter to a minor, three counts of transmitting or attempting to transmit HIV, two counts of third degree sex offense, two counts of second degree assault, two counts of solicitation of a minor and distribution of marijuana.
According to the Charles County Sheriff's Office, Bell has worked at several Maryland schools.
In the fall of 2008 he worked as a facility attendant with the Charles County Department of Community Services. In the fall of 2015, heworked for AlphaBest, a Charles County government contractor, which provided before and after school care at J.P. Ryon Elementary School and William B. Wade Elementary School. In the spring of 2016, he volunteered as an assistant coach for a track club, Comets, located in Waldorf.
A special telephone number has been established for anyone with concerns about their children relating to this case. That phone number is 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Will County Health Department encourages awareness of child abuse
by Shaw Media
JOLIET – Michelle Zambrano, the Will County Health Department's behavioral health manager of child and adolescent programs, said child abuse is a much more complicated issue than ever before.
Zambrano said obvious signs of physical abuse, such as a child with severe bruises on his body, the definition of abuse has changed very little. But when it comes to emotional abuse, society's eyes are now more open than in the past.
“Teachers, for example,” Zambrano said in a news release, “are receiving more training from their school districts. The point is made to take initiative if a child goes, for example, from being very vivacious to being very quiet. With any kind of significant personality change, they know more than ever to think, ‘something may have happened.'”
Sonia Perez, behavioral health manager for the health department's Community Health Center, said physicians and pediatricians are a logical first step if a parent suspects something harmful is being done to their child. In fact, pediatricians receive one month of formal developmental and behavioral training during their residencies.
It also is a fact that more things are reported today to organizations, such as the Health Department's Behavioral Health Division.
“It is our job to pass the reported incident on to the Department of Children and Family Services,” Zambrano said in the release. “It is their job to investigate and make a determination.”
Making a determination can be challenging. Zambrano said some of the severe neglect we often hear about in homes with children, “May lead people to say, ‘That didn't happen in my day.' Well, most likely it did happen. But now our eyes are more trained to look for it,” she said in a news release.
Meanwhile, when it comes to training ourselves to watch for signs of potential abuse, especially as parents, perhaps no factor looms larger now that social media.
“I remember a situation,” Zambrano recalled in a news release, “Where a parent knew their 6-year-old child was playing some kind of Xbox game in the next room. All of a sudden they heard a male, adult voice; clear as can be. Sure enough, this stranger had hooked up with the 6-year-old in a virtual reality Xbox game. In situations like this, the parent needs to take action and ask, ‘What is this person doing communicating with my child,' and report it immediately.”
Another example of how things have changed is the focus on child-on-child abuse. There is much more of a focus on school bullying these days. But Zambrano says sometimes it can be emotional abuse, especially with dating situations involving older kids.
If one suspects a possible child abuse situation that should be investigated, call the Will County Health Department at 1-800-25ABUSE or 1-800-252-2873.
After months of bullying, a 12-year-old New Jersey girl killed herself. Her parents blame the school.
by Samantha Schmidt
For months, 12-year-old Mallory Grossman received the taunts in text messages, Instagram posts and Snapchats.
She was a loser and had no friends, they told her. At one point, according to an attorney for Mallory's family, the girls even asked her, “Why don't you kill yourself?”
In the classrooms and hallways of her middle school in Rockaway Township, N.J., a group of sixth grade girls continued to torment her. They would tease Mallory, give her dirty looks and snub her, shooing her away from their lunch table.
The taunts, her parents say, soon took a toll on the lively young cheerleader and gymnast. At school, Mallory's grades deteriorated. At home, she complained of constant headaches and stomach pain. She begged to stay home from school.
After the bullying began in October of last year, Mallory's parents spoke to her teachers, counselors and school administrators — along with the students' parents — pleading with them to help put an end to the ugliness.
Then, on June 14, Mallory took her own life. The manner of death was not disclosed.
Her suicide sent shock waves through her school district and wider community in New Jersey, home to one of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the nation.
On Tuesday, Mallory's parents announced their intent to sue the Rockaway Township School District and its administrators “who ignored months of pleas to stop this,” their lawyer, Bruce Nagel, said in a news conference, alleging “gross negligence”
Nagel said he will file the notice of an intent to sue in the next few days, and plans to file the lawsuit in the months that follow.
Rockaway Township School District attorney Nathanya G. Simon told NorthJersey.com that the district had not yet received the Grossmans' lawsuit notice.
“We anticipate that we will be able to make a statement soon,” Simon told the paper.
Nagel said the parents hoped Mallory's death would underscore the “epidemic” of cyberbullying that is taking place in schools across the nation.
“We are here today to bring light to the fact that this small device can be a lethal weapon in the hands of the wrong child,” Nagel said holding up an iPhone in the Tuesday news conference.
Schools have always struggled to combat bullying in hallways, classrooms and playgrounds. But the rise of the Internet and smartphones has made this challenge tougher. It's easier for young people to do it and available for all to see, increasing the humiliation of the victim.
One recent study surveying 5,600 children nationwide between the ages of 12 to 17 found that 34 percent had experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes.
Meanwhile, the number of adolescent suicides has risen dramatically in recent decades, according to a 2016 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study found that bullying has a “clear relationship” with committing or thinking of committing suicide. Moreover, the study found that excessive Internet use was “strongly associated with higher levels of depression” and thoughts or attempts to commit suicide.
The family of Brandy Vela in Houston believes the 18-year-old fatally shot herself in November in part due to cyberbullying. They said others in the school ridiculed her weight, creating fake dating websites about her, saying she was available for free sex.
The Grossman family may also pursue legal action against the parents of the three or four girls who they say bullied Mallory. Mallory's mother, Dianne Grossman, said she spoke to the mother of one of the girls the night before Mallory took her own life.
The mother dismissed the bullying, telling Grossman it was just a “big joke” and that she should not worry about it, Grossman said at the news conference. Three minutes after Grossman asked that the woman's daughter stop texting Mallory, the girl sent a series of text messages to the 12-year-old, the family claims.
Each month since they became aware of the “relentless” taunts, the Grossmans say they complained to administrators, who promised to look into the allegations. Even hours before Mallory took her life, her parents met with school officials, begging them to do something. They requested that administrators file a mandatory Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) Report, but the school never did, Grossman said.
When Mallory's grades took a hit, school officials focused meetings on her academics.
“They were not at that time concerned with her emotional well being,” Grossman said, even though her daughter's usual A and B grades had plummeted to Cs and Ds.
“There was a pattern, a regular history, pattern of the school dismissing my concerns,” Grossman said.
Some of the cyberbullying against Mallory — at least two of the girls' Snapchats — took place on school property, Grossman said. In Mallory's final days, her parents were trying to move her to a private school, but “unfortunately she didn't give us a chance to do so,” Grossman said.
The mother said she believes the girls directed their taunts at Mallory out of resentment.
“She was popular within her own circle,” Grossman said. She was an athlete, a “quiet child” and a “good student,” Grossman said.
“I think that she kind of represented what they couldn't be, Grossman said.
The Grossman family was fairly new to the school district — they moved to town about three years ago.
“It's hard to understand that while she had a great circle of friends and she was liked among her peers and she was active,” Grossman said, “that still doesn't quiet the noise of the girls that didn't like her, and who decided to put a target on her back.”
Such snide remarks, dirty looks and intimidating messages can be extra hurtful during middle school, a complicated time when adolescents' bodies and hormones are changing, and when social status at school means everything, Grossman said.
Grossman said she wishes the school had tried to gather the parents at the school to address the issue. She said she hopes this lawsuit might remind parents of the importance of constantly monitoring their children's use of technology and social media. They should not assume that “‘my child would never do that.'”
She also criticized the fact that the school touted its self-assessed A grade in recent anti-bullying reports, giving itself a score of 74 out of 78 in the most recent self-assessment posted on the district's website.
New Jersey's anti-bullying laws were toughened after an outcry over the suicide of a Rutgers University freshman , Tyler Clementi, in 2011. Just before he jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge, Clementi found out that his roommate and another classmate had been using a webcam to spy on him having sex with another man, exposing his encounters on social media.
The new laws demanded more staff training and quicker reporting of bullying. They require that schools monitor, investigate and document episodes of child bullying. Superintendents who don't to comply could lose their licenses, and students found responsible for bullying can be suspended or expelled.
In the aftermath of Mallory's death, her family is creating nonprofit foundation to combat bullying, called “Mal's Army,” Grossman said.
Mallory had two sisters and a brother. Her “beautiful soul and free spirit touched so many of us during her dynamic 12 years,” her family wrote in her obituary. She was described as a compassionate, creative young girl who loved nature, the outdoors and “flowers, every color and shape.”
She was “always crafting something” and often made and sold jewelry to raise money for her favorite charity, Camp Good Days, which provides summer camp experiences for children battling cancer and other illnesses.
“It was her giving spirit and love for all people and things that drove her to move mountains,” the obituary read.
“Mallory was our teacher,” her family wrote. “She taught us how to love each other as only a child can.”
EHT woman starts support group for adult survivors of child abuse
by Nicole Leonard
Dena Tartaro was hoping to get some support among other adults survivors of child abuse in South Jersey, but she found that little resources and such groups existed.
So, she started one herself.
“I had been looking to join a group forever,” she said. “I was part of groups when I lived in other states, and there are some resources down here, but not enough.”
Tartaro will lead a new support group through a program designed by Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, a national organization with groups in several states and counties. She hopes to create a place where people can find comfort in shared experiences and grow in their survivorship.
Nearly 700,000 children are emotionally, physically and sexually abused or neglected in the United States annually, according to the National Children's Alliance. Two-thirds of children served by Children's Advocacy Centers nationwide reported sexual abuse in 2015.
In New Jersey, South Jersey counties had some of the highest rates of reported child abuse in the state. Cumberland County had the highest in 2015, with 97 abuse cases per 1,000 children under age 18, according to data from Advocates for Children of New Jersey.
Alliance data shows that children are more likely to be abused by a parent or other relative.
Naomi Jones, a doctor of psychology at Jewish Family Services, treats children with cognitive behavioral therapy who have suffered trauma from being neglected, sexually or physically assaulted, emotionally or psychologically abused.
"Children can lose the sense of trust and safety that is required for healthy development (after trauma)," she said. "They can experience anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues, to name a few of the most common psychological effects."
Jones said people can recover from childhood trauma and abuse, but may experience some long-term effects as adults that can be triggered by certain changes or stresses as they move through different stages of life.
Although it's been more than 30 years since her father sexually abused her, Tartaro said she has continually sought therapy and coping resources to heal from the past physical, sexual and domestic abuse aimed at her, her sister and her mother.
“We moved around all the time,” she said. “From the outside, we were this upper-class family with two parents and two kids, but in private, nobody knew what was happening.”
The Adult Survivors of Child Abuse support group, which is in partnership with the Mental Health Association in Atlantic County, will meet once a week starting Tuesday in Northfield in a structured format session to cover topics like the role of therapy, confronting abusers, support systems, self-soothing activities, abuse repercussions and more.
One chapter included in the support program focuses on self-blame, which experts say many survivors struggle with. Tartaro said she thankfully had always recognized that her father was always in the wrong, not her.
Her father was sentenced to two life terms in a Texas prison and died in 1997. Getting justice for her abuse and knowing he was in jail “made me feel safer to go on with my life,” she said, but recognized that not all survivors get that closure, or the help they need.
"For those who do not get treatment, people are often anxious, depressed, angry and have high rates of suicidal thoughts and substance abuse," Jones said.
Tartaro said the support program doesn't replace therapy or counseling, but creates a community for people who have suffered similar abuse. Ideal participants are those who like its structured format and who already have support systems in friends, family or professionals.
The group's members will remain confidential and strictly for adult abuse survivors. The program is not for professionals without personal experience or abusers, and is free with suggested donations for materials.
Tartaro has since found a career in social work, raised her daughter, got remarried to her wife and created a home in New Jersey. She hopes that the new support group will fill in some gaps in South Jersey.
“This is for anyone who has been through abuse who doesn't want to feel like they are the only ones,” she said.
Abused as children, victims may get more time to sue
by Alan Judd
Christopher Gaba thought he was the only one.
He could not imagine that others who attended the Darlington School in Rome, Georgia, also had been sexually abused. He certainly had no idea that others had accused the same teacher who molested him .
So he said nothing. The statute of limitations for a civil case passed years ago. But this summer, other Darlington alumni went public with allegations of decades-old abuse. “After more than 30 years,” Gaba said, “I realized I wasn't alone.”
Gaba exemplifies the need for new laws governing civil cases by adults who were abused as children, state legislators and attorneys said at a news conference Wednesday in the Georgia Capitol.
Current laws “protect child predators and deny justice to abuse survivors,” said state Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine). Spencer is sponsoring House Bill 605 , which would allow victims to sue not only abusers but also institutions that sheltered them.
Spencer led the effort to pass the Hidden Predator Act of 2015 , which created a two-year window for victims to sue their abusers even if the statute of limitations had passed. Normally, adults must sue over childhood abuse by age 23.
Thirteen cases were filed under the Hidden Predator Act before it expired June 30.
The insurance industry, the Catholic Church and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce all exerted influence behind the scenes that “undermined” the 2015 bill, Spencer said Wednesday. He said he got the bill through the General Assembly only after killing provisions that would have allowed suits against schools, churches, private businesses and other institutions.
“I was unaware of how stiff the opposition was,” Spencer said. “The opposition worked the back channels of the legislative process. That is unacceptable with this issue.”
The chamber recently denied that it lobbied against the 2015 bill.
At the news conference, where Spencer's new bill received bipartisan support, legislators, lawyers, victims and advocates said people who experience sexual abuse in childhood often don't comprehend or acknowledge what happened until well into adulthood.
“There is no magic age,” said Emma Hetherington, director of the Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic at the University of Georgia Law School.
Lequita Jackson of Columbus said her pastor first molested her in 2002 , when she was 15. The abuse went on until 2009, she said.
“He was a sexual predator who needed to be stopped,” Jackson said. When she learned other young women had said the pastor also molested them, she filed a lawsuit just before the Hidden Predator Act expired. A few weeks later, her case would have been barred.
But, she said, “there are countless other adult survivors in Georgia who were not ready or able” to sue by the deadline.
Gaba and eight other former Darlington students, along with the estate of another, sued the school and former teacher Roger Stifflemire in late June. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Darlington administrators did nothing after at least two students and the mother of a third complained about Stifflemire's misconduct in the 1970s and 1980s.
Stifflemire, now 76 and retired in Alabama , has not responded to numerous interview requests. Neither he nor Darlington has filed a response to the lawsuit.
Gaba said he was a high school freshman when Stifflemire, an English teacher who lived in a Darlington dorm, pressured him to visit his apartment in the spring of 1978. Gaba never told anyone that Stifflemire abused him, assuming he was the only victim and that no one would believe him.
He came forward after Darlington distributed a letter in late May seeking information about possible sexual abuse. The letter suggested the school already had concluded no abuse had occurred, but Gaba said he knew Darlington “was not telling the whole story.”
“There was a decades-long cover-up to protect the school and the administration,” Gaba said Wednesday.
Almost 20 former Darlington students now allege they were molested in the 1970s and 1980s, said Darren Penn, one of the lawyers representing Gaba and other alumni . Stifflemire taught at Darlington for 20 years and, Penn said, apparently molested “countless children” despite multiple reports to school officials.
“The only way to protect children,” Gaba said at the news conference, “is for the individuals and the institutions to be held accountable.”
Greenock OAP tells of abuse ordeal
by Rosemary Lowne
A SURVIVOR of childhood physical abuse has bravely spoken out about his horrific ordeal and told how a Greenock charity is helping him to cope.
Tommy Hagan suffers from a severe nervous disorder which he says was caused by 14 years of systematic physical abuse and neglect which he endured at the Orphan Homes of Scotland between 1938 and 1952.
The 83-year-old from Inverclyde courageously decided to open his heart about the devastating impact this has had on his life and how Mind Mosaic, a local counselling and therapy charity, is supporting him.
Through the charity, sprightly Tommy is learning to play the drums.
He told the Tele: “Music makes me feel a bit better because I was quite nervous for a lot of years.
“Since I have started the music, that has helped me to take my mind off my nerves.
“Everyone at Mind Mosaic has been a big help.”
It was back in 1938 when Tommy and his brother were put into the Quarriers Village based care home by the local authority.
Tommy said they were subjected to horrendous abuse at the hands of their carers.
He said: “We both suffered abuse daily by our house mother and father.
“We were subject to constant beatings and given freezing cold baths frequently throughout the day.
“My brother was taken away from the home when he was around nine years old after a brutal beating.
“I was left to endure a further eight years in there myself.
“I was removed from the home for two years when I was put in a sanatorium for health reasons as a direct result of the abuse I had suffered up to that point.
“I left the home aged 16 with nothing but the clothes on my back.”
The abuse had a devastating impact on Tommy's life.
He added: “My life has been affected in many ways by my childhood abuse.
“I left the home at 16 with no education and have worked in medial jobs most of my life.
“I also have a severe nervous disorder caused by years of systematic abuse in the home.
“I have trusted very few people in my life and have difficulty maintaining relationships.
“I did get married but my wife is now in a care home and I am finding life very difficult.”
Tommy first spoke out about what happened to him five years ago at a forum developed by the Scottish Government to hear testimony from adults who had formerly been residents in Quarriers.
Since then he has also given evidence to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry — Scotland's ongoing independent public inquiry into the abuse of children in care.
Throughout this time, Tommy says Mind Mosaic through their partnership with Future Pathways — Scotland's In Care survivor support fund — have been a great help.
He said: “I have the support of Mind Mosaic but I still want an apology.
“It's good for this information to come out, as a lot of young people go into care.
“I'm trying to make things better.”
Mind Mosaic's Gwyneth MacDonald explained how colleague Elaine Wroe supports Tommy through the Scottish Government-funded initiative specifically for in-care survivors.
It also supports adult survivors of childhood abuse who were not in care, and recently received £258,000 for the next three years from ministers to help them.
Gwyneth said: “It's fantastic that we've received this funding.
“We have had funding to support adult survivors of childhood abuse on a much smaller scale.
“Now, with this funding we are able to go out and expand it.”
One of the most successful projects has been the survivors group and a link-up with musician Lesley McLaren for Drummin' Wummin.
Tommy was the first male survivor to try it out and the charity are now looking at setting up a survivors group for men.
For more information about Mind Mosaic and its services call 01475 892208 or email email@example.com
Deaths from child abuse and neglect on the rise in Indiana
by Trevor Shirley
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- For the fourth year in a row, child deaths from abuse or neglect have risen.
State officials say it's because of two main reasons, unsafe sleeping arrangements for infants and open water dangers from pools or ponds. But authorities also say there are significant underlying contributing factors for each of those.
A new report profiles data from 2015, where the state saw 77 kids die because of abuse or neglect. That's the highest number FOX59 found since 2003, the farthest that reports are available online.
“It's really an awareness piece and prevention piece that we want everyone to know about,” said James Wide of the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Wide says the report is meant to encourage parents to be more aware of safety.
“That's why we want to get the report out to let the community know to be vigilant about those issues,” said Wide.
In cases of abuse, data shows the cause of death is almost always head trauma. In neglect cases, asphyxiation is often the cause, which is why DCS said dangerous sleeping arrangements and water are the two leading contributors. The report profiles a number of cases where infants died while co-sleeping with their parents who were either drunk or high on drugs.
The report also profiles numerous cases where kids left unattended drowned in pools, ponds or even bathtubs.
“You look at poverty, you look at substance abuse, [and] those are some of the contributing factors to the fatalities,” said Wide.
Wide says those underlying factors make child fatalities more likely, especially among at-risk populations. He says for parents who may be struggling or feel overwhelmed, they should not be afraid to ask for help.
If you need help or want to report suspected abuse, you can contact the Department of Child Services or Prevent Child Abuse Indiana .
Putnam To Get $80K To Improve Child Abuse Investigations
Funding will help buy video recording equipment and hire specially trained staff to interview young victims.
by Lanning Taliaferro
PUTNAM COUNTY, NY — The Putnam County Office of Social Services will receive $80,223 from New York State to improve its child abuse investigations. It is one of 26 state-approved Child Advocacy Centers sharing more than $4 million to enhance services provided to children who are victims of crime. The centers use a collaborative approach to reduce trauma experienced by child victims, assist their families, and provide necessary support services.
"This critical funding will help provide a safe haven for children who have suffered from abuse and help them take the first step on the road to recovery," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an announcement Monday. "With this funding, child advocacy centers will be better equipped to partner with law enforcement to bring the abusers to justice while offering effective emotional support services to child victims and their families."
The centers are located across New York State and will use the funding to offset the cost of purchasing and installing video recording equipment, as well as hiring specially trained staff to interview young victims of sexual and physical abuse.
"I want to thank Governor Cuomo for helping our folks in Putnam County create a place where kids can feel safe in sharing what happened to them, start the healing process, and make sure we put the bad guys away," said Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-18). "This is an important step in supporting survivors of abuse and putting the monsters that hurt them behind bars."
Child Advocacy Centers allow multidisciplinary teams of law enforcement, child protective services professionals, prosecutors, medical and mental health providers, and victim advocates to partner with center staff and respond to allegations of child abuse. This collaborative approach helps to reduce trauma experienced by child victims, assists their families, provides necessary support services and allows for thorough investigations to hold offenders accountable.
The grant funding will allow the Child Advocacy Centers to either hire a specially trained forensic interviewer or an appropriate consultant to handle interviews with child victims. These skilled professionals create an environment that provides children with a safe space to disclose abuse, reduces the number of times they must tell what happened, and helps children with their healing process. All centers also will purchase a variety of equipment to facilitate those interviews and allow multidisciplinary team members to communicate in real time while cases are being investigated, including video recording and conference call equipment, laptops, cell phones and smart boards.
Administered by the state Office of Victim Services, the grants are funded through the federal Victims of Crime Act and the state's Criminal Justice Improvement account, both of which are funded through fines, fees and surcharges paid by certain offenders after conviction in state or federal court.
The Office of Victim Services worked with the state Office of Children and Family Services - which approves and also funds Child Advocacy Centers - to determine how the funding could best support the centers' important work. OVS provides additional funding to 18 Child Advocacy Centers to provide direct services to children and families; those centers are part of a network of 223 victim assistance programs across the state that is funded by the agency.
The two-year grant funding cycle coincides with the federal fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1, 2017 and running through Sept. 30, 2019. The following 21 agencies and organizations will receive the grant funding for 26 centers they operate; some centers have multiple sites:
New York City
Safe Horizon for its Child Advocacy Center in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island: $826,113
The Safe Center LI (Nassau County): $162,185
Putnam County Department of Social Services: $80,223
Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties: $138,077
Saratoga Center for the Family: $125,121
START Children's Center in Rensselaer County: $153,920
Clinton County District Attorney's Office: $331,340
Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County: $355,535
Oneida County Sheriff's Office: $186,040
Central New York
CAC Foundation in Oswego County: $199,640
Madison County Sheriff's Office: $183,767
McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center (Onondaga County): $199,711
Crime Victims Assistance Center for two centers, one in Broome County, one in Chenango County: $118,097
Family Services of Chemung County: $72,604
Southern Tier Health Care System (Allegany and Cattaraugus counties): $345,630
Cayuga Counseling Services: $8,988 (equipment only)
Genesee County: $65,847
Partnership for Ontario County: $122,000
Western New York
Child and Adolescent Treatment Services in Erie County: $144,447
Friends of the Chautauqua County Child Advocacy Program: $157,129
Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center: $85,622
The Office of Victim Services provides a safety net for individuals and/or their family members who have been victimized through no fault of their own and have no other means of assistance. The agency can compensate individuals for medical and counseling expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages and support, among other assistance. It is a payer of last resort: all other sources of assistance, such as medical insurance and workers' compensation, must be exhausted before the agency can pay a victim or their family members for any out-of-pocket losses related to the crime.
The agency provided a total of $22 million to assist crime victims and their families in 2016, which represents claims paid for the first time last year or those from prior years. New York is the only state in the nation that has no cap on counseling or medical expenses, which means crime victims and family members can receive help as along as it is necessary. Last year, OVS provided compensation to 4,667 children who were the victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect or the subject of child pornography; the vast majority of which were for children who were abused sexually. This represented approximately one-third of all compensation claims paid by the agency in 2016.
OVS also provides $45.5 million in funding to a network of 223 victim assistance programs that serve women, men and children in every county of the state. Funding for crime victims' compensation and the cost of the agency's day-to-day operations comes entirely from the fines, mandatory surcharges and crime victim assistance fees that certain offenders must pay following conviction in New York State or federal courts. Those fines and fees also fund nearly all of the grants provided by OVS to its network of victim assistance programs.
Child Sex Abuse by Afghan Forces Detailed in Classified Report
by Richard Sisk
A government watchdog agency called on the Pentagon on Tuesday to declassify a report alleging the sex abuse of children by Afghan security forces.
The classified section on sex abuse is part of the quarterly report to Congress and the Defense Department by the office of John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
SIGAR said the classified section deals with violations of the so-called "Leahy law," a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act barring U.S. aid to human rights abusers.
The classified section "concerned allegations of sexual abuse of children by members of the Afghan security forces, and discusses the extent to which the U.S. holds Afghan security forces accountable. SIGAR has requested that DOD declassify the report so that it can be released to the public," the SIGAR statement said.
The sexual abuse of children by the Afghan army and police has occasionally led to disciplinary action against U.S. troops who tried to stop it.
In one incident that became the subject of congressional debate in 2015, the Army moved to discharge Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, who admitted to roughing up an Afghan police commander who allegedly sexually abused a young boy.
The discharge was delayed following a phone call on Martland's behalf from Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, to then-Army Secretary John McHugh.
The Army later issued a statement saying, "Out of respect for Chairman Thornberry's continued strong support for our military, and his personal appeal, Secretary McHugh has agreed to postpone Sgt. First Class Martland's discharge from the Army for 60 days to allow him to file an appeal with the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records."
The New York Times reported that in 2011 Martland and Special Forces Capt. Dan Quinn roughed up an Afghan commander who had allegedly sexually abused a boy. Quinn left the Army, and Martland had said he was being forced to retire for intervening.
Quinn later told CNN that in confronting the Afghan commander, "I picked him up, threw him to the ground multiple times and Charles did the same thing. We basically had to make sure that he fully understood that if he ever went near that boy or his mother again, there was going to be hell to pay."
The Army later reversed its decision to discharge Martland.
The State Department, in its annual human rights reports, has consistently said that sexual abuse of children is pervasive in Afghanistan.
In its 2014 report, the State Department said many child sexual abusers are not arrested, and "there were reports security officials and those connected to the ANP [Afghan National Police] raped children with impunity."
In 2012 in southwestern Helmand province, three Marines were killed by a so-called "tea boy" who served an allegedly corrupt Afghan police commander, Sarwar Jan.
The young man gunned down Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr., 21, of Oceanside, N.Y.; Staff Sgt. Scott E. Dickinson, 29, of San Diego; and Cpl. Richard A. Rivera Jr., of Ventura, Calif., at Forward Base Delhi.
The latest SIGAR report came as the White House and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis are preparing a new strategy for Afghanistan that could involve sending more troops to bolster the 8,400 U.S. troops currently serving in America's longest war.
Court system is unfair and traumatic for child sexual abuse victims, inquiry chair says
Justice Peter McClellan says reliance on criminal cross examination damages vulnerable witnesses like children or sexual assault victims
by Calla Wahlquist
The court process is unfair and often traumatic for child victims of sexual abuse, the chair of the royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse has said.
In a speech delivered at a conference in Sydney on Wednesday, Justice Peter McClellan said that reliance on cross examination in criminal trials, which was intended to help juries determine the truth of any particular witnesses' claim, was damaging to vulnerable witnesses like children or victims of sexual abuse.
The royal commission is expected to recommend changes to the trial process when it hands down its final report on 15 December. Among the options being considered, McClellan said, are introducing to all states and territories the Queensland crime of persistent sexual offences, which does not require the victim to recall the details of specific incidents.
Other options under consideration are providing a standard document to all complainants and witnesses explaining the process of giving evidence; introducing victim intermediary schemes; and recommending the further use of special hearings that would allow complainants to give evidence and be cross-examined several months before the jury is empanelled.
McClellan said victims of sexual assault were often “the only source of direct evidence in the trial,” which meant that it was the job of lawyers for the defendant to discredit them.
“Their credibility will loom large in the trial,” he said. “It is almost always the central issue.
“As this audience knows our criminal justice system is designed so that the trial is effectively a contest between the state and the accused, from which there emerges a winner and a loser. There is a real danger that, in the eyes of the community, the legitimacy of the criminal justice system will be undermined if the system is not concerned with revealing the truth as to what really happened but rather the winner of a contest.”
Unless uncovering the truth is at the heart of the process, he said, there was “little encouragement” for survivors to participate.
“Why risk potential re-traumatisation, a risk which materialises in many cases, to merely be a player in a sophisticated lawyers' game?” he said.
Child sexual offences have low rates of conviction. Data from the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found that the conviction rates for all offences in NSW between July 2012 and June 2015, whether by contested hearing or guilty plea, was 89%.
For child sexual offences, the conviction rate was 60%. Only sexual assault against adults, which unlike child sexual offences must deal with the issue of consent, was lower, with a conviction rate of 50%.
McClellan said the mother of one survivor told the royal commission that the trial process “forces parents of child abuse victims to decide between two options. Parents can either expose their children to the trauma of participating in the criminal justice system in order to achieve justice by putting paedophiles in jail to prevent harm to further children. Alternatively, parents can allow paedophiles to remain free in order to prevent the criminal justice system from causing further harm to their own child. In my mind, that will never be a fair and just system.
“There is little encouragement for survivors to participate in the criminal justice system if it does not have truth as its fundamental objective,” McClellan said. “Why risk potential re-traumatisation, a risk which materialises in many cases, to merely be a player in a sophisticated lawyers' game?”
Research produced by the commission also found it was not the most reliable way to get a truthful account from child witnesses.
It found that leading, yes or no questions routinely asked by defence counsel “may impair a witness's ability to recall events as accurately as they might otherwise,” and that the most reliable method for getting a true account was through the free recall of complainants. That meant asking open-ended questions, like “tell me what happened.”
The commission also found that the need for complainants to provide specific details about their sexual assault – the dates, time, location, and what the victim was wearing – was difficult for child victims, particularly those who had sustained repeated abuse and were unable to differentiate between different occasions.
“The result is a cruel paradox: the greater the regularity with which a child is offended against, the more difficult it can become to charge and prosecute the offender,” he said.
McClellan's comments echoed previous research reports by the commission, which have recommended taking a child-focused approach to investigating and preventing sexual abuse.
Los Gatos couple pleads to sexual abuse of their adopted Russian orphan
by Jill Tucker
A Los Gatos couple accused of adopting a 9-year-old Russian orphan before turning him into a sex slave for the remainder of his childhood was convicted Tuesday in a last-minute plea deal that spared the South Bay executives — and their victim — a jury trial.
Ralph and Carolyn Flynn had faced 44 criminal counts, including felony charges of incest, sexual abuse of a child, unlawful sexual intercourse and lewd and lascivious acts.
Ralph Flynn, 73, pleaded no contest in Santa Clara County Superior Court to three felony counts of lewd acts on a child and faces a 24-year sentence in state prison. Carolyn Flynn pleaded no contest to two counts of rape and faces a 12-year sentence.
Both will be required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences and register as sex offenders. Attorneys for the couple could not be reached for comment.
The sexual abuse spanned 10 years, with Ralph Flynn initiating the molestation shortly after his adopted son, Denis, left the Russian orphanage and arrived in the United States. Six years later, Carolyn Flynn began to abuse him as well.
Denis, now 25, shared his story with The Chronicle in 2016, after his parents' arrests, describing the decade he spent as a sex slave in a five-bedroom home on the Lexington Reservoir at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, a Rolls Royce in the garage and a pool out back.
The couple told Denis to keep silent about the assaults and rapes, that what they did was “out of love,” he said. He followed those instructions until he was 19, when he revealed the abuse to a friend and former teachers, who alerted the authorities.
The plea deal came as jury selection loomed Thursday, and was unexpected, Denis said.
“I didn't celebrate or jump for joy or cry,” he said. “My heart relaxed and all this tension I've been carrying all this time evaporated.”
Denis, who works as a massage therapist and lives in the Bay Area, had been bracing himself for months to testify at trial, to relive the horror. Old nightmares returned, he said.
“I was preparing to go to war and go into this battle and now I don't have to,” he said Wednesday. “I am feeling relief and peace after all these years and excited for the future and building my life up.”
Ralph Flynn, a direct-marketing executive, has been jailed since his arrest in 2015, in lieu of $2.5 million bail. His wife, a high-tech executive, remains free on $525,000 bail and is expected to begin her sentence Nov. 2.
According to the 100-page arrest report, Ralph Flynn admitted to investigators that he not only molested Denis, but decades earlier had adopted another boy and sexually abused him as well. The report included detailed accounts of the abuse.
Both Denis and the other boy told detectives that their adoptive mothers — Flynn's first and second wives — participated in the molestation. Charges in the first case could not be filed because of California's statute of limitations.
Santa Clara County prosecutor Oanh Tran said the last-minute pleas took her by surprise. She had expected the trial to last three to four weeks, requiring Denis to testify in detail about the abuse and face two cross-examinations, one from each defense attorney representing his adoptive parents.
He won't have to go through that, Tran said.
“I'm really happy that Denis is getting justice,” she said. “I'm happy that Ralph and Carolyn both took accountability for what they did.”
Senate Crackdown on Online Sex Trafficking Hits Opposition
by Emily Cochrane
WASHINGTON — The Senate's latest effort to crack down on online sex trafficking is designed for success. Proposed legislation has an unassailable title, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, and bipartisan support. And it targets websites that knowingly facilitate the work of sexual predators online.
But the bill is running into vigorous opposition from technology companies and digital rights groups alarmed at the potential infringement of online speech.
So far, the bill, which would amend the Communications Decency Act, is sponsored by Senator Rob Portman , Republican of Ohio, and a group of 26 other senators, including eight Democrats.
It follows the culmination of a two-year Senate investigation led by Mr. Portman into Backpage.com, a classified advertisement website notorious for prostitution and trafficking ads.
“Finally, victims of human trafficking are going to see justice when we get this passed, and that's really important to many of us who have been following this,” said Mr. Portman, chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. This summer, the committee recommended that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into the website's connection to online sex trafficking, citing evidence that Backpage employees were instructed to delete flagged words indicative of trafficking — “Lolita,” “rape,” and “teenage” among them — before publishing the advertisements online.
In federal and state investigations, Backpage has successfully cited as a defense Section 230 of the decency act, which says that websites cannot “be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
If passed, the Portman bill would clarify that Section 230 cannot shield a website from federal trafficking laws. It would also impose liability for knowingly assisting and facilitating online sex trafficking, and allow civil suits related to sex trafficking.
Backpage.com officials did not respond to requests for comment. The website announced in January that it had formally closed its adult section after the Senate investigation found that employers “knowingly facilitated the criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls,” but trafficking advertisements have been reported in the website's dating section .
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which praised the bill in a letter to senators this week, reported that 73 percent of reported sex trafficking was traced through advertisements on websites like Backpage.
However, some lawyers and members of the technology community say that while they support the policing of websites that knowingly encourage sex trafficking, the broad language of the bill opens other online entities to new legal challenges. With the potential for lawsuits, there is concern that websites would begin to actively and pre-emptively delete and police users' posts and videos.
A similar bill introduced in the House in April, which would not only modify the decency act but create harsher penalties for providers found to have had knowledge of sex trafficking, has been criticized for being even broader than the Senate bill.
“It would be good for the drafters of the bill to engage seriously with the nontrivial objections that are meant to support freedom of expression online, and it's not freedom of expression to sex traffic,” said Jonathan L. Zittrain, a professor of internet law at Harvard, emphasizing that critics were not arguing against prosecuting websites like Backpage.
“They are worried about sites that don't resemble Backpage at all running into trouble if the immunity is lifted,” he said. Like many other critics of the bill, Mr. Zittrain said he would prefer narrower language or the chance to prosecute websites under current legislation, including the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act of 2015.
And despite the strong bipartisan support in Congress, the bill will have to overcome dissent from other lawmakers and Silicon Valley executives concerned about freedom of speech on the internet.
But Senate staff members involved in the bill's development said that they had made an effort to work with tech companies concerned about modifying the decency act. “We did our due diligence, met these folks on a bipartisan basis for months, and yet they offered no constructive feedback,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Mr. Portman. “It's sad that they'd oppose a narrowly crafted, two-page bill to help stop online sex trafficking of women and children.”
Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, who was partially responsible for the inclusion of Section 230 in the decency act while serving in the House, said the bill was “yet another example of the technical ignorance of Congress threatening the jobs, lives and economic opportunities of millions of Americans.”
“This bill will make it less likely that tech companies help the victims this bill is meant to protect,” he said Tuesday in a statement.
Michael Beckerman, president and chief executive of the Internet Association, a trade group that represents major online companies, said in a statement that the bill would create “a new wave of frivolous and unpredictable actions against legitimate companies rather than addressing underlying criminal behavior.”
Mr. Portman said such criticism of the bill's language was unfounded. “It seems like a stretch to me,” he said, adding that he felt the bill clearly targeted companies complicit in trafficking.
“The alternative is not to do nothing and allow these girls and women to continue to get thwarted in every effort they make to seek justice,” he said.
In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday night, Mr. Portman argued that the bill preserved the decency act's “good Samaritan” provision, which protects websites that regulate their content.
“This provision simply protects good actors who proactively block or screen for offensive material and thus shields them from any frivolous lawsuits,” he said.
For Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland, the bill's language — in particular phrases like “assist, support or facilitate sex trafficking” and “conduct violates federal criminal law” — are too vague in defining what constitutes facilitation and violation. While she supports modest change to the statute, she said she would rather see the courts re-evaluate their interpretation of the law's specific language.
Critics also say the bill opens up websites to potential prosecution by states, a change that could force sites to make costly modifications to meet state laws or expose them to expensive litigation if a law is changed or accidentally ignored, said Corynne McSherry, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates civil liberties online.
It is a cost that tech giants like Google, YouTube and Twitter can handle, but that would likely stifle the development of new and smaller websites.
“I worry about the next Google, the next Twitter, the next emerging platform that we would grow to love,” Ms. McSherry said, “but it'll never exist because that platform, that business would never get off the ground.”
1,020 charged in national sex trafficking sting; 141 in Cook County
by The Chicago Sun Times
More than 1,000 people were arrested—including 141 people in Cook County—in a national sex trafficking sting that started in June, authorities announced Wednesday.
The National Johns Suppression Initiative ran its 14th operation from June 28-July 31, according to the Cook County sheriff's office. The operation involved 37 law enforcement agencies from 17 states and resulted in the arrest of at least 1,020 sex buyers.
Of those arrested, 15 are facing trafficking-related charges, the sheriff's office said.
In Cook County, 141 people were arrested, including three pimps, the sheriff's office said. Twelve sex buyers were arrested in Broadview, 15 in Lansing; 18 in Matteson, eight in Rosemont, and five in Arlington Heights.
Additionally, 19 sex buyers were arrested in Lake County, the sheriff's office said.
Three brothels were shut down in Cook County by the sheriff's office and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the sheriff's office said. Three people were charged with operating brothels and four others were charged with patronizing them. Six adult victims were offered help.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said in a statement that his office would ask the Cook County Board to pass an ordinance creating a publicly searchable database listing the names of sex buyers caught multiple times.
Police: Plane passenger helps cops bust 2 people texting about molesting kids
by Carma Hassan and Joe Sterling
If you see something, say something.
A woman on a Seattle-to-San Jose flight this week took that law enforcement mantra to heart when she spotted a fellow passenger allegedly texting about sexually molesting children, the San Jose police said.
She immediately alerted the crew, leading police to arrest a man and a woman on charges of sexually exploiting minors.
"I'd like to highlight that if it wasn't for this particular passenger taking action to alert the staff and alert the police, this catastrophic event would have been horrific," San Jose Police Sgt. Brian Spears told CNN.
The incident unfolded Monday on a Southwest Airlines flight.
The woman, who's an early childhood educator, saw a male passenger seated in front of her texting the material, the San Jose police said.
Spears told CNN the passenger was able to take photos of the man's text conversation because the font and screen were large.
The texts, Spears said, were "extremely disturbing."
The woman told the flight crew, and a crew member summoned police working at the Mineta San Jose International Airport on landing.
Officers detained Michael Kellar, 56, of Tacoma, Washington, according to San Jose police.
The San Jose Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) and the FBI in San Jose responded. The task force arrested Kellar.
He was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail in California on two counts of attempt child molestation and two counts of solicitation of a sex crime, San Jose police said..
The detectives looked at the man's phone and found the text messaging recipient -- a woman in the Tacoma area, Seattle police said.
Seattle police said there was "information that the woman had access to the children either as a caregiver or a babysitter."
Investigators tracked the woman down to a residence in the Tacoma, Washington, area.
She lived there with her ex-husband, his wife and three children, police said.
"The detective obtained search warrants for the Tacoma home and the residence of the male suspect," Seattle police said.
Children now safe
The woman has been identified as Gail Burnworth, 50, according to San Jose police.
She had been booked into the Pierce County jail in Washington for sexual exploitation of a minor, rape of a child 1st degree and dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, San Jose police said. The county corrections website on Friday listed her as no longer in custody.
San Jose police said two young children has been identified as victims and that they are now safe.
Attempts by CNN to reach the attorneys for the accused have been unsuccessful.
The King County Prosecutor's Office in Washington is reviewing the case for charges in Washington state and it is talking with the US Attorney's Office to assess whether federal charges would apply.
Children allegedly raped and beaten at Beecholme children's home in Banstead
by Craig Simpson
Police are investigating allegations of systematic sexual abuse at a children's home in Banstead where, it is alleged, children were repeatedly raped and abused by groups of men.
Former residents have described Beecholme children's home, which stood in Fir Tree Road but has now been demolished, as a "hell" of sexual and physical abuse suffered by vulnerable young children in what they claim was a culture of fear, violence and humiliation.
Among other torments it is alleged that young children were plucked from their beds to face repeated rape and group abuse at the hands of adults.
The site was known as a "children's village" due to its sprawling nature, with children separated into a number of different houses.
Surrey Police has confirmed it is investigating alleged abuse between 1957 and 1974. A spokeswoman referred to them as "non-recent allegations" and said: "Enquiries are ongoing."
The home was run from 1930 by London County Council, which no longer exists, and later by Wandsworth Borough Council, from 1965 until it closed in 1974.
The borough council, which demolished Beecholme in 1975, has declined to comment on the allegations.
There are fears from former residents that the history of alleged sexual abuse has been "buried". A number of local historians found, when looking into the history of Banstead and the home itself, that many of the records about staff who worked there and other adults associated with it were destroyed when it was demolished.
This makes tracing those people who worked and visited even harder.
One man who alleges that he was repeatedly abused over two years says he is still scarred by what he claims happened.
Graeme Sergeant has waived his right to anonymity as an alleged victim of sexual abuse to speak out.
The 61-year-old, who grew up in Wandsworth before being taken to Beecholme in 1960, said: "My life was ruined 57 years ago. You think you are going into fairyland but in fact you are going into hell.
"It was painted as this ideal place but it holds dark secrets. Beecholme was full of dark, dirty secrets. It was evil. It was sick. It was systematic.
"I think hundreds of kids could have been abused. It was so widespread. There was a culture of fear.
"Within two to three months of going there it started.
"I was dragged out of bed and put in a cupboard, then paraded around naked. Then I was taken into another room and things happened. I don't like to talk about it."
Graeme claims that, as a boy, he was was forced to perform sex acts on adult men while others watched.
"I was given a belt around the ear then taken back to bed," he continued. "I was abused dozens of times in the two years I was there."
Graeme was in Drake House, one of 23 named houses on the vast Beecholme site, which were each home to dozens of children. Ages ranged from infants to teenagers.
The site, built in 1880, was designed to provide idyllic "cottage homes" for vulnerable children from London slums. The city's old county council took over after the 'poor law' was abolished in 1930. The series of homes were operated under the name Beecholme from 1951.
So far, it is understood, abuse is alleged to have taken place within four separate houses by victims who have come forward and were unknown to each other.
Whole families of siblings could be sent to Beecholme, and could be forced to face abuse together, according to survivors.
Surrey Police's investigation has reportedly reached three continents with enquiries being made in Australia, Canada and Ireland.
Accusations of sexual assault and humiliation have been levelled at "strangers", who victims did not recognise as staff, as well as older teenagers at the home.
Staff have been accused of beating and violently punishing children, and of complicity or indifference over the alleged sexual abuse.
There are links between Beecholme and known paedophiles.
There were reports from the Department for Education in 2014 that Jimmy Saville visited Beecholme during the timescale police are investigating.
Beecholme also has direct links to those accused or convicted of abuse at another children's home.
Convicted paedophile William Hook was sentenced in 2001 for child abuse, including targeting one victim at Beecholme while working as a swimming instructor. Other victims who brought charges against him were at the notorious Shirley Oaks children's home in Croydon.
Shirley Oaks was overseen from 1952-64 by Clifford Heap, who was accused by survivors at the home of being complicit in sexual abuse.
Before this Heap had set up and run a Boy Scout's group at Beecholme in January 1952.
Another former Beecholme resident, who cannot be named for legal reason, claims he was just seven when he arrived there in 1952.
The resident, holding back tears as he recalled the alleged abuse, said: "I've still not got over it, it's still playing on my mind. I'm 71 and it's still there.
"I was woken up in bed and I was put in a blindfold and I was taken downstairs and I could hear men's voices, voices I had never heard before. They were talking about what they were going to do.
"They interfered with me."
The then seven-year-old claims he was raped and forced to perform sex acts, before being beaten and taken back to bed.
"There could have been three, four or five people in the room," he said.
"And it was not just me that was taken downstairs. Other boys were taken out of bed by adults. And they shouldn't even have been around. It was late at night.
"There were seven boys [abused in his dormitory], including me. I used to stay awake for hours wondering if I was going to be taken again.
"When it was another boy I was relieved - I hate myself for that."
Children 'were told they were lying'
Each house were run by an "aunt and uncle" pair, with the whole site overseen by a superintendent and a matron.
When the seven-year-old, who cannot be named, told an "aunt" about what he was enduring, he claims he was told that "children who tell lies go to bad places".
Within weeks of him making the allegation, he says he was moved out of Beecholme to another children's home.
This fed what former residents have called a "culture of fear" and of "violence and humiliation", where children were allegedly afraid to speak out and abuse went unreported.
Alleged victims have claimed that "telling fantastic stories", as it was labelled, was severely punished.
The former resident says he tried to report the abuse in 2013, but claims Surrey Police did not take a statement.
The force has refused to comment further, but is not under investigation itself for its handling of any allegations according the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
'It was all about survival'
Another former resident, who cannot be named, claims that dealing with his secret history of abuse took him to the verge of suicide.
He said: "I was 12 years old, it was 1962. There was sexual and physical abuse. I was in Fir House. As soon as those doors were shut, that's when it started.
"Soon it was all about survival. Older boys, they used to follow us into the toilets and make us do things.
"Everyone knew this went on. Nothing was done."
He says he was beaten and punished relentlessly by staff, who refused to act on accusations of sexual assault.
He and other alleged victims are now relieved their suffering is finally being acknowledged by some authorities, and it is hoped that more of the potential "hundreds" of alleged survivors of abuse at Beecholme will come forward.
A group known as Beecholme Survivors has been set up to support former residents who claim they were abused. They can be contacted by visiting https://twitter.com/Beecholme12 .
Surrey Police has said it will investigate all allegations fully.
A spokeswoman for the force said: "Surrey Police takes all allegations of sexual assault extremely seriously and any allegations made against individuals will be investigated thoroughly, whether they are current or historic.
"The force has a dedicated team of officers who investigate public protection matters and we would encourage any victims or anyone who has concerns about potential sexual abuse to contact us."
Catholic Church Embroiled In Nearly 100 Lawsuits Over Sexual Abuse In Guam
by Joshua Gill
Nearly 100 lawsuits alleging sexual abuses over four decades were filed against the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America in Guam, beginning in 2016.
Ninety-six lawsuits named the Archdiocese of Agana as a defendant, while 52 lawsuits named the Boy Scouts of America as a codefendant for enabling the priests to continue their abuse, according to a Friday report from USA Today's Pacific Daily News (PDF). The allegations of sexual abuse span from 1955 to 1994, and involve an archbishop, 13 priest (one of whom was also a Boy Scout leader), and a janitor and a teacher from a Catholic school.
The population of Guam, a U.S. island territory, is 85 percent Catholic, with a total of 26 parishes on the island. The ongoing legal battle bears echoes of the Boston sex abuse scandal uncovered in 2002 by the Boston Globe, but Guam's scandal goes deeper. Guam has a population of fewer than 163,000, with 59 lawsuits per 100,000 people in this case, compared to 12 lawsuits per 100,000 in the Boston scandal. The Catholic church's influence in Guam goes far beyond the walls of the cathedrals, as certain priests allegedly wield political power rivaled only by the local military.
Many of the instances of sexual abuse alleged in these lawsuits previously went unreported, as the defendants allegedly used their positions as figures of spiritual and political authority to prey on vulnerable children. Those allegedly abused said the piety of the local population and the threat of retribution from their local church authorities discouraged them from telling anyone.
“I thought about it a million times, but I was scared to tell them, especially my mom,” a man identified as R.B. told the PDF. “She's a die-hard Catholic. If I tell her a priest did that to me, I don't think she would believe me.”
Joelle Casteix, regional director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said alleged victims of abuse in Guam were silenced by threats of alienation from their community, loss of jobs, and threats against their family members. Casteix first traveled to Guam in 2009 after one of the priests' alleged victims called her.
“I was told outright that victims were scared that they would be shunned from their families, kicked out of the church, lose their jobs, or that by speaking out against the church or Apuron, they would threaten the financial security of their loved ones,” Casteix said. “No one wanted to be seen with me, not even the tipster who initially called me. I was told that the church was the most powerful entity on the island, outside of the military.”
Foremost among the alleged threats to the victims was Archbishop Anthony Apuron, whom Pope Francis suspended in 2016. Apuron actively influenced the politics of Guam, allegedly demanding that bishops under his authority vote on legislation in whatever way supported his own views, even threatening to excommunicate those who did not vote as he did in the case of a proposed law against abortion.
Four former altar boys accused Apuron of sexual abuse. Apuron has also come under fire for his alleged mismanagement of church funds and real estate. No one came forward against Apuron until 2016, when the Guam legislature retroactively lifted the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse.
The potential repercussions of crossing Apuron were allegedly astronomical before his suspension by Francis, according to Casteix.
“Messing with Apuron was worse than messing with God,” Casteix said.
Benjamin Cruz, Guam Legislature Speaker and former Guam Supreme Court justice, said that characterization of Apuron was accurate.
“He, as archbishop, had immense power,” Cruz said.
The Vatican is trying Apuron in a rare canonical trial. Apuron could be dismissed from the clergy as a result of the trial. An advocate for abuse victims, Dominican priest Tom Doyle said the Vatican's trying of Apuron is “very, very rare, and the reason it's rare is because the Vatican or the popes have protected the bishops. They consider them to be the most important part of the church, so they protect them, no matter what they've done.”
Fifty-five of the lawsuits named Father Louis Brouillard, who was also a scoutmaster, as an alleged abuser, to which Brouillard has admitted abusing at least 20 boys. In one instance, a victim identified as S.A.F. alleged in his lawsuit that Brouillard told him in 1975 “If you tell anyone, no one will believe you because I am a priest.”
The Catholic Church still pays Brouillard a $550 monthly stipend, according to USA Today.
“The archdiocese takes sexual abuse very seriously,” the Archdiocese of Agana said in a July 28 statement published by Pacific Island Times. “We care deeply about every person who steps forward and we look forward to a full resolution of all cases.”
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our youth members, and the behavior included in these allegations runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands,” said Jeff Sulzbach, CEO of the BSA's Aloha Council, in a statement published by Kuam News. “The Boy Scouts of America extends its deepest sympathies to any person who has been hurt by child sexual abuse.”
The BSA has developed training for adult leaders and safeguards specifically designed to prevent abuse of youth members , including background checks, rules strictly dictating the amount of physical contact allowed between adult leaders and members, mandating that youth members cannot be supervised by less than two leaders, and mandatory reporting of instances of abuse.
Messaging app Kik reportedly has a child abuse problem
It's apparently doing little to stop it
by Saqib Shah
Kik is the "de-facto" app for grooming children online, alleges a new video report . What's more, the messaging platform (which is primarily home to teens) is apparently allowing child exploitation to continue unchecked. It's allegedly not even taking down the profiles of accused or convicted pedophiles, according to the joint investigation by Point and Forbes . The app currently counts 300 million users among its ranks, and claims it reaches 40 percent of teens in the US.
As part of their report, Jay McGregor and Thomas Fox-Brewster set up a handful of fake Kik accounts. Posing as a 14-year-old girl (whose age was clearly displayed on her profile), they claim they received a barrage of messages from older men. This after joining just a few public groups -- including one they stumbled upon after it was recommended by one of the company's own bots. One man, who "appeared to be in his forties," sent a message using sexually explicit language. When they used a third-party app to find more followers, the messages spiked to over a hundred. Many of them contained "aggressive sexual content," and even pictures of male genitalia.
The sign-up process on Kik is extremely straightforward. The platform revolves around usernames -- there's no need for a phone number, Facebook link, or any other form of identity verification. The app allegedly has no preventative measures in place to stop younger users from direct messaging other public group members, and vice versa (regardless of age). It also apparently has no barrier that blocks underage members from viewing obscene images and material.
Individual child abuse cases facilitated via Kik have appeared in the media in the past. As recently as June, a convicted child molester described the app as a "predator's paradise" to CBS News ' 48 Hours . For its part, the platform claims it is "increasing its investment" in regards to safety. Yet, the findings in the report contradict the safety measures it lists on its website. In its " guide for law enforcement ," for example, it claims it deletes accounts associated with individuals convicted of an offence that involved the "inappropriate" use of its app.
Speaking to Engadget, McGregor said the following: "Kik told us that it doesn't proactively remove accounts of people that have been charged with an offence, because that assumes guilt, which is right. But it did admit that it will do a better job of removing profiles of convicted pedophiles." He added: "I can't think of any reason, other than incompetence, for why profiles of convicted offenders hadn't been removed."
However, Kik is vocal about its cooperation with law enforcement. The company holds seminars with the police, provides training videos on how to use its app, and claims it hands over suspect data. According to the report, this suggests Kik encourages law enforcement using the app as a "honeypot to sting pedophiles." A court document shown in the report also quotes a police officer as stating that the app is "frequently used by individuals who trade child pornography."
In an email, Kik told Engadget it takes safety seriously, but has "work to do on this front...every company does." Its full statement can be read below:
We take online safety very seriously, and we're constantly assessing and improving our trust and safety measures.
There are two ways we do this. One is through technology and constant improvements to the product itself. We encourage users to report content that they believe violates the Kik Terms of Service and Community Standards . Users are also able to Block other users they no longer wish to chat with, or ignore chats from people that they don't know. Actions are taken against users found to have violated Kik's Community Standards and TOS, including removal from the Kik platform where circumstances warrant.
The other is through education and partnerships with organizations that help adults and teens understand the challenges of today's online landscape and how to avoid bad situations. For years, we've had teams dedicated to this, and we will continue to invest in those types of tools, provide resources to parents , and strengthen relationships with law enforcement and safety-focused organizations .
This is a priority for us. We want all users to be safe on Kik and will continue to make Kik a safe, positive and productive place for our users to interact.
How to talk to your children about sex abuse 'early and often'
by Mary Bowerman
(USA TODAY) - When it comes to talking to your children about sex abuse, the motto should be start "early and often," according to Kimberlee D. Norris, co-founder of nationwide litigation practice, Love + Norris, which represents victims of child sexual abuse.
In many sexual abuse cases, the abuser is someone the child knows, and the parents may trust — like a coach, a priest, a family member or even another child. Recently, an investigation by the USA TODAY Network's Pacific Daily News unearthed nearly 100 lawsuits alleging assault, manipulation and intimidation of children by Catholic priests on the tiny, remote U.S. territory of Guam.
"The risk is anywhere that we gather children in any context," Norris said. "For the preferential offender who prefers a child as a sexual partner, any activity that gathers children becomes an attractive target."
But how do parents broach the subject of sexual abuse with their children?
It doesn't have to be an emotional sit-down talk about sex abuse, according to Shannon Self-Brown, a professor Georgia Statue University , and child clinical psychologist.
“There are things you can do from the moment you have your child that really start communicating about healthy relationships and boundaries with your body,” she said.
Here are a few tips about how to talk to your child about sexual abuse:
Use the correct terms for body parts
It may make you feel more comfortable to call your daughter's vagina a coo-coo, and your son's penis a pee-pee, but you should call their private parts by their correct name from the get-go.
“That way your child isn't learning there is any shame or anything to be embarrassed about with their genitals or private parts,” Self-Brown said.
Talk to your child about touch
Norris said that all abusive circumstances begin with barrier testing, when the abuser tries to figure out what the child will allow in terms of physical touch and "erode the sense of what is appropriate by repeated touch."
Parents should let their children know that there are people, and sometimes even relatives or those close to us, who have the wrong motive when they touch.
"You don't have to go into it in great length, but let your child know any place your bathing suite covers is only for you," Norris said.
You should continue to reiterate that your child's private parts belong to them and them alone, according to Alice Sterling Honig, a Professor Emerita of Child Development in the Department of Child and Family Studies at Syracuse University.
Honig said parents can tell their children: “[Private parts] are supposed to be covered up when you are dressed, and no one should touch your privates except you, and you shouldn't touch anyone else's private parts,” Honig said. “It's not right for grownups to fondle your private parts even if they say they love you, and it's never right for grownups to get you to touch their private parts.”
Explain that people may try to trick or bribe them
Parents should explain to their children that people may try to trick them in order to harm them, according to Honig. A trick could be something as simple as a stranger saying that they have a present in their car, or a coach touching an athlete inappropriately and telling them that they will harm their family if they tell.
Honig said it's important to let children know that they need to tell an adult if something that makes them uncomfortable happens, even if they promised not to tell.
"You have to tell someone if somebody is doing something wrong to your body," Honig said. "Even if it feels good and you're told not to tell anybody, or if a person says I am going to hurt your mom and daddy, and even if you promise that person never to tell, it's never wrong to break that promise."
Yeah, it's awkward, but you should talk to your kids about sex
Think your child in late-elementary school or middle school doesn't know the basics about sex? Think again.
Norris said many parents put off "the talk" with their kids until later, so it becomes a "weird, awkward" conversation where the child doesn't want to talk about sex and becomes hesitant to bring it up to their parents if something happens.
"Part of the solution is making conversation about sexual topics early on happen in a natural way, so it's not happening in this strange, bizarre, unnatural way with a child," she said. "And just keeping the communication pathway open about every subject matter."
In circumstances where abuse may have occurred, parents many times find out because they asked the child if something was going on, or asked if they needed to tell them anything, Norris said.
She said parents can find ways to educate their children about sex at an early age by using real-life situations.
"My child was 3 and a half ... when we had a cat that adopted us in the neighborhood, and she had kittens and it was a great opportunity to talk about mommies and daddies and where kittens come from," she said. "Communicating early on about sex-ed with real names of body parts and communicating that you have the right to determine who you are physically affectionate with and you have the right to say no."
Don't force your child to give physical affection if they are uncomfortable
Physical interaction should never be forced on a child, Self-Brown said.
“When introducing a child to new people don't force them to give a hug to someone they just met,” Self-Brown said. “There are subtle modeling things important in communicating to children that their body belongs to them and they don't have to go along with things adults tell them to if they don't feel comfortable.”
For more on symptoms that a child may be victim of abuse visit StopItNow.org.
Supporters of sexual abusers send damaging, confusing message to kids
by Kate Ryan
WASHINGTON — More than two dozen people showed up at the sentencing of a teacher convicted of sexually abusing children at the school where he worked.
But they weren't there to support the children.
They were there to support 50-year-old John Vigna, who'd just been sentenced to 48 years behind bars. They wore white T-shirts that said “#VignaStrong.”
Jennifer Alvaro, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked treating child sex offenders, said that kind of demonstration of support for an accused (and even a convicted) abuser is not uncommon, especially in high-profile cases.
“When prominent people are found to have committed child sexual abuse, there's often supporters who come out to support the offender, not the victims.”
Alvaro said that people who abuse children put themselves in positions where they have access to children, and they work to gain trust. “The way people get access to children is by grooming the adults around the child. Making people believe they're a good person, they're a kind person, they're a helpful person, they're safe to have around children.”
The more prominent a person is in a community, the less likely it is that people will believe the victims, and the more likely it is that people will believe the offender, Alvaro said.
People close to the offender suffer from a kind of cognitive dissonance, she said: How can a person who seems so good do something that is so deeply disturbing?
These cases, she said, leave those close to the offender asking themselves how they could possibly have misjudged that person.
One of the greatest indicators of how well a victim of child abuse or sexual abuse will do in the future, Alvaro said, is whether they were believed when they came forward to tell someone they'd been abused. When children see adults rally around someone convicted of abuse, it's confusing and damaging, she said.
“The children who are victimized by the offender are then revictimized,” Alvaro said.
A guide on how to talk to children about sexual abuse adapted from the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists and “Stop It Now!” includes advice for adults, urging them to take seriously a child's reports of abuse.
According to the guide, an adult's message to a child should be, “I will always believe you.”
That guide appears in a link on the website of Cloverly Elementary , where Vigna taught for more than two decades.