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"News of the Week"  

September, 2017 - Week 2
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


Hurricane Irma: Florida sheiff who threatened arrests at shelters is sued

by Krista Torralva and Steven Lemongello

A man who claims he was denied entry to a shelter unless he underwent a background check is suing Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who got national attention after saying on Twitter he would jail anyone with an outstanding warrant who tried to seek shelter from Hurricane Irma.

Judd called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said he would not change his policy.

The sheriff said his stance was to prevent registered sex offenders from entering shelters. But the suit filed by immigrant rights group Nexus Services states Florida driver's licenses already clearly mark someone as a sex offender. They claim the policy was discriminatory and violates Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.

The suit, which attorney Cynthia Conlin said was electronically filed Sunday but hadn't yet been processed by the 10th Judicial Circuit Court, claims Andres Borreno of Virginia was told by Polk County deputies he would have to submit to a criminal background check before he was able to enter a shelter Saturday. The suit doesn't say if Borreno had an outstanding warrant.

“The officer … also never told Borreno that he was suspected of any crime or illegal act at that time,” the suit states. “Criminal suspicion is not raised by trying to enter an emergency shelter to save one's life and the life of family members.”

Judd said Sunday “They filed that lawsuit for free press and it's obviously frivolous. I have a nationwide profile and they see it as an opportunity for nationwide press.”

Judd said Borreno wasn't treated differently than others seeking shelter. He was offered shelter at the jail and was offered a ride. Judd said he didn't know if Borreno went to the shelter.

“We check everyone who comes to a shelter to ensure they aren't a sexual predator or a child sexual offender,” he said. “We are absolutely not going to let a sexual predator or a child sexual offender sleep next to a child in a storm shelter.”

Judd said Sunday 43 sex offenders in Polk County were being sheltered in an area of the jail that is not behind bars, and they are not in custody.


United Kingdom

The young paedophiles who say they don't abuse children

Some paedophiles say they would never abuse children. But what support is there for people like this and how should society treat them to prevent abuse happening?

by Catherine Burns

Adam messaged a few days before we were due to meet for the first time.

I'll let you know what colour top i'm wearing or something so you can recognise me. Although I'll just be the creepy looking guy :D lol.

It was the kind of place that would be packed full of people enjoying two-for-one cocktails on Saturday nights, but Adam just wanted tap water.

He was clearly nervous.

In his early 20s, but he could pass for younger. Slight and fresh-faced. Brown hair, clear skin and softly spoken. Not "creepy looking" at all.

He describes himself as "normal" and says he likes to hang out with friends, go travelling and play video games. On the surface, it's hard to argue with his self-description.

But he has a secret.

"Adam" isn't his real name. He didn't want us to use that, though he insists he's never done anything illegal.

But he is a paedophile.

That term is widely used today. It's used interchangeably with child sex abuser by the public - you can find it in many news reports describing the actions of molesters.

But academics use the term differently. In the DSM-5, the manual issued by the American Psychiatric Association, and used by psychiatrists across the world, paedophilia is listed as a "paraphilic disorder".

Effectively, it is defined as a form of mental health condition where an adult has a primary sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children.

It doesn't mean that they have abused children, and in fact, psychiatrists and criminologists believe that not all child abusers are paedophiles. Many are motivated by a desire for power or control.

People like Adam refer to themselves as "anti-contact" paedophiles. They recognise their own attraction to children but understand that is wrong to abuse them.

Adam first realised that there was something different about him when he was 13. His friends suddenly started talking about girls and he just wasn't interested.

He couldn't reveal the truth. He didn't think about girls at all, but about boys who were younger than him.

At that stage, the age gap wasn't dramatic, just a few years.

"As I got older, the age stayed the same and got even younger really."

Adam spent the next few years doing what almost every teenager does - trying to fit in.

When he describes this period, his words come out in a rush. "I felt isolated. I tried to hide it, just tried to ignore it, pretend it wasn't there, pretend I was normal, concentrate on my schoolwork, concentrate on playing football."

Deciding to lie, he pretended to like a girl in his class. Adam knew enough to pick someone who was considered pretty. As he was so shy, no-one really questioned why he didn't ever ask her or anybody else on a date.

But Adam wasn't yet at a point where he thought of himself as a paedophile.

"I thought I was too young, really. I thought paedophiles were old men who looked at children."

This has elements of truth in it. The APA says only people aged 16 or older can be classified as paedophiles. There must also be an age gap of five years or more between the subject and the children they are attracted to.

Prof Derek Perkins is a consultant forensic psychologist and has set up treatment programmes for sexual offenders.

"It's a recognised mental disorder and it's something that people don't choose to have. It's a condition in the same way that someone might have depression or ADHD.

"A lot of people are able to manage it without acting on it."

By the time Adam got to 17, he'd spent four years trying to ignore his feelings about children. Realising this wasn't something he would grow out of, he decided to try to "solve it".

When he talks about this time in his life, the word he uses most is "scared".

The other word that comes back is "normal". He repeats it as he explains that he had always wanted to have a wife and children one day.

But something made him realise this just wasn't possible.

"I got really worried that I'd end up hurting a child and go to prison. My life would be over."

There's a growing body of research into young paedophiles like him, including those who have never been through the legal system.

People like Adam have started to form online forums and chat groups where they discuss their struggle.

Many of them, including Adam, dislike the word "paedophile" because of the way the media uses it interchangeably with "child rapist" or "child abuser".

Instead, he refers to himself as an "MAP", which stands for "minor-attracted person".

Adam seems likeable on the surface. It would be easy to assume he is merely manipulative, trying to project a nice-guy image. I can't speak to his innermost motivation, but I don't think that's the case.

When we first met, I asked him to show me photo ID to prove his real name and age. The picture was a few years old, and he had a dodgy haircut. He was able to tease himself for how outdated it looked.

He is invariably polite and keen to highlight his intelligence. He mentions that he went to a good university and talks about compliments from his boss.

But it's clear he is not a naturally confident person and doesn't find it comfortable speaking to a journalist. He even gets nervous about dealing with public transport.

I should say now I am very introverted etc, so at least half the problem isn't me actually trusting you, it's me actually having the courage to meet a stranger to talk to.

Was he ever tempted to act on his attraction during puberty?

"I was too shy to do anything, anyway, with anyone. Even if I wasn't a paedophile."

Adam wants to speak to out, he says, because he wants to protect children.

He explains that he gets "so upset" when he sees stories about child abuse on the news: "I'm doing this so that some people will stop that."

Adam is very firm on this point. He says he has never abused a child, either online or in person.

He doesn't even wait until the end of the question before replying emphatically: "I would never. I'd never do that."

There's not an ounce of hesitation. He sits upright and doesn't slouch or fidget. He says he would kill himself before hurting a child.

And yet when he is asked about the precise nature of his attraction, he starts to become uncomfortable.

He squirms, stammers and clams up. He can't get the words out and the conversation moves on.

He admits to having "crushes" on young boys but he says he works hard to distract himself.

In a message, Adam explains his "age of attraction".

Sorry for not being able to answer when you asked the ages, it's something I was dreading you asking … I hope you understand. My aoa is 1-15, but the emotional side is a lot stronger than the physical side with the lower ages.

In person, he uses almost the exact same phrase.

"My age of attraction is one to 15 but as they get younger the emotional attraction is more prominent."

He picks his words carefully, pausing before speaking.

By this stage, I had built up a relationship with him. He had opened up about the isolation of his teenage years and his firm resolve to never abuse children.

It's difficult to hear him talking about an attraction for very young children.

"I don't really think of a toddler in much of a sexual way, but rather, I want to cuddle one and make sure they're happy. That is mainly it with younger children."

It's hard to avoid being unsettled by this - and that sense of what is not being said, especially with the qualifiers "much of a sexual way" and "mainly it".

He tries to clarify: "If you're a parent and you have a toddler, you cuddle them, kiss them, make sure they're fed and safe and happy. And that's kind of the same feeling, but I just get it with all children. Or boys."

But most people want to make sure children are safe and happy.

After a slight hesitation, he replies that there is obviously "some slight attraction" but that it is drowned out by his emotional response.

There's some debate about the numbers, but it's estimated that between 1% and 5% of men have some form of sexual interest in children.

There do exist a small number of female sex offenders, but it is unknown how many of them might be genuine paedophiles. Although there clearly are women who molest children, a large proportion do so in conjunction with a male offender.

Some paedophiles are exclusively attracted to children. Others are also drawn to adults and have "normal" relationships with their peers.

Adam wishes he was attracted to adults but he just isn't.

What has made him like this?

It was long thought that paedophiles had typically been abused or had a traumatic event in their own childhoods.

But Canadian clinical psychologist James Cantor argues that paedophilia is down to "cross-wiring" in the brain.

He looked at MRI scans of paedophiles and found that they had less white matter, which links parts of the brain together.

Cantor thinks the key is how the brain is formed in the early stages of pregnancy.

"The dream is to prevent it before the paedophile is even born."

Despite his dedication to avoiding contact with children, there was a period when Adam wavered.

At about the age of 18, Adam came across "pro-contact" paedophiles online. They told him that "having sexual contact with children is OK, that there's nothing wrong with it and that it doesn't harm the child".

He wanted to believe them.

Clearly uncomfortable talking about this period in his life, he sits still, his fingers rubbing together nervously.

I ask if he thought he might end up abusing a child.

He admits: "I thought maybe at some point in my life, maybe I would. Not imminently. But I realised, hey this actually hurts children and I don't want to be part of this."

But did he view illegal images of children online?

He says that he hasn't. Partly because he wasn't "tech savvy" enough to know how to avoid getting caught.

That seems a strange explanation.

But later, he messages with more context.

I guess I wanted to look due to curiosity. I think maybe deep down I knew it was wrong (being pro contact) but I kind of just made myself believe it was ok because I didn't want to be sad and alone for the rest of my life. I guess that's why I didn't follow through or try harder to look, because deep down I knew it was wrong but on the surface I convinced myself it was ok.

Other "anti-contact" paedophiles tell me they went through similar phases where they thought they would end up offending. One described himself as "a ticking time bomb".

Adam says he has never blamed himself.

"I didn't choose it. I got unlucky in life. I've never been horrible to anyone, so why has this horrible thing happened to me?"

He says that he was suicidal during that time, but that the feeling is much rarer now.

He broke away from the "pro-contact" paedophiles after doing more research, and he says he couldn't possibly get any pleasure from looking at illegal images of children. Adam resolved never to abuse a child.

Jake - again not his real name - is another "anti-contact" paedophile. He's a year or so younger than Adam, and their stories are remarkably similar.

Jake also realised during puberty that he was attracted to younger children - girls aged 5-11.

He's also attracted to women his own age. It's not quite as powerful as his feelings towards children, but it gives him hope for his future.

Like Adam, he wouldn't stand out in a crowd. He is handsome enough for people to wonder why he is always single. But he is also shy.

For our entire conversation, he sits almost totally still with his arms hugged around his body. It doesn't come across as rude - more like he's physically steeling himself for an ordeal.

He says the hardest part of being a paedophile is knowing that he is "one of these people that everyone hates".

But he's clear in his resolve to never abuse children.

"I still have morals. I still know what's good and what's bad. I'm not going to hurt someone like that just to make myself feel better."

Like Adam, he went through a period when he couldn't stop his mind "justifying things that weren't really justifiable".

So even though he says he was firmly against sexual contact, he decided that "romantic relationships" with 11-year-old girls would be acceptable. But he's fuzzy on what he meant by that - only going so far as to mention "dates and stuff."

But he insists he didn't ever act on those thoughts.

At one stage, he thought about going to his GP for help, but decided against it. Despite doctor/patient confidentiality, medics and other professionals have a duty to tell authorities if they think a child has been, or could be, harmed.

"I realised how risky it was. You never really know if they're going to want to report you if they feel like you're a danger."

He felt that his paedophilia was under enough control for him not to pose a threat to any children, but he knew his doctor might not believe him.

If he had been able to get professional help, it would have made a big difference, he suggests.

"I wouldn't have gone down kind of the route I did of deluding myself into thinking certain things."

This is something that many of the experts agree with. Prof Derek Perkins says there might be no magic cure for paedophilia, but he is adamant that treatment helps.

And that treatment isn't just about helping paedophiles cope with their attraction to children.

The primary aim is to reduce the possibility of child sexual abuse.

"From a child protection point of view, the more help that can be provided as early as possible, the better."

Tom Squire, clinical manager of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, says there isn't enough support.

The charity aims to prevent child sexual abuse by working to stop would-be sexual offenders committing a crime in the first place. It runs the Stop It Now helpline.

It takes calls from people who are worried about children being sexually abused. That can be anyone from parents and teachers to paedophiles who are concerned about their own thoughts and actions.

All callers can stay anonymous.

But if they give a real name, and say anything that makes the call handler think a child or anyone else is at risk, the charity will report it to the authorities.

The foundation also runs face-to-face sessions for people who have viewed images of abuse or committed abuse. Non-offenders can also be treated but the cost is between £700-£1000 and there is no anonymity.

Another charity, StopSO (the Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending), can help paedophiles who have not offended by putting them in contact with a specially trained therapist in their area.

But funding - or the lack of it - is an issue. The cost of treatment is an obstacle to taking it up.

StopSO chief executive Juliet Grayson is calling for more government support in the UK. "Surely prevention is worth investing in, saving lives and money."

The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) has a slightly more nuanced view.

It welcomes any work to prevent sexual abuse. But it points out that survivors need support too.

Chief Executive Gabrielle Shaw says: "Support for survivors and victims of abuse is woefully inadequate across the UK.

"This is not an either/or situation, but government and society at large need to realise that more resources are necessary across the piece."

The NSPCC echoes this. It argues that it is "vital" to support both potential offenders and any victims.

The Home Office acknowledges the need for services.

"It is vital that every effort is made to prevent offending in the first place. We are supportive of efforts in this space and would welcome further innovative work by charities and the private sector to better protect children from harm."

In other words, there seems to be a consensus between government, experts and charities that treating paedophiles would help prevent children being sexually abused.

But it's striking that none of the young paedophiles that I've contacted have had any professional help.

They seem to get the most support from other paedophiles.

Adam credits online forums dedicated to non-offending. He says they help reiterate that offending is wrong.

"I've realised that you can actually be happy, and anti-contact and just be who you are."

Jake agrees that these online groups helped him to become firmly "anti-contact". "It made me realise how bad my thinking was starting to get."

He's certain that he will never offend, insisting over and again that if he ever was tempted, his anti-contact online friends would always push him back "on to the right path".

His goal is a relationship with a woman his own age. He says the main barrier is that he "needs to get better at talking to girls".

He kept his paedophilia a complete secret for years, until he had come to terms with it himself.

Then, he was able to tell his friends. He says he felt that he needed to "get it off his chest".

He says the first time he told anyone, it started off almost as a joke. Since then he's told more friends - even accidentally talking about it when he was a "bit too drunk".

But the people he has told have all taken the news "surprisingly well".

He explains: "I mostly kind of say that I'm attracted to people younger than myself, and that I haven't actually hurt anyone and I'm not going to.

"They ask questions and stuff, but I think they believe me."

Adam also told some friends and got a supportive reaction. He says he felt almost high the first time.

Telling his mum was much more complicated though.

He didn't plan it, but one day she found him crying. She asked him what was wrong but he told her he couldn't talk about it.

She thought that maybe he was gay, and asked if it was because he liked men. He said no, so she guessed again.

Did he like women?


And eventually, she asked her son if he liked children?


Adam says she believed that he would never abuse a child. But she couldn't hide her reaction when he told her that he was attracted to children as young as one.

Looking at him tell this story, you realise how slim and slight he is. It reinforces how young he is, even now. Normally he speaks clearly and fluently, but for this, there are long pauses and repetition.

"She... kind of didn't believe me… She, she, she, erm, she was saying 'That's too young'.

"She had to keep asking me if that was right. Her face was kind of just blank, she was looking at me like completely blankly. As if disbelieving kind of thing.

"She just didn't really believe how young it was. It was horrible. It felt horrible because I didn't want to make her feel bad and I didn't want to be a bad son.

"I just felt so... disgusted with myself I guess. She made me feel like that."

When asked about his hopes for a happy and fulfilled future, Adam bleakly says: "I don't know."

He's still so young. I point out that he might be totally convinced now that he will never offend, but that he's got a long life ahead of him.

But he's firm. "I've never been one to hurt people in any way, children, adults, anyone. I just don't think I have it in me to hurt anyone."

If you are affected by the issues raised in this piece, the following organisations can help:

StopSO (the Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending) can work with people who are worried about their sexual thoughts.

Stop It Now! is a sexual abuse prevention campaign run by child protection charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation. It also operates the Get Support website.

The NSPCC specialises in child protection.

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

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

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



400 children from Scottish orphanage of 'horrors' believed buried in mass grave media report says

by Samantha Schmidt

The children taken to the notorious Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanarkshire, Scotland, came from poor, working-class families and broken homes. About 11,600 children passed through the institution from its opening in 1864 through its closure in 1981, left in the care of an order of Catholic nuns.

Former residents have detailed allegations of being brutally beaten, kicked in the head, neglected and publicly humiliated by the orphanage's staff and being forced to take freezing cold showers, according to British and Scottish news outlets. One former resident's physical and psychological abuse was described in the Scotsman newspaper as “hideous treatment at the hands of nuns.”

For many years, an unknown number of children were believed to have died in the home, but exactly how they perished — and where they were laid to rest — remained a mystery.

Then, in 2003, two former residents uncovered a troubling discovery: an overgrown, unmarked burial plot at a nearby cemetery, which they believed might be filled with the bodies of children. The religious organization that ran the home, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent DePaul, confirmed that Smyllum residents were indeed buried there, according to the BBC and Scottish newspapers. In 2004, the group said records suggested that 120 children had died at the orphanage, and their remains were buried in 158 compartments in the plot, located about a mile from Smyllum, at St. Mary's Cemetery in Lanark.

But the two former residents who found the unmarked graves believed the number of children buried was much higher. It turns out, they may have been correct. According to a lengthy joint investigation by the BBC and Scotland's Sunday Post published Sunday, up to 400 children are believed to be buried in the mass grave.

By sifting through archived death certificates, the BBC and Sunday Post found 402 certificates listing Smyllum as the place of death or normal residence. After checking with surrounding cemeteries and local authorities, the reporters found only two of those 402 were buried elsewhere, according to the BBC.

Based on the death records the reports cited, an average of one child died every three months at Smyllum. In some periods, the recorded death rate was about three times the average for children in Scotland, the Guardian reported. Most of the children died of natural causes, including diseases such as TB, pneumonia and pleurisy. About a third of those who died were age 5 or under, the BBC reported.

The revelations evoked comparisons to a home for mothers and children in Tuam, Ireland, where a forensic examination revealed 17 underground chambers containing “significant quantities of human remains,” the remnants of young children of “unwed mothers” dating from 1925 to 1961. Estimates have put the number of bodies at Tuam at 700 to 800.

“The true scale of the horrors of Smyllum long hidden by the Roman Catholic church are only being now revealed,” the organization White Flowers Alba, which advocates for survivors of the orphanage, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

In an interview with The Post, the group's founder, Andi Lavery, said the residents at Smyllum were given a stipend from the Scottish government for food and proper medical treatment. Lavery said he read the death certificates cited by the BBC and Sunday Post, and said many causes of death included malnutrition and blunt trauma to the head.

“Why should they be dying from starvation? Why should they be dying from treatable infections? Why should they be dying from beatings?” Lavery said. He said he is currently working with about 20 of the home's remaining former residents, but has heard from more than 100 survivors over the years.

“The kids were put in sacks and thrown in the ground in the hole,” Lavery said. “They were harshly beaten and quite a large number were sexually abused.”

The Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent DePaul, which ran the home, refused to comment on the findings, according to both reports.

The allegations of abuse at Smyllum are currently the subject of an investigation by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. The inquiry team, set up by the Scottish government in 2015, is investigating 60 institutions in Scotland, including religious order-run orphanages like Smyllum and top private schools. The team is expected to produce a report in 2019 with its findings and recommendations.

At an inquiry hearing this summer, Sister Ellen Flynn, head of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent DePaul in Great Britain, said the group could find “no evidence” in its records substantiating the abuse allegations, according to a transcript .

Flynn said if the allegations were to be proven, it would be “inexcusable,” but that “it is a mystery at the moment.”

“We are extremely saddened that those accusations have been made, that there are allegations,” Flynn added. “We are shocked at the thought that there may have been and are very apologetic.”

The inquiry also heard that in the early part of the century it had been “common practice” to separate siblings.

Following the BBC and Sunday Post reports, a spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Scotland told Scottish newspaper the National that a “full investigation” should be made into the allegations.

“The death of children in care is always tragic,” the spokesperson said. “Any suggestion that the deaths of some children were caused by anything other than natural causes should be investigated to the fullest extent possible.”

“The Catholic Church has never had any responsibility for or ability to place children in care — that has always been and remains a matter for the statutory authorities who placed children in care and were subsequently responsible for their welfare,” the statement continued.

Among the deaths recorded at the orphanage was that of Francis McColl, whose death certificate says he died of a brain hemorrhage in 1961, at age 13, the BBC reported. His brother, Eddie, told the BBC the cause of death affirms what he had previously heard — that his brother had been hit on the head by a golf club.

While the graves of nuns and staff members from the school are marked with headstones in St. Mary's Cemetery, the graves of the children are not, Lavery said.

One of the two former residents who uncovered the unmarked graves was Frank Docherty, who died in April of this year, at 72. Docherty, founder of a group called In Care Abuse Survivors, served as a key leader in Scottish campaigns seeking justice for survivors of child abuse.

He was 9 years old when he and his siblings were “dumped with the church and condemned to a miserable life of beatings, humiliation and cruelty,” according to his obituary in the Scotsman.

“He got his first taste of the brutal regime at Lanark's Smyllum Orphanage when one of the nuns, who ran the institution, repeatedly kicked him and beat him with a hairbrush on day one,” the obituary read. “His ‘crime' had been only to weep childish tears.”

Following Docherty's death, a statement from him was read at an inquiry hearing.

“What you have to realise is that the abuse of a child is like throwing a pebble into a pool: the effect ripples through the whole family,” the statement read, according to a transcript from the hearing. “I know that every victim searches for peace of mind. I would never want any child to suffer as I did. My childhood was taken away from me.”

The majority of the orphanage's former residents have now died, Lavery said, and the remaining survivors — he estimates a few dozen — are aging. He says the Scottish government “needs to deal with this now,” and bring urgent justice to these victims of abuse. He urged the United Nations to get involved in the inquiry.

Horrific accounts from survivors of the orphanage have been detailed in Scottish press over the years.

One former resident, Tom Brannan, told the Carluke Gazette he and his brother were at the orphanage in the mid-1950s, and alleged that one of the nuns on staff beat him with a cricket stump.

He recalled how another member of staff would “lift me up by the ears and kick me.” The staff member was reportedly buried in the same cemetery as the hundreds of children from the orphanage.

“We are extremely saddened that those accusations have been made, that there are allegations,” Flynn added. “We are shocked at the thought that there may have been and are very apologetic.”

The inquiry also heard that in the early part of the century it had been “common practice” to separate siblings.

Following the BBC and Sunday Post reports, a spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Scotland told Scottish newspaper the National that a “full investigation” should be made into the allegations.

“The death of children in care is always tragic,” the spokesperson said. “Any suggestion that the deaths of some children were caused by anything other than natural causes should be investigated to the fullest extent possible.”

“The Catholic Church has never had any responsibility for or ability to place children in care — that has always been and remains a matter for the statutory authorities who placed children in care and were subsequently responsible for their welfare,” the statement continued.

Among the deaths recorded at the orphanage was that of Francis McColl, whose death certificate says he died of a brain hemorrhage in 1961, at age 13, the BBC reported. His brother, Eddie, told the BBC the cause of death affirms what he had previously heard — that his brother had been hit on the head by a golf club.

While the graves of nuns and staff members from the school are marked with headstones in St. Mary's Cemetery, the graves of the children are not, Lavery said.

One of the two former residents who uncovered the unmarked graves was Frank Docherty, who died in April of this year, at 72. Docherty, founder of a group called In Care Abuse Survivors, served as a key leader in Scottish campaigns seeking justice for survivors of child abuse.

He was 9 years old when he and his siblings were “dumped with the church and condemned to a miserable life of beatings, humiliation and cruelty,” according to his obituary in the Scotsman.

“He got his first taste of the brutal regime at Lanark's Smyllum Orphanage when one of the nuns, who ran the institution, repeatedly kicked him and beat him with a hairbrush on day one,” the obituary read. “His ‘crime' had been only to weep childish tears.”

Following Docherty's death, a statement from him was read at an inquiry hearing.

“What you have to realise is that the abuse of a child is like throwing a pebble into a pool: the effect ripples through the whole family,” the statement read, according to a transcript from the hearing. “I know that every victim searches for peace of mind. I would never want any child to suffer as I did. My childhood was taken away from me.”

The majority of the orphanage's former residents have now died, Lavery said, and the remaining survivors — he estimates a few dozen — are aging. He says the Scottish government “needs to deal with this now,” and bring urgent justice to these victims of abuse. He urged the United Nations to get involved in the inquiry.

Horrific accounts from survivors of the orphanage have been detailed in Scottish press over the years.

One former resident, Tom Brannan, told the Carluke Gazette he and his brother were at the orphanage in the mid-1950s, and alleged that one of the nuns on staff beat him with a cricket stump.

He recalled how another member of staff would “lift me up by the ears and kick me.” The staff member was reportedly buried in the same cemetery as the hundreds of children from the orphanage.

“Whatever excuse he could get, he would tear into me,” Brannan said. “The guy was a bully and a monster and the thought of him being buried next to some of the kids whose lives he made a living hell just sickens me.”


United Kingdom

Names of buried disabled children unearthed in mass graves revealed

Dozens of severely disabled children were buried in mass graves by the state after they died in Scottish psychiatric hospitals

by Ben Borland

Youngsters from the infamous Lennox Castle Hospital in Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire, were laid to rest as recently as 1975 in a sprawling paupers' plot alongside hundreds of adult patients.

The names of the children can be revealed publicly today for the first time as the only memorial to the dead is a small carved inscription on the wall of an abandoned churchyard.

In addition, our investigation has found children from at least two other psychiatric hospitals in the Glasgow area were buried in unmarked graves.

The revelation adds weight to the calls for the disturbing history of common burials for children in care to be examined by the Scottish child abuse inquiry.

Last week, new research revealed up to 400 children who died at the Smyllum Park children who died at the Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanark had been buried in an unmarked grave in the town.

A memorial to the forgotten orphans was erected at St Mary's Cemetery in 2004 after the scandal was first exposed, although it was previously thought that only 120 children were buried there.

However, the most recent burial by the nuns of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul – who are also accused of beating and abusing their terrified charges – was in 1964.

Remarkably, it can now be shown that the practice continued for more than a decade after this date for children who died while in the care of the NHS.

Alan Draper, from the In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) campaign group, said it was now “imperative” that Lady Smith and her inquiry team examine Lennox Castle Hospital and other such institutions.

As this newspaper has revealed, there is evidence disabled youngsters were subjected to medical experiments while they were in these hospitals.

There are even claims that these drug trials and the testing of barbaric psychiatric techniques such as sleep deprivation and repetition were linked to a CIA-funded programme exposed in the USA many decades ago.

Mr Draper said: “It is a situation that must be explored. We asked for medical experimentation to be included in the terms of the inquiry and now it is subject to survivors and family members coming forward.

“The mass grave at Smyllum is not a new story and Incas has held a memorial service at the cemetery for many years, but the paucity of records meant that until now the extent of the burials was not known.

“It is imperative that Lennox Castle Hospital is included in the inquiry. Who was authorised to carry out these burials and why were very young children in an adult institution in the first place? We need to know what happened to these children. How were they treated, what safeguards were in place to protect them and, most of all, how did they die?

“Of course, the issue is wider than Smyllum. I suspect that most Victorian institutions were burying children in mass graves. Questions need to be asked at the very highest level, especially where there is any suggestion that children were being subjected to medical experimentation and may have died as a result.

“These mass graves were not peculiar to the church-run institutions. State organisations were no different and a lot of people, including children, were detained in these hospitals simply for being ‘cretins' or ‘idiots', when many of them were more than capable of independent living. This needs to be investigated and no stone must be left unturned.”

Lennox Castle Hospital was the largest mental hospital in Britain when it was opened by the old Glasgow Corporation in 1936. At its peak, it housed as many as 1,500 patients aged from 10 to 80.

Once regarded as 100 years ahead of its time, it eventually became notorious for the isolation, neglect and abuse suffered by many of its patients and finally closed its doors in 2002.

Patients who died with no family to take care of their funeral arrangements were buried in a large unmarked plot at Campsie Cemetery in nearby Lennoxtown, alongside the now derelict Campsie High Church.

It is marked only by a faded inscription on the cemetery wall and burial records are kept by East Dunbartonshire Council. Further hospital records are held at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, including a death register containing the names of dozens of children.

The causes of death include conditions such as “organic brain disease” and even “congenital idiocy”, while many youngsters had been in the hospital for several years when they died.

Lennox Castle was linked to Waverley Park Hospital in Kirkintilloch, which was opened in 1906 by the Glasgow Association for the Care of Defective and Feeble-Minded Children. It closed in 1991 and the council records also show a number of children were buried in common ground in the town's Auld Aisle Cemetery.

A note in the Waverley Park death register states: “Patients with no known relatives. Report death, inc particulars if available, mother's maiden name, and whether previously married, father's name and [pre-admission] address of patient, also time of death. Inform Burgh Engineer of patient's death.”

The Mitchell Library also holds extensive registers of common ground burials, including countless thousands of the poorest citizens of Scotland's largest city who were interred in unmarked graves over the past 150 years.

A brief review of just one cemetery, St Kentigern's RC, revealed details of at least one child inpatient from the Birkwood Institute psychiatric hospital in Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire. There are also a great many children who died in the city's regular hospitals, especially the old Ruchill and Belvidere fever hospitals.

But in many of these cases it is impossible to know whether the parents gave permission for their child to be given a pauper's funeral.

A spokesman for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry said: “So far more than 100 locations where historical abuse of children is said to have taken place have been identified, and the inquiry is currently investigating 69 residential care establishments for children.

“As the important work of the inquiry continues, we would encourage anyone with relevant information, where they have been abused themselves or know others who have, to get in touch.”



Predators who abuse kids or access child porn will face tough new laws, including more time behind bars

by Lanai Scarr

PAEDOPHILES would spend longer in jail, be less likely to be granted bail or parole, face mandatory minimum sentences and be more closely supervised following their release under tough new laws being proposed by the federal government.

Internet companies that do not immediately report abuse material to police would also face tougher fines as part of the shake-up.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan will reveal the crackdown to MPs at a meeting in Canberra today before legislation goes to parliament later this week.

Sickos who abuse, seek out, facilitate the transmission of or create sexually explicit material of children would face mandatory minimum sentences of 25 per cent of the maximum penalty in an unprecedented move by the federal government.

In the past five years, barely half of convicted Commonwealth child sex offenders received a term of imprisonment and for those that did, the most common period was six months.

Mr Keenan told News Corp Australia he wanted to see those who harmed children spend more time behind bars for their heinous crimes.

“Harming kids is the worst form of crime but this is not being reflected in the punishments these criminals have been given for their horrible actions,” Mr Keenan said.

“We want to strengthen all aspects of sentencing paedophiles that reflects our disgust at those that prey on children. These reforms are the strongest crackdown on paedophiles in a generation.”

Under the current legal system paedophiles who use a carriage service — such as social media, online websites or even telephone communication — to abuse children or obtain child sex material are charged under Commonwealth law.

Cyber child sex crime is a growing problem in Australia and internationally. But since 2012 only 58.7 per cent of convicted Commonwealth child sex offenders were jailed. Most received just six months.

The new laws would prevent judges from using an offender's standing in the community to discount their sentence and it will also make it compulsory for the courts to have regard to the objective of rehabilitating the offender.

Internet service providers such as Telstra, iiNet and content hosts like Facebook and Twitter would face an increase of fines from $21,000 to $168,000 per failure to report child sex content on their platforms.

The legislation also includes the introduction of Carly's Law to target online predators preparing or planning to cause harm to, procure or engage in sexual activity with a child.


The proposed laws come as News Corp Australia can also reveal the efforts the Office of the eSafety Commissioner has been making to remove child sex abuse material off the web.

During National Child Protection Week last week the Office completed a record 1002 investigations into child abuse material, encompassing 12 hours and 51 minutes of video content.

The work represented a 507 per cent increase on the average weekly investigations of 165.

A total of 4693 images were referred to international partners for take down last week.

The Office has also detailed how, through working with an Australian state police force, it helped identify an Australian male (via his distinctive tattoos) who uploaded a video of him abusing his young granddaughter, a child he named.

The information was passed to police for further investigation.

ESafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said while her team took down a record amount of content during last week's National Child Protection Week, there was more work to be done.

“While their success last week was heartening, we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“We estimate that our actions have prevented an astounding 51 million page views of illegal content — per day.”


Any final sentencing will be up to judicial discretion and will take into account various factors.


An associate of Peter Gerard Scully (name suppressed).

Over a period of about two years, the offender created and controlled multiple child pornography and child abuse sites. The sites formed one of the biggest online child abuse networks with some of the worst content in the world. The offender strongly encouraged others to make, discuss and view this material, including encouraging someone to videotape himself sexually abusing a paralysed child. The offender also shared a video called ‘Daisy's Destruction' that showed an infant being tortured, including being tied up, gagged, penetrated, burnt, trussed up by the legs to a pole and suspended in the air while being tortured.

Sentence now: The offender has been convicted of 13 offences.

Sentence possible under new rules: Minimum sentence of 65 years imprisonment for a conviction of 13 offences, however that sentence may be lowered on judicial review.


[R v Williamson [2011] QDC ]- December 2011 known in the media

The offender was the administrator of a highly frequented website which made available at least 15,375 images of child abuse material.

The children depicted had an average age of 8-14 years but also included younger children.

The offender was responsible for categorising material on the website. He was fully aware that the website provided child abuse material to its users.

Sentence now: 3 years 6 months imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 12 months in custody, for using a carriage service to make child pornography available. There was no offence in the Criminal Code that adequately covered the behaviour of creating and administrating a website to facilitate dealings with child abuse material.

The proposed ‘electronic service' offence will more explicitly criminalise this behaviour.

Sentence under new laws: The offender could be charged under the new ‘electronic service' offence which will attract a minimum sentence of 5 years, and a maximum sentence of 18 years. The offender would also be subject to the presumption in favour of cumulative sentencing, if multiple offences were proved.

New South Wales

[R v Meads (2015) NSWDC]

The offender was grooming young boys aged of 10 and 14 by sending them, and urging them to send him, sexually explicit pictures. He also kept a manifesto that described in explicit detail the appearance and nature of sexual acts performed by each of his victims.

The offender had a serious criminal history.

His new charges related to producing and disseminating child abuse material, using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to a person under 16 years of age and failing to comply with the child protection register.

Sentence now: 3 years 3 months with a minimum of 2 years in custody for all of his 14 Commonwealth and State child sex offences.

Sentence under new rules: Minimum of 70 years imprisonment under new cumulative sentencing, however that sentence may be lowered on judicial review.

South Australia

Laurence Mark Reilly

Reilly was found to have in his possession over 28,000 child abuse images and videos. The images and videos contained victims that were under the age of 14, and a significant proportion of these images and videos were in the highest category of seriousness. Reilly had also shared the images with a number of other offenders. Reilly had previously been convicted for indecent assault and for possessing child abuse material. While on bail for these offences, the offender accessed a further 6,800 child abuse images and videos. Reilly was convicted of eight charges including aggravated possession of child abuse material and aggravated dissemination of child abuse material. Reilly was sentenced to a non-parole period of five years and three months.

Sentence now: 7 years and a non-parole period of five years and three months.

Sentence under new rules: Minimum of 40 years imprisonment based ona conviction of eight offences, however that sentence may be lowered on judicial review. Reilly would also be subject to a presumption against bail as he is a repeat offender.




Previously Convicted Sex Offender from Long Beach Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Attempted Sex Trafficking of a Minor

SANTA ANA, California – A convicted sex offender from Long Beach was sentenced this morning to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to attempted sex trafficking of a child for responding to an online advertisement that offered sex with a 15-year-old girl in exchange for $200.

Victor James Sporman, 47, was sentenced by United States District Judge James V. Selna. Once he completes the prison sentence, Sporman will be on supervised release for the rest of his life.

The case against Sporman is the result of an undercover operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigation (HSI). Authorities were conducting an anti-sex trafficking operation in Long Beach and posted an advertisement on the Craigslist website that was designed to attract individuals interested in engaging in sex acts with minors.

On October 26, 2016 Sporman responded to the advertisement via e-mail and subsequently engaged in a series of text messages with an undercover agent he thought was a 15-year-old girl, according to court documents. Sporman agreed to pay $200 to engage in sex with the “girl.” Sporman repeatedly texted photographs of himself, money and his genitals. In preparation for the encounter on December 6, Sporman purchased condoms. When Sporman arrived at the hotel to have the sexual encounter with the girl, Sporman had approximately $200 in his possession, as well as two condoms. He was arrested at the scene.

Sporman engaged in nearly identical conduct in 2008 when he was caught in an undercover sting attempting to have sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Sporman “was given every opportunity to address his sexual attraction to children, and he did nothing,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Instead, he continued to troll the internet looking for additional victims.”

The case against Sporman is the product on an investigation by HSI's Los Angeles Human Smuggling and Trafficking Group, which received substantial assistance from the Long Beach Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lana Morton-Owens of the Violent and Organized Crime Section. Assistant United States Attorney Terrence Mann of the Santa Ana Branch Office handled today's sentencing hearing.


FROM:  Thom Mrozek, Spokesperson/Public Affairs Officer

United States Attorney's Office, Central District of California (Los Angeles)




Child abuse royal commission's work must continue

by Robert Llewellyn-Jones

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that Julia Gillard launched in 2012 ends soon. As an abuse survivor and a practising psychiatrist treating many abuse survivors, I cannot stress too much how important it is to continue the commission's work.

It would be a callous betrayal of the thousands who have courageously told their stories if the commission's recommendations are not adopted, to prevent a repetition of the sordid past and the possibility of abuse echoing down the corridors of history in some other malignant form.

For almost five years, thousands of harrowing stories have finally been heard; stories of institutional denial, obfuscation and cover-ups, of actions and inaction that placed institutions' reputations ahead of the safety and wellbeing of children.

Some institutions claim they should not be held accountable for the actions of the offending “bad apples”. But these “bad apples” frequently were moved on when their offending was discovered and no action was taken to prevent them reoffending. Chil­d­ren were punished, threatened and intimi­dated when they disclosed abuse to those who were charged with keeping them safe.

Moreover, abuse often took place in institutions that promoted a culture of physical and emotional cruelty or were wilfully ignorant of such brutality. Many cases of historical abuse have been referred to the police, but few convictions have resulted. Many institutions have promised to do better. The reputations of individuals who failed to keep children safe have been tarnished but they have mostly escaped more serious outcomes.

The national redress scheme proposed by the royal commission almost two years ago has yet to be established. The Australian 's John Ferguson reported yesterday the $4 billion scheme is due to be up and running next year. He revealed deep divisions among the states and Canberra about how the scheme should be run and who should fund it.

Most states are refusing to opt in until the Turnbull government explains the scheme's architecture. Meanwhile, survivors seeking compensation continue to be subjected to gruelling adversarial litigation. Some of them tell me that lawyers acting for some of the offending institutions are privately using aggressive legal tactics even as the institution itself is making public claims of responding to survivors with compassion.

The adverse effects of institutional abuse have been catastrophic. The assault on sur­vivors' human dignity was often compounded by the searing fusion of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. As adults many survivors have existed in a twilight, unable to give voice to their pain until the royal commission was convened.

Many lives were blighted or destroyed by descent into addiction in attempts to block out the pain caused by recurrent nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks and depression. Many could not hold down jobs or sustain stable relationships. Suicide has not been uncommon.

It is tempting to turn away. As a survivor of child abuse and as a psychiatrist, I do not have that luxury. I felt the searing evil of sexual abuse as a child and with every revelation of abuse that I hear from my patients I again face the challenge of how not to lose faith in the better angels of human nature. What sustains me is the conviction that the work of child protection is never done. It is the work of every generation. It is a narrative as old as the human race.

The capacity for human oppression takes countless forms. Abraham Lincoln's better angels thrive only when societies establish cultures that respect diversity, eschew all forms of sexual violence, uphold the rights of children, promote equality and have zero tolerance for the powerful dominating the weak.

Robert Llewellyn-Jones is a psychiatrist who assists survivors of sexual abuse and who was abused at Geelong Grammar School.



Alarming rise in 'self-produced child abuse material' sparks online safety warnings

by Elise Worthington and Alex McDonald

Sexual predators are taking advantage of Australian children as young as four, who are live-streaming and recording explicit videos and sharing sexualised images of themselves online.

Australian police have been overwhelmed with an increase in reports of what is known as "self-produced child exploitation material".

In some instances, children are willingly sharing these images and videos with friends on social media.

In other cases, sex offenders are reaching out to children through social media platforms and coercing them into producing explicit material which is secretly captured and shared in the darkest corners of the internet.

7.30 has been shown several darknet paedophile forums, including one with more than 600,000 posts in a section dedicated to self-generated child abuse material.

"Most of the time we see it starts quite innocently," said Adele Desirs, a victim identification analyst formerly with Interpol, now based at Queensland Police's Taskforce Argos.

"The children will post a video of themselves dancing or singing on YouTube. Then they get contacted via comments by these predators and that is how it starts."

In the first months of 2016, Interpol saw a 150 per cent rise in cases such as these.

"It's literally exploding and it's drowning victim identification specialists," Ms Desirs told 7.30.

In one particularly disturbing case, a 12-year-old child was told to produce abusive material after a sex offender threatened, via webcam, that he would "choke a cat".

"So, 'I kill the cat if you don't do it', this is the type of things we see," Ms Desirs said.

The Australian Federal Police has been inundated with reports of self-produced child exploitation material, according to its head of victim-based crime.

"Another example we have seen is where siblings or young peers have been encouraging each other to remove clothes and perform in sexualised poses or actions or to dance in sexualised way or undertake sex acts," said Commander Lesa Gale.

"This is really concerning when we are talking about children as young as four being directed by other children as young as 10 years old."

Exploitation can occur 'while an adult is in the same room'

Police say much of the self-produced material they see is being made under the noses of parents.

"We have seen examples where young people have been filming themselves in sexualised poses or move their device to film their genital region, this is while an adult is in the same room as them," Commander Gale said.

Police say many of these children are naturally curious about sex and are experimenting with live-streaming video on certain apps, chasing "likes" and have easy access to camera phones from a young age.

"What we are seeing is kids exploring their sexuality and producing material and putting it on the internet just through naivety, not even understanding where it can end up," said Detective Inspector Jon Rouse from Queensland's Taskforce Argos.

With technology rapidly becoming a more integral part of children's lives, research from the eSafety Commission shows that on average kids aged eight to 13 have two social media accounts and teens aged 14 to 17 have three.

It's a pace parents can find daunting, according to eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

"There's a number of great educational apps that kids are using, apps like, or ROBLOX or Minecraft but they have chat functions," she said.

"These chat functions — if the parental controls are not on or the privacy settings aren't being used — can be infiltrated by paedophiles or adults with nefarious interests to start conversations with young people."

'Groomers are the masters of manipulation'

According to police and educators, the solution is talking to kids early, openly and often.

"I think parents need to engaging with kids about what apps they are on and what sites they are using," Ms Inman Grant said.

"They need to know whether there is a live video or live chat function. If there is, they need to be employing parental controls and know who their kids are talking to.

"They can be in the next room and their kids could be exploited.

Commander Gale agrees early intervention and education are critical.

"We are seeing toddlers being familiar with being able to access these easily available apps," she said.

"So the requirement is for parents to really have that conversation, to educate children from the youngest age of the perils of being in the online space."

Victim identification analysts like Ms Desirs, who sift through the destruction caused by child exploitation, have a simple message for children.

"On the internet you never know who you are sending it to, even if the person looks like a friend or someone you trust.

"The groomers are masters of manipulation."


United Kingdom

Football child abuse: Prince William visits Sporting Chance

by the BBC

The Duke of Cambridge has met with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse at a charity set up by former England football captain Tony Adams.

Prince William, who is the president of the Football Association (FA), visited Sporting Chance in Liphook, Hampshire.

The charity is working with those affected by non-recent sexual abuse in football.

Prince William said clubs needed a better understanding of looking after players' mental health.

He said: "We have been very good at tackling things like racism and such in football and the fact that we are now seen to be leading the way in football and mental health is fantastic.

"I've always felt those young men get put into the situation where they have amazing feet, their skill with the ball is unquestionable, but everyone forgets about the rest of the body, they forget about the head, they forget about how they have been brought up, about what they have been through."

Sporting Chance helps clubs and athletes tackle issues including addiction, depression and anxiety.

After reports of non-recent childhood sexual abuse became public last year, the FA approached the charity to set up a special support service for those affected.

Mr Adams said: "It's great that he [Prince William] is showing an interest in what we do and it's fantastic that we can cement the partnership we've got with the FA."

Ian Ackley, who has spoken about abuse he suffered as a child, described the duke's visit as "hugely significant".

He said: "I've been wanting to speak to anyone and everyone for a long time and in the last eight-nine months we've come a long way.

"To be able to sit and have an audience with the duke is just something I couldn't ever have imagined."



Baer Announces Child Abuse Prevention Program in Counties

by P.J. D'Annunzio

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Max Baer has announced the selection of seven counties to participate in a program designed to support abused and neglected children.

The Family Engagement Initiative was created by a collaborative effort between Pennsylvania State Roundtable—a court organizational program implemented in 2007 meant to help children in family matters—along with state and national court and child welfare leaders.

Adams, Blair, Clinton, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Northampton and Union counties were chosen for the initiative out of a statewide selection process. The counties were selected by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

"The selected counties will get training from international experts to teach them cutting-edge practices rooted in research and science to enhance the way they help children and families," Baer said in a statement released Sept. 6. "The counties will receive resources developed specifically for them. It's exciting to be working with such a dedicated and motivated group of court and county leaders to improve the lives of our most vulnerable children."

According to a press release, counties interested in participating in the program were required to submit a letter of interest with signatures from their lead dependency judge, president judge, county commissioners and child welfare director. The seven counties selected were narrowed down from a "larger than expected" list of applicants by Baer, the state court system's Office of Children and Families in the Courts (OCFC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services' Office of Children, Youth and Families.

Baer, the former head of the Allegheny County Family Court division of the Court of Common Pleas, has long been an advocate for child welfare issues.

The program is supported by the OCFC and the Federal Court Improvement Program, in partnership with the state Supreme Court and the Office of Children, Youth and Families.

"The initiative uses evidence-based practices that identify and meaningfully involve healthy family members and close friends in the lives of child welfare families," Sandra Moore, the OCFC's director, said in a statement. "This requires the support of all local leaders within the selected counties.

"Some of the many outcomes we hope to see from this collaboration include increased family involvement, reduced trauma to children and a reduction in the time children are separated from those who love and care about them," she continued.

In April, according to the OCFC, 400 judicial officers, legal professionals and child welfare agency leaders met at the biannual roundtable to discuss issues ranging from issues facing LGBTQ youth, to children of incarcerated parents, to responses to human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children in Pennsylvania.



Amish bishop pleads guilty to failure to report child abuse

by the WHTM Staff

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – An Amish bishop pleaded guilty last week before a Dauphin County judge to one count of failure to report child abuse.

The charge against Christ Stoltzfus stemmed from an investigation by Pennsylvania State Police that began earlier this year when child sexual abuse was reported in the Amish community.

According to investigators, Stoltzfus knew of the abuse and, as a mandated reporter under the Child Protective Services Law, failed to report it in 2011.

Since the crime occurred prior to the change in Pennsylvania's mandated reporter law in 2014, Stolzfus was only charged with a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Stoltzfus was sentenced to three months of probation.


United Arab Emirates

Child Abuse in the UAE: Rise in Reported Cases

by Albawaba

Ever since the new Child Protection Law was implemented across the UAE, authorities have been witnessing more reports of child abuse cases.

Afra Al Basti, director-general of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC), said more schools have been reporting child abuse cases to the foundation.

As the UAE's Child Protection Law took effect in June 2016, reporting cases of child abuse or negligence has become mandatory for all members of the community, which pushed schools among other entities to report abuse cases.

"The law has allowed for more awareness, which prompted schools to report abuse cases they see to avoid taking its responsibility or being pointed out for being oblivious about it," said Al Basti. She noted that reports of physical abuse often bring a history of verbal abuse not previously mentioned.

"Children aren't aware, so when their peers call them names, they think it's a normal or cultural thing until abuse takes a new form," said Al Basti.

She noted that the most common abuse cases the foundation receives is physical abuse among students at schools.

She said schools' representatives often request the foundation to conduct awareness campaigns and workshops to students of different academic stages to prevent cases from recurring. They request introducing training programmes for students, parents, teachers and social workers on ways to identify abuse, said Al Basti.

With more awareness plans and campaigns, parents are also approaching authorities to ask more questions. "Parents are becoming more aware. They're asking about ways to identify abuse in their children, which means we are starting to build knowledge among families and communities," said Al Basti, noting that it is a big shift in building trust between families and local organisations.

On the lack of official numbers of child abuse cases in the country, Al Basti said lack of official data is a worldwide problem. "Abuse is a sensitive topic that not everyone speaks about. If a mother is abusing her child, no one will report it, which is why data on child abuse isn't always accurate." She said unless a helpline is accessible to children, most abuse cases go unknown and that's why the foundation focuses on awareness.

"The law will prompt everyone to report abuse cases, which will make a big change," said Al Basti.



Have you told your kids about the 'underwear rule'?

by TNN

Be it the murder of a 7-year-old boy at an international school in Haryana or the arrest of a peon for raping a 5-year-old girl in a New Delhi school, child sexual abuse cases are giving parents sleepless nights.

In such a scenario, sensitising the society about child sexual abuse (CSA) is the need of the hour, says Pranaadhika Sinha , a social activist, who conducted an awareness workshop on CSA in Hyderabad over the weekend.

"First and foremost, we need to understand that every child has rights which we need to respect. Secondly, we need to do away with any sort of shame associated with discussions about sex," said Sinha, who kick-started a campaign, 'One Million Against Child Sexual Abuse', in 2012 and has been striving to educate people about the issue.

"Children who face sexual abuse are usually too young to understand that they are victims. It is our responsibility to educate them that their body is theirs and that they have the right to say a stern 'no', even when it means standing up against an elderly person. We do not need to give them elaborate sex education, but the basics, such as body ownership, are a must," she added.

Talking about the difficulty victims go through when it comes to opening up about their trauma, Sinha said, "Since the children are usually uncomfortable talking about abuse, it is our responsibility to look out for certain warning signs. If we notice physical bruising on a child's body, inflamation private parts, extreme mood swings or behavioural changes, we have reason to worry.

Children have an innate need to feel understood and cared for. If you suspect a child has been violated, gently encourage him/her to speak up. Never bully or threaten a child into talking; that worsens the situation. Instead, the parents need to be supportive, respectful and understanding."

Many cases of child sexual abuse go unnoticed until the child is well into adulthood and has the maturity to understand what actually happened in the past, she said, adding, "Overcoming such trauma is very painful and it may leave scars on a person's psyche that in turn can ruin his life."

Interestingly, the workshop advocated a simple 'Underwear Rule' and encouraged parents to talk 'PANTS'. "Teach your children this basic rule — P stands for Privates are private; A for Always remember your body belongs to you; N for No means no; T for Talk about secrets that upset you; and S for Speak up, someone can help," she said.



Winning the War on Child Sexual Abuse

by Kailash Satyarthi

NEW DELHI – With every new crisis that the world faces, humanity's differences appear increasingly intractable. Religion, ethnicity, history, politics, and economics have all become tools to denigrate and demean. People seem to be drifting apart, and no country is immune from divisive discourse.

But there is one fundamental issue where contrasts dissolve into consensus: the desire to keep children safe. Protecting the physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing of children is a universal instinct that no faith, dogma, or ideology can defeat. And yet, despite this shared instinct, children everywhere continue to be preyed upon. Too often, societies ignore child sexual abuse, owing to family pride or fear of stigma. The world can stay silent no longer.

The numbers are truly alarming. According to a 2016 World Health Organization report, one of every four adults was sexually abused as a child. A 2007 Indian government study found that 53% of children in India faced some form of sexual abuse growing up. And human trafficking, especially trafficking of children, is a booming business, with annual average profits totaling $150 billion. In other words, child sexual abuse is a moral epidemic afflicting the entire world –one that we can defeat only when we openly declare against it.

Young victims and their families should not have to live in silence while predators roam fearless and free. That is why, in December 2016, I joined a diverse group of Nobel laureates and global leaders to launch the “100 Million for 100 Million” campaign. One of the campaign's objectives is to persuade, provoke, and inspire 100 million young people around the world to raise their voices against violence inflicted on children. The response so far has been overwhelming; tens of thousands have taken the pledge to defend the defenseless.

But I believe we must do even more to awaken the world's slumbering consciousness on this evil. So on September 11, I will embark on a bharat yatra (political pilgrimage), traveling across India to declare war on sexual abuse and exploitation of children everywhere. Together with dedicated campaigners and child-rights advocates, I will travel from Kanyakumari, on India's southern tip, to India's capital, Delhi. More than ten million people are expected to join me physically and virtually on a march that will traverse 11,000 kilometers (6,835 miles), touching all corners of India in a bid to raise global awareness.

Cynics might say that marches cannot change engrained social taboos. I disagree. I have seen first-hand how change is possible when ordinary people speak out.

In 1998, I accompanied a group of young people from around the world to the headquarters of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva. One by one, these brave children told the assembled leaders of their chained lives as forced laborers. They demanded the freedom to chase their own dreams. And they called for an international law against child labor. It was the culmination of the Global March Against Child Labor, and more than 15 million people had joined us by marching some 80,000 kilometers through 103 countries.

The result of these combined efforts was dramatic and pathbreaking. Within a year, the ILO passed Convention 182, which banned the worst forms of child labor. Today, 181 countries have ratified the convention and passed domestic laws that ban the practice. Back in 1998, when we launched the global march – amid similar cynicism and apathy – roughly 250 million children were being forced to work in horrific conditions. Though much remains to be done, that number has since dropped by about a third, and I am confident we can reach zero within a generation.

We have also had success marching for civil liberties in India. In 2001, our shiksha yatra (march for education) called on government officials to make access to school a fundamental right for all children. Today, that right is enshrined in the Indian Constitution, and primary school enrollment is almost universal.

The world needs a similar effort against child sexual abuse and trafficking. As many as two million children are victims of trafficking every year, with many sold into the sex trade. Young refugees are especially at risk. In 2016, a record number of people – more than 65 million – were forced from their homes by civil war and other unrest. When children are displaced, they become highly vulnerable to trafficking and sexual abuse, underscoring the need to act decisively.

When we begin marching this month, we will do so as non-violent soldiers in a global war. Our goal is to give voice to ordinary victims who have been silenced by fear and social pressure. We aim to tug at the conscience of people everywhere, to provoke others into action.

Mahatma Gandhi galvanized millions of oppressed people through his marches. So did Martin Luther King Jr. Let us be inspired by them, and wage a humanitarian war against child sexual abuse. India is ready to march again on a journey of hope and audacity. We invite the world to join us.

Kailash Satyarthi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is Honorary President of the Global March Against Child Labour and the founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement).


The different types of human trafficking

by Bobby J. Guidroz

There are different types of trafficking.

Sex trafficking is also driven by buyer demand. Whether a pimp is involved or not, anyone under the age of 18 is deemed a victim of sex trafficking when they engage in commercial sex with an adult. The buyer is viewed as the perpetrator any time the victim is a minor.

Violence and intimidation are typically used to force cooperation. Sex trafficking involves commercial sexual exploitation, such as prostitution, pornography, bride trafficking, military prostitution, and sex tourism. The commercial sexual exploitation of women and children has ties to prostitution, pornography, and exotic dancing.

Forms of labor-driven trafficking are bonded labor or debt peonage. Victims become bonded laborers when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan or service. Bonded labor or debt peonage began in plantation economies where employers forced workers to buy from employer-run stores at inflated prices so they could never pay off the debt. Today, we see this when employers force victims to live on-site, charge them inflated rent, pay low or no wages, and don't allow them to leave.

Forced labor: Victims are forced to work against their will under threat of violence or other form of punishment. Freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted.

Child labor: The International Labor Organization estimates 215 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are involved in child labor. The commercial sex trade, forced military service, drug trade, domestic servitude, construction, manufacturing, and illegal arms trade are all areas in which children are forced into labor trafficking.

The agricultural sector also experiences a high occurrence of forced labor, particularly seasonal farm workers, such as citrus pickers. Farm workers are particularly vulnerable because agricultural working conditions are generally poor, wages are low, legal protections for agricultural workers are weak, and there is little monitoring of working conditions. Common employers of victims are agricultural and landscape work, factory work, food service, construction, carnivals, hotel housekeeping, day labor, nail salons, and domestic servitude or childcare.

The human traffickers use multiple methods to control their victims. Without control the victims would simply walk away. The goal of the traffickers is to use all means necessary to control and keep the victims in their “stable.” Common
tactics include, beatings, rapes, starvation, isolation, and psychological abuse.

Traffickers also use drug/alcohol dependency, document withholding, debt bondage, threats of deportation, family threats, and confinement.



Seattle Mayor Ed Murray resigns after fifth claim of sexual abuse

by Andrew deGrandpre

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (D), facing multiple child sex-abuse allegations dating to the 1970s, will resign Wednesday, saying the damaging claims have become a distraction that threatens to undermine the city government's ability to serve its citizens.

Murray's spokesman, William Lemke, told The Washington Post the resignation takes effect at 5 p.m.

The announcement Tuesday came just hours after the Seattle Times reported new allegations Murray, 62, sexually abused a relative in the mid-70s. That relative, a cousin, was the fifth man to publicly accuse the mayor of sexual assault, the newspaper reported .

Murray continues to deny the accusations, saying his progressive political record and gay-rights advocacy made him a target for those determined to drag him down. His cousin's allegations, Murray told the Times, stem from “bad blood between two estranged wings of the family.”

In a written statement issued by the mayor's office, Murray said, “While the allegations against me are not true, it is important that my personal issues do not affect the ability of our City government to conduct the public's business. … It is best for the city if I step aside. To the people of this special city and to my dedicated staff, I am sorry for this painful situation.”

Elected mayor in 2013, Murray dropped his reelection bid in May after the first four men claimed he had sexually abused them years earlier, when they were teenagers. One filed a lawsuit in April, alleging in lurid detail Murray “repeatedly criminally raped and molested” him when he was a homeless 15-year-old in the 1980s.

The other alleged victims chose not to sue.

Murray resisted calls to resign, a decision some members of the Seattle City Council supported before his cousin's allegations surfaced this week. As recently as June, when the lawsuit was withdrawn , Murray even suggested he'd run again as a write-in candidate, saying he felt vindicated.

Seattle is home to nearly 715,000 people and one of the nation's fastest-growing economies, fueled in large part by the tech boom and steady expansion by several major firms headquartered there.

City Council President Bruce Harrell will step in to serve as mayor. Seattle's charter gives him five days to decide whether to remain through the rest of Murray's term, Harrell announced in a statement.

“I have a plan in place for a seamless transition in order for City operations to continue at the highest standard,” Harrell's statement said. “Seattleites deserve a government that holds their full confidence and trust.”

Harrell called the accusations against Murray “unspeakable,” saying the city's criminal justice and social service systems have an obligation to address them “no matter how long ago they might have occurred.”

Murray, who was raised in Seattle, became a campaign manager for Washington's first openly gay state senator in the 1980s. He went on to serve for nearly two decades in the state legislature, where he prioritized transportation measures, gay rights and marriage equality.

Murray continued to champion social justice issues while at city hall, winning the mayor's seat in part with a promise to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour , which he accomplished through an executive order not long after his election.

He took on affordable-housing challenges and police accountability and would become one of President Trump's harshest critics on the West Coast, particularly the administration's promise to target undocumented immigrants.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity to offer a frank assessment of Tuesday's announcement, a source in Seattle City Hall told The Post Murray's resignation has left many in the government feeling “deflated.”

The mayor's staff was in the midst of finalizing next year's budget, pursuing an ambitious agenda — on issues from homelessness to preschool — with the goal of cementing Murray's legacy as a public servant.

“There was still work to be done,” the source said. “And there are a lot of questions about how this will play out.”


New Mexico

Archbishop identifies 74 clergy accused of child abuse

by Olivier Uyttebrouck

(List of names on site)

Archbishop John C. Wester on Tuesday published the names of 74 clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children, together with an apology to survivors “for the pain and suffering you have endured.”

The disclosure marks the first time the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has provided a list of accused priests, deacons and religious brothers since the clergy sexual abuse crisis burst into public view in the early 1990s.

Wester called the move “a critical step” in the archdiocese's attempt to improve transparency and promote healing.

“It is my deepest hope that our publication of this list will serve as an important step in healing for survivors, their families, and our Church and communities,” Wester wrote in a statement introducing the list.

Brian Gutierrez, an Albuquerque man who sued the archdiocese in 2014 alleging he was sexually abused by a former priest, said he was surprised by the disclosure.

“I'm glad it happened,” Gutierrez said Tuesday. “It's something we've been asking for many years.”

He said the list is important because disclosures from the archdiocese validate victims' claims of abuse.

“I think for the Catholic community, it's important that it is coming from the archdiocese itself,” he said. “I think it will be more widely accepted, to a certain extent, by the Catholic community at large.”

Of the 74 clergy listed, 38 were reported as deceased. Most of those listed were diocesan priests, but 19 belonged to religious orders.

The list will be updated “soon” to include the names of the parishes where each worked, the statement says.

Wester's two-page statement, which was posted on the archdiocese's website on Tuesday, contains robust language intended to reach out to victims of clerical abuse.

“The history of this terrible abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to love and protect you is a deep source of sadness and shame for our Church,” he said. “We as a Church must forever strive to support and assist you on your road to recovery.”

He also referred to “additional programs and services to aid in healing and recovery” that he planned to announce soon.

The Rev. John Daniel, vicar general of the archdiocese, said Wester has considered ways to reach out to clerical abuse victims since he became the archbishop in June 2015.

The letter is intended both as an apology, and to promote healing, Daniel said.

“I also think it's a way for the public to know that we are transparent, and we are making efforts, and have been making efforts for 25 years, for the safety of children here in the archdiocese,” he said.

Many of the names included in the list — such as James Porter, Sabine Griego, Jason Sigler and Arthur Perrault — are familiar from dozens of civil lawsuits and criminal cases dating to the early 1990s.

Other names are unfamiliar, said Brad Hall, an Albuquerque lawyer who has filed 71 lawsuits alleging clerical sexual abuse in New Mexico.

“We've been trying to get something like this, as a step in the right direction, for years,” Hall said.

“It's vindicating for survivors,” he said. “We appreciate this archbishop doing that, as opposed to the policies of the prior archbishops.”



Mother wants notification of child abuse cases

by Heather Osbourne

“I find it absurd that if someone witnesses a teacher knock a student down or forces a student to sit in a basket, that no one feels it is their duty to call a parent.”

NICEVILLE — A mother of a Kenwood Elementary School student told the Okaloosa County School Board on Monday that parents should be notified when a teacher is investigated for alleged abuse toward their own child.

Christine Newcomer began by asking School Board members to put themselves in the shoes of the 6-year-old student who was allegedly abused by teacher Marlynn Stillions at Kenwood.

“Imagine you are unable to express your thoughts in a way that others can understand, unable to communicate your fears, likes, dislikes and/or pain,” Newcomer said. “Picture your teacher shuffling you along a dirty cafeteria floor with her foot because you cannot communicate clearly.”

Perillo said he sensed something was wrong with Noah after he became aggressive and was scared of spray bottles.

The investigative report confirmed Stillions used a spray bottle to “inappropriately” spray disabled students in the mouth with vinegar. The report also confirmed she used her foot to push children down the lunchroom aisle, picked up a child by his shirt collar and waistband, denied students lunches, threw away students' food when they wouldn't listen to her and stashed food in her classroom where she ate it herself.

“Imagine that happening to your child,” Newcomer said. “A vulnerable child with a disability.

“If my child so much as receives a bandage during school, I am notified,” Newcomer continued. “I find it absurd that if someone witnesses a teacher knock a student down or forces a student to sit in a basket, that no one feels it is their duty to call a parent.”

Stillions was never disciplined because the school district did not follow investigative procedures that had been agreed upon the labor contract with the teacher's union.

She transferred from Kenwood to Silver Sands School in the 2016-17 school year. She was put on administrative leave after reports of the incidents were made public last month.

Newcomer was not alone at Monday's meeting. Perillo and four others sat in the audience to support her.

One of those supporters, Angela Hager, also requested to speak Monday but she said she was denied because the agenda had already been established. Hager will speak at the Sept. 25 meeting.

Near the end of her speech, Newcomer asked the board if any parents of the students who were denied food by the teacher as punishment — which had been confirmed by the abuse investigation — were notified.

? How does Okaloosa County School District move forward to implement the much-needed changes regarding parent notification?” she asked.

No one answered her questions.

At the end of her speech, board members remained silent. When Newcomer asked if she should step down from the podium, she didn't receive an answer.

Henry Kelley, director of community affairs for the school district, said after the meeting that it's not uncommon for the School Board to not address speakers following their statements or questions.

As Newcomer walked away from the podium, a lone spectator applauded.



CPS racing to find abused and neglected children after Harvey

by Marla Carter

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Investigator David Coward is on a mission to ensure children are safe and protected.

He's a special investigator with Child Protective Services. Since Hurricane Harvey, he's been very busy.

"Last Tuesday, we got 90 cases, with 300 missing children, my unit, they were able to clear it up by Friday, every one of them," said CPS Special Investigator David Coward.

When Coward says missing, he's referring to those displaced by Harvey.

On a normal week, Coward has about eight cases. After Harvey, they had 90. He said many of these are neglect and abuse cases. Coward and other special investigators worked day and night to ensure all of those children were located and safe.

"I was working all night sometimes, but it all got taken care of," said Coward.

On Tuesday, his mission continued. He headed to Cleveland, Texas to locate four children.

"Today, we have neglectful supervision. I have a report that the children are not being fed, taken care of, clothing, no beds, there's no running water," said Coward.

There was also concern that the home had been damaged by Harvey and the residents were displaced. Coward was working to find the family.

On Tuesday he started with an address at an elementary school where the oldest child, a 9-year-old attends. After going inside the school, Coward was grateful to find the child there.

"At least I know I that one child is safe," said Coward.

From there, he headed to another school to search for another sibling. He had success there too. Then he headed to another address in search of the youngest children.

"I love children. I got four of mine and I couldn't see something happening to them. I was 12 years in the military, so no one is left behind," said Coward.

By the end of the day, he found all the children and they were safe.

He will follow up with the family, as his mission continues.



3 children killed in West Sacramento; suspect arrested

Suspect was married to children's mother, police say

by Sarah Heise

Three children were killed Wednesday night inside a West Sacramento apartment complex, and their mother's husband was arrested hours later near I-80 in Sacramento, officers said.

Robert Hodges, 33, of West Sacramento, was taken into custody at about midnight Thursday by California Highway Patrol officers off Interstate 80 and West El Camino Avenue, West Sacramento police Sgt. Roger Kinney said.

Hodges, who was married to the children's mother, was detained without incident. No additional details about the arrest were released. Police have not determined if Hodges was the children's father, Kinney said.

The triple-homicide happened sometime after 9 p.m. at the Timbers Apartments on Touchstone Place.

The initial 911 call came in as a domestic violence incident, and as police were on the way to the apartment, someone called 911 again to report the children were possibly dead, Kinney said.

First responders performed life-saving measures on the children, but all three were pronounced dead at the scene. Details as to how they were killed have not yet been released.

"Something like this is very disturbing," Kinney said. "The officers are absolutely impacted, along with the firefighters, and certainly the family, the neighbors -- this call is going to have quite a bit of emotion. It's horrific, and it's very difficult to deal with. This is going to take not hours, not days, it's going to take a long time to come to grips with what happened there."

The mother witnessed Hodges kill her children, and she was a victim of domestic violence, Kinney said. No details about what happened to her were released.

"Obviously, she's traumatized, and it's going to take some time to find out what's going on," Kinney said.

The children's names, ages and genders have not been released.

West Sacramento police stayed tight-lipped about the incident for most of the night, calling it only a "significant incident" until they released information about the killings just after 11:30 p.m.


Who Pays for Sex Abuse?

by Marci A. Hamilton (NAASCA family member)

Drawing on data from the extraordinary archive of Catholic sex abuse at, the San Diego Tribune recently published the top 10 sexual abuse settlements by the Catholic Church in the United States. The numbers are large in the aggregate: the church paid $1.553 billion total, with $960.94 million paid to 2,458 survivors. On average, each victim received $391,000 after attorneys' fees.

These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg as many of the victims did not receive full compensatory damages, because the dioceses pooled claims through bankruptcies or other means and avoid individual trials, thereby lowering per-victim recoveries. The cost to the church is actually higher than $1.5 billion, because it has also had to pay for its lawyers (especially for the bishops who take a scorched earth approach against the victims). They also have covered some therapy. Accordingly, Church costs have been estimated at $4 billion. The victims' expense has not yet been aggregated by social scientists, but it is certainly well beyond $4 billion given that approximately 20-25% of children are sexually abused and the array of negative effects include addiction, alcoholism, depression, PTSD, and eating disorders, among many others.

These numbers are misleading on the surface, however, because they focus on a truncated stream of funds. Let's expand the field of examination to understand better the economics of sex abuse. At the first level, for the nearly 2,500 victims from the top ten settlements, cost of the sex abuse was shifted from the victim and onto the institution that created the conditions for the abuse. But it is inaccurate to assume that the victim was in fact bearing the full burden of the cost of the abuse. Families also bear the brunt. As does society, through Medicaid, Medicare, and other forms of medical and welfare assistance. Not to mention the burden imposed on the healthcare system and employers when a survivor needs rehab, time off, or other treatment.

By shifting the cost, these cases reduce fiscal burdens on the system in the future. But they also recoup previous expenses borne by the government. For those who had been treated through Medicaid, there is a lien put on such settlements that is collected by the government. To be clear, then, these sex abuse settlements move dollars from the victim, the family, and the taxpayers to the institution at fault. Conversely, without the settlements, we pay and they don't.

The Cost of Sex Abuse

So far, social scientists have not been able to nail down the cost of sex abuse to society alone and so we are left to draw inferences from other data.

In 2012, leading scholars Richard Gelles and Staci Perlman arrived at a total of approximately $80 billion/year for all child abuse and neglect, including direct costs (“hospitalization, mental health care system, child welfare system services, and law enforcement”) and indirect costs (“special education, juvenile delinquency, mental health and health care, adult criminal justice system, and lost productivity”). Sex abuse is a subset of that number, but also a form of abuse that engenders an array of devastating medical and psychological disorders.

One approach to understanding the cost of abuse to the victim (and society) is by looking at the cost of the diseases that afflict victims, like PTSD, addiction, and alcoholism. For example, child sex abuse victims often receive a diagnosis of PTSD. That is a mental condition primarily studied in the context of combat experience. The first year of treatment for combat-related PTSD was $8,300 as of 2012. That is just one year and while the initial cost may be higher than succeeding years, survivors are often triggered by later events in life that can set them back to the beginning.

Then there is the cost of addiction and alcoholism, also often associated with child sex abuse. Rehab can range from $1,000 to $60,000 and addicts relapse at a rate of 40-60%, creating a multiplier effect on the cost of ending addiction.

These numbers do not take into account the lack of productivity society suffers when these victims often are unable to achieve their full potential, or the cost to society when a survivor struggles with intimacy, which afflicts marriage and increases divorce rates.

Who Pays?

Despite the numbers reported above, the Church and its insurers have paid only a percentage of the actual cost of abuse of its victims nationwide. As a result of the bishops' lobbying, it has kept the lid on statutes of limitations (SOL) in many states, including states with large Catholic populations like New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The bishops have routinely refused to pay if the victim was beyond the SOL, or to offer drastically discounted numbers to a victim beyond the SOL. That means that society and families are picking up the slack, and that the burden of sex abuse continues to be borne by the public in this arena and many others.

Shifting the balance of payments only happens when the victims have some legal leverage that forces the institutions responsible to shoulder the cost. Therefore, in states where the SOL is short, like New York, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Michigan, it is the public bearing the brunt of the abuse.

The bishops often tell legislators that their diocese will go “bankrupt” if they can be sued in a court of law, and lawmakers then shield them by refusing to permit SOL reform to go forward. The calculus by lawmakers to defer to the Church on SOL reform for the purpose of saving the Church money is in fact a decision to let the public pay for the sins of the Church.

Taxpayers save when lawmakers stand up for victims. That means SOL reform should be a state budget priority.



Report: Suicide attempts, sexual abuse cases rise among young Nebraskans in state care

by Martha Stoddard

LINCOLN — Nebraska youths in state care attempted suicide in rising numbers last year, according to a new report.

The report, issued Wednesday by the inspector general of Nebraska child welfare, said sexual abuse cases involving such young people also have increased.

Inspector General Julie Rogers described both trends as “very concerning.”

She said an investigation into suicide attempts by children in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems is needed.

Her office already is working on a report about the sexual abuse of state wards, former wards and children in state-licensed facilities. That report is expected to be completed later this year.

The report released Wednesday summarizes cases reviewed by the Inspector General's Office during the year ending June 30.

Those cases include two investigations of child deaths.

One was a 17-year-old who had been placed under restrictions by probation as an alternative to detention. The youth died by suicide at home. According to the report, neither probation nor a private contractor followed up on the youth's mental health problems.

The other was a 17-year-old state ward who was found unconscious and not breathing in a hallway of a group home. An autopsy found that her death was due to medical problems.

The report said that state licensing regulations are not sufficient to ensure that children in group homes get appropriate medical care and that state licensing inspectors did not do a thorough investigation after her death.

The report also makes recommendations for improving the care provided by the State Department of Health and Human Services, two private child welfare agencies and the state's juvenile probation division.

According to the report, the Inspector General's Office reviewed 339 critical incidents during the year. The office also received 172 complaints and six grievances.

Those critical incidents included 45 suicide attempts made by 38 youths involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems. That compares to 21 attempts the year before and 17 attempts in 2014-15.

Children making the attempts ranged in age from 7 to 18. Five youths made two attempts during the year; one tried three times.

Regarding sexual abuse, the report said there were 29 cases involving children in state care and sexual abuse. That compares to 16 cases the year before and 14 in 2014-15.

Of this year's cases, 24 involved children who were victims of alleged sexual abuse by community members, foster parents, therapists, relatives and other youth.

Five other cases involved youths in state care who allegedly perpetrated sexual abuse or assault on others.

Rogers praised HHS for making progress in addressing new and previous recommendations.

She pointed particularly to improvements made at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney, which dramatically reduced the number of escapes and assaults at the facility. The center is operated by HHS and serves boys in the juvenile justice system.

But Rogers said HHS has made insufficient progress in bringing down high caseloads for child welfare workers. She cited the same problem in previous reports.

“I continue to be deeply troubled about the impact of high caseloads on children, families and the dedicated staff who serve them,” she said. “With the high workloads, corners get cut and that endangers the safety of children.”

Rogers also faulted the Administrative Office of Probation, an arm of the Nebraska Supreme Court, for neither addressing nor acting on any of the recommendations directed at that agency.

She said the lack of response from probation officials raises concerns about how they are improving the juvenile justice system.

In an official statement, judicial branch officials took issue with the report. They said judges, judicial branch administrators and probation officers have “collectively light years more experience” in working with children and families in court than does the inspector general.

“No credibility should be given to the OIG report whatsoever,” the statement said.

However, it also said that probation officials took the report, findings and recommendations very seriously, given the nature of the incidents reviewed.

The statement did not respond to specific recommendations from the report, but it said the recommendations have been reviewed and included as considerations in the agency's ongoing improvement efforts.

Rogers and probation officials have had a testy relationship.

Last year, lawmakers had to step in to resolve a dispute over the inspector general's access to information on youths involved in the juvenile justice system.

Nebraska lawmakers created the inspector general position in 2012 to act as a watchdog over the child welfare system. The move was among the responses to a system in turmoil following a failed attempt at privatizing child welfare case management across the state.



A generation heals from Earl Bradley

by Margie Fishman

She remembers the grinning Disney characters with their frozen arms, the stick-on constellation beaming from the ceiling as he dimmed the lights.

Now, Georgetown pageant queen Jenna Hitchens recalls only the details of the carnivalesque rooms of Earl Bradley's office — not what happened in them over a decade.

She's still fuzzy on whether she was drugged, raped or videotaped by one of the most notorious pedophiles in U.S. history, an archetypal loner who is serving 14 life sentences in a single-bunk cell.

Bradley wasn't the only one sentenced to life.

"I will always have a hatred for him," says Hitchens, a willowy 23-year-old who used to cinch her belt so tight that it threatened to cut off her circulation.

"Why did you do that to me?" she asks. "Why did you do that to my life?"

Five years after the state's highest court affirmed his conviction, hundreds of Bradley's victims — an entire generation of pediatric patients along the Delaware seashore — are struggling to heal brutalized bodies and minds.

As toddlers, they were more afraid of the monster in the lab coat than the monster under the bed. As adults, they can exhibit a range of dysfunctional behaviors psychologists say are common to abuse victims:

They don't trust authority. They fear intimacy. They get entangled in abusive relationships or hooked on drugs and alcohol. They suffer in a state of perpetual high alert, like hunted animals.

Some mutilate their wrists to feel pain. Others shoot up drugs to forget.

"I really just wanted to sleep my life away," admits Aubrey Heary, who blew her half-million-dollar Bradley settlement check on heroin, luxury cars and extravagant gifts for friends and family. Now 33, she is fighting to take a more active role in the life of her 3-year-old son, who was adopted by her parents when she lost custody.

In Lewes, Bradley's demolished BayBees Pediatrics site is still on the market, and his clapboard home has been gutted. Residents say they're not trying to whitewash the serial child molester's stain on the community, but they'd prefer if Bradley's name was never mentioned again –– in the news media or in casual conversation.

"We'd like to get past that," explains Pat DeBiasse, a ruddy-faced plumber, and firefighter who moved to the area with his wife years after Bradley had been put behind bars.

The DeBiasses purchased Bradley's Savannah Road home last year for $300,000, less than half its market value, from the church whose parking lot abuts the property.

Bethel United Methodist was gifted the three-story house with its sagging gable roof after no buyers surfaced and the bank wanted it off the books. The local Historic Preservation Commission barred anyone from leveling the nearly century-old, structure.

The DeBiasses are investing $200,000 in a down-to-the-studs overhaul to create an airy three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath oasis located less than a mile from the beach. The home sits across the street from the Lewes firehouse, where Pat, a volunteer firefighter, can hop on the first truck after the bell.

Asked what he plans to salvage, Pat points to an ornate banister and glides a dusty hand across it. The wood is weathered from the palms of previous inhabitants, including Bradley and his four children.

Beyond the coin-operated Buzz Lightyear ride that warned "Do not leave child unattended," Bradley grabbed the tiny hands of his patients, some of them still in diapers, plying them with promises of popsicles and Barbie dolls.

As parents paid their bills, he led their infants to hidden, video-monitored rooms. There, he brazenly violated them, muzzling their shrieks and sedating them with nitrous oxide. He didn't discriminate against those who had autism or suffered from hearing loss.

Ashen-faced children nearly suffocated from being forced to perform oral sex on him. One girl was raped on video four times before she turned 2.

In the end, a total of more than 1,400 identified victims and other patients who were too young to talk shared an unprecedented $123 million settlement paid by Bradley's employer, Beebe Medical Center; hospital insurers; the Medical Society of Delaware; and other defendants.

When they reach age 18, Bradley's victims become old enough to claim their "blood money," as Heary calls it. Dozens already have, trying to appear upbeat about college or job prospects as they sign papers, lawyers involved in the case say. Payments range from a few thousand dollars to more than $400,000 in the most heinous abuse cases.

The News Journal recently interviewed victims, their families, attorneys, child advocates, health care executives and state regulators involved in the landmark case and its aftermath.

The collateral damage is far-reaching.

Marriages have dissolved, as one guilt-ridden parent turned against the other. Lawyers and police detectives, who were forced to watch 13 hours of Bradley's homemade video tapes, still hear the blood-curdling screams of children being molested, sodomized and raped.

Of the 86 patients recorded, the average age was 3. The youngest was 3 months old.

All five Sussex County forensic interviewers, responsible for rehashing details with victims over several months, quit after the job was done, said Randall Williams, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center of Delaware.

"It did take an immense emotional toll …," he said. "During that period, everyone knew how important it was to keep going."

One of Delaware's most prominent child advocates, then-Attorney General Beau Biden, passed up an opportunity to run for his father's U.S. Senate seat to successfully prosecute Bradley. Biden died of brain cancer in 2015, before he had the chance to run for governor of his home state. His family foundation enshrined his legacy of protecting victims of child abuse.

At the urging of Biden and others, state legislators swiftly passed a package of patient protection bills in 2010 that made it easier to suspend the license of a doctor who poses a "clear and immediate danger" and increases the fines levied against individuals who fail to report suspicious conduct.

That action had no effect on a handful of local doctors, who were implicated in the Bradley case for not reporting his behavior. All still hold active medical licenses with no disciplinary actions, according to state records.

Among them is James P. Marvel Jr., a prominent orthopedic surgeon who retired from Beebe last year. A state-commissioned report found that Marvel, two-time president of the state Medical Society and the grandson of Beebe's co-founder, defended Bradley's record to police detectives and failed to investigate multiple allegations of the pediatrician's inappropriate behavior with young girls while he led the medical trade association.

Marvel has repeatedly refused News Journal requests for interviews. He could not be reached for comment recently.

Since Bradley's conviction, no other Delaware doctor has been reported to the state Division of Professional Regulation for engaging in sexually inappropriate behavior with a child, division director David Mangler said. Three doctors, however, have had their licenses revoked for inappropriate sexual conduct with adult women, according to state records.

Nobody in the law enforcement or medical communities alerted Delaware's Board of Medical Practice to Bradley's inappropriate contact with girls despite a 1996 investigation by Beebe, a 2004 complaint to the state medical society reported by Bradley's half-sister and former office assistant Lynda Barnes, and two police investigations in 2005 and 2008 overseen by the Attorney General's Office.

Mangler noted that there was confusion at the time about which agency handled the licensing of doctors. The board has since educated the community about its function and improved coordination with law enforcement, he said.

"I do believe that the board is much more sensitive to the fact that they have a legal and moral obligation to the public," he said.

Meanwhile, Beebe's sprawling complex, where Bradley previously served as chief of pediatrics, has rebounded from near-bankruptcy and recently announced a $180 million expansion, including a new Women's and Children's Department.

After being accused in the civil lawsuit of dereliction of duty and medical negligence in connection with Bradley, the hospital instituted a robust internal reporting and oversight process to respond to allegations of doctor abuse, according to senior executives. Beebe, like other hospitals, now requires that a chaperone, such as a parent, be present before a pediatrician can conduct an intimate exam on a patient under age 16.

The Lewes medical center's settlement contribution represented more than half of its net income at the time. Beebe's final $100,000 payment is due in November.

"You can never assume that because you have a respected physician in the community that everybody thinks the world of, that person can't do something terrible," Jeffrey Fried, Beebe president, and CEO, said recently.

Today, more than 4,700 people — a minority of them pedophiles — are listed on Delaware's sex offender registry , which represents the third-highest rate per capita in the nation, according to research by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Pedophilia, a sexual attraction to prepubescents, is defined as a mental illness — but only when acted on, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Bradley was born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia to a mother who was a raging alcoholic and a father who stockpiled photographs of naked girls, according to an earlier News Journal interview with a Bradley relative. At age 87, Bradley's uncle was convicted of lewd behavior and exposing himself to young girls in central Pennsylvania.

A member of the Latin honor society and rifle club, Bradley did not crack a smile in his senior yearbook photo. Years later, his Temple University medical school yearbook page was decorated with cartoon doodles, along with a photo of Bradley holding an unidentified girl about 2 years old. She was not his daughter.

Bradley would have his own daughter in 1984, after marrying a woman who graduated with degrees in nursing and law. By the early 1990s, he established a solo practice near his home and also treated patients at Frankford Hospital in Northeast Philadephia.

In 1994, a mother discovered Bradley with his hand down the front of her 21-month-old's diaper in a darkened toy room. She called him a "sick bastard" and filed a police report. Bradley accused the mom of "extortion" and soon set up shop in Milford and Lewes.

Post-Bradley, Delaware vaulted from its ranking as one of the worst states for disciplining doctors for misconduct to leading the nation in patient protection reforms. The "Bradley bills" increased the penalty for failing to report to the state medical board potential abuse by a doctor — $10,000 for the first offense and $50,000 for a repeat offender.

But problems persist. Nationwide, unscrupulous doctors continue to benefit from a self-regulating profession and secretive disciplinary process, a 2016 Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found. That same system shielded Bradley from at least eight accusations of sexual misconduct from 1994 to 2009.

As many as 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18, according to research by child advocacy organizations.

Ninety percent of child victims of abuse know their abuser; 60 percent are sexually abused by a person the family trusts.

The same year that Bradley received the maximum sentence allowed, the Diocese of Wilmington and several religious orders throughout the diocese distributed more than $110 million to 152 adult survivors who were sexually abused by area Catholic priests. Tens of millions more were paid in confidential settlements with dozens of other childhood rape survivors who had been abused in families; other churches; nonprofit groups; or in public, private or religious schools in Delaware.

In 2012, after the Wilmington Diocese emerged from bankruptcy, Pennsylvania State University began compensating child molestation victims of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. The toll is a quarter-billion dollars and climbing.

Vigilance is key to preventing child sex abuse, experts agree. Yet inadequate funding has hampered the Biden Foundation's mission to educate at least 5 percent of the First State's population in steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the crime, according to foundation CEO Patricia Dailey Lewis. So far, the foundation has trained about 25,000 people, she said, including the University of Delaware and Delaware City police departments and Wilmington police recruits.

A state mandate for all publicly funded schools to provide age-appropriate child sex abuse prevention training has been put on hold for up to two years while government agencies attempt to coordinate a curriculum.

In the summer of 2016, former Gov. Jack Markell signed Erin's Law, named for Erin Merryn, an Illinois-born survivor of sexual abuse. The law required all publicly funded schools to provide child sexual abuse education for kindergarteners through six-graders, as well as related training for teachers and other staff members, starting this school year.

But less than a month before the academic year kicked off, the General Assembly amended the statute to extend the training deadline to the 2019-2020 school year. That gave state agencies more time to coordinate the three-hour child abuse trainings with suicide prevention, anti-bullying programs and more, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Susan Haberstroh.

Haberstroh said some districts already offer child abuse prevention programs, but she couldn't provide a list because the department doesn't track it.

"All deadlines are being met," she said.

At the same time, the number of reported child abuse incidents statewide continues to grow, nearly doubling to almost 21,000 over the last six years. The number of substantiated incidents has stayed mostly flat at about 1,100 cases, according to child advocates, who blame a shortage of case workers.

State officials counter that what matters most is accurately analyzing each situation and reacting appropriately, with the goal of keeping the family whole whenever possible.

Earlier this year, the Children's Advocacy Center, which collects evidence in criminal child abuse cases, sustained a nearly $100,000 state budget cut to its three locations. To make up the difference, leaders froze one of six forensic interviewer positions and are rolling back operating hours.

Citing Bradley's "overall impact" on inmates and correctional officers, the state moved the 63-year-old from James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna to a state prison in southern Connecticut last year.

There, Bradley continues to fire off handwritten, well-crafted court appeals.

Publicly, he has expressed no remorse for his crimes.

His victims wish they, too, could rescript the narrative.

Unlike the perpetrator, their ending hasn't been written yet.


United Kingdom

Revised UK child sexual 'consent' rules provoke backlash

Children as young as 12 could be refused compensation under guidelines criticised as 'victim blaming'

by Josh Halliday

Sexually abused children as young as 12 could still be refused compensation by a government body on the grounds that they “consented,” under revised rules seen by the Guardian.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) began a review of its guidelines earlier this year when it emerged that almost 700 child victims had been denied payments, even in cases where the attacker had been jailed.

The rules were criticised by charities including Barnardo's and Victim Support, as well as survivors and MPs who criticised them as “victim blaming”. It is illegal to have sexual activity with anyone under 16 but the CICA does not automatically make payments to all victims.

David Lidington, the justice secretary, told MPs last week that the rules would be changed so that victims of child-grooming rings would no longer be refused compensation as happened with some survivors .

However CICA's revised guidance states that victims of child sexual abuse can still be disqualified from the scheme on the basis that “consent ‘in fact' is different from consent ‘in law'.”

Even in cases involving children it says that “where the sexual activity is truly of the applicant's free will no crime of violence will have occurred”.

Sammy Woodhouse, one of the most prominent survivors of the Rotherham grooming scandal, described the revised guidance as “absolutely disgusting … I'm outraged and I definitely won't believe in this. I'm going to continue to campaign and I'm going to ring David Lidington tomorrow,” she said.

Sarah Champion, Rotherham's MP, said it was “despicable” and called for the justice secretary to intervene. “It's basically saying that the state doesn't believe you, that you're likely to be a liar on this and that is entirely the wrong message to send out,” she said.

“It's making it very clear that there are civil servants making subjective judgments and this guidance is not working on the assumption that both the judge and the child is telling the truth.

“It's working on the assumption that it's unlikely that a crime of violence happened and these are all the things you need to bear in mind when you're validating that assumption. It's entirely the wrong way round.”

It emerged last week that Woodhouse, whose evidence in court helped convict one of the most notorious Rotherham grooming ringleaders, was initially refused compensation when the CICA concluded that she consented and was not manipulated.

The government body told her: “I am not satisfied that your consent was falsely given as a result of being groomed by the offender. The evidence does not indicate that you were manipulated or progressively lured into a false relationship.”

When Woodhouse appealed against the decision she was offered a small settlement, which was eventually altered and she was awarded the maximum amount.

Her abuser, Arshid Hussain, was last year jailed for 35 years along with his brothers after being convicted of multiple offences including rape, abduction and indecent assault. The gang of three brothers, their uncle and two women were found guilty of 55 serious offences, some of which lay undetected for almost 20 years.

The CICA began a review of its guidelines in July following criticism from charities including Barnardo's and Victim Support.

Lidington, the justice secretary, told MPs in the Commons last week that the new rules would “make sure that there is no risk that a child could be disqualified from compensation because they had given consent when that consent had, in effect, been forced from them by a subtle process of grooming”.

But Champion said the draft revised guidelines, which have been shared with a small number of sexual abuse charities, undermined Lidington's promise.

They state: “The legal age of consent is 16. It is a criminal offence for a person to engage in sexual activity with someone under 13 regardless of the circumstances, and to engage in sexual activity with someone aged 13 to 16 unless certain narrow defences apply. Normally, where such a criminal offence has been committed, the child will be the victim of a crime of violence and therefore eligible for compensation under Annex B.

“However, consent ‘in fact' is different from consent ‘in law'. The scheme recognises that there may be situations where a person aged under 16 has ‘in fact' consented to sexual activity. Where the sexual activity is truly of the applicant's free will no crime of violence will have occurred.”

It continues: “Such cases will be rare where an adult engages in sexual conduct with a child. There can only be consent ‘in fact' where you are satisfied that consent was freely and voluntarily given. Even if it appears that the minor expressed consent to the acts in question, the surrounding circumstances may indicate that the situation was abusive and the consent was not true consent.”

The guidance also states that children under 12 could also be found to have consented to sexual activity.

It says: “Where the child was 12 or under when the incident happened, we will presume that the child did not consent in fact unless the evidence to the contrary is very clear. For example, where the incident involves children aged 12 or under who, on the evidence, both appear to have agreed to engage in sexual experimentation with each other, it is unlikely that a crime of violence will have occurred.”

David Greenwood, the solicitor who has acted for a number of Rotherham grooming victims, backed Champion's call for the Ministry of Justice to intervene. “I am deeply disappointed that the CICA still think it is acceptable to refuse to compensate boys and girls who have been sexually abused on the basis that they consented,” he said.

“The very fact that the police have been involved in these cases suggest there was a lack of consent. The fact that survivors bring their cases to the CICA suggests they didn't consent. Someone from the Ministry of Justice must step in to amend the rules on consent.”

A CICA spokesperson said : “Child sexual abuse is abhorrent. Our guidelines are designed to make sure that controlling and abusive behaviour is taken into account when handling compensation applications. We want to be sure that we never get these decisions wrong. That's why we are reviewing our staff guidance to make sure that we identify every instance where grooming could be a factor. We are actively engaging victim support groups and relevant charities to make sure the revised guidance is as robust as it possibly can be.”



PA auditor general: Child-welfare system 'breakdowns' put kids at risk for abuse, death

by Jo Ciavaglia

The number of child abuse investigations in Bucks County has nearly doubled over the last two years, while the annual turnover rate for caseworkers who investigate those claims is twice as high as it was before 2015.

Those losses include experienced staff members who transferred to other human services agencies, according to Children and Youth Director Lynne Kallus-Rainey. The situation leaves fewer, and often new, employees to manage a growing number of troubled families.

“There's actually a disincentive to stay at Children and Youth, in comparison with other human-services jobs,” Kallus-Rainey said. “At other agencies, you have a regular work schedule, and you don't have the stress.”

Bucks County's situation is not unique. County children and youth agencies across the state face similar challenges recruiting and maintaining qualified, well-trained caseworkers. It's a situation that is leaving more vulnerable children at higher risk for abuse, neglect and death, according to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

“I'm talking about wholesale system breakdowns that actually prevent caseworkers from protecting our children from abuse and neglect,” DePasquale said at a news conference Thursday in Harrisburg. "The system itself is setting the kids and the caseworkers up for failure."

The event marked the release of the auditor general's 80-page “State of the Child” report, the result of a year-long review of the Pennsylvania's child welfare system. The document assesses the strengths and difficulties the system is facing and focuses on 13 representative county systems including Bucks County. Specifically, the report focuses on child welfare caseworkers, who work directly with children and their families.

The review is an outgrowth of last year's audit of ChildLine, the state's child abuse reporting hotline, which uncovered massive problems including unanswered calls. The new report includes 17 recommendations, including the creation of an independent ombudsman position that would work with the Department of Human Services as an advocate for at-risk children, and recommending system improvements.

Other suggestions outlined in the report are revamping caseworker training and job descriptions, hiring more clerical staff, streamlining paperwork and assessing how new technology can be used to allow caseworkers to spend more time in the field working with families.

The report doesn't include cost estimates for implementing the proposed changes. But DePasquale criticized DHS officials for failing to request more money from the General Assembly to better implement sweeping changes to the Child Protective Services Law that took effect in January 2015. Those changes, which came in the wake of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal that came to authorities attention due to the efforts of a child welfare caseworker, included an expanded definition of child abuse as well as the number of individuals considered mandated abuse reporters.

Those two new requirements alone resulted in significant increases in paperwork for each case, DePasquale said. As a result, an intake caseworker could spend up to three hours documenting a 45-minute visit with a family in order to meet strict deadlines for filing documentation with the state. In some counties, intake workers went from caseloads of 12 to 20 to more than 50 cases simultaneously, he added. Caseworkers can spend up to five hours filling out forms documenting an assessment for one family, he added.

Adding to agency demands, the changes in the law coincided with the dramatic rise in parental substance abuse, specifically opioids and opiates, another significant source of new abuse and neglect referrals. The rising number of referrals involving parental substance abuse allegations also put inexperienced caseworkers into hostile, potentially dangerous and unpredictable environments without adequate personal safety and crisis training.

The combination proved overwhelming to a system that was already struggling to retain employees and keep up with demand to the point where the primary agency mission — protecting children — has been lost, DePasquale said.

DePasquale ticked off factors that he believe has contributed to the difficulty in recruiting case workers, including outdated job descriptions for counties using the state's Civil Service Commission to hire child welfare employees, high-stress work environments, and “remarkably low pay.”

How low? DePasquale noted the average starting salary for a caseworker in many Pennsylvania counties is $30,000, roughly $20,000 less than individuals with similar educational backgrounds. In some counties, caseworker salaries are so low they use food stamps.

“That is insane,” he said.

Even in Bucks County, where the starting salary for caseworkers is among the highest at nearly $45,000, it's a challenge to keep workers. The agency lost 16 percent of its 113 caseworkers in fiscal year 2014-15, Kallus-Rainey said.

For the most recent fiscal year, the county experienced a 40-percent increase in new suspected abuse and neglect reports compared to the previous year, Kallus-Rainey said. But her agency went from a pre-2015 average annual caseworker turnover rate of 6 percent to 12 percent during the last fiscal year.

Last year, Bucks child welfare workers investigated more than 5,500 reports, according to county statistics.

Caseloads are “much higher” than workers can manage, Kallus-Rainey said.

“The job just keeps getting bigger,” she said. “You can't expect one person to do the type of job that's now expected of a caseworker.”



Minnesota law school gets $2M donation for child abuse prevention training

by Ryan Faircloth

ST. PAUL—A new program launched by St. Paul's Mitchell Hamline School of Law will help train professionals in child-abuse response and prevention.

The "Zero Abuse Project," funded by a $2 million donation from St. Paul lawyer Jeff Anderson, will teach future attorneys and professionals to respond to child abuse through "trauma-informed care" and training.

The gift was announced by Anderson — a longtime litigator of child sex abuse cases — on Thursday. Anderson is an alumnus of the law school from back when it was known as William Mitchell, before it had merged with Hamline University's law school.

"We believe child abuse can end and the Zero Abuse Project is pivotal to that mission," Anderson said in a prepared statement. "Our law firm is making this commitment in the hopes that people don't need to contact us in the future."

The Zero Abuse Project will include a new child-advocacy law clinic where professionals will focus on efforts such as course teaching and development, public policy change and litigation.

Hamline Mitchell professor Joanna Woolman, director of the school's child-protection program, said the new clinic will expand learning opportunities and coursework for law students.

"We're going to be starting a child-advocacy clinic where they can get real experience working to advocate for children," she said.

The project will also offer nationwide online training and certificates for professionals and child-protection advocates.

"This will jump-start a national training program in that area," said Mark Gordon, Mitchell Hamline law school dean.

The Zero Abuse Project will help attract more law students to Mitchell Hamline, he said.

"I think you find a lot of people who are very moved by the stories they read about child abuse who would really like to be part of a solution," Gordon said. "But the programming just traditionally has not been there at law schools for students who want to develop a career in this area."



Diocese addresses child abuse prevention with training

by Anthony Conn

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio — The Diocese of Steubenville held a training for its members, focusing on how to protect children.

For the last 15 years, the Diocese of Steubenville has been taking steps to educate its members of the proper ways to treat children.

On Thursday night, members of the diocese met at St. Mary's Church in St. Clairsville for their annual child protection workshop.

"It's certainly to show them the signs to be concerned about, and also to work with our children and give them the best possible way for them to grow,” said Bishop Jeffrey Monforton.

Belmont County priests and Catholic school principals were present for the training, as the diocese's decree on child protection laid out how members of the diocese should act when with minors. The training is aimed to educate and protect.

“Mainly it's protection of everyone, primarily protection of the children,” said Frank Fregiato, Belmont County judge. “We also don't want unfounded allegations against the priests either.”

The Catholic church has been in the spotlight over the years over child abuse allegations. The diocese's decree on child protection lays out several rules, including always having two adults present when with a minor, and prohibiting overnight stays with a priest without a parent present.

Since these meetings were introduced 15 years ago, Fregiato says the number of cases has significantly dropped.

“The Catholic church is the leader in the world today, in the United States particularly, in protecting children,” Fregiato said. “We've made tremendous progress and tremendous success."

"We look at the abuse crisis and that taught us in terms of vigilance we must embrace,” Monforton said. “Not just the church, but all schools and all organizations. We owe it to our young brothers and sisters, the most vulnerable, to protect them."

The priests will now go back to their parishes to implement these teachings to their workers.



This app will help victims of child sexual abuse break the silence

by Kay Ugwuede

The ‘Stop CSE' app on IOS Apple and Google Play Store which will help report abuses on victims will give the fight against abuse a face lift. The whistle blowing App is the brain child of a Nigerian Child Rights group, Jose Foundation in collaboration with its United Kingdom partners.

In a chat with the media in Lagos, President, Jose Foundation, Prince Martins Abhulimhen, said the App has become imperative in view of the high prevalence of child sexual molestations reported in several parts of the world and Nigeria in particular.

He said the use of the App has become necessarily to overcome the culture of silence and shame that is taking away attention from the heinous crime against innocent children, some of which are victims of their parents, relatives, religious leaders and others.

According to him, children and parents can download and use it as a weapon of defence and seeking justice for any sexual exploitation by simply reporting the matter through the App to the Foundation and ‘the Police and other relevant authority will be informed'.

“The idea is that it will serve as a whistle blower guide to support in interventions, whilst preserving the confidentiality of the victims. It will also been a data gathering tool that will help us have a more accurate database on abuses, rate of occurrence, severity and to disaggregate data on the different forms of abuse. With that we can keep track of those with infections including HIV/AIDS.

“The App is to help children and parents understand Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and our workshop coming up will be to train social care givers on how to handle victims of CSE”, Abhulimhen said.

He also urged the federal government to pave the way for the Foundation to extend the campaign to all corners of the country and take away abuse and exploited children to proper social care handlers.

The App is to be translated into the three major languages in Nigeria-Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo for easy access and usage for millions of Nigerians.

The App, Abhulimhen said will be formally unveiled to the Nigerian users in a short time as the App is already running in the UK on IOS and Google.He urged parents, social workers, school principals and people in authority to guide children to learn how to use the App to fight sexual abuses in the country.


Sex trafficking bill is turning into a proxy war over Google

by Sarah Jeong

Since the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 was introduced in the Senate in August , tech companies and advocacy groups have been mobilizing in a battle to control its message. Digital rights organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have called it “ disastrous for free speech online ,” asking its members to call their representatives in Congress. Meanwhile, supporters of the bill have emerged from unlikely quarters — including tech giant Oracle and Hollywood studio 21st Century Fox — and are using the legislation as an opportunity to take shots at Google.

SESTA carves a hole in section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, the liability shield that protects websites from being accountable for the user-generated content they host, by potentially expanding criminal liability. Although the law is intended to target sex trafficking and nefarious websites like Backpage , the vague wording of the bill “potentially implicates every online service that deals with user-generated content,” wrote Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University .

SESTA allows state attorneys general to prosecute websites under state laws. The worry is that the most restrictive regime created by any one state would become the new baseline of regulation in the entirety of the United States. So, if South Carolina passed a law that required sites to authenticate all of its users or face liability for any posts that promoted sex trafficking, every website operating in the US would have to adhere to those rules as well.

SESTA also opens websites up to civil suits over user posts that promote sex trafficking. “What you're going to end up seeing is mass lawsuits,” said Julie Samuels of Engine Advocacy, a nonprofit organization perhaps best known for its work around patent reform. She expressed concern that the lawsuits would sweep up legitimate good actors and end up crushing small startups.

Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Technology Association (which holds the Consumer Electronics Show every year) echoed her concerns. “We recognize that attempts to amend Section 230 target sex traffickers are well intended. However, the likely result will be to create a trial lawyer bonanza of overly-broad civil lawsuits,” he said in a written statement.

It's obvious why companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter would fear SESTA. But most tech companies have been circumspect about their opposition to the bill, choosing to voice their concerns by proxy through trade groups like the Internet Association , which includes Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Twitter among its members.

The problem, of course, is that they're taking a stand against a bill that purports to fight sex trafficking. “Obviously no one supports human trafficking,” said Samuels. “But you're going to start to play with fire when you play with how the internet works.”

It's not an attractive message, and for that reason, companies like Facebook still have no comment on SESTA at this time. Google, however, has since spoken up. Earlier this month, Susan Molinari, vice president of public policy, wrote a blog post about the bill , expressing “concerns” about the bill in the softest language possible. “We've met with the sponsors of the particular bill and provided alternatives that will encourage this environment, and we'll continue to seek a constructive approach to advance a shared goal.”

“Let there be no mistake,” she wrote, “Backpage acted criminally to facilitate child sex trafficking, and we strongly urge the Department of Justice to prosecute them for the egregious crimes against children in the U.S. and abroad.”

Meanwhile, those in favor of the bill have publicly reamed companies for “tech industry obstruction.” A joint statement by a coalition including anti-trafficking advocacy groups and relatives of trafficking victims accused tech companies of backing a site they describe as “the largest online platform where sex trafficking victims are bought and sold,” saying, “While some tech companies are now publicly calling for Backpage to be prosecuted in federal court, this is in stark contrast to their private actions in support of Backpage.”

This accusation is in reference to instances in which digital rights groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed amicus briefs in cases against Backpage brought by state attorneys general. CDA 230 does not shield platforms from federal prosecution. The law very clearly outlines that exception to the liability shield, anticipating that crimes like child pornography and child exploitation would be prosecuted by the federal authorities. The US Department of Justice, for whatever reason, has not shown any inclination to pursue sites like Backpage.

As the fight gets louder, more and more companies have piled into the fracas. Although most of the tech industry opposes the bill (albeit, through the trade associations), Oracle has offered a “ strong endorsement ” of the proposed law. “Your legislation does not, as suggested by the bill's opponents, usher the end of the Internet,” wrote Kenneth Glueck, a senior vice president of Oracle, to Senators Portman and Blumenthal, who are sponsoring the bill. “If enacted, it will establish some measure of accountability for those that cynically sell advertising but are unprepared to help curtail sex trafficking.”

21st Century Fox has also since waded into the mix to offer its public endorsement of the bill .

Oracle and 21st Century Fox don't have much skin in the game when it comes to the sorts of liabilities SESTA could actually introduce, but 21st Century Fox's interest in the matter can be easily read between the lines. As Variety notes , the MPAA has long locked horns with Google over how proactive the tech giant should be in monitoring for piracy. In 2014, emails from the Sony hack revealed that the MPAA and six studios were laser-focused on taking down “ Goliath ” — what appeared in context to be a codeword for Google — through strategies such as collaborating with ISPs and state attorneys general.

The copyright safe harbor provisions aren't affected by SESTA, but still, weakening any liability shield would deal a major blow to a long-time adversary and possibly even start a legislative trend favorable to Hollywood studios.

Why Oracle would come out so publicly in favor of the bill is less obvious, since the law lacks even a tenuous connection to their business model. However the company's animosity towards Google is well-documented, from its $9 billion lawsuit over Android, to Oracle's funding of the Google Transparency Project, which put out a report earlier this year claiming that Google had bought academic influence through grants .

In a bizarre way, Google has become the favorite target of those who support SESTA. In August, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation attempted to connect the bill to then-ongoing scandal around James Damore and his infamous memo. “If Google really wanted to empower women, it would stop obstructing legislation that would decrease sex trafficking online. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if Google is hiring women if they are also lobbying to keep women enslaved on websites like because they're afraid of losing money,” said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of NCSE.

It's unclear what problem the bill could address at this juncture, since Backpage shut down its adult services ads in January, in the wake of several arrests and raids by the California Department of Justice. Although a judge dismissed the charges in December, ruling that CDA 230 protected Backpage's activities, Backpage buckled under the ongoing pressure and shut down the adult services section anyways.

The bill, which was introduced with twenty-one cosponsors, has garnered widespread bipartisan support. Although it has met with opposition from other legislators — in particular, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) who is responsible for the original passage of CDA 230 in 1996 — the bill still seems to have very good chances of passing.



95 Percent of Homeless Youth Who Experienced Sex Trafficking Say They Were Maltreated as Children

by Debra Schilling Wolfe

The Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice & Research at the University of Pennsylvania recently completed a multi-city research study on the prevalence of sex trafficking among homeless youth, with a special emphasis on child welfare risk and protective factors. Little rigorous research has focused on the correlation between child welfare experience and sex trafficking, yet estimates have been cited that the majority of victims of child sex trafficking have experienced the child welfare system.

Largest Study to Date on Trafficking and Homeless Youth

Covenant House International engaged Penn's Field Center and the Loyola University (New Orleans) Modern Slavery Research Project as research partners to conduct the largest national study to date on human trafficking within this population.

Interviews with close to 1,000 youth in 13 cities across the United States and Canada revealed that nearly one in five (19.4 percent) were victims of human trafficking, with 15 percent reporting sex trafficking, 7.4 percent labor trafficking, and 3 percent experiencing both.

By also studying the child welfare background of victims, the Field Center hoped to gain a better understanding about who was most at risk for sex trafficking victimization and help shape new child welfare policy and practice.

Youth in all sites were interviewed utilizing the validated Human Trafficking Interview and Assessment Measure (HTIAM-10). The Field Center focused its research on youth engaged in homeless services in three cities: Phoenix, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

To better understand the backgrounds of the youth, Field Center researchers designed the Child Welfare Supplemental Survey (CWSS), which was administered to all research participants who reported a history of sex trafficking and/or involvement in the commercial sex trade. This secondary instrument looked at multiple child welfare factors, including: history of child maltreatment, child welfare system involvement, and out-of-home placement, as well as potential protective factors, as reported by the youth who were interviewed.

Commercial Sex is a Way of Life for Many Homeless Youth

The Field Center found that 20 percent of those interviewed were victims of human trafficking, as defined by the U.S. Victims of Trafficking & Violence Prevention Act of 2000, with 17 percent experiencing sex trafficking and 6 percent labor trafficking. Participants in addition reported significant involvement in the sex trade beyond experiences meeting the federal definition of trafficking. Fourteen percent described engaging in “survival sex,” defined as when individuals over the age of 18 who trade sex acts to meet the basic needs of survival without overt force, fraud or coercion of a trafficker, but who felt that their circumstances left little or no other option. In addition, over one-third of those interviewed (36 percent) reported engaging in a commercial sex act at some point in their lives.

While 24 percent of females and 9 percent of males reported that they experienced sex trafficking, it is suspected that males may very well have underreported for reasons similar to male reluctance to disclose sexual abuse.

Homeless youth are particularly vulnerable to victimization. Two out of three homeless females interviewed reported being solicited for paid sex, and 22 percent of those solicited described being approached on their very first night of being homeless.

Child Welfare History of Trafficking Victims

For victims of sex trafficking, 63 percent reported involvement with the child welfare system and a staggering 95 percent reported a history of child abuse and/or neglect. The largest number (49 percent) had been sexually abused as children, followed by 33 percent experiencing physical abuse. More than half reported that the maltreatment began when they were 5 years of age or younger, and all but a few described the onset of maltreatment as age 10 or younger.

Instability in housing and frequent placement moves also characterized the population of sex trafficking victims. Over half did not have a place to live at some point prior to his or her 18 th birthday, and 88 percent of youth who experienced commercial sex lived in at least one place without a biological parent. Forty one percent who were sex trafficked reported having been removed from their family of origin and placed in out-of-home care by the child welfare system. One out of four described 10 or more different placements, and several said that they lived in too many places to count.

One theme that emerged throughout the research was the lack of reliable family and/or caring adults in their lives. While 62 percent of those who recalled experiencing child abuse disclosed that they told someone about it, only half reportedly took action in response.

When those who experienced sex trafficking were asked what could have helped prevent them from being in this situation, the most frequent answer was having supportive parents or family members. The research found that the lack of a caring adult in one's life made participants more likely to have experienced sex trafficking.

A second protective factor appears to be graduation from high school. Victims of sex trafficking were 72 percent more likely to have dropped out of high school than the full sample of homeless youth. Of those who reported a history of sex trafficking, only 22 percent had a high school diploma. Earning a GED did not demonstrate similar findings to actually graduating from high school.

Child Welfare System Provides Opportunity for Prevention

Findings illustrate several key areas to inform child welfare policy and practice.

The glaring rate of history of child sexual abuse, including the onset of maltreatment, highlights those most at risk for sex trafficking. Further study can illuminate potential interventions aimed at reducing risk for victimization for this population.

Placement stability and targeted services and interventions to reduce youth homelessness, particularly among the aging out population, would provide further opportunities for prevention. In addition, youth need to be provided with tangible and intangible tools for independence.

Finally, the two protective factors that emerged from this research, graduation from high school and the presence of a caring adult in one's life, warrant further consideration and policy focus for our nation's child welfare systems.

The final report is expected to be released this fall.



Bill would create child abuser registry

by Liz Shepard

A bill is working its way through the legislature to create a child abuse offender registry in Michigan.

If passed into law, the registry would be similar to the state's sex offender registry, which is accessible to the public online.

St. Clair County Prosecutor Mike Wendling said he has concerns about it.

"The original intention of the sex offender registry was to identify people who might be a risk in a community to potential victims," Wendling said. "And victims could avoid that contact with that person ... When it comes to child abuse, those types of offenses are usually perpetrated by a person in your household, not a neighbor kid or random victim, and I don't know what (a registry) would do to prevent it beyond what DHHS does through their registry and due diligence — those would be the type of issues the legislature needs to really explore before setting forward a highly technical, restrictive and potentially negative effect on citizens who have been convicted."

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has a child abuse-neglect central registry that is not available to the public.

Bob Wheaton, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the department has been reviewing the legislation, but has not taken an official stance on it.

The bill would require most people to be registered for 25 years. Those convicted of fourth-degree child abuse would have to register for two years, and those who are convicted of child abuse for a second time would be required to register for life.

Those who fail to register would be charged with a 90-day misdemeanor and a fine up to $1,000. Similar to the sex offender registry, convicted child abusers would have to regularly report and notify officials of any change of address. Those on the registry would also pay an annual $35 fee.

"Anything that protects the safety of the public we're obviously interested in and supportive," Wendling said, adding more research needs to be done to determine if the cost, imposition and affect on those convicted are balanced by any benefits.

In 2015, there were 498 confirmed child abuse victims in St. Clair County and 183 in Sanilac County, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy's 2017 Kids Count data.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Warren, in March. He did not immediately return a phone call Friday.

Child abuse can be reported by calling 911 or on the 24 Hour Child Abuse Reporting Line (855) 444-3911.



Jeffrey Sandusky pleads guilty to 14 counts of child sexual abuse

by Kwegyirba Croffie

Jeffrey Sandusky, the son of convicted sex abuser and former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, pleaded guilty Friday to all 14 counts of child sexual abuse against him.

The Centre Country district attorney's office said the younger Sandusky, 41, entered the guilty pleas a week before his trial was scheduled to begin.

The 14 counts included soliciting sex from a child younger than 16 and soliciting child pornography.

According to the district attorney's office, Sandusky will become a Tier III sex offender, the highest level in Pennsylvania.

The charges involve incidents with two girls, one in 2013 and one in 2016.

The crimes were uncovered late last year when a girl told her father that Sandusky had texted her repeatedly, asking her to send him naked photos.

The father contacted the police, and during the investigation, police discovered another girl, known as victim No. 2, who said Sandusky had asked her to engage in oral sex with him years before.

Both victims say Sandusky tried to use different excuses to try to get them to participate, saying at one point that he "had studied medicine" and another time that he believed that Victim No. 1 had shared a nude photo with her boyfriend, and he wanted to see it.

"This outcome also ensures the victims need not suffer the trauma and re-victimization of testifying at trial and importantly, the defendant will have to comply with strict sex offender registration requirements for the remainder of his life," District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said.

According to the district attorney's office, the terms of Sandusky's plea guarantee that he will serve 3 to 6 years in state incarceration "but allows the judge to impose as much as 4 to 8 years of state prison in her discretion at the time of sentencing."

Tier III offenders must register with the state police for life and verify their registration information in person four times a year," according to the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board.

Sandusky's defense attorney could not be reached for comment.




As I See It: Addressing childhood traumas and their lifelong implications

by Janice B. Yost and Margaret LeRoux

The research is unequivocal: children who experience physical or emotional abuse or neglect; witness domestic violence; live with family members with mental illness, substance abuse, or an absent parent due to separation, divorce or incarceration - in other words, children who have adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) - often struggle in school and grow into adults who are at risk for a range of health issues including heart, lung and liver disease, cancer, and obesity, and as a result are more likely to encounter an early death.

A groundbreaking study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and also Kaiser Permanente, a California based health maintenance organization, discovered the link between ACEs and chronic health issues in adults nearly 20 years ago.

The study also found childhood adversity is more the rule than the exception. Its subjects were predominantly white, middle income; people considered by many to be the healthiest in the U.S. Yet, two-thirds of the 17,000 people in the original ACEs study had at least one adverse childhood experience; one in six reported at least four.

Of the participants, 28 percent reported experiencing physical abuse and 21 percent sexual abuse. Many also reported that their parents had divorced or separated, or a parent had mental illness and/or substance use disorder. Researchers also learned that the greater the exposure to these experiences the greater the likelihood of health problems, and social, and behavioral issues later in life.

ACEs affect health and behavior by keeping the body and mind in a state of hypervigilance - ready and waiting for trouble. The body responds by releasing stress hormones, creating immediate physical, emotional, and behavioral reactions - the fight or flight response.

Since the original study, other experiences and social conditions have been recognized as contributing to childhood adversity. According to the Centers for Disease Control, these cluster into several categories including family disorganization or dissolution, parent military deployment, and being witness to domestic violence, particularly against the mother.

Other sources of childhood distress include disordered community life such as high rates of poverty, housing instability, and unemployment. For every disturbing story or trend reported in the news, there is a child in distress.

Pediatricians have been galvanized. Robert W. Block, MD, FAAP, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics has been widely quoted: “Children's exposure to adverse childhood experiences is the greatest unaddressed public health threat of our time.” This month, the Academic Pediatric Association devotes its entire journal to the topic.

It is not just physicians who are dealing with the impact of ACEs; teachers and schools are too.

Children can't leave trauma at home; their attempts to cope can affect their learning and also put them at odds with schools' disciplinary practices. Children whose minds are consumed with worry and whose bodies are ready to fight or flee are not ready to learn.

In our own community, Worcester HEARS (Healthy Environments and Resilience in Schools), a pilot project in five Worcester public schools, is bringing together advances in brain science, child development and best practices to address childhood adversity. It's also helping children develop the social and emotional skills that will enable them to thrive in a complex world.

Funded by multi-year grants from The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts and the Fred Harris Daniels Foundation, Worcester HEARS includes training for all the adults in the five project schools. They're learning to understand how ACEs influence children's behavior and new ways to respond.

Graduate level courses at Lesley University in Cambridge on social emotion learning and restructuring school environments are available for teachers and administrators in the pilot schools; so far 18 administrators and 27 teachers have completed two courses.

The project also supports the up-fitting of a new health center at Worcester East Middle School which will be administered by Family Health Center of Worcester.

Worcester HEARS focuses on creating supportive school environments and on changing adult behavior to better cultivate supportive relationships with children. Changing the focus from “problem students” to changing adult behavior has been a challenge, admitted one school principal. Now, instead of seeing discipline problems, school personnel are learning how to respond to with a new way of interacting with students.

Mindfulness practices have been adopted by all the elementary schools in the pilot project; 170 school staff members were trained in the evidence-based MindUp curriculum. When surveyed, 93 percent of teachers reported that their classes are using MindUp one or more times a week. By taking periodic breaks to quiet their minds, students are improving the way they learn.

Recognizing the pervasiveness of ACEs and their impact on the health and education of our community and, indeed, our nation is groundbreaking. For medical and educational practitioners the recognition of the immediate and long-term effects of ACEs can be transformational. There is much work ahead of us to address this public health and education crisis.

Janice B. Yost, Ed.D., of Worcester, is president of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts in Worcester; Margaret LeRoux, of West Boylston, is assistant director of the Worcester Education Collaborative.



Child Baker Acts on the rise in Florida, Bay

by Erin Dion

That's 32,475 children across the state, 22 percent of whom were at school at the time.

In April, Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt and Director of Student Services Lee Stafford introduced a plan to overhaul how the district approaches mental health services for their students.

The driving force behind the plan was an alarming uptick in the number of students in the district having to be Baker Acted after threatening suicide. The upward trend included a group Stafford said the district has never dealt with before in terms of the Baker Act — about a dozen elementary school students, some as young as 7 years old.

“I've never seen this before,” Stafford said in an interview with The News Herald.

“I have a background in elementary psychology and I've worked in many different school districts,” Latriva Varnum, an instructional specialist, added. “I haven't seen this either.”

During that year in Bay County, 324 children were Baked Acted, according to data from an annual report compiled by the Baker Act Reporting Center. While it's down slightly from the previous year, the number of children Baker Acted in the county has risen by 109 percent since 2011. In contrast, the population has risen by only 2.3 percent.

According to the report, 50 of those children in FY 2016 were at school.

Because law enforcement and mental health professionals are the only ones with the authority to Baker Act a child, the school district doesn't capture that data, but both Stafford and Varnum had the sense of a recent increase. It feels like about one student a week, Varnum said, though sometimes, such as in the springtime, it's more.


The factors driving the increase are, in part, social, Varnum said, particularly for older children. Before smartphones, students could go home at the end of the day and get a break from what was happening at school. It was easier for parents to monitor them, and it was easier to avoid classmates with whom they might have had a problem. Now, Varnum said, almost every student beyond the third grade has a cellphone, and there are new apps cropping up constantly that allow users to carry on conversations away from parents and school officials, and let users post anonymously.

“You think about how society has changed, and you think about social media and texting and Snapchat and Facebook and all of those things that kids use nowadays,” Varnum said. “Whereas, when I was growing up and I went home, there was one phone in the house and if I was on the phone, my mother knew I was on the phone.

“There wasn't 24/7 access to conversations with my friends away from adults seeing it,” she said. “Now that happens all the time.”

That falls in line with what Ken Chisholm, inpatient program director at Life Management Center, sees. There, most children Baker Acted are between 12 and 16 years old, who are dealing with relationship issues, school and standardized test pressure, and problems with their parents.

But for younger children, those elementary school students, the root of their emotional distress is often at home.

“I think one of the things we see is in those younger children; they're living in conditions or situations that are dangerous,” Stafford said. “They are struggling to understand that environment, and we see many of them in that struggle having those huge emotional breakdowns.”

Substance abuse rates have risen exponentially, Stafford said, with Bay County ranking near the top in the state, along with child abuse rates, and rates of children being removed from their homes by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Even if the children aren't experiencing violence themselves, living near violence and family financial stress also can weigh heavily on them.

At a presentation for teachers before the start of school, Husfelt said the district is seeing more children than ever diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, such as oppositional defiance disorder, reactive attachment disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Unstable relationships and unstable environments, Varnum said, mean children don't learn proper social and emotional skills, and don't know how to cope with how they're feeling.

“They've learned some behaviors that are appropriate for their home situation but not for school,” she said. “If you're living in a place where people are coming and going, you learn to protect yourself however you need to protect yourself.”


In most cases, the Baker Act process for a student starts with a suicide threat.

Sometimes it's overt, Varnum said, with the student saying they want to kill themselves. But other times, she added, it can be subtle — writing about it or drawing it, saying they “don't have anything to live for” or “they wish they were dead.” School staff are trained to pick up on these signals and connect the student to a counselor as soon as possible, who assesses whether the student is at a high or low risk for suicide based on a question guide and their professional experience.

Still, a suicide threat does not automatically mean a Baker Act. There's a whole flow chart for how schools deal with a suicide threat or, more rarely, a suicide attempt at school. Only one path, when the parents can't be reached, leads to the school calling law enforcement. And even then, initiating a Baker Act is up to the officer's discretion.

“The school really isn't the one making that decision,” Stafford said.

Law enforcement brought in about 70 percent of Baker Acted children in fiscal 2016, whether from a school or home situation. Chisholm said the officers do an “awesome job” of resolving the crisis at hand and trying to get the child to a safe place.

“They have to make a decision based on what they see at the time,” he said. “They don't have the luxury of getting a whole lot of collateral information.”

Despite the law saying individuals can be held up to 72 hours, Chisholm said most cases are resolved within the first 24 to 48 hours. That time starts right when a person arrives at the emergency department, either at Life Management or Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital with its larger children's ward, and they're evaluated by a crisis counselor, who decides whether to admit the patient. If they're admitted, they see the on-call psychiatrist, who works to stabilize them and create a treatment plan.

While most people see a suicide attempt or threat as an end, Chisholm said he prefers to think of it as a beginning. Crisis, he said, is the best opportunity for change.

“You have someone who is in front of you who wants to make some changes,” he said. “You can get more done with someone who is in crisis, a lot of times, than with someone who is no longer in crisis.”

But, Chisholm said he wishes more patients, or families, would come forward and seek services before they reach a crisis point. Rather than being stigmatized, he wants people to be recognized for their bravery when they reach out and ask for help.

“What a risk to take, to seek services,” he said. “You go and you participate and you make the changes and you're off and running. You've got to be proud of every person who does that.”

And though there's a tendency to play down self-harm or suicidal threats made by children as not being serious, Chisholm said when a child is trying to communicate something is wrong, or that they're hurting, they should be listened to “100 percent of the time.”

“I've heard people say, 'They're seeking attention,' ” he said. “There's no such thing. People do it as a way to communicate. They may do it to communicate they're distraught.”

A promise

To try and stem the tide, the district has begun implementing its new mental health plan. Several of the Title I schools will have their own behavior interventionist, with the goal of eventually having a mental health counselor in all the schools. They've also partnered with Florida Therapy Services to get children into counseling if they show a need.

But perhaps the biggest change is the creation of the promise room in elementary schools. Rather than typical in-school suspensions, which were punitive in nature, students will be sent to the promise room, staffed by behavior paraprofessionals, where they'll be given tutoring in social and behavioral skills.

“Kids whose needs aren't being met are acting out and they're being punished, but they're not learning the social skills they lack,” she said.

Their old system, she said, wasn't working, but both Varnum and Stafford are hopeful this new approach will result in fewer disciplinary actions and better coping skills for students so they don't reach that crisis point.

At Life Management, Chisholm said they're working with the district to identify students who are at risk of expulsion and get them in to see a counselor. He urged families with a child who might be struggling to reach out and get them services, and to get involved in their child's recovery as a support system.

“Mental health services are available, and they should take advantage,” he said. “Don't wait until there's a crisis.”

What is the Baker Act?

The Baker Act, or the Florida Mental Health Act, allows mental health professionals, law enforcement or judges to place an individual under an involuntary hold and evaluation at a mental health facility for up to 72 hours if they possibly have a mental illness, and are threatening suicide or pose a threat to others. The Baker Act Reporting Center, which collects information from law enforcement and mental health professionals, recorded 194,354 Baker Acts across the state in their annual report for FY 2016.

If you need help

Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital: 1930 Harrison Ave., 850-763-0017

Life Management Center: 525 E. 15th St., 850-522-4485



Reno mom reports close call with child sex traffickers: 'Something's not right'

by Sarah Litz

What started as a fun family night at a Reno Aces game quickly turned into a night Reno mom Melody Holland would later describe as "the horror of horrors" in a Facebook Live video that has been shared more than 5,000 times and reached over 270,000 people.

On Sept. 3, around 8 p.m., Holland and her family believed they may have encountered four men possibly involved in a child sex trafficking ring as they were walking to the Cal-Neva parking garage on the corner of First and Center streets in downtown Reno.

Within hours, the video started to be shared widely. People would share the video, telling other parents to watch out and to be aware. Friends were tagging friends, reminding each other to stay vigilant.

In her Facebook Live video, Holland told the story that started with one man she described as looking disheveled and wearing a bodyguard-type earpiece who was closely following her family to the parking garage.

Holland's husband, Aaron, was carrying their 3-year-old son and Holland was holding her 5-year-old daughter's hand and their 21-month-old son in a carrier when she started to feel like "something's not right." They had just crossed Lake Street and were walking toward First Street when the man said something too soft for the Hollands to hear, making the Hollands pause.

That's when Holland said the man looked her daughter "up and down like a grown man would do in a club.”

Holland was trying to find a way out of the situation when she saw another man starting to approach her family from the opposite direction. She said she had heard of similar stories: One person would distract the victim and another person would "trail" them, waiting for the right moment to act. She was afraid her young daughter was being targeted.

The Hollands made it safely to their car in the parking garage. There they noticed a black minivan parked on the first floor near the stairwell with one sliding door open. The car was running, there was a person in the driver's seat and another younger man standing by the stairwell.

For Holland, it was the accumulation of the night's details that worried her the most and what pushed her to post the video of her family's experience. Even if a crime wasn't "technically committed," she said she wanted to help bring awareness to what the family experienced and to these types of situations.

She said she didn't expect the video to take off like it did. Even after a few hours, she said she had an inbox full of messages from parents from Pennsylvania and Texas to Las Vegas and Reno sharing similar experiences and from people encouraging her to file a police report.

Melissa Holland, the co-founder and executive director of Awaken (and no relation to Melody Holland) said Awaken receives "at least one call a week about minors in our community that are confirmed to be involved in sex trafficking." Awaken is a local non-profit that focuses on preventing and bringing awareness to sex trafficking.

Melissa Holland said while it was uncommon "to take a child right out of the hands of the parent" this doesn't "discredit what Melody went through."

"Just because it's not in the norm to have it happen that way, doesn't mean it doesn't happen," she said. "It's still worth reporting and sharing to bring awareness."

Melody Holland said she publicly shared her story in the hopes "this opens people's eyes to what's happening in our own city" and said she will continue encouraging others to file a police report if similar situations happened to them

“Don't worry about what it was or wasn't or what did or didn't happen, because it could, and it does, happen,” she said. “Just because it didn't happen to us that night doesn't mean it couldn't happen. I'd rather have me be wrong and raise awareness for this because it's happening all over our country.”

The Reno Police Department received and is investigating Melody Holland's report. Officer Tim Broadway said if the department confirms suspect information, the public would be notified to be on the lookout.

If anyone has any information on sex trafficking incidents, they can contact the Regional Street Enforcement Team at 775-334-3065 or the FBI Innocence Lost Task Force at 775-328-4000. Another way to report is to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. Anyone with information can also contact Secret Witness at 775-322-4900 if they wish to remain anonymous.

To visit Awaken's website, go to