Ohio State gets $3 million to combat drug-related child abuse
by Rita Price
After two decades away, Bridget Freisthler returned to her home state and was shocked at how thoroughly the opioid crisis has devastated Ohio families and overwhelmed the county child-protection agencies tasked with keeping kids safe.
Her urge to help soon will make a difference in at least two communities.
Freisthler, a professor and associate dean at Ohio State University's College of Social Work, led a team that recently won a $3 million federal grant — one of the largest in the college's history — to address drug-related child-abuse and neglect cases by working with central Ohio's Fairfield and Pickaway counties.
The award will provide “much-needed financial support for services for these children and families,” Freisthler said, at a time when addiction's effects on children often are overshadowed by the effort to reduce overdose deaths.
Both counties volunteered to participate in the project. Their agencies likely will be able to hire an additional child-protection caseworker, offer more support to kinship caregivers, develop treatment strategies through family drug courts and hire peer recovery supporters — parents who previously have had both substance-abuse problems and involvement in the child-welfare system.
“They're the first (counties), but the goal is really to see what we can do in the long term to build up these child-welfare systems around the state,” said Freisthler, who came back to Ohio from California. She and assistant professors Katie Maguire-Jack and Susan Yoon hope to show that beefed-up intervention can pay for itself by reducing caseloads.
Kristi Burre, deputy director for protective services at Fairfield County Job and Family Services, said the challenges right now cannot be overstated. Foster-care costs at her agency are on track to double, from about $1.6 million a few years ago to more than $3 million by the end of this year.
Parental substance abuse is at issue for 8 in 10 Fairfield County kids in custody.
“We had a baby — 18 months old — and we were called out to the scene with police, and all over the house were guns, loose prescription pills, bags of heroin and 70 hypodermic needles on the floor and in the crib,” Burre said. “I tell that not to be dramatic, but because this has become more of the norm.”
In other recent cases, four children from two families had a parent die by overdose. “Those kids loved their parents,” Burre said. “They weren't ready to be unified yet, but they were still visiting them.”
In Pickaway County, the number of children who had to leave their homes increased more than threefold from 2013 to 2016, said Nick Tatman, children services administrator at Pickaway County Job and Family Services.
“Thank God we have our kinship families,” he said, referring to relatives who agree to take in family members' children so they can avoid foster care. “Virtually all cases that we open have some sort of substance-abuse issue identified.”
But as cases have soared, the agency hasn't been able to add caseworkers, said Joy Ewing, director of Pickaway County Job and Family Services. The county is one of many in Ohio without a local tax levy to support child-protection services.
Fairfield has a levy and is asking voters to renew and increase it to fund burgeoning child- and adult-protective services needs.
Agencies need all the help they can get as they care for the growing number of Ohio children whose lives are upended by their parents' addiction, Tatman said. One of his caseworkers recently planned a birthday celebration for a child whose parent was to come for cake.
They waited and waited, “and then, nothing,” Tatman said. “You've got to explain to this poor child, but they don't understand why. They just know ‘My parent wasn't there.'”
Up to six month delay in child abuse intervention
by Zodidi Dano
Cape Town - It can take up to six months from the time a case of child abuse is detected and authorities alerted before any intervention takes place - and by that time it might be too late.
Three cases are currently before the courts in which children between 17 months and 3 years were killed following a history of sexual and physical abuse, and neglect.
Shaheema McLeod, director at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, said it would be good if what the Department of Social Services was saying about asking parents who need help to come forward was true.
“The waiting list for intervention is so long that you can wait two to six months for an investigation to conclude.The concern is the wait can be long and something tragic can happen in the meantime,” she said.
Jeremiah Ruiters, 17 months old, died as a result of a blunt force trauma to his spine, a cracked skull, broken ribs and bite marks all over his body, including his face and genitals. His mother, Abigail Ruiters, was charged with her son's murder in June while her boyfriend, Ameerudien Peters - who is not the child's biological father - was accused of the toddler's rape and murder.
18-month-old Asheeqah Scott also died of blunt force trauma to the head after her mother's boyfriend, Pieter van Tonder, beat her. She had burns and contusions all over her body. A pathologist testified that in the 700 cases she had worked on, this was the worst case of neglect she had seen. The child's liver was similar to that of an adult alcoholic.
Three-year-old Lache Stols was beaten to death with a belt by her father's girlfriend, Anthea Kleynhans. The child had damaged ribs and cigarette burns on her body.
In all of the above cases someone had attempted to notify authorities, but nothing was done. The victims also visited health facilities with recurring injuries.
“Social workers have hundreds of cases, but no proper support. They need to do site visit interviews. That's a long tedious process. There are also social challenges that are prevalent in almost every case of drug, alcohol and unemployment,” said McLeod.
UCT Professor Catherine Ward said parents from poor communities had a much tougher task of raising children due to the environment and few resources.
“We need proper resourcing for social work offices: they need computers linked to a national database so that information can be shared easily, and tracked through the system. Offices also need private rooms for interviewing children, and enough cars to allow social workers to travel.
“Much greater effort needs to be made by the government to bring the various sectors together to support children better,” said Ward.
Esther Lewis, spokesperson for the provincial Department of Social Develpement, said the department was working with other agencies on the Child Death Review Panel to dissect each unnatural child death.
“The department has seen two cases this year where the abuse was reported and the social workers failed to act adequately or timeously.
“These cases are taken very seriously by the department and full investigations are under way. Serious consequences are likely to ensue for those involved,” she said.
She conceded that due to the severity of cases, many social workers were overburdened.
The provincial ratio for cases is 1 social worker to 4 600 cases.
Provincial health spokesperson Marika Champion said the department was trained to identify signs of abuse or neglect and ask the required questions in order to alert the Department of Social Development for further intervention.
Winnipeg police launch online campaign urging people to report child abuse
'We can't mind our own business when it comes to the protection of children'
by CBS News
It's time for people to speak up.
That's the message behind a new online campaign against child abuse launched in Winnipeg Friday.
The Winnipeg Police Service and ?the Canadian Centre for Child Protection have joined forces to create a public service video that will be posted on their websites and social media sites, urging people to not look the other way.
"We know for sure that kids have a really hard time telling us when they're being hurt, when they're being harmed," said Christy Dzikowicz, a director with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which operates the tip line cybertip.ca.
"Sometimes we need these reminders that we can't mind our own business when it comes to the protection of children. We need to step up. We need to be willing to say something."
Since being launched in 2005, the Cybertip site has received more than 250,000 reports about child sexual abuse across Canada.
"That tells us very loud and clear we have a huge, huge problem," Dzikowicz said.
Winnipeg police Insp. Kelly Dennison said the video is being launched now because October is Child Abuse Protection Month.
In the past year alone, the Winnipeg Police Service's child abuse unit has received more than 530 reports of abuse but that's likely only a fraction of the incidents happening, he said.
"Investigators feel that many [more] cases of child abuse continue to go unreported and that often, someone knows that abuse is taking place," he said.
"It is hoped that this campaign will raise awareness resulting in an increase of child abuse cases being reported to authorities."
If your gut tells you that something just isn't right, take the time to report it, said Dzikowicz.
Reports can be made to the Winnipeg police Child Abuse Unit at 204-986-6222, Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477) or online at cybertip.ca.
Cybertip.ca warns parents about Snapchat's new map feature
New feature for popular app could give predators a way to track your teens, child protection group says
by CBS News
A Canadian child protection group is warning parents about a new feature in a popular app that could allow predators to track teens.
Cybertip.ca, a program run by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, sent out a Cybertip alert on Tuesday about a new Snapchat feature called Snap Map.
"The new feature is essentially a tool for individuals using Snapchat to share where they are and what they're doing at any given time with their 'Snaps,'" said Stephen Sauer, senior analyst with Cybertip.ca.
"The idea is to ... allow multiple users at the same event or location to share their [Snapchat] story at that event."
The feature works when users opt in to Snap Map after the app's latest update. When a user opens the app, it pinpoints the user's location and puts it on a map. It does the same when a user shares a Snapchat story with friends.
Others can access the map by zooming in on the camera with two fingers. The map then pops up and shows the locations of friends, as well as stories by location.
This should concern parents, Sauer said.
"The location services pinpoints exactly where the youth or teen is located when it's turned on," he said. "So the idea is that a person would be able to track your daily movements, where you're going, they might even be able to track your route to school ... or even the school you're located at, or where you live."
The centre is not the only agency to express concern about the safety of Snapchat's Snap Map. Childnet International, a child safety organization, released a statement about the app on June 22.
"It is important to be careful about who you share your location with, as it can allow people to build up a picture of where you live, go to school and spend your time," the statement says. "Given how specific this new feature is on Snapchat -- giving your location to a precise pinpoint on a map -- we would encourage users not to share their location, especially with people they don't know in person."
Sauer said there's a simple fix, called "ghost mode."
"Ghost mode is basically a tool that allows [users] to turn the location services off for Snapchat so your location doesn't appear on the Snap Maps," he said. "It basically removes your emoticon from that particular map so your friends can't view that and can't tell exactly where you are."
Ghost mode can be found in the top right corner of the Snap Map.
Cybertip.ca has yet to receive any complaints through its tip line about Snap Map, but it has received complaints about Snapchat in general, Sauer said.
Those complaints include users who friend teens on the app and pressure them to post nude images, which are then recorded and used to extort more nude images or money. Other times, they are shared with others and the teen loses control of the image.
It's difficult to monitor what youth are doing on social media, but there are strategies to keep up with the trends, Sauer said.
"We encourage parents to keep an open and honest conversation about technology with their youth," he said. "Know what those features are on those particular apps that their children are using, and just maintain that open communication with them."
Cybertip.ca recommends the following actions if parents are concerned:
Setting the app to ghost mode, which keeps their location private (the Bitmoji does not appear on the map).
Ensuring their "friends" on Snapchat (and all social media) are people they have met in person.
Making sure they have downloaded Snapchat Kids (for those under 13), a limited version of the app that lets them to take photos and play with the filters, but does not allow them to connect with other users.
Worst online sexual abuse is suffered by the youngest, research finds
by The Mail
Babies and toddlers are suffering the worst forms of child sex abuse online, leading campaigners have warned.
New statistics show that over the past three years, thousands of webpages showing abuse of children aged zero to two were more likely to feature category A images - involving penetrative sexual activity, sexual activity with an animal or sadism.
The data has been compiled by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), whose chief executive Susie Hargreaves called the research "shocking".
The Home Office said it was leading global efforts to tackle the sexual exploitation of children online, adding there was more technology companies could do.
IWF research found that from January 2014 to September 2017, 63% of child sexual abuse material showing children aged zero to two was category A.
For three to six-year-olds, the figure was 57% and for seven to 10-year-olds, 36% of images were category A.
For the 11 to 13 age group the figure was 20%, for 14 to 16 they amounted to 16% and for 16 to 17-year-olds it was 7%.
"These shocking statistics speak for themselves - the worst abuse is suffered by the youngest," Ms Hargreaves said.
"As everyone knows, babies are utterly defenceless.
"That means every day our analysts are working to stop these horrific images of young babies and toddlers being raped and tortured from being shared on the internet.
"We know these statistics will horrify and upset people, but it's important that people understand why we need to keep doing what we do."
The Cambridge-based charity monitors online child sexual abuse images and works internationally with internet companies to get them removed.
Since it was launched in 1996 the amount of child sexual abuse material hosted in the UK has fallen from 18% to 0.1%, Ms Hargreaves said.
She added: "Despite this, we still find one of these images or videos every nine minutes, which is why we need a global effort to see this material removed once and for all."
Category B images, or those involving non-penetrative sexual activity, are more consistent across all age groups, ranging from 17% to 30% of the overall images seen.
Images of 14 to 15-year-olds were most likely to be category C - those not falling within categories A or B.
Overall the IWF saw:
5,802 webpages showing images of zero to two-year-olds;
32,462 webpages with images of three to six-year-olds;
99,703 webpages with images of seven to 10s;
75,077 for 11 to 13;
5,023 for 14 to 15 and
3,518 for 16 to 17-year-olds.
One webpage can contain between one and thousands of images.
A Home Office spokeswoman said the sexual exploitation of children online "is an appalling crime which we are committed to stamping out".
She pointed to initiatives such as new specialist teams at the National Crime Agency, adding: "Through the WePROTECT Global Alliance, we have already got six major technology companies to agree to scour their sites for the digital fingerprints of over 50,000 Category A images identified from the UK's Child Abuse Image Database.
"But there is more for these companies to do, particularly around Category B images of an adult abusing a child, which they are not taking enough action to remove.
"We're trying to help them which is why earlier this month the Home Secretary announced investment in Project Arachnid, which makes use of software to identify indecent images on the internet rapidly so that technology companies can more easily take them down and prevent the ongoing victimisation of the children who have been exploited to produce them."
Former Texas Foster Dad Who Took in More Than 180 Girls Is Accused of Child Sex Abuse
by Chris Harris
A 58-year-old man who was once a licensed foster parent is behind bars this week in Texas, where he stands accused of sexually assaulting five children who lived with him between 2005 and 2010, PEOPLE confirms.
Miguel Briseno took in more than 180 young girls as a foster parent before the state revoked his license seven years ago, according to a spokesman with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office.
The spokesman tells PEOPLE that authorities in two Texas counties firmly believe there are more victims out there.
A joint investigation between investigators in Bexar and Medina counties led to Briseno's recent arrest. He faces five charges of sexual assault of a child and is being held on $500,000 bond.
It was unclear Friday if Briseno has hired an attorney who could comment on his behalf. He has yet to enter pleas to the counts against him.
Authorities claim one additional victim has already come forward since news of Briseno's arrest broke on Wednesday, but a charge has not yet been filed in that case.
Authorities confirm an unidentified third-party company was hired by Child Protective Services to place the foster girls in Briseno's home. Representatives for CPS could not be reached for comment by PEOPLE.
Speaking to the San Antonio Express-News this week, Medina County Sheriff Randy Brown said he was dismayed at the series of decisions that led to the alleged abuse.
“Those girls were taken from some environment, and then you have some jackass like him [Briseno] abusing these girls that already have troubles,” Brown told the paper.
“I'm aggravated at the whole system,” he said. “I'm aggravated at the company that placed these girls. It was a money-making deal, the way they were running those girls through there like livestock. It wasn't about making a better world for them. They were making a profit off them.”
Detectives began investigating Briseno several weeks ago, after some of his accusers came forward.
This is not the first time Briseno has been accused of abusing a foster child: Two years after he lost his license as a foster parent, he was arrested on child sex abuse charges, according to court records.
In April 2013, the Medina County Sheriff's Office arrested him on a charge of solicitation to commit sexual assault of a child. The arrest came after one of Briseno's foster children said he had sexually assaulted her in August 2012 — when he no longer had a foster license.
He pleaded guilty in September 2015 to a reduced charge of attempted assault, records show.
Briseno's accusers, now in their 20s, were all teenagers at the time of the alleged abuse.
Foster children continued to be placed with Briseno after his license was taken away, though authorities say they are not sure how.
Investigators are asking that anyone who may have stayed at Briseno's home call 210-335-8477 — even if they do not believe they were assaulted while under his care.
France considers tough new laws to fight sexual harassment and abuse
MPs to debate measures including a clear age of consent after court dropped rape charge in case involving an 11-year-old girl
by Kim Willsher
French MPs are to debate legislation to crack down on sexist or sexual aggression and harassment, especially assaults on children.
A proposed legal bill would set down a clear age of consent for minors after a shocking case in which a rape charge was dropped when a court decided an 11-year-old girl had consented to sex with a man more than twice her age.
It will also give traumatised child victims more time to come forward to bring criminal charges against their attackers.
The announcement on Monday from the French equality minister, Marlène Schiappa, could hardly have come at a more appropriate time, with scores of French women coming forward to detail incidents of harassment and assault following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
A Twitter appeal by the radio journalist Sandra Muller using #balancetonporc (squeal on your pig), encouraging women to publicly shame their attackers, was top of the French Twitter trend list over the weekend. A second international campaign #MeToo is now trending in France.
On Monday, Schiappa launched a pre-debate “citizens' consultation” over the legislation, including the possibility of police warnings for everyday sexist acts such as wolf whistling and comments about physical appearance in the street.
“The point is that the whole of society has to redefine what it will accept and what it will not,” Schiappa told La Croix , a Catholic newspaper.
The minister pointed out that there are 84,000 rapes and 220,000 sexual assaults in France each year, and one woman is killed by a violent partner in the country every three days.
“We want to reduce those statistics for violence … All sexually motivated violence must be taken into account, including male sexual violence against small boys and disabled people. On this, we have to address another taboo,” she said.
“Voices are being heard, in France as in other parts of the world. Society is ready to reject this violence. There is a desire to act.”
Police, magistrates, psychiatrists, and education and legal experts are also being solicited for their opinions, and a parliamentary commission is to study the question of harassment in public places. The information will be collated at the end of the year and a draft bill presented to the Assemblée Nationale in the first half of 2018.
“I think, personally, that whistling at a women in the street is not harassment, but it's the case when you follow her on to the subway. In this case, the stress, even intimidation, is evident,” Schiappa said.
A key pillar of the legislation would be an increase in the time limit for cases of sexual abuse on minors from 20 to 30 years from them reaching adulthood at 18.
Last year, Flavie Flament, a French broadcast journalist, alleged that she was raped by the British-born photographer David Hamilton 30 years previously, when she was 13. Flament said it had taken three decades for her to deal with the attack, but she was unable to bring charges because of the legal time limit. Hamilton was found dead in his Paris home having apparently killed himself after three other women made similar claims.
The law would also define an age of consent for minors. The French high commission for male/female equality has suggested it be set at 13 years. Others, including Laurence Rossignol, a former family minister in the Socialist administration, are pressing for 15 years.
The issue became a political priority last month following national outrage after a court reduced a charge against a 28-year-old man from rape to sexual assault because it decided the 11-year-old victim had suffered “no violence, no constraint, no threat, no surprise”, and could be deemed to have consented.
How to respond to abuse and neglect
Ontario Association of Children's Aids Societies (OACAS) aims to raise awareness about child abuse
by Jessica Cabral and Julia Healy
n the background paper published in November 2006 for the International Policy Forum on Family Violence, Dr. Christine Walsh, from the University of Calgary, describes how individuals often resist reporting cases of child abuse and neglect to a local Children's Aid Society in fear of causing detriment to the effected family. In fact, the most common misconception that impedes witnesses from contacting Children's Aid is the belief that one call to the society about a child's safety will lead to the separation of the victimized youth from their parents, guardians, or family members.
Christina Campbell, the advocacy and public engagement specialist at the OACAS, reveals that in 97% of their investigations, children remain with their families, and that instead of splitting a family apart, Children's Aid works closely with parents to provide support and counselling.
Every October, the OACAS organizes a provincial child abuse prevention month-long campaign to raise awareness about the existence of child abuse and neglect in Ontario, and to emphasize the integral role that Children's Aid plays in preventing this abuse. Through this campaign, the OACAS hopes to address the myths surrounding Children's Aid and educate the community on the services Children's Aid provides, including support during crises and parenting challenges, along with programs for managing substance abuse.
“I think a lot of people don't realize that there is actually a legal duty to report [instances of child abuse],” explains Campbell in an interview with The Medium . “It is part of our child and youth family act, section 72, and it applies to everyone, not just professionals who work with kids. First thing we want is for people to be empathetic and to understand how they can help. I think the moral responsibility is important to focus on, but there is also a legal obligation.”
While close friends and extended family may dread the repercussions of calling Children's Aid, Campbell notes that in some cases, people also fail to report child abuse because they do not recognize the signs and symptoms of neglect and mistreatment. Abuse manifests in several forms and Campbell admits that it is not always easy for an outsider to immediately identify a situation of concern.
According to the OACAS official website, they distinguish four different categories of child abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. They define physical abuse as any physical action by a parent or caregiver that could inflict physical harm or injury to a child.
Friends, family members, teachers, and police must recognize certain signs of physical abuse including, but not limited to, children wearing long sleeves and pants in warm weather, aggressiveness, and the re-enactment of abuse on toys. Emotional abuse targets a child's self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional development, and signals may include non-medically related headaches, speech disorders, and intense nightmares. Sexual abuse is defined as using a child for “sexual gratification of an adult or an older child.” Children suffering from sexual abuse may exhibit urinary infections, bedwetting, and a fear of the dark.
Campbell explains that this year, the campaign focuses on bringing attention to the impacts of neglect. Recent research in Ontario shows that Children's Aid assists approximately 90% of their total associated families with neglect issues. The OACAS defines neglect as a type of abuse that occurs when “a child's caregiver fails to provide basic needs such as food, sleep, safety, supervision, appropriate clothing, or medical treatment.”
“Child abuse and neglect can really impact a child's life. It can inhibit their ability to strive and flourish in life, and in the worst-case scenario, it can lead to their death,” Campbell says. “Neglect is a form of abuse that we take equally seriously.”
Campbell explains that the campaign aims to further create resources for teachers to help their students, so they understand the types and subtle symptoms of abuse. In the classroom, teachers should encourage their students to seek help from a trusted adult and to speak up when they feel uncomfortable or in danger.
Despite the prevalent myth about the consequences of calling Children's Aid to report a case of child, or youth abuse, and exploitation, Campbell reveals that they get approximately 165,000 calls per year from the public. This month's campaign hopes to dispel the notion that seeking help will cause greater harm for a family, and instead emphasize the importance of contacting Children's Aid for protection and support.
Local Children's Aid Societies have welfare specialists ready to receive calls 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.
Schools blaming children for sexual abuse: One was 6. Three were 9. One was 7 with autism.
by Scott Travis
Over and over, the Palm Beach County school district has defended itself in sexual abuse lawsuits by blaming the children who said they were abused.
One was 6 years old. Three were 9. One was a 7-year-old with autism.
In court documents, the district's lawyers asserted that all of those victims were partly or fully at fault, so the district should not be held financially responsible.
A review of court cases by the Sun Sentinel found:
-- The 7-year-old boy with autism claimed in 2015 that two classmates forced him into sex acts at Addison Mizner Elementary in Boca Raton. The district argued that he showed negligence because he did not report the alleged abuse to his parents, administrators or school police soon enough. The district settled the case for $185,000.
-- A seventh-grade student claimed that a teacher at Jupiter Middle gave him foot massages and touched himself inappropriately from 2010 to 2012. That student was partly responsible, the district said, for not initially reporting the teacher's behavior to his parents or authorities. The case was settled for $250,000.
-- A 14-year-old girl said she went to a bathroom at Seminole Ridge High in the Acreage in 2012 and was sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old student. A lawyer for the district said evidence showed that her allegations were untrue. Still, the district settled for $250,000.
-- A 6-year-old girl alleged in 2013 that a boy pulled down her pants and sexually assaulted her. The district argued that the girl “conducted herself in a careless and negligent manner" and was “old enough to appreciate the consequences of her own actions.” The family dropped the suit.
The Sun Sentinel reviewed those court cases after reporting this week about another — four girls abused by their third-grade teacher in 2005 at Coral Sunset Elementary, west of Boca Raton.
One of the girls, a 9-year-old, told her mother that teacher Blake Sinrod had fondled her during a reading group. The girl said he touched her under her clothing and instructed her to touch his private area over his clothing, according to a police report.
The three other girls — two of them 9 and one 10 — painted similar pictures to police.
In court documents, the district insisted that the girls were “old enough to appreciate the consequences of their actions.”
The children “conducted themselves in a careless and negligent manner,” the district said.
A school police investigation at the time determined that Sinrod should be charged with abusing all four girls. He pleaded guilty to abusing two of them.
Twelve years after the abuse, the School Board is expected to vote Wednesday to settle the case for $3.6 million, one of its largest settlements ever.
The defense strategy is used in many cases defended by Conroy Simberg, a Hollywood law firm that represents Palm Beach County Schools.
The tactic is known as “comparative negligence” or “contributory fault,” meaning that the person filing the suit shares some portion of the blame for an incident.
Dale Friedman, an attorney with Conroy Simberg, said the purpose is to bring up factors that could reduce the amount of damages the district might have to pay — not to claim the victims were responsible.
“We have never blamed these girls or given the appearance of holding the girls responsible for what their teacher did,' she said this week.
Joel Mintz, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, said the approach is common in a variety of negligence cases including auto accidents and slips and falls.
Under state law, it can be used on a person as young as 6.
In the case of the student with autism at Addison Mizner, the family alleged that the boy was not properly supervised on the playground. An investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families reached the same conclusion, said Jamie Sasson, the family's lawyer.
Sasson said it was outrageous for the district to claim that a 7-year-old could be partly to blame for abuse.
“It would have backfired at trial,” he said. “It shows they're not taking responsibility or, worse, they were blaming the child. At the end of the day, the jury would have seen right through it. To blame a 7-year-old is pretty ridiculous.”
Sasson said he had to explain to the family that the district's claims were just a litigation tactic. “But it was upsetting to them. How could it not be?”
The district argued that the boy should have reported the incident to a responsible adult. Although he had autism, he was attending regular classes, interacting with regular students and functioning at a high level, Friedman said.
Law professor Mintz said that even if lawyers use the defense in court files, they must have good faith that they'll actually use it in front of a jury. He's not sure that would apply in the case involving Sinrod's victims.
“It's really questionable that children at that age would have responsibility to really know what to do after being molested,” Mintz said. “It's at the very edge of a good faith defense.”
Friedman argued that the children are now adults and still haven't sought counseling — an indication, she said, that they may not be taking full responsibility for any emotional distress they suffered.
“We don't raise these questions unless there's merit in some aspect of the case,” Friedman said.
Damages are sometimes paid anyway “for the same reason 98 percent of state and federal law cases settle: because you don't know what a jury may do,” she said.
School district administrators have declined this week to discuss the Sinrod case. It is not clear who, if anyone, reviewed the court documents before they were filed.
The district's legal office reports directly to the School Board. Board members acknowledged that the cases have not been properly scrutinized. They said they were unaware that court documents suggested the four third-graders were responsible for their own abuse.
Several board members, including Frank Barbieri and Karen Brill, say they want to draft a policy that forbids the use of a defense blaming victims abused by those who work in the district.
“Parents of our students trust that their children, while in our custody, will be safe from harmful conduct,” Barbieri said “The School Board must never ever attempt to justify the actions of a school district employee who violates that trust by sexually abusing a student.”
325-pound woman charged with killing girl by sitting on her
by the Associated Press
PENSACOLA, Fla. – A 325-pound (150-kilogram) Florida woman is charged with killing her 9-year-old cousin by sitting on the child as punishment.
Veronica Green Posey, 64, was arrested and charged with homicide and cruelty toward a child, The Pensacola News Journal reported. The Escambia County Sheriff's Office report identified Posey as the girl's cousin.
Paramedics and deputies responded to the family's Pensacola home following a 911 call Saturday. Posey told deputies she sat on Dericka Lindsay as discipline "for being out of control."
During the punishment, Dericka told Posey and two other adult relatives, who are identified in the report as the girl's parents, that she couldn't breathe. When Posey got up, Dericka wasn't breathing. Authorities said Posey called 911 and started CPR on the child.
The arrest report said Grace Joan Smith, 69, and James Edmund Smith, are charged with child neglect.
Grace Smith called Posey, who is her niece, to her house to help with disciplining the girl, according to the report. She told investigators that Posey hit the girl with a ruler and metal pipe before the child ran to an armchair.
James Smith told investigators that Posey sat on the girl for about 10 minutes before she complained she couldn't breathe. She stayed on the chair for an additional two minutes before getting up, he said.
Mike Carroll, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, issued a statement that called the child's death "appalling." He said the agency will work with the sheriff's office to hold those responsible for her death accountable.
"As the family has a prior interaction with the child welfare system, a thorough quality assurance review will be conducted to review all prior interactions this family has had with the child welfare system," the statement said.
Posey was released Monday on $125,000 bail. The Smiths remained in jail, with Grace Smith's bond set at $75,000 and James Smith's bond at $50,000. Escambia County jail records didn't list an attorney for Posey or the Smiths.
Hollywood's Other 'Other Secret' Besides Harvey Weinstein: Preying on Young Boys
'This is a place where adults have more direct and inappropriate connection with children than probably anywhere else in the world,' claimed former child actor Corey Feldman.
by Ira Madison lll
Last week, former child actor Corey Feldman ( Stand by Me , The Goonies ) tweeted that he'd been asked for a statement about Harvey Weinstein's sexual-harassment and rape allegations. It makes sense, since he has spent years speaking out about sexual abuse in Hollywood—not of women, but of young men. He has long alleged that pedophilia is the worst problem in Hollywood and that it's in part responsible for his best friend Corey Haim's eventual death by drug overdose.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, Feldman said : “[Haim] had more direct abuse than I did. With me, there were some molestations, and it did come from several hands, so to speak, but with Corey, his was direct rape, whereas mine was not actual rape. And his also occurred when he was 11. My son is 11 now, and I can't even begin to fathom the idea of something like that happening to him. It would destroy his whole being. As I look at my son, a sweet, innocent, 11-year-old boy and then try to put him in Corey Haim's shoes, I go, ‘Oh my God—well of course he was erratic and not well-behaved on sets and things like that.' What more could we expect of him really?”
He continued, “Everybody deals with things differently. I'm not able to name names. People are frustrated, people are angry, they want to know how is this happening, and they want answers—and they turn to me and they say, ‘Why don't you be a man and stand up and name names and stop hiding and being a coward?' I have to deal with that, which is not pleasant, especially given the fact that I would love to name names. I'd love to be the first to do it. But unfortunately California conveniently enough has a statute of limitations that prevents that from happening. Because if I were to go and mention anybody's name, I would be the one that would be in legal problems and I'm the one that would be sued. We should be talking to the district attorneys and the lawmakers in California, especially because this is where the entertainment industry is and this is a place where adults have more direct and inappropriate connection with children than probably anywhere else in the world.”
Legal problems stemming from sexual-harassment or -assault allegations are a major issue in Hollywood, and contribute to a culture of silence. Weinstein is alleged to have paid off at least eight of his accusers—on the condition that they agree to strict nondisclosure agreements to prevent their stories from going public. Furthermore, the movie mogul's employment contract at The Weinstein Company reportedly protected him from being fired because of sexual-harassment allegations.
Beyond the legal hurdles, Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan alleges that the actor Ben Affleck knew about his sometime employer's predatory behavior and failed to speak up, while other A-listers Matt Damon and Russell Crowe were named by journalist Sharon Waxman as unwittingly helping to kill a New York Times exposé on Weinstein back in 2004.
Similar barriers exist in the cases of abuse allegations from younger men in Hollywood. Feldman once discussed child abuse on The View , where Barbara Walters charged that he was “damaging an entire industry.”
And when people make allegations that are later withdrawn or dismissed, it becomes that much more difficult for victims to speak up. Famed director Bryan Singer ( X-Men ) has had accusations leveled against him for years, from a lawsuit alleging that he made minors shower in the nude on film for Apt Pupil in 1997 to sexual-abuse allegations in 2014 . The Apt Pupil lawsuit was later dismissed due to lack of evidence, and the other sexual-abuse lawsuits were withdrawn by the accusers. However, that hasn't stopped actors from singling out Singer. On Sunday, as the Weinstein scandal continued to unfold, actress Evan Rachel Wood tweeted , “Yeah lets not forget Brian [sic] Singer either.”
Could Washington, D.C. become a haven for sex traffickers?
by Matt O'Brien
Washington, D.C., has already declared itself a “ sanctuary city .” Now the District of Columbia City Council is considering a bill to decriminalize prostitution. The combination of legally protected sex work and a refusal to cooperate with immigration authorities should have residents of the capital concerned that their city will become a destination of choice for sex traffickers.
According to the U.S. Department of State and the National Institutes of Health, between 15,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked in the United States annually. Women and girls make up the vast majority of trafficking victims. Most are trafficked for sexual exploitation. And trafficking is intimately tied to illegal migration . Criminal gangs regularly smuggle trafficked women and girls across both the northern and southern borders.
D.C.-area law enforcement agencies have recently noted a resurgence in criminal activity by the MS-13 gang. Many of the gang's members are illegal aliens and one of its primary rackets is sex trafficking.
No one has conducted a formal study tying a rise in gang activity to D.C.'s status as a sanctuary city. But it's a safe bet that illegal aliens looking to run a criminal enterprise appreciate it when local police stymie U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) efforts to arrest immigration violators. ICE is also the federal law enforcement agency charged with combating human smuggling and trafficking. Legalizing prostitution would only make ICE's job harder and render the District more attractive to criminals.
One would think that human rights, anti-trafficking and feminist organizations would be protesting this lethal combination of legalized prostitution and protection for immigration violators. But they aren't. In fact, such organizations typically support measures to decriminalize sex work. The popular narrative among progressive politicians and activists is that legalizing prostitution empowers sex workers and reduces trafficking.
But that hasn't been the case in places that have decriminalized prostitution, like Holland or Denmark. In fact, legalized prostitution tends to encourage trafficking, in order to meet increased demand. Apparently many people who would not pay for sex are suddenly willing to do so when the legal and social stigma is removed.
Washington is well on its way to joining Amsterdam and Copenhagen as a paradise for human traffickers. And there is absolutely no reason to believe that MS-13 and other criminal gangs won't see an American sanctuary city with decriminalized prostitution as the ideal place to set up a low-risk, high-reward trafficking operation.
84 kids rescued, 120 human traffickers arrested in FBI sting, some at MB hotel
by Emily Weaver
Eighty-four children were rescued - including one as young as three months old - and 120 human traffickers were arrested in a nationwide undercover operation that involved a Myrtle Beach hotel.
In South Carolina, the three-day operation from Oct. 12-15 focused on undercover stings in Myrtle Beach and Columbia.
Three women were arrested and charged with prostitution last week in a joint FBI/Myrtle Beach Police Department operation at the Hilton Garden Inn near Coastal Grand Mall.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation led Operation Cross Country XI in 55 FBI field offices across the country with the help of 78 state and local task forces and five international partners hailing from Canada, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines, according to a press release Wednesday.
“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation's children from harm. Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested — and the number of children recovered — reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in the release. “This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse.”
FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites, according to the release. The youngest victim recovered during this year's operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old, the release stated.
Minors recovered during Cross Country operations are offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI's Victim Services Division. Depending on the level of need, victims are offered medical and mental health counseling, as well as a number of other services, the release stated.
“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we're working to combat this problem every day,” said NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. “We're proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation's children.”
On Oct. 13, the FBI field office in Denver, Colorado, recovered two minor girls—one 3-month-old and one 5-year-old, according to the release. A friend of the children's family, offered an undercover officer access to the two children for sexual purposes in exchange for $600, the release stated.
The FBI is working with Child Protective Services to conduct a forensic interview and secure safe placement of the children, the FBI stated in the release. The family friend was arrested.
Also on Oct. 13, a 16-year-old female victim was recovered by FBI agents in El Paso, Texas, after an undercover officer called an online advertisement for entertainment. The agent met with a 21-year-old female, who agreed to engage in sexual intercourse with the officer and the 16-year-old for a fee of $200, according to the release.
Further investigations revealed that a second adult female drove the minor and the 21-year-old to the undercover agent's location, the release stated. Both female subjects have been arrested on federal charges, according to the FBI.
5 steps toward preventing sex abuse, starting with #MeToo
by Angela Roeber
This statement has been all over social media. The stories tagged #metoo are from women telling stories of being sexually harassed or assaulted. (A related hashtag, #iwill, is from others telling specific actions they'll take to help to combat sexual harassment and assault)
When you read those social media rallying cries, you may notice that many #metoo stories describe incidents dating back to when they were children. This movement is not about a problem that happened in the past. It's a problem that is still happening today and it can happen anywhere – to anyone.
One out of 10 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday. This means that in any classroom or neighborhood full of children, there are children who are silently bearing the burden of sexual abuse. Whether you work with youth, are a parent or are simply a member of a community — it is highly likely that someone you know and care for has experienced, or is currently experiencing, child sexual abuse.
The campaign should open our eyes to sexual abuse and the tendency of society to cover it up at the expense of our children. The stories, as they unfold, are the reality in families, communities, and admired institutions everywhere — including throughout the Omaha Metro.
“Child Abuse is a serious problem and it is happening right here in our community. Anyone can have the opportunity to make a significant difference in the life of a child through the vision of what is possible — the vision of what a child's future can and should look like. Through this vision, anyone can be that someone," said Gene Klein, executive director of Project Harmony. “At Project Harmony, we hope this social media movement can be a catalyst to open hearts and minds to the devastating problem of child sexual abuse. Together, let's say, ‘No more!' Together, we can end child abuse. END IT. But to do this — to really do this — we all have to have a stake in it. You have to have a stake in it. You are part of the solution.”
Did someone you know say #MeToo? Start your #IWill by taking the pledge to be someone in the life of a child today at ProjectBeSomeone.org and follow these simple and practical steps to prevent, recognize and react to child abuse. With your help, we can go from #IWill to #WeWill #BeSomeone.
1. Learn the facts. The facts about child abuse can be staggering, but understanding the risks children face can help you better protect them.
2. Minimize opportunity. More than 80 percent of child sexual abuse incidents occur when children are in isolated, one-on-one situations with adults or other youth. Make sure interactions can be observed and interrupted. Ask for protective best practices in schools and organizations that serve your children, including background checks and a code of conduct for staff and volunteers.
3. Talk about it. Open conversations with children about body safety and boundaries is one of the best defenses against child sexual abuse. Talk with children when they are young, and use proper names for body parts. Tell children what parts of the body others should not touch. Use examples with situations and people in their lives. Teach children that they have the right to tell any person “NO” to unwanted or uncomfortable touch.
4. Recognize the signs. Signs are often there, but you have to know what you're looking for — signs can be physical, emotional or behavioral.
5. React responsibly. Be prepared to react calmly and responsibly if a child discloses abuse to you, or if you suspect or see that boundaries have been violated.
If you suspect a child has been abused or neglected, call 1-800-652-1999 (CPS Hotline) in Nebraska or local law enforcement. In Iowa, call 1-800-362-2178 (DHS Hotline) or local law enforcement.
* * *
Angela Roeber, director of communications at Project Harmony, wrote this guest blog for momaha.com . Project Harmony is a nonprofit, community-based organization in Omaha that has served more than 32,000 children during the past 21 years by providing a child friendly environment in which specially-trained professionals work together to assess, investigate, and resolve child abuse cases. In a nationally unique model, Project Harmony has one centralized location that co-houses with Omaha Police Department Child Victim/Sexual Assault Unit and Domestic Violence Unit, Nebraska Health & Human Services/Child Protection Service Initial Assessment and Child Abuse Hotline, Lutheran Family Services and Child Saving Institute. Project Harmony exists to protect and support children, collaborate with professionals and engage the community to end child abuse and neglect.
130 Years in Prison Recommended for Okla. Parents Convicted in 'Worst Case of Child Abuse' Seen by Police
by Jeff Truesdell
An Oklahoma mom and dad each face a long stay behind bars after a jury recommended a sentence of 130 years each following the pair's conviction for what a police officer termed the “worst case of child abuse” he'd seen.
The 9-month-old twin girls of parents Aislyn Miller, 24, and Kevin Fowler, 25, weighed roughly eight pounds each when they were hospitalized last December and the parents were arrested following a visit with the toddlers to an urgent care clinic, according to records obtained by PEOPLE.
The family's Collinsville residence had cat feces smeared on the walls and maggots in the girls' playpen, according to testimony from an investigator for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, reports The Tulsa World .
Authorities say a maggot emerged from a wound in one of the emaciated girls, according to the Associated Press .
Jurors in Tulsa County convicted Miller and Fowler on Friday on five counts of child neglect, and later recommended that each serve 30 years apiece in prison on the first four counts and 10 years on the fifth count.
Formal sentencing will take place Nov. 13.
Steven Vincent, the defense attorney for Miller and Fowler, was not immediately available to speak to PEOPLE. It was not immediately clear if the parents planned to appeal.
The parents told authorities they felt overwhelmed as the working parents of four small children without enough outside help, according to testimony in the case, and Vincent said during an earlier hearing that their request for government aid had been denied since they both had full-time jobs.
Maternal grandparents John and Cathey Miller also are set to be tried next April on allegations they enabled child abuse and neglect, reports KJRH .
In addition, Rita Fowler, the children's paternal grandmother, faces multiple charges on child neglect counts related to the case.
The grandparents have pleaded not guilty.
“It's what we would term as shocking and heinous,” Kristi Simpson, an investigator for the state Department of Human Services, testified during a preliminary hearing on the case, according to the World .
Nurses at the urgent care clinic noticed that both twins had severe diaper rash and bed sores, with feces in one child's ear and a strand of hair wrapped so tightly around a finger of the other child that the finger had become infected, according to the arrest reports obtained by PEOPLE.
One child was described in police reports as looking like a “skeleton.”
Miller allegedly said the couple did not have health insurance, and thus allowed the children's health problems to persist.
Both children were taken into state custody upon the arrest of the parents.
Jerry Sandusky denied new trial on child sex abuse charges
by Mark Scolforo
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Jerry Sandusky lost a bid Wednesday for a new trial and a second chance to convince a jury he is innocent of the child sexual abuse charges that landed him in state prison to serve a lengthy sentence.
Judge John Foradora denied Sandusky's requests for a new trial or for dismissal of charges.
The former Penn State assistant football coach's lawyers have 30 days to start an appeal of the judge's decision to the Superior Court. They did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
Sandusky, 73, has consistently maintained he was wrongly convicted. He argued that he did not receive adequate representation at his 2012 trial and that prosecutors should have disclosed more details about changes to victims' stories.
"Although he was denied access to the victims' psychological records, Sandusky was permitted to call witnesses to explore whether the victims had undergone repressed memory therapy prior to trial, and he did explore that subject" with victims and other witnesses, Foradora wrote.
Foradora also rejected arguments that Sandusky's lawyers should not have let him waive a preliminary hearing, should not have allowed him to give a television interview after his arrest, and should have done more to challenge the identity of a young man described as Victim 2 in court records.
The judge said the bulk of Sandusky's claims lacked merit.
"Those that remain, whether they fail for want of prejudice or because (trial defense attorney Joe) Amendola's actions or failure to act were informed by a reasonable strategy, do not combine to call into question the overall effectiveness of the defense counsel provided or the legitimacy of the verdict," Foradora concluded.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said prosecutors have "achieved justice" for Sandusky's victims and are confident the convictions will stand.
"Hopefully, today's decision will allow the victims of Mr. Sandusky to live their lives knowing that this serial sexual abuser will remain behind bars," said Shapiro, a Democrat.
Sandusky has been serving a 30- to 60-year sentence. Eight of his accusers testified at trial, describing abuse that ranged from grooming and fondling to violent sexual attacks.
The case, among the biggest scandals in college football history, led to major changes at Penn State and new state laws governing child abuse in Pennsylvania and other states.
Sandusky spent three decades at the university as an assistant to Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno before retiring in 1999.
The decision follows previous rulings against Sandusky by the state's Supreme and Superior courts.
Foradora was brought in nearly a year ago after the trial judge, John Cleland, removed himself in response to sharp criticism by Sandusky's lawyers of a meeting that Cleland participated in before Sandusky waived a preliminary hearing in 2011.
Penn State's former president, Graham Spanier, and two other ex-administrators, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, were sentenced to jail time earlier this year after Spanier was found guilty and the others pleaded guilty to child endangerment for their handling of a 2001 complaint about Sandusky showering with a boy. Spanier is free on bail while he appeals his conviction.
The scandal has cost Penn State more than $200 million in fines, settlements and other costs, and the football program was hit with significant NCAA penalties that were later dialed back.
Why does DCS take kids? Exposure to dangerous situations, study finds
by Mary Jo Pitzl
A new report offers a breakdown of what state child-welfare workers mean when they say they have taken a child from a home because of "neglect."
In most instances, it's because a child has been exposed to a dangerous situation, such as witnessing domestic violence or being exposed to a risky situation, a new report by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy concludes.
The study analyzed 800 neglect reports made to the Department of Child Safety's child-abuse hotline over a two-year period.
While DCS keeps details on the various types of neglect in its files, it lacks the ability to code them into its existing computer system, where they could be easily analyzed.
The study identified five broad categories of neglect that led state officials to place a child in foster care, a group home or with relatives.
It then broke apart those categories for a more-detailed examination of the circumstances that merited removing the child.
The detailed breakdown of neglect could help DCS come up with more-targeted responses to the cases it investigates, lead researcher Erica Quintana wrote. For example, it could lead to more preventive strategies that would keep families together, she wrote, rather than placing the child out of the home.
The report, which Morrison labels a draft, will be discussed by its Child Welfare Leadership Advisory Board on Wednesday morning. The board includes DCS officials, lawmakers, juvenile-court judges and social-service agencies that provide the services DCS prescribes for troubled families.
Whether DCS will use the information in the in the study to guide its policies is unclear, but it is likely to be discussed at Wednesday's meeting. The agency did not offer any comment on the draft study.
The Morrison report was produced through a grant provided by the Arizona Community Foundation to examine more deeply Arizona's child-welfare system. The Arizona Republic has also received foundation funding for its child-welfare reporting.
Neglect, not abuse
The study looks at the dominant complaint category that drives DCS investigations: neglect. Overall, 70 percent of the reports DCS investigated during the 2013-15 study period were due to neglect. Abuse accounted for the other 30 percent. The most-recent numbers show 75 percent of hotline reports are classified as neglect.
The Morrison study noted Arizona is not alone in its broad-brush approach to neglect. Thirty-eight states, plus the District of Columbia, do separate reporting on medical neglect (Arizona is not one of them). But all other instances of neglect are lumped into one category, the study noted.
The study divided the neglect reports into two categories: those that resulted in the child being removed from a home and those where no removal was needed.
When neglect leads to removal
The failure of parents to keep tabs on their children was by far the dominant reason for neglect reports that resulted in removals. The study labeled this "supervisory neglect," a broad category that primarily consisted of failure to protect children from dangerous situations, including domestic violence.
Other circumstances that led to such supervisory neglect include a parent being incarcerated, parents abandoning their child, leaving the child with an inappropriate caregiver, and not preventing the child from engaging in risky behavior.
Supervisory neglect equaled 85 percent of the removals, more than four times the next category: substance-exposed newborns, at 20 percent.
The other categories:
Physical neglect, such as not providing adequate food, clothing or shelter, 14 percent.
Medical neglect, 12 percent.
Emotional neglect, 5 percent.
The study cautioned that only 12 percent of DCS hotline reports for the period examined resulted in a removal.
Why DCS doesn't remove
The primary reason a neglect report results in the child staying with mom and dad is lack of any evidence of harm, the study found. A total of 47 percent of neglect reports concluded there was no foundation to the complaint, despite initial reports to the contrary.
An almost-equal percentage — 44 percent — was due to supervisory neglect. Although that is also the leading cause for removing children, in many cases DCS did not find the neglect severe enough to merit taking the children from their homes, the study found.
Substance-exposed newborns were 8 percent of the neglect cases that resulted in the child remaining at home, the study found. Medical neglect (at 4 percent) and physical neglect (3 percent) were the other categories. The analysis found no emotional-abuse reports that resulted in children being left at home.
About this report
In 2016, when the number of children removed from their families peaked at more than 18,000, the Arizona Community Foundation gave The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com a three-year grant to support in-depth research on the topic. As part of that effort, reporter Mary Jo Pitzl and our other staff experts investigate the reasons behind the surge in foster children and the systems meant to support and protect them.
Survivors of boys camps haunted by brutal beatings: 'I was terrified. I was just a little kid."
by Deborah Yetter
Even now, one image still haunts Eddie Taylor from his time 40 years ago at a Kentucky boys camp for juvenile offenders: He and other boys are holding down another boy, forcing him to scrub oil spots off the parking lot until he wears the bristles off the brush and the skin off his fingers.
"I'll be at work, and this stuff will come into my head, and I'll be in tears," said Taylor, 56, of North Carolina, who said he has "flashbacks" of the boy's blood mixed with swirling water and cleanser on the asphalt. "It was brutal. It was awful."
Now Taylor and other former residents of Kentucky's boys camps are reconnecting — largely through social media — in hopes of finding relief from disturbing memories that they have been unable to forget: beatings at the hands of other kids, harsh punishments, constant fear.
"As you get older and wiser, a lot of these things can come up from the past and bite you," said Taylor, who said he was sent to Green River Boys Camp in Butler County at 17 for stealing hubcaps. "You become very vulnerable."
Former residents recall a prison camp environment where friendships were forbidden, all mail was inspected and the slightest infraction — a smile or laugh — could trigger a brutal round of abuse by other boys in a notorious form of punishment called "grouping."
In those sessions, which could last for hours, boys were ordered to surround another youth in their group and then shove him, shout at him and spit on him. The fracas would often degenerate into kicking and punching the victim.
Residents say staff or even other boys could call a grouping session that they say was used to instill fear in the boys and control them.
"It always ended up with someone getting the living hell beaten out of them," said Steve Chambers, 55, of Michigan, who was sent to Woodsbend Boys Camp in Morgan County in 1979 at age 15 for theft.
Abuses in the system of about a dozen state-run camps were well-documented through a series of investigations and outside commissions dating to the early 1970s.
Two deaths of boys, one in 1972 from an alleged beating and the other in 1983 from heart failure, were tied to grouping despite repeated efforts by state officials over the years to ban the practice that became embedded in the culture of some of the camps.
Ray Fraley, 53, of Louisa, Kentucky, said he still has nightmares about his 1979 stint at Green River.
And David Jahn, 58, a sales manager in Tampa, Florida, said he was surprised when troubling memories resurfaced of his 1976 stay at Woodsbend.
"About a year ago, I started thinking about what happened to me as a kid," said Jahn, who was sent to camp for stealing a car after running away from abusive foster care in Florida. "All of a sudden, I started thinking about the stuff we went through there. I wondered whatever happened to these people."
Now, he and others are finding out largely through Facebook and have formed a network they hope will help them work through experiences they say still echo through their adult lives. Several said they had no idea others were suffering the same mental torment until they found each other online, prompting phone calls, shared stories on Facebook and some personal visits.
"I started realizing I wasn't the only victim of this," said Price Capps, 54, who was sent to Green River in 1976 at age 13 for truancy and running away. "There are others, and they are still around."
They want their stories told about abuse they say was never fully detailed, inflicted in the name of rehabilitation. Most of the camps were isolated, in rural communities where boys were cut off from family and friends.
"There was nobody to help you," Capps said. "I was terrified. I was just a little kid."
Some of them want compensation — or at least some official acknowledgment — for what they experienced, though they admit it's unlikely decades later with a system that no longer exists and former administrators who are retired or dead.
"All these guys from all these camps, we can't tell you how much we want justice," said Kirk Daniel, 55, of Romulus, Michigan, who launched a Facebook page called Victims of Kentucky Boys Camps that is helping connect former camp residents.
Most of all, they want peace.
"I'm hoping that it will put some of our minds at ease that we were not the only ones," said Capps, who now lives in New Hampshire.
But finding peace will be hard for Daniel, who said he's still angry about the conditions he endured after he was sent to Woodsbend in 1979 at age 17 for car theft. He was released in 1980.
"I have stayed in a rage over this," Daniel said. "I am sorry but after 37 years, I'm still pissed off!"
No one is seeking to justify wrongdoing that got them committed to boys camps, Daniel said.
"It's wrong to steal somebody's stuff," he said. "But I shouldn't have been tortured."
Suffering for years
Jerry Cantrell, who worked at Woodsbend in the early 1970s, said he's been in touch with some of the men, including Daniel, and understands how troubled they are.
"They've obviously suffered for many years," said Cantrell, who left Woodsbend in 1977, eventually spending his career with a private children's agency. "I'd like to see them get some kind of outcome that will satisfy them."
Cantrell said grouping and other mistreatment of youths was a persistent problem at Woodsbend when he worked there from 1971 through 1977.
"I'd seen some things go on while I was there that was kind of brutal, that shouldn't have gone on," he said.
Worst, he said was the 1972 death of Dennis Buttry, a 17-year-old from Berea who was fatally injured during a "grouping" session at Woodsbend.
Cantrell, then a young youth worker, said he walked in on boys and staff trying to revive the unconscious teen and immediately realized that Buttry, bleeding badly from a gash on the head, needed medical help.
"They were screaming at him for faking it," Cantrell said. "I said, 'This fella's in bad shape. You need to get him to a hospital.'"
Walter Chapleau, who was the staff leader of the group when Buttry died, declined to comment for this article.
"That was a long time ago," said Chapleau, 71, who later served as superintendent at Woodsbend and is now retired. "I don't care to get into it. It was a pretty bad experience for all of us."
Though no one was ever convicted in Buttry's death, the case triggered a wave of outside scrutiny that lasted several decades as problems persisted at the camps.
In 1983, a second youth, Dominic Owens, 14, of Louisville, died after he was held down by other youths in a "grouping" incident at a state boys center in Elizabethtown. Heart failure was determined the cause of death, but a medical expert cited as a factor stress from grouping — supposedly banned after Buttry's death.
Owens' judge, former Jefferson County juvenile court Judge Richard FitzGerald, remains furious about the death of a boy who had been committed for only minor offenses such as petty theft.
"Five years after the (state) for the third time had told the court they would not use grouping for control, Dominic was grouped on, had a heart attack and lay brain dead in a hospital," FitzGerald, now retired, said in an email.
No one was prosecuted over the death.
Abusive conditions were documented by at least three outside commissions appointed to investigate the boys camps between 1972 and 1994, some noting that reforms recommended from previous investigations had never taken hold.
Woodsbend, in Eastern Kentucky, and Green River, in Western Kentucky, were among the camps cited for the most serious problems. But problems were identified at most of the other centers, including one that served girls in Morehead.
Despite repeated efforts to reform the system, problems persisted until the U.S. Justice Department's office of civil rights stepped in with enforcement in the mid-1990s that triggered sweeping reforms.
The boys camps, run by state social service agencies, were replaced in the late 1990s with a modern system of youth treatment centers under a new state Department of Juvenile Justice created by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1996 as part of reform efforts.
Earl Dunlap, a juvenile justice expert who served as a monitor for the federal government to oversee the reforms, said he has no doubt about accounts of harsh treatment by former boys camp residents. And he is not surprised they remain troubled by the experience.
"It's no telling the damage that was done to kids back in the day," said Dunlap, now retired and living in Illinois. "Absolutely no telling at all. It was a matter of survival."
Group sessions, meant to be a form of counseling for boys to discuss problems, degenerated into brutal "grouping" under poorly trained, insufficient staff, Dunlap said.
"It developed into a hazing process," he said. "There were a lot of kids who suffered the consequences of that."
The outside investigations and dozens of news articles from the early 1970s into the 1990s outlined repeated abuses that included grouping and bizarre punishments, such as boys being forced for hours to carry armloads of wood or scrub oil spots off asphalt — often bent over in a torturous position with knees locked in place and hands on scrub brushes on the pavement.
"I scrubbed the skin off my knuckles," said Todd Big, 53, of Kenton County, who said he was subjected to the punishment during 19 months at Woodsbend in the early 1980s. "I was bleeding pretty good."
And former residents say they were forced to work long hours cutting logs with cross-cut saws, chopping wood, digging out stumps, hauling and loading rocks from creek beds and cutting and hauling tobacco on private farms owned by camp staff or their friends.
Some former residents say they got minimal pay for such work, around 30 cents a day; others say they got nothing.
"They worked us like horses," said Big, sent to Woodsbend in 1980 after he was caught riding a stolen motorcycle. "All summer long we would bale hay, stack, cut and plant tobacco, cut trees down. Truckload after truckload of trees."
Charlie Conn, 52, of Valley Station, said he lives with debilitating back and leg damage from serious injuries he suffered in 1981 at age 17 when he was struck on the head by a falling tree and knocked unconscious while on a logging job with other youths at Woodsbend.
He still has medical records that show he was admitted to the Appalachian Regional Hospital in Morgan County for injuries including a concussion.
"I'm going to look for some compensation — if it's even possible," Conn said. "I feel like they owe me because I was injured and they didn't take care of me."
Big said he was on the logging job with Conn when a large tree fell on the group, knocking down the other boys and striking Conn on the head.
"I thought it had killed him," he said.
In 1981, a state official determined that boys at Woodsbend had been forced to work outside the camp for little or no pay and ordered an end to the practice she compared to "slave labor," according to a Courier-Journal story.
Living with fear
Former residents — many who said they were sent there for relatively minor offenses such as theft or being out of their parents' control — told the Courier-Journal they have lived with depression, anxiety, fear and anger they trace to their time at the camps.
"All those things happened to every guy in there," said Conn, who started his own Facebook page, Survivors of Kentucky Boys Camps , about his experiences. "I'm a pretty tough guy and it still breaks me down."
Big, a construction worker, said he's never gotten over his time at Woodsbend.
"I still ain't right because of that place," Big said. "They messed my head up in a lot of ways."
Cantrell, the former worker, said the state then had no system for classifying and treating youths. As a result, teens charged with skipping school or theft — including Buttry, the boy who died — would be placed alongside more violent youths, Cantrell said.
"They really didn't have any system to determine who needed to be there," he said. "Buttry should have never been at that camp."
And without enough youth workers, some staff used the groups Big, a construction worker, said he's never gotten over his time at Woodsbend.
"It set up a situation where a lot of kids got abused," he said.
Most youths came from poor families, or parents separated by divorce and hardship and had little contact with them.
"There weren't a lot of wealthy kids in boys camps — if any," Taylor said. "Most of us were from low-income homes, broken families."
And family visits were strictly monitored. Jahn said he remembers camp residents being warned before weekends when family members were allowed to visit.
"I remember everybody being told, 'We're watching you. Make sure you tell them you're getting help,'" he said.
Daniel said he was too terrified to tell his parents what he was experiencing. After he was released and he described conditions at Woodsbend, his father asked, "Why didn't you tell me?" Daniel said.
"I said if you would have tried to do anything, they might have killed me," Daniel said.
Jahn said he recalls the sheer terror of daily life at Woodsbend.
"We woke up scared, and we went to bed scared," he said. "The fear that you lived with, it was constant fear."
Taylor is convinced he and many others have never escaped that fear.
"We were scared kids for the rest of our lives," he said.
Former residents say they are still working to find other "survivors," believing hundreds of youth would have passed through the camps over several decades.
They say they have contacted several dozen so far through the Facebook sites,
Daniel has traveled to states including Arizona, Kentucky, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina to meet with men who contacted him online about the boys camps. He said he has talked with them for hours as memories and emotions poured out.
One was Fraley after Daniel traveled to Eastern Kentucky to meet him.
"It's kind of nice to talk to someone that knows and understands," said Fraley, who was sent to a boys camp at 15 after he was involved in a gunfight that erupted during a feud among local families. "Unless you went through it, you don't know."
Some, including Daniel and Capps, went on to spend time in prison as adults; others cite alcoholism, drug abuse, joblessness, divorce and failed marriages and relationships. They wonder if conditions they endured in the boys camps are a factor.
"A lot of us have asked ourselves that," said Taylor, who works as a musician, songwriter and cabinetmaker outside Raleigh, North Carolina. "What would our lives have turned out to have been if these things hadn't happened?"
Capps, who was in and out of boys camps until he turned 18 and served time in prison as an adult, said that question is always in his thoughts.
"It's something that never leaves you," he said. "I ask myself every day what would my life have been like, what chances would I have had if I'd been taught the right way?"
Commentary: Boys and men are also victims of abuse
It is wrong to assume that only women and girls benefit from laws and treatment.
by Martha Jaye Rieser and Jim Struve
Regarding the Salt Lake Tribune editorials of Oct. 5, “ Justice for victims: New law remove cruel time limit ,” and Oct. 12, “ More is better: Sexual assaults get needed attention ,” the authors exclude almost half of the victims of childhood sexual assault.
In the Oct. 5 editorial, twice the author states the benefits, to women, of Ken Ivory's legislation HB279, to extend the statute of limitations for reporting sexual abuse. Again, in the Oct. 12 editorial, adult women of college age are referenced as the victims who are reporting more assaults.
In our careers at The Rape Recovery Center, we sadly learned too much about who gets sexually assaulted. Pedophiles abuse females and males. Pedophilia is not related to the perpetrator's sexual orientation and many offenders are trusted, heterosexual males in our communities and known to the victim's family.
Current research reveals that 10 percent to 20 percent of girls and 5 percent to 10 percent of boys are victims of child sexual abuse. One in six males are sexually assaulted at sometime during their lifetime. There has been a barrage of news stories about sexual assault of boys at storied institutions including Penn State, Horace Mann Academy, Canadian Hockey Jr. League, the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, etc.
Additionally, assaults disguised under the banner of “hazing” often include sexual and genital contact or harm. Heterosexual men are known to assault men perceived as “weak,” to “teach them a lesson.” This, along with numerous other scenarios, result in males being the victim of sexual assault.
Your editorials about the Ken Ivory bill removing the statute of limitations states the benefits to “women, (abused as minors) who could not face a public lawsuit until many years later.” Boys and men deal with the shame and scaring of being victimized by a pedophile in additionally complex ways.
Boys wonder, just as girls, “what is wrong with me that the predator chose me?” They also wonder, “does this mean I'm gay?” It complicates maturation and the abuse is repressed for many years. This bill should help Utah men and “women stand up for themselves and bring abusers to justice.”
Young adult men and mature men rarely report sexual abuse. The victim-shaming is acute for men. If a man thinks about reporting, he may (wrongly!) ask himself, “how could this happen to me?” “what did I do to cause this?” “How can I be a ‘real' man?” Unless he seeks professional help, there may be no one in a man's life who has knowledge on how to believe and support a male survivor. Assault is non-consenting and usually includes manipulation, control and anger. Yet, male assault is seldom labeled as “rape.” A “real” man is expected to be able to defend himself or enjoy any sexual experience, even those involving domestic abuse, coercion and violence.
Reporting about issues of sexual assault must include all victims, not just women and girls. Additionally, all boys, girls, men and women of certain populations are more at risk for assault and less likely to be able to report, be believed, and provide evidence. The elderly, differently abled, hearing and visually impaired, sexual and/or gender diverse individuals, homeless, undocumented, etc. are viewed by perpetrators as more easily overpowered and less likely to report.
Resources for male survivors include the national non-profit websites for Helping Men Heal Weekends of Recovery, One in Six , RAINN, and the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City.
The Human Market
by Alexandra Cronin
In December 2016 the University of Texas estimated that there are 79,000 minor and youth victims of sex trafficking and 234,000 workers who are victims of labor trafficking in Texas. That means there are at least 313,000 victims of human trafficking in our state. Whether we know it or not, some are in Collin County.
The flight is an hour away from its destination, and the woman next to me is a nervous flyer. That's probably the only reason she starts talking to me at all. Thick gold eyeshadow glitters like dragonfly wings over her false eyelashes; a matching bra shines underneath an unbuttoned denim jacket. Her fingernails are dabbled with rhinestones. Her confident flash makes it almost hard to look at her in the tin-can atmosphere where most people are washed colorless. The conversation she strikes up is simply a nice distraction from turbulence until I mention that I write for a living. She smiles. She leans in over the armrest.
“I've always wanted to have someone write my story. It would make a hell of a movie,” she says in a conspiratorial tone. “Can I tell you my story?”
She buys us little plastic cups of airplane red wine, poured out of fun-sized travel bottles. She doesn't talk or act like a woman floating around 40 and as we drink, she seems to grow younger, relaxing enough that she forgets her fear of flying. We knock rims for a toast, stifling laughter so we don't wake up the toddler napping in the row behind ours.
While she's still laughing, she begins, “When I was 13, my mom sold me to this guy for drug money.”
Over the hour we spend together, she vacillates in her own portrayal of herself. Sometimes she talks about fighting drug addiction and ancient, cavernous hurts. Most of all, she says how glad she is to be free. She shows me her Instagram, a strange mix of uplifting selfies and pornographic images of herself twisted in bondage. Her original buyer remains a shadow at the center of her story. Sometimes she calls him her boyfriend. Sometimes he's her pimp.
“When I was 15 we started having sex because I loved him and he said he loved me too,” she recalls as the peanut cart rolls by. “I lost my virginity to him. Then I turned sixteen, too old for him. He didn't love me anymore and sold me.”
Since her first pimp, she was bought and sold enough times that the years have blended together. Now she's a middle-aged woman. She only broke free of the cycle two years ago. Today, she lives with a man who she loves. She jokingly calls him her sugar daddy although I worry it isn't a joke at all.
I wonder how free she can ever be after years of being a commodity. I honestly don't know how she survived to tell her story.
In December 2016 The University of Texas at Austin (UT), School of Social Work, Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault released a report on human trafficking in Texas. “Human Trafficking by the Numbers: The Initial Benchmark of Prevalence and Economic Impact for Texas,” is a groundbreaking study. It is the first and only report of its kind.
The study defines human trafficking as: “A broad umbrella term that encompasses trafficking of persons of any age, nationally or internationally, for sex or labor purposes.”
The day Janet Collinsworth got the call must have been a normal one. The founder of Agape Resource and Assistance Center, Janet works with a small staff out of a cozy office, caring for homeless women and children in Collin County. She has seen people at their most desperate—lost in drug addiction, fleeing abusive spouses, living penny to penny. And yet, she'd never gotten a call quite like the one she received two years ago.
It was a local police officer calling Janet in desperate need of safe shelter for a woman who had been brought to the hospital in critical condition, bleeding, covered in bruises like crushed tomatoes. Both the police officer and the doctor had a terrible suspicion about what had happened to her.
“If she goes back on the street, she'll be killed,” the officer said.
It wasn't the first time Janet had been asked to help a woman who had been trafficked in Plano. A year earlier a young mother sought shelter and help. She had been sold by her sister into trafficking and had practically vanished off the face of the earth for three years. She came to Agape with her two children, determined to build a better life for them.
Now, another woman was in desperate need of a life where she could sleep at night without fear, without being beaten by her johns until she was clinging to life. Later, she told Janet how she ran away from home at age 15. She had been looking for shelter in a city of strangers, everything she owned carried in a trash bag. She was taken in by a stranger who was kind, giving her food and a place to sleep for a few nights. Slowly she began to trust the stranger. After a while, the stranger told her about a man and his wife who owned a big house and would gladly take care of her. They took her in and gave her a bedroom of her own.
Later she told Janet, “Every day they told me I was loved. They were kind and gave me everything I needed. It took a long time but on the very day I finally felt safe—he came into my room that night.”
By the time she was brought to the hospital where Janet met her, she was over 30 years old and had spent most of her life under his thumb.
“Everyone believed he was a good man and a model citizen. No one would ever believe that he did any of this,” she explained when asked why she never sought help. He sold her on sites like backpage.com as an underage girl, pocketing every cent. She never held an entry level job. She never finished high school. Even years later, now that she is physically free, she loves and fears him too much to give his name up. But she refuses to return to him.
“My choice is freedom or death,” she once said. “I'm never going back.”
The women Janet has helped escape traffickers were trapped in the cycle as children. They were vulnerable, either runaways or “throwaways,” foster kids from low-income areas. Boys are just as much at risk as girls.
Over time, Janet noticed that the methods their pimps used to control them were strikingly similar: affection that turns viper-quickly into abuse. She realized with a punch of horror that the threats pimps used followed the same basic logic as schoolyard bullies—“Hand over your lunch money or get beat up.” Only now, it wasn't over quarters and dimes, but human lives.
In her mind the traffickers that plagued and stalked the women who found safety at Agape are part of nationwide trafficking rings that find and traffic vulnerable people in our own community. After all, the demand is there and the money is there. Someone wealthy with the inclination to harm a child wouldn't dirty their own hands. They'd pay someone to assume the risk and provide the “product.” Furthermore, people are not one-time purchases like drugs. A person can be sold and used again and again.
Out of every state, Texas has the second-highest number of human trafficking reports. In 2008, 38 percent of the calls to the National Trafficking Resource Center came out of Texas. DFW, San Antonio and Houston share the burden of the heaviest density of trafficking issues due largely to their proximity to international airports and major highways. I-10 which connects El Paso and Houston on its way through Texas, is a particularly notorious trafficking route.
Trafficking is a short walk away from Janet's workplace. It is in her local schools. Traffickers did not stay on the roads, in the shadowy crack houses near downtown Dallas or in small towns whose names she doesn't know.
Human trafficking is in her hometown. It is in Plano.
Janet admits that she is frustrated by how slowly the community has responded to the threat of trafficking. But then she remembers that most of us don't know. Three years ago, she didn't know either.
UT's “Human Trafficking by the Numbers” report refers to survivors and victims as “a hidden population” because any existing data on human trafficking—including their own—can only account for identified victims, not the slew of people who have yet to be found and perhaps don't want to be. Any measurement is the tip of a very large iceberg, an underestimate of a much greater population of victimized and enslaved people.
As far as misconceptions about human trafficking go, Officer Rivard has encountered them all. She is a Fort Worth police officer with a background in nonprofit social work, a rare but invaluable combination. She works in one of the few designated human trafficking police units in the state.
Fort Worth owes its human trafficking unit largely to the highly publicized Polywood Crips case, which unfolded in 2016 in the Polytechnic neighborhood of the city. In a single raid, eight people with ties to the Polywood Crips gang—six men and two women—were arrested and charged with sex trafficking of children and adults. They beat, sexually assaulted, and gang-raped those who didn't follow their rules and bragged on their publicly visible Facebook pages about making money through “pimping,” even posting “How to pimp” videos.
As an officer, Rivard runs into far too many people who still think human trafficking looks like the 2008 abduction thriller Taken . But her days aren't spent kicking in doors and rescuing people who are desperately grateful. Most days, she doesn't feel like Liam Neeson.
She spends her life tackling juvenile prostitution, talking to kids who are coerced or forced into the trade. Some of the kids she meets have never left Fort Worth, but have been sold for sex by someone else, sometimes while they lived at home and attended school. Others were international, brought over legally or otherwise and stranded. She has seen men and women trafficked all over her city: in the sketchiest roach motel all the way up to silken suites in the ritziest hotels. As for labor trafficking, she has found it in private houses in the tamest of neighborhoods. She has caught it in restaurants and truck stops, gas stations and galas.
“If these pimps were pulling up to schools and neighborhoods and snatching people off the street, throwing bags over their heads and dragging them into vans, the police response would be huge,” she explains. If that were the case her unit would be larger than just a few officers. She has rarely seen traffickers function that way. It's not good “business.”
Instead they groom—effectively brainwash—their victims with a mixture of compliments, promises of safety, threats and violence. Traffickers are highly skilled con artists who make a living off of vulnerable kids by charming them into a relationship before coercing them into exploitation.
As one survivor said, “Pimp life is not normal but it's hard to get away, especially when you think you're in love.”
The hierarchy can be very complex. One of the oddest roles in play are “bottom girls,” women in the trafficking circle who lure young girls and boys into the trade and act as their caretakers, keepers of the brothels. Bottom girls start as victims themselves and usually have been trafficked before becoming traffickers themselves. They are both punisher and punished. Pimps will frequently beat bottom girls in front of their victims to keep them in line. Drug addiction to meth and heroin is also a powerful tether. People in the life call it the “leash.”
Human trafficking hides under names like “pimp”, “john”, “bottom girl” and “whore”. Colloquially it's cool to be pimpin'. But our everyday use of the word has distanced us from what it actually means, a culture where sex is offered as currency and as a means of survival.
“Survival sex” is defined as someone engaging in a sexual act to get something in return that equates to survival to them—water, money, a meal, drugs or shelter. It's a last-resort transaction done out of desperation. Make no mistake. Survival sex is not sex but rape.
Even long after trafficking ends, the mental brands remain. Children who are trafficked young don't know how to be adults. Most have never opened a bank account or completed their education. They don't have basic life skills and fall back into prostitution because a better life is unimaginable. Legally they may be adults, but mentally and emotionally they are children who have been conditioned to believe they have nothing else to offer. Some never realize the way they are being exploited.
“I'm not a victim,” fierce-eyed girls with livid bruises on their necks say to Officer Rivard. Sometimes they only go to the police for petty reasons, perhaps because their pimp took their phone, not because they are being trafficked.
Every time Officer Rivard drives by a hotel, she wonders what could be happening behind closed doors. After all, an average slave today is sold for $90. That's about the price of a nice steak dinner.
She doesn't believe that human trafficking will ever end and she knows she can't save everyone. Especially when she runs into so many who don't want to be saved.
But she can save some.
Concerning labor trafficking, “Human Trafficking by the Numbers” reports that: “Many immigrant laborers themselves are unaware of the law or their rights, and believe that they should stay silent and hidden rather than risk any consequences.
“However, being an undocumented presence in the U.S. is not a criminal offense, and all workers (with minor exceptions), are covered by basic labor rights in the U.S. regardless of immigration status.”
They estimate that labor traffickers have exploited approximately $600 million from victims in Texas.
Mosaic Family Services is a nonprofit for survivors of human rights violations. Their outreach program spreads awareness about the pervasive problem, teaching people how to spot it and what to do—school counselors, teachers, paramedics, ER, law enforcement officers, hotel staff, pastors and imams are all on the shortlist of those most likely to come across trafficked people.
Mosaic has reported that out of the entire country the City of Dallas ranks second in numbers of reports of human trafficking. If it rains, Collin County is under the same raincloud.
One of their key concerns is labor trafficking, which more often than not, slips under the radar.
Picture this: You answer an ad for a nanny working eight hours a day. The pay is good and room and board is offered. But once you answer the ad, you find yourself working 14-hour days as a maid as well as a nanny and the promised room isn't a room, but a cot in the corner of the kitchen. Your salary is funneled directly into an account that your employer manages on your behalf. You can't make withdrawals without permission.
Immigrants—particularly illegal immigrants—commonly find themselves trapped in situations like these. They are forced to live as slaves, fearing that if they turn to law enforcement for help, they will be punished and deported. They have nowhere to turn in a land where they don't know the laws. Their employers even convince themselves that they're being kind by keeping them instead of turning them in, which entitles them to as much free or discounted labor as they want.
Traffickers understand vulnerabilities. They offer immigrants VISAs. They often smuggle them across the border and then confiscate their papers or keep them paying off fictitious, ever-mounting debts forever, refusing them pay until their “debt” is wiped out.
“I think of it as where need meets greed,” Kristen Sunny, the former director of Mosaic's outreach program, says.
Industries where they are most vulnerable include agriculture, domestic services, construction, restaurant and foodservice industries and landscaping/groundskeeping.
Mosaic has helped clients who have been in-house nannies for more than 20 years, who loved those families like their own. But they weren't allowed out of the house. They weren't paid. They were enslaved.
The strangest case Kristen has ever heard of unfolded in Fort Worth a few years ago when a couple of women from Mexico were controlled by a female trafficker and forced to clean houses every day. They worked impossible hours with no breaks and no pay. She confiscated their documents, forcing them to clean her own house as well.
The female trafficker told these women that she was the voice of God. She recorded herself philosophizing on CDs and forced them to listen while they cleaned. By the time Mosaic intervened, the women were convinced their trafficker really was the voice of God and that if they disobeyed her they would be sent to Hell. She kept them prisoner for over 10 years.
The largest labor trafficking prosecution ever brought by the Department of Justice was U.S. v. Kil Soo Lee in 2002. Kil Soo Lee, the owner of a garment factory, held over 300 trafficked individuals captive in a sweatshop in American Samoa. When they were brought to the island their passports were confiscated and any noncompliance or refusal to work was met with food deprivation, physical and sexual abuse and deportation. It was the largest labor trafficking case of its kind, and 15 of the 300 survivors were eventually sent to Dallas where Mosaic helped them return home or rehabilitate in the States.
Sexual assault is commonly used as a method of coercion—sex and labor trafficking go hand in hand. Sometimes workers are forced to labor all day and are trafficked for sex at night. Massage parlors are a classic example. As a rule, labor trafficking is harder to identify than sex trafficking. Yet Kristen fears it is much more common than we know. Most of the victims have no idea that U.S. law actually protects them, documented or otherwise, in cases of human rights violations like trafficking.
The U.S.'s youngest prosecuted case of human trafficking was a three-year-old girl. The oldest was 91.
“Human Trafficking by the Numbers” calls law enforcement responses to human trafficking “varied and complex.” Experts have found that many law enforcement professionals have viewed human trafficking as rare or even nonexistent. They cite a 2006 study sponsored by the National Institute of Justice which said that one-third of the known trafficking cases were discovered by officers investigating other cases entirely.
Officer Yount pictures the human trafficking enterprise as a corporation as organized as Walmart. There is one central office, a headquarters, regional headquarters scattered throughout the country, and hundreds of neighborhood “stores” branching off in major and minor cities along with massive distribution centers. In his mind, it's one of the biggest businesses in the world, flush with enough cash to crash the stock market. But it isn't run by businessmen.
“People have this belief that if you're on a lower socio-economic scale, you have a proclivity for doing this and that's just not what we see,” Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner says of trafficking. “People traffic children because people who victimize children pay a lot of money. Wrap your head around that concept … these people have enough money to buy whole countries.”
People who buy and sell other people are well-compensated for the risk.
“From the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich, it affects everyone,” Officer Yount, an interdiction officer who specializes in spotting traffickers in transit, says. He is a recent addition to the sheriff's office. When he investigates human trafficking—with a specific interest in trafficked children—he does it on the road.
While online forums have made it easier for traffickers to find and sell people, traffickers still need to transport them. To do so, they have to burn rubber on the same highways the rest of us use, buy gas and McDonald's at the same roadside stations. They are most vulnerable on the road. Geographically, we live in a major metropolitan area with large, convenient interstates that are major trafficking corridors. The sheriffs of North Texas are well aware.
Traffickers on the highway aren't driving nice cars with flashy rims. They aren't speeding. They're driving sedate, suburban Camrys and Corollas. They're blending in. They know how to play mind games and all the best ways to hide. They won't risk a speeding ticket with a trafficked child in the backseat.
Traffickers particularly want to blend into the suburbs, where they are least expected. For example, labor trafficking takes place every day in the safest and nicest of neighborhoods where people pay for manual labor without ever suspecting that the person mowing their lawn might be under the thumb of a trafficker.
Officer Yount is consistently surprised by how many officers are shocked by the prevalence of trafficking. But in just five years he has seen awareness in law enforcement skyrocket.
Officers and traffickers watch each other closely. When a trafficking case is prosecuted, traffickers will hire an expensive lawyer and let it go to trial, just to get the arresting officers on the stand so they can learn their tactics and adapt.
Yount isn't intimidated. He's testified before and he'll do it again. He knows they are learning from his testimony, so he considers his methods outdated before a case even goes to trial. It's an evolving game with constantly moving pieces. Innovation is key because the moment they bust a trafficker's route, that route changes.
But the more people who are on the lookout for them, the more people who know how they operate, the smaller their ring of safety becomes.
“Human Trafficking by the Numbers” included a report from the National Human Trafficking Hotline with this disclaimer: “The data is not intended to represent the full scope of human trafficking, but to help identify trends.” In 2015 the hotline received 1,731 calls in Texas. Most of the tips came from everyday people who see something suspicious. Only one in four calls actually came from victims and survivors.
Cheryl Brasuell doesn't have the luxury of off-hours because she never knows when someone might cry out for help. At Traffick911, she focuses on trafficking prevention, as well as the identification and empowerment of trafficked minors. Sometimes, survivors aren't ready to leave their situations right away but when they are ready, knowing they have a place to go makes all the difference. Waiting for those calls keeps her up at night.
“Everyone involved in exploitation are really broken people,” Cheryl says.
Traffick911 devotes long hours in schools and juvenile detention centers, teaching kids about the traps traffickers use to ensnare them. Traffick911 receives letters from kids who have been through their courses at juvie. Some come to understand during the prevention presentation that they have been trafficked without even knowing it.
“I have to realize I am worth it and the past doesn't define me,” one survivor writes. “I thank God I'm still here … I'm not the only one.”
Even once they are removed from a dangerous situation, healing is a long road. The key is to be there with them every step of the way. But for all their preventative measures, Cheryl believes that there is only one way to end trafficking: end the demand, which is always growing. And it's all too easy to buy someone online.
It is widely agreed that all roads lead to the escort section of backpage.com. In a Nebraska-based report conducted through Creighton University, the Human Trafficking Initiative found that 80 percent of the online sale of humans is conducted on Backpage. It is widely notorious for refusing to admit culpability for postings of underage boys and girls on their site. remove posts selling underage girls and boys and denying any culpability. Backpage is based in Dallas.
A Senate subcommittee investigated Backpage in January 2017 and discovered that Backpage had edited ads that indicated underage people for sale, removing the questionable terms like “teenage” or “rape,” but kept the ads online. The Senate ruled that they “knowingly facilitated” online sex trafficking of minors.
Traffickers know how to phrase their posts so that they'll stay under the radar and meet standards for what terms may or may not be used in an escort ad. Law enforcement and nonprofits alike report that traffickers have built their own language with emojis and euphemisms that change on a daily basis. Umbrellas could stand in for condoms. Roses might stand in for virginity. These codes don't take a genius to decipher them.
I went on Backpage myself. I didn't need a password, or some secret link into the dark web. Despite the highly publicized closure of their adult section earlier this year, I found myself trolling for sex on Backpage within two seconds.
One entry particularly disturbed me:
“New. Fresh, and natural blonde. Leave reality and come to enjoy your fantasy.- 22 (Carrilton(sic),Addison,Frisco,Plano, & other)”
Terms like “new” and “fresh” and even her advertised age—early 20s—could all be trademarks of a pimp offering an underage girl.
Websites like Backpage have become a symptom of the greater issue: the thriving market for humans. But as awareness rises, the system begins to break down.
As one of Traffick911's survivors writes, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
The United States Department of State considers human trafficking a form of modern-day slavery.
According to the International Labor Organization, it is a $150 billion annual criminal industry worldwide.
Our plane lands before her story ends. While it screeches back to earth, she stops mid-sentence to grip my hand, praying through the turbulence.
As we taxi to our gate, she tells me about reconciling with her mother who sold her so many years ago. “I go to see her sometimes. I've forgiven her. I know she didn't know what she was doing. I'm a strong person. I survived, I got out and I am living my life.”
We go our separate ways, swept off to baggage claim with clinical airline efficiency. She slips into a taxi, cigarette burning between her fingers, and I never see her again. But I see her everywhere.
National Trafficking Hotline
SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”)
Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused
WHO publishes new guidelines
Millions of children and adolescents across the globe are subjected to sexual abuse, including sexual assault or rape. A 2011 study estimates that 18% of girls, and 8% of boys worldwide have experienced sexual abuse. This abuse is a major public health problem and a grave violation of human rights. Health care providers have an important role in identifying abuse and providing child or adolescent-centred care to disclosure of abuse. They also have an important role in connecting survivors to other services that they may need.
For the first time, WHO has published guidelines to help (primarily) front-line healthcare providers give high-quality, compassionate, and respectful care to children and adolescents (up to age 18) who have or may have experienced sexual abuse, including sexual assault or rape.
About the guidelines
The new WHO Clinical Guidelines for responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused are grounded in human rights standards and ethical principles. They recommend that healthcare providers put the best interests of children and adolescents first by assessing and promoting their safety; ensuring confidentiality and privacy; offering choices in provision of care; respecting their autonomy and wishes; and addressing the specific needs of boys and girls with additional vulnerabilities, such as LGBTI adolescents, children and adolescents with disabilities, and those from low socio-economic groups and indigenous populations, and ensuring provision of care to them without discrimination.
Consequences of sexual abuse
Girls and boys who experience abuse often face a number of short and long term negative consequences for their mental, physical, sexual, and reproductive health and well-being. Boys and girls who are sexually abused face higher risks of lifetime diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, externalizing symptoms, sleep disorders, and having thoughts of suicide and self-harm. They are more likely to engage in unsafe-sex, abuse of drugs and misuse of alcohol, placing them at higher risk for STIs and HIV and for other negative health outcomes that last into adulthood. For girls there is also increased risk of pregnancy and gynaecological disorders.
Adolescents and children at the centre
The new guidelines address an important gap in providing quality and trauma-informed care to survivors by placing emphasis on the safety, wishes, autonomy of children and adolescents.
Health care providers are recommended to:
Provide first line support that is child or adolescent-centred and gender sensitive in response to disclosure of sexual abuse.
Minimize additional trauma and distress while taking medical history, conducting the examination and documenting the findings.
Offer HIV post-exposure prophylaxis and adherence support to those who have been raped and who present within 72 hours.
Offer emergency contraception to girls who have been raped and who present within 120 hours/ 5 days.
Consider STI presumptive treatment or prophylaxis in settings where laboratory testing is not feasible.
Offer Hepatitis B and HPV vaccination as per national guidance.
Consider cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a trauma focus for those have PTSD symptoms and diagnosis and where safe and appropriate to do so involve at least 1 non-offending caregiver.
Where required to report child sexual abuse to designated authorities, health care providers should inform the child or adolescent and their non-offending caregivers about the obligation to report the abuse and the limits of confidentiality before interviewing them.
Helping countries worldwide
The new guidelines will assist WHO Member States to ensure the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents and implement the Global Plan of Action on strengthening the health systems response to violence against women and girls and against children , endorsed by the World Health Assembly in May 2016.
Alaska and Tribes Sign Historic Agreement on Child Welfare
by Lisa Demer
Alaska has long been overwhelmed by reports of children in danger. Toddlers who are bruised, burned or beaten. Little ones wandering outside while parents lose themselves in drinking and drugs. Children victimized by sexual predators.
Especially at risk are Alaska Native children.
Now the state and Alaska tribes are preparing to try something that has never been done before.
They want to turn the responsibility of protecting Alaska Native children over to Native people themselves: tribe by tribe, village by village, duty by duty.
They hope the child welfare system will transform into something better if tribal services operate parallel to state services. That is what happened with health care when Alaska tribal organizations took over U.S. Indian Health Service hospitals and clinics. And the tribal organizations will be able to serve non-Native children too.
An essential step was formalized Thursday in Anchorage on the opening day of the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention.
At a long table set up in front of the main stage at AFN, Gov. Bill Walker, a state commissioner and representatives of 17 tribal organizations big and small signed an umbrella agreement known as a compact. It provides a framework for tribal authority in an area that has been state government's responsibility. The document inks in a partnership between the state and tribes. It sets general terms including requirements to keep children's cases confidential and the types of duties that can be taken over.
The moment will be remembered for decades, said Richard "Chaylee Eesh" Peterson, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.
"We are getting recognized for our sovereign ability to take care of ourselves," Peterson said Wednesday at an AFN tribal leaders conference, where the effort was presented.
More than 3,000 Alaska children are in state foster care or otherwise in state custody for their own protection.
About 57 percent of them are Alaska Native, almost triple the proportion of Native children overall in Alaska, said Valerie "Nurr'araaluk" Davidson, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Social Services and a member of Bethel's tribe, Orutsararmiut Native Council.
It was Davidson -- the former general counsel for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium -- who first raised the idea of a compact, like the tribal health agreement signed in 1994.
"If I may be so bold, it is about time," Davidson said at AFN to big applause.
Negotiations between the state and a number of tribes began in April and just wrapped up this month -- a seven-month process.
Already 11 tribal organizations work through the state to receive federal dollars that pay for some efforts to keep children safe, such as tribally licensed foster homes.
AFN took a direct role. Its general counsel and executive vice president, Nicole Borromeo, helped lead the effort. A group of state officials, tribal leaders and attorneys met repeatedly at AFN's headquarters.
Change will happen slowly, said Christy Lawton, director of the state Office of Children's Services.
Tribes initially will be allowed to take on small, specific roles such as finding relatives of Native children or supervising visits with children. Tribal organizations also will get a chance to see if they can help the many families reported for abuse or neglect whose cases don't rise to the level that the state investigates, Lawton said.
Eventually some tribes -- if they so desire -- will take on most if not all the duties, Lawton said: investigations of reports of child abuse and neglect, foster care, working with troubled parents, adoptions.
From the Department of Justice
Attorney General Applauds FBI's Massive Sex Trafficking Crackdown
On Oct. 18, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), announced that 84 minors were recovered and 120 traffickers were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country XI, a nationwide effort focusing on underage human trafficking that ran from Oct. 12 to 15.
The Attorney General made the following statement on this crackdown:
“Every American has the right to be safe from violence and exploitation, and it is the mission of this Department to help secure that right. Today we take the next step toward that mission with the arrest of more than 120 alleged sex traffickers and the recovery of more than 80 trafficking survivors.
“I want to thank and commend the dedicated men and women of the FBI, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and our local, state and international law enforcement partners who made these arrests and rescues possible. They have delivered results that make this country safer and show clearly that collaboration makes us more effective in combating child exploitation.
“The Justice Department will continue to pursue our mission and, to that end, we will remain tireless in our efforts to rescue victims and put those who victimize children behind bars.”
From the FBI Release:
This is the 11th iteration of the FBI-led Operation Cross Country (OCC), which took place this year in 55 FBI field offices and involved 78 state and local task forces, consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners. This year's coordinated operations took place with several international partners, including Canada (Operation Northern Spotlight), the United Kingdom (Aident 8), Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation's children from harm. Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."
As part of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites. The youngest victim recovered during this year's operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old. Minors recovered during Cross Country Operations are offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI's Victim Services Division. Depending on the level of need, victims are offered medical and mental health counseling, as well as a number of other services.
“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we're working to combat this problem every day,” said NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. “We're proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation's children.”
Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI's Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 and has yielded more than 6,500 child identifications and locations. For additional information on Operation Cross Country XI and the Innocence Lost initiative, please visit www.fbi.gov.
Examples of stories from various cities that took part in Operation Cross Country XI:
On October 13th, FBI Denver recovered two minor girls—one 3-month-old and one 5-year-old. The subject, a friend of the children's family, offered an undercover officer access to the two children for sexual purposes in exchange for $600. The FBI is working with Child Protective Services to conduct a forensic interview and secure safe placement of the children. The subject was placed under arrest.
Also on October 13th, a 16-year old female victim was recovered by FBI El Paso, after an undercover agent called an online advertisement for entertainment. Shortly thereafter, the agent met with a 21-year-old female, who offered a fee of $200 to engage in sexual intercourse with her and another female, the 16-year-old victim. Further investigations revealed that a second adult female drove the minor and the 21-year-old to the undercover's location. Both female subjects have been arrested on federal charges.
Note to Editors: B-Roll and interviews associated with this year's operation can be downloaded at www.fbi.gov.
Waking Up to Narcissistic Abuse: 'Our Parents Are the Last People We Can Trust'
by Julie L. Hall
Those of us exposed to trauma know all too well the experience of distressing nightmares. We may thrash around in bed and struggle to speak or cry out. When we finally reach consciousness, as if surfacing for air, we may be panicked, crying, even hyperventilating. The transition from a terrifying dream state to wakefulness can leave us intensely disturbed and unable to return to sleep.
For adult children raised with narcissistic abuse , the experience of becoming aware of the reality of what we have been through is much like waking from a horrific nightmare. But it is a process far longer, more complexly murky, and lastingly traumatic .
Adam's Story: “Our Parents Are the Last People We Can Trust”
With rare exceptions, children love their parents unconditionally and seek their nurturance, protection, attention, approval, and validation of their evolving selfhood. When one or more parents suffer from the pathology of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), this healthy developmental attunement between child and adult is disrupted and often inverted, leading to devastating psycho-emotional harm. Adam's story is a classic case.
Expectations of Perfection
When Adam was growing up in the Midwest, his NPD mother insisted on perfection from him, her eldest child. By third or fourth grade, Adam was expected to get straight As, and anything less led to a host of punishments from his mother. An A- was cause for harsh cross-examination and comments such as, “What did you do wrong?!” A B grade unleashed screaming rage , violent outbursts such as breaking the car steering wheel, hysteria that he would never get into college, and required readings of 30-40 pages of the encyclopedia.
Parentified “Super Kid”
As Adam got older, Fridays after school were chore nights until about 10 p.m. His father was usually off at night school, and his mother would call from work to dictate a list of tasks. Adam learned to roast a chicken, pay the bills, clean the house, and take care of his little brother, 8 years younger than him. Soon his mother was dropping him off to do the family grocery shopping. “At 12 I thought it was really cool that I could do that,” Adam said.
Like so many parentified children , for Adam being given adult responsibilities and learning to handle them well was a source of pride, a feeling of being special and helpful. Now he looks back with hurt and anger: “I have felt like the adult in this damn family since I was 8 or 9. I wish I had had the ability to make mistakes and still be loved and hugged.” Yet, as is common among “ super kids ,” he remains confused now, at 38, about whether he asked for the responsibilities or was unfairly burdened with them, despite his therapist's assurances that his circumstances were not within his control and in fact neglectful and abusive.
Typical of many children of narcissist parents, Adam became hypervigilant and empathetic: “It felt like our family was a Soviet-run state; it was all about making sure she was happy,” he said. “I used to sit in the house and listen when she got home for how the car door slammed, the tone of her walk on the pavement to gauge her mood.” He also learned to hide his needs, like the time as a kid when he was pretending to be a knight. “I had put a filet knife in a sheath, and when I pulled it out I sliced my hand down to the bone. Blood was everywhere.” Fearing angry reprisal, he went into the bathroom alone and wrapped and wrapped his hand in thick layers. “It was better than going to the hospital for doing something so stupid,” he said. “The last people we can trust are our parents.”
When Adam's mother wasn't venting anger and blame, she resorted to silent treatment. “If I disagreed or did anything that was remotely like a child, she would walk out of rooms. She used the silent treatment for three days. She wouldn't respond or make meals,” he said. “It was so confusing. I would wander out wondering if she would make dinner and then go back to my room and pretend to be studying,” he said. “I never felt comfortable laughing or expressing joy because it meant I wasn't working hard enough. To this day I get really flustered if people are unresponsive. I turn red and get intensely anxious. . . . I don't know if I'm lovable.”
By 13 as Adam was coming to grips with realizing he was gay, his father moved out. “He was stifled and unhappy in the marriage,” Adam explained. His mother retreated to her room for about a year. “She just shut down and cried all the time.” At a point when he was entering adolescence and needed support for coming out, Adam found himself doing even more care-taking of his mother and brother.
Dealing with the Enabling Parent
Things improved somewhat when Adam's father moved back home a year later, but Adam struggles now with his father's enabling role in the family. “I'm learning to be pissed at my dad. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He's kind and funny and made jokes that I find myself making now. [But] I'm learning that when you are a human who mates with another human there is 50/50 responsibility. My mother dominated, and my father didn't push back when she was being crazy. He still tells me not to burden her if anything is going on with me.”
Despite Adam's success in college and an Ivy League graduate program that he paid for himself; sustaining college friendships that he said taught him unconditional love; extensive travels; and years of personal work, including therapy, yoga, and retreats; as an adult he has been plagued with panic attacks, chronic digestive problems, addictions, anger, and difficulty with trust.
He said, “I haven't had an intimate relationship for five years. My last relationship was hard. I'm digging all this sh*t up, identifying the emotional abuse. In my relationships I'd get close but not close enough. I would push people away. I'm still working on waking up feeling like I'm good enough.”
Setting Boundaries with Parents
Regarding his relationship with his parents now, Adam is angry, working hard to assert boundaries , but also ambivalent. “My therapist says I need to stop talking to them. Mom has a brain disease, dad is an enabler , and my brother has checked out and is dealing with serious problems. My mother is terrified of everything; it's like watching a baby lamb bleeding on the side of the road,” he said. “My character is to not check out on my family. You're biologically dictated to crawl back to reconcile.”
Is It Abuse if It Isn't Physical?
Adam has struggled for years to acknowledge his family experience as abusive, since he did not endure physical harm. His is a common confusion for emotionally and psychologically abused people, especially parentified children who identify themselves as strong survivors, not victims. Acknowledging that narcissistic abuse is profoundly damaging, just as bad and sometimes even worse than physical abuse, is difficult, especially for kids who come to define themselves as hypercapable.
“There is something specifically insidious about the nonphysical abuse,” Adam said. “We are in this unique place where we're sort of f*cked. It's such a weird pathology, one of the hardest things to treat. . . . I don't feel bad throwing the truth back at them. They have said things to me that I would never say to any other human on this planet, ever.”
He continued, “I'm in the midst of heavy depression, while my close friends look to me to be functional and caretaking. The truth is I want to latch on to someone to save me, but I know it doesn't work that way. All we want is to be loved.”
Ending the Cycle
Like so many cases of NPD, the pathology in Adam's family stretches back cross-generationally to his mother's mother and beyond. Despite his struggles as a survivor of narcissistic abuse, Adam has always felt he's had “an inner guidepost to know right and wrong.” Whether he has children, he said he's made a commitment to break the generational cycle: “I've been to war. It ends with me.”
Safe and Together Program: A domestic violence victim-supportive child welfare approach in Iowa
by The Daily Nonpareil
It is reported that the vast majority of child welfare cases involve some form of domestic violence. Because of this, the state of Iowa began the implementation of the Safe and Together Program in August 2015.
Safe and Together Program is an initiative by Iowa State University, funded by Iowa Department of Human Services, to bring focus on child welfare and safety in domestic violence cases. The Child Welfare Research and Training Project in Human Development and Family Studies partners with David Mandel and Associates, a child welfare consulting group, to deliver the Safe and Together Program to all child welfare professionals in Iowa.
The purpose of this model is to bring together and train DHS social workers, victim advocates and other child welfare partners to focus on three areas: keeping children safe and together with the non-offending parent, partnering with the non-offending parent and intervening with the perpetrator to reduce risk and harm to the child.
Leah Kinnaird, a human services specialist and domestic violence response coordinator in Human Development and Family Studies at University of Iowa, said “It's a philosophical change in how we're approaching families. We need to stop blaming victims for the wide variety of reasons that they are present in those relationships and start asking, ‘What presents the safety risk to children?' And that is perpetrator's behavior. So we have to start there and have that be our focus.”
She added that one example of this change is switching the intervention process to treating situations as assessments, rather than investigations.
“Historically, we would try to go in and figure out if a particular incident had happened on a particular day,” Kinnaird said. “Really, good social work is about doing a thorough assessment of the family overall. So not just, ‘Did this incident happen,' but ‘is there a history of domestic violence?'”
The program treats these assessments as ways to look at comprehensive patterns of abuse: physical, verbal, economic, emotional or other types, and how those behaviors impact the children.
“A violent assault is traumatic for kids, but so is a four-year history of hearing their parent called bad names and being afraid to invite their friends over because one of their parents is violent and angry,” Kinnaird said.
While keeping children safe is the Department of Human Services' primary concern, the Safe and Together Model goes beyond safety, helping DHS work with non-offending parents and advocates to help the victims heal from trauma while increasing stability and nurturance for the children.
Iowa Department of Human Services Social Work Supervisor Terri Naegele said the Iowa Department of Human Services is changing the way it responds to families experiencing domestic violence.
Domestic violence can be involved in many types of child welfare cases, and poses physical and emotional dangers to children.
“The new Safe and Together model that DHS is using supports new ways of understanding domestic violence and how it impacts kids, and promotes improved skills to ensure the safety and well-being of children,” Naegele said. “A major shift with this model is moving away from holding the victim parent accountable for the ongoing safety of the children, to better engaging and also holding accountable the abusive parent.
“Through DHS, and the court is setting the same expectations for both parents, it encourages a more comprehensive assessment of risk, safety and protective factors, and helps the abusive parent gain better parenting skills by participating more in the process. It also looks more closely at the strengths and specific actions the domestic abuse survivor can take to promote safety and well-being of their children.”
The new Safe and Together Model relies on coordination and collaboration with community partners. This child-centered model is consistent with the mission of child welfare agencies and allows child welfare workers a better capacity through enhanced interviewing, case planning, assessing and safety planning skills.
The model is being implemented through a continuum of trainings for all levels of DHS child welfare workers. And a 10-member, multidisciplinary team of professionals, called the Connect and Protect team, is available to consult on difficult domestic violence cases in western Iowa.
These teams include child protective workers, domestic violence advocates and private service provider partners from western Iowa. Since the implementation of the program, the CAP team has consulted about 17 child welfare cases.
“I am a member of the team of professionals working to change the focus of our practice in our service area and around the state,” Naegele, who is also western service area CAP team leader, said. “I am excited and encouraged by the change in my colleagues' perspectives and approaches to working with families experiencing domestic violence. By focusing on the victim parent's strengths and specific actions, while holding the perpetrator to the same standards for ensuring the children's safety and well-being, we are helping to make families stronger.”
Catholic Charities Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Program is also a collaborative member of this initiative and two staff belong to the CAP team. Katie Choquette, domestic violence coordinator and a CAP team member, said since implementing the Safe and Together Model, the organization has received 60 referrals from DHS.
“Because of this, we are able to reach out to survivors and offer them the services that they may need,” she said. “Our goal is to help these individuals navigate the juvenile court system, assist them in finding safety and stability, as well as offer support.”
Advocates from Catholic Charities have been working closely with staff from DHS to provide clients with the support and resources they may need to stay safe and assist the child welfare workers with insight on the perspective of the domestic abuse survivors for service needs.
If you or anyone you know is a victim/survivor of domestic violence and needs assistance, please call the Catholic Charities Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program crisis line at 712-328-0266 or toll free 1-888-612-0266.
— This report cites information provided by Iowa State University.
Children's mental health: Nearly half of U.S. kids have experienced trauma
by Joseph Frankel
Almost half the school-age children in the United States had experienced at least one severely traumatic event like losing a parent or witnessing domestic abuse in the home in 2016. These findings, published by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Initiative (CAMHI) at Johns Hopkins give a clearer picture of the scope of a well-known issue whose health effects are now emerging more clearly: childhood trauma.
The CAMHI reported in 2016 almost half of all children between the ages of 10 to 17 experienced at least one ACE. These include the death or incarceration of a parent or guardian, witnessing domestic violence in the home, and racially motivated mistreatment. Analyzing data from the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH), the researchers found that these events are common across children from all income groups. (Still, more than half of U.S. children with ACEs come from households 200% below the federal poverty line.)
They also found that 20 percent of children experience two or more such events. That group may be at risk for mental and emotional challenges as well as chronic health conditions as they go through life.
Sadly, very little of this information is new.
Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician and professor of health policy at Columbia University, says the point is to drive the message home to parents, teachers, and pediatricians. This research fits into a larger body of work on the effects of ‘toxic stress' on children's wellbeing as they develop into adults—a well-studied phenomenon that a group of researchers and physicians have been focusing on for decades. The challenge, he says, is getting the knowledge out there.
“This is something that's going to have to be absorbed into the minds of people who take care of children,” Redlener told Newsweek .
Redlener is also quick to draw the distinction between these kinds of events and the normal stressors children experience and learn to cope with. Anyone who received a vaccination as a child might remember the fear and shock that came with it. Learning to deal with those kind of experiences, Redlener says, is an important part of development.
But what's to be done with this information? Children have little control of their own lives, which is why Redlener emphasizes the importance of making sure adults who can help are equipped with the skills to recognize what they're seeing.
“The focus should be on early recognition and early intervention in a very sensitive way,” Redlener says. For instance, he envisions a system in which teachers would be trained to recognize that if a student is misbehaving or overreacting to events during the school day, they may need help other than punishment. Teachers are sometimes hard pressed as is, something Redlener's vision of training programs folded into the training of doctors and teachers might be able to address.
The growing awareness of the issue is part of why Sesame Street has stepped in: this year, the Count has pivoted from Klezmer-inflected music videos to helping children learn to cope with trauma. The show has developed a series using Elmo and company to model coping strategies for children. Sesame Street also issued a fact sheet on ACEs from the CAMHI, the same group that released the study on this issue.
“In this current political environment I am very pessimistic about policy changes being made that would improve the prospects of children experiencing ACEs,” Redlener said. “It would be great if we had a bill signed by the president to provide money to address these guidelines. That's what we really need and I don't see that happening any time in the near future.”
In the meantime, at least the children have Big Bird .
Push To End Prosecution Of Children Lured Into Sex Trafficking
by Kristen Johanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There's a big push in Pennsylvania to end prosecution of children lured into sex trafficking.
A bill has stalled in the state House Judicary Committee, but advocates are trying to persuade lawmakers to take another look.
Pennsylvania law allows people who are not of age to consent to sex, to be charged with prostitution.
“And then ultimately prosecuted and adjudicated delinquent for the crime of prostitution and other related crimes,” said Shea Rhodes, Director and Co-Founder of Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation.
She says a child who is sexually exploited can twice become a victim.
“So legally, it's untenable,” she said.
Rhodes co-wrote what's known as the Safe Harbor Bill.
“What this bill would do is make it clear that a child is immune from either arrest or prosecution for the crime of prostitution,” explained Rhodes.
Rhodes says it would prevent a child from further trauma.
Twenty-one other states have passed similar legislation.
Selling Girls: Sex traffickers are targeting American children
Sex trafficking is a billion-dollar-a-year industry in the U.S. and traffickers are preying on young girls across the nation-our daughters, sisters and friends-right in our backyards
by KHOU and WXIA
Americans care a lot about money.
We talk about jobs and taxes and pay checks, but here's what we don't talk about: right here, in the United States, there is a thriving underground economy based on selling children for sex.
If sex sells, then business is good. It was almost a billion dollars, according to an Urban Institute 2014 study . But these dirty profits come at a huge cost.
This is how sex traffickers do business. It's all about supply and demand.
First, they need someone to sell. Traffickers target young people in their own homes, by combing through social media profiles, looking to spark a conversation. The trafficker targets pre-teens and teens by finding something to bond over and earn their trust.
It could be the promise of a modeling career. The trafficker might buy them drugs or alcohol or provide protection from an already dangerous situation at home.
Traffickers gain psychological control and use violent threats to force victims to stay. Once the child is isolated from family and friends, the trafficker puts them up for sale. This is where the demand comes in.
Traffickers use internet sites to connect with buyers or “johns.” But calling them johns is too polite. They are abusers. They are purchasing kids for sex.
So who are these buyers?
Court records show they've been teachers, pastors, cops and judges. They could be the guy next door.
The trafficker gets the money. The buyer gets the sex. The child victim gets exploited and sold.
So how is this different from prostitution, pornography or other sexual acts? These victims are minors. Legally, they cannot consent.
This isn't the movies. It's not like “Pretty Woman” or “Taken.” Richard Gere is not the buyer. Liam Neeson isn't there to save the day.
This is sexual exploitation.
This is trafficking.
This is modern day slavery.
It's selling girls.
Carol* looked toward the darkness before her, then back down at her hands.
She cleared her throat.
She'd just been reminded that she was only 14 years old the first time she was sexually trafficked. Carol says met a guy on Facebook who called himself “Motivation.” He friended her, sold her on a life of no parents, no rules and being able to do whatever she wanted.
Court documents say Joshua “Motivation” Jones took nude pictures of her to post on the internet. He told her after every sex date, she should bring the proceeds back to him. That she didn't have to wear a condom with clients, but she had to wear one with him. That did she have any other friends who would like to work?
When she told him she had a friend, but she was only 14, court documents say he replied: age doesn't have anything to do with it.
Then, since the internet on his phone wasn't working to post those nude photos of her, he forced her on the streets to sell her body for sex.
Carol's first buyer was an undercover cop.
She was arrested for prostitution, despite federal law, which defines her as a victim.
According to the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 , all children under the age of 18 who are commercially sexually exploited are victims of sex trafficking. Unlike adults, there does not have to be “force, fraud, or coercion” under the law. The very age of the child makes them a victim.
Police arrested Jones and he pled guilty to compelling Carol into prostitution.
His sentence for the crime? Eight years probation.
He called it a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Carol was disappointed, but not surprised.
“It made me feel like what happened wasn't really that serious and that it doesn't really matter,” Carol said of Jones' sentence. “It happens all the time, like who cares if it's just another girl? Who cares if it's you this time?”
When Carol got out of juvenile detention, another sex trafficker recruited her.
Therein lies the revolving door of sex trafficking — victims often get lured back into the sex trade because they never received specialized care. Pimps do the crime because they often do very little time.
Court records show “Motivation” continued trafficking young girls. It was only after a second arrest that he received hard time -- 12 years in prison.
“Sit your daughter down and let her know,” Jones said through a telephone in a Texas penitentiary. “There's people out there really ready to manipulate her.”
*Carol's name was changed to keep traffickers from finding her.
California, Dept of Justice
Inland Empire Man Pleads Guilty to Using Internet to Entice Boy to Make Sexually Explicit Videos
RIVERSIDE, California – An Inland Empire man pleaded guilty late this afternoon to a federal child exploitation offense after coercing at least six boys around the nation to send him sexually explicit videos – some of which were posted on the internet when victims refused to send additional images and videos.
Francisco Javier Soledad, 25, of Eastvale, pleaded guilty today to one count of using the internet to induce a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.
In a plea agreement filed in United States District court, Soledad admitted victimizing six boys between the ages of 12 and 15 over the course of several months in 2016. Soledad found the victims – who lived across the nation, from California to Georgia – on social media sites he accessed under the handle “linkinparkrocks.” Soledad pleaded guilty to one count related to a victim in Illinois, but he admitted engaging in similar conduct with at least five other boys he communicated with via Snapchat, text messages and email.
According to court documents, Soledad assumed different personas – sometimes a 13-year-old boy, and other times an adult woman – to convince the victims to send him explicit photographs and videos. When several of the victims refused demands to send additional images, Soledad threatened to publish the previously sent images on social media platforms. In at least one instance, Soledad published one of the victim's nude images on Twitter along with the victim's Twitter handle.
Soledad further admitted in his plea agreement that he possessed on his digital devices more than 5,000 images and videos of child pornography and child erotica. The majority of the child pornography images appear to have been produced by the children depicted. Law enforcement is reviewing the thousands of images and is continuing to try to identify all of the children Soledad appears to have victimized.
Soledad pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal, who scheduled a sentencing hearing on January 22.
The charge of enticing a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum possible sentence of life. In the plea agreement, prosecutors have agreed not to seek a sentence of longer than 14 years.
Once he completes any prison sentence he receives, Soledad will be required to register as a sex offender, and he will be prohibited from having unsupervised contact with minors and going to places to where young people congregate.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Teresa K.B. Beecham of the Riverside Branch Office.
FROM: Thom Mrozek, Spokesperson/Public Affairs Officer
United States Attorney's Office, Central District of California (Los Angeles)