Mum sparks outrage after saying she doesn't feel comfortable with her husband bathing their daughters
The woman explained she didn't want her husband to bath the children as they have 'different body parts'
by Lauren Windle
The Australian woman, whose identity we are keeping anonymous, posted her thoughts on social media where she explained why she felt dads shouldn't wash their young girls.
Originally reported in the Mail Online , the woman wrote: "So hubby is upset with me because I have told him that I don't [want him to] wash our two daughters in the bath or shower.
"I just don't feel comfortable for a man to do this."
She continued: "I have said I don't have any issues with him bathing our son as well, he's a boy.
"I just believe that girls should be getting washed by their mothers and boys get the same from their fathers.
"It's just got to do with the fact that mum and daughters have the same parts, same goes for men and their sons."
The woman went on to explain that her husband was offended by the suggestion but that it was just how she has always done things.
She said: "People play the 'I was molested card' so very often these days, I just don't want in any way to give my kids the chance to even think about that."
The controversial post was met with a mixed response from other social media users, but the majority of readers disagreed with her point of view.
One said: "You have more than a few screws loose, you shouldn't even be thinking like that putting your partner in the same category as a child sex predator."
While another added: "This post says a lot about how you see yourself and your negative way of life."
And another agreed: "Sad how you tell your husband not to bathe his own kids."
A fourth person pointed out the potential issues this rule would pose in a single parent family.
They said: "What about single parents? Should they not bath their son or daughters in case they molested them?"
Federal lawsuit filed against Oklahoma school district accused of hiding child abuse
by Ian Smith
PERRY, Okla. - An Oklahoma school district is facing a federal lawsuit.
According to documents, the lawsuit was filed Friday against the Perry School District for failing to report child abuse by 86-year-old Arnold Cowen, a former teacher's assistant.
New information in the documents reveal Scott Chenoweth, who resigned as superintendent, texted at least one school board member about Cowen molesting students. The text was allegedly sent weeks before two of the victims; families went to police on their own.
“Every vampire needs a keeper," said attorney Cameron Spradling, who represents some of the victims. "The vampire can't exist without the keeper and the administration, and the principal, and the teacher were the keepers of Arnold Cowen. And it's time they meet justice.”
Spradling says the district hid the situation from authorities to preserve its reputation.
“They were ready to sacrifice 15 or more little girls, fifth grade girls, to protect their wrestling reputation—the Perry tradition.”
Spradling says he expects the civil trial to begin in 2018.
Mom gets 60 to 70 years in 2nd child abuse case
by the Associated Press
ORD, Neb. (AP) — A central Nebraska woman who served prison time for intentional child abuse in 2014 has been sentenced to 60 to 70 years for the child abuse death of her 4-week-old baby last year.
Court records say 26-year-old Jocelyn Nordin, of North Loup, was sentenced Tuesday in Valley County District Court in Ord. She'd pleaded no contest to child abuse.
Prosecutors say Nordin called 911 on May 2, 2016, and reported that her baby wasn't breathing. The baby eventually was flown to an Omaha hospital, where she died seven days later. Authorities say the baby had been dropped on her head twice and violently shaken.
In her previous child abuse case, Douglas County Court records say Nordin was sentenced in October 2014 to 18 to 24 months after pleading guilty.
ACT Policing's sexual assault and child abuse team on what they do, and how they cope
by Kimberley Le Lievre
Six-month psychiatric evaluations and not comparing victims to your own children - these are two of the things that help members of the ACT Policing's sexual assault and child abuse team cope with their job.
The impact of crime isn't just on the victim, it can also become a burden to the policing team dealing with the situation. The psychiatric evaluations are required for the team as their work is deemed a high-risk to their mental health.
Victim liaison officer Cindy* said she doesn't let her job impact her or her family outside of work.
"I'm very good at separating the two. I switch off when I go home, because if you don't you burn out way too quickly."
Senior Constable Hamish* said he can do the same.
"I leave work and I just don't think about it until the next day. I think it's a personality trait," he said.
"From time to time you might have a sleepless night, but I'm pretty good at switching off."
Detective Senior Constable Jack* agreed, saying work stays at work.
"I don't compare the children I speak to at work with my own children, I think that would do my head in. I don't speak to my wife about what happens at work or the jobs I do. And then I just make sure I've got good mates at work. I think our team is fantastic, it's probably one of the best team environments I've worked in in my career," he said.
The officers in the SACAT team investigate anything ranging from sexual assaults on adults and children through to child abuse matters.
But more recently there has been an increase in a relatively new area of crime.
There is a growing trend of young people sending explicit images of themselves to each other - known as sexting.
Under the law, it's called child pornography. If that image is sent on to someone else, it's distributing child pornography.
"There are definitely more jobs in relation to child pornography being distributed particularly among young people," Detective Jack* said.
"It's all fun and games until it starts getting spread around the school."
Senior Constable Hamish said he couldn't think of a single job in that area where the victim considered the consequences in the future.
"They all know about it," he said.
"They all know what sexting is and the problems it can lead to, but not one of them thinks it's going to happen to them."
This is an issue that poses a problem for police, because the officers are there to punish people who break the law.
"But how do you punish two kids that have made a bad mistake that has had serious consequences for another person?"
Detective Jack said it was generally young girls whose photos were distributed.
"They're actually committing an offence themselves by sending those photos. We don't prosecute for those matters, because they've made a mistake, but I don't think they realise the seriousness until after it comes to us."
But every day is different.
Child abuse crimes make up the majority of work in the unit, but thankfully, the officers said, most of the reports turned out to be misunderstandings.
"When you're talking about little children, they say things that get taken out of context," Detective Jack said.
He said mandatory reports - often from teachers - can sometimes come in with the barest of detail.
"The child will say, 'daddy hit me', or 'mummy did something', and then they often don't ask any more questions to get context around what they meant about that," he said.
"I think a fairly good example was, 'daddy hit me with his elbow'. Whoever interviewed them from the team sat down and got the context of that, and it turned out to be the child was running through the house and they ran into daddy's elbow."
"The teacher has obviously thought dad's abusing the child and reported that. It's just a misunderstanding. On the flip side, there are those matters that you suspect that something has happened."
Detective Jack said while it takes up a lot of time, it was crucial these cases be reported and investigated.
The team said there were a lot of misconceptions about what the police do during sexual assault investigations.
The most important thing was to report sexual assault as soon as possible, because there are two types of these matters: historical and current.
Historical matters could be as little as three days old.
"If there's no forensic evidence, the person has washed, they haven't been to see the doctor, there's no CCTV… it can come down to someone's word against another," senior constable Hamish said.
But it doesn't stop the police from investigating, and it doesn't necessarily stop them getting prosecutions in court.
"It just makes it more difficult," Detective Jack said.
"Another hard part of our job is explaining to people that we have to prove matters beyond reasonable doubt. Just because we put it before the court and it doesn't get up doesn't mean we don't believe you, it just means we haven't reached that threshold."
He said people should report to police as soon as they can after being sexually assaulted.
"If they just come and speak to us, they don't have to make a statement straight away or go to court or anything like that. But it means we can gather evidence and then if they want to go ahead with it later on, they can."
He said there were misconceptions within the community that it would be too hard to prove, or that police wouldn't believe the victim.
"We can tell you exactly what to expect and you can base your decision on that," Detective Jack said.
Victim liaison officer Cindy said everyone should be held accountable for their actions, but the team's role was to prevent further harm to the victim.
This is particularly true of sexual assault cases.
"They're already victimised and they're already struggling with what's happened," Cindy said.
The team's main aim to ensure the safety of the victims. This means wrapping support around them.
Cindy said her job was to help victims navigate their way through the criminal justice system, ensuring they're in touch with support services in the community.
"At the end of the day, being a victim of crime will be with you forever. You don't choose to be a victim of crime, but it's going to stay with you. We've got to help people negotiate around that and work out how they can use that to benefit themselves and empower themselves later down the track."
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the officers and the identity of their families
Fort Smith police, local officials warn of holiday sexual abuse dangers
by Max Bryan
Officials with the Fort Smith Police Department and the area's child advocacy agencies flagged the holiday season as a time of unreported sexual abuse.
Former Crimes Against Children detective Cpl. Tony Rice with Fort Smith police and Hamilton House Director Jackie Hamilton said their entities experience a spike in child sexual abuse reports in January and August, at the tail end of the summer and holiday seasons. The holiday season, they said, holds the additional factor of time with extended family.
“A relative may come in and visit, or may be around children that's not usually around children” Rice said. “They may take that as an opportunity.”
The spike in reports is because abused children return to school, Rice and Hamilton told the Times Record. The child's school, they explained, often employs faculty that the child trusts when disclosing the incident.
Though both Rice and Hamilton attested to this phenomenon, Hamilton House numbers obtained by the Times Record show that the number of sexual abuse cases that they have worked actually declined between the 2016 holiday season and the beginning of 2017. Hamilton House, which handles child maltreatment cases of all kinds from Sebastian, Crawford, Franklin, Scott, Johnson and Logan counties, received 56 sexual abuse cases in December 2016 and 51 cases in January 2017.
Additionally, the number of confirmed sexual abuse cases for the month of December in Fort Smith has steadily declined since 2014. The 12 confirmed cases that year fell to seven in December 2015 and five in December 2016, according to Police Department numbers obtained by the Times Record. Despite the decline, Hamilton said statistics for reported child sexual abuse do not accurately represent the actual number of sexually abused children. Hamilton estimated that only “one out of 10” children who are sexually abused ever disclose their experiences.
Because of this aspect of sexual abuse — and the risk of it going unreported during the holidays — Hamilton recommends parents empower their children to prepare them for such situations.
“One of the things I say to children is I tell them to say, ‘I'm gonna tell,'” Hamilton said. “The last thing in the world that a predator wants is for a child to tell.”
As for the parents, Rice recommended being cognizant of who is watching over their children.
“If you're leaving your children with someone, know who they are,” he said. “Do a thorough check.”
As sexual assault reports rise, culture remains unchanged
by Liz Skalka
DARIEN — Following the outpouring of stories over the past months of women who have experienced sexual misconduct, it should come as no surprise that at least half of women report being sexually harassed in the workplace, in incidents ranging from inappropriate comments to assault.
But here's the kicker — only one in five of those women ever reported those incidents to human resources or higher-ups, and 80 percent of them said stepping forward changed nothing. In some cases, things got worse and they lost their jobs or were transferred.
Victim advocates say even with the “Me Too” movement empowering women and men to share their stories, there's still a long road ahead. Coming forward doesn't change the culture surrounding sexual misconduct on its own, but the conversations help.
“I'm happy, finally, that women are able to come forward,” said Gail Weinstein, president of the board for The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education. “This ‘Me Too' movement that started as the result of this is something that's very big. It has given women — not only those who are in the public eye, but the everyday woman who is impacted by assault — the ability to come forward and talk about what happened in their past, whether it was unwanted sexual advances at work or a rape that happened in college.”
Weinstein shared the statistics on workplace harassment at a panel discussion last week at the Darien Library with volunteers and staff from the Stamford-based nonprofit, which serves lower Fairfield County.
“We have seen incidents of sexual misconduct in every industry,” she said. “In the movie industry, we've heard about the ‘casting couch,' and now we're seeing the impact of that. The financial industry has been impacted and, of course, the political world.”
Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Louis C.K. and Charlie Rose are just a few of the figures who have recently admitted or apologized for sexual wrongdoing in the so-called “Me Too” reckoning. Many of the accusations leveled against powerful men happened in a workplace setting.
The result of “Me Too” has been an increase in the number of people seeking services at the center, Gail Weinstein said.
“For the first time in the center's history, we're actually seeing walk-ins who are coming to seek help for their incidences of sexual assault,” she said.
The center operates an anonymous 24/7 hotline that connects victims with certified sexual assault crisis advocates. It also does education and outreach, and recently hired two full-time educators to deal with the increasing demand for services and information.
These issues have been around for ages, but the attention surrounding them is unprecedented, advocates say.
“I'm not sure the issues are necessarily new, it's just that people are starting to pay attention,” the center's outreach coordinator Jessica Feighan said. “It's been happening for years and everyone in this room could come up with more than one example where you felt some sort of sexual misconduct toward you. Now that it's just coming to light, it's all hands on deck.”
Shelly Ransom, 48, a member of the library panel, said she was sexually assaulted by a trusted person close to her family when she was 11. She immediately told someone, who assumed she misinterpreted what had happened. The experience and its aftermath shaped what the Darien woman tells other survivors.
“Don't doubt yourself,” she said. “And if it's a friend, believe them. The most important thing for any survivor is to be believed.”
The way she was groomed to trust her abuser can also happen in an office.
“In an office setting, it's a little different,” she said. “It's turning the tables and making a person feel like this is just the way our culture is — it's just provocative sexually.”
Ransom encourages people to contact the center so counselors can help victims sort out their experience. Since the definitions of sexual harassment, misconduct, assault and abuse vary in nuanced ways, counselors can help victims figure how to put into words what happened to them, which they say is an essential step in healing.
“This is a great time to be working at the center, and it's also kind of a sad time when you realize the severity of the issues,” Feighan said. “But it's also a great time for change.”
Islamic schools in Pakistan plagued by sex abuse of children
by Samaa Web Desk
KEHRORE PAKKA, Pakistan -- Kausar Parveen struggles through tears as she remembers the blood-soaked pants of her 9-year-old son, raped by a religious cleric. Each time she begins to speak, she stops, swallows hard, wipes her tears and begins again, reported Associated Press.
The boy had studied for a year at a nearby Islamic school in the town of Kehrore Pakka. In the blistering heat of late April, in the grimy two-room Islamic madrassa, he awoke one night to find his teacher lying beside him.
“I didn't move. I was afraid,” he says.
The cleric lifted the boy's long tunic-style shirt over his head, and then pulled down his baggy pants.
“I was crying. He was hurting me. He shoved my shirt in my mouth,” the boy says, using his scarf to show how the cleric tried to stifle his cries. He looks over at his mother.
“Did he touch you?'” He nods. “Did he hurt you when he touched you?” ?Yes,” he whispers.
“Did he rape you?” He buries his face in his scarf and nods yes.
Parveen reaches over and grabs her son, pulling him toward her, cradling his head in her lap.
“INFESTED” WITH SEXUAL ABUSE
Sexual abuse is a pervasive and longstanding problem at madrassas in Pakistan, an AP investigation has found, from the sunbaked mud villages deep in its rural areas to the heart of its teeming cities. But in a culture where clerics are powerful and sexual abuse is a taboo subject, it is seldom discussed or even acknowledged in public.
It is even more seldom prosecuted. Police are often paid off not to pursue justice against clerics, victims' families say. And cases rarely make it past the courts, because Pakistan's legal system allows the victim's family to “forgive” the offender and accept what is often referred to as “blood money.”
The AP found hundreds of cases of sexual abuse by clerics reported in the past decade, and officials suspect there are many more within a far-reaching system that teaches at least 2 million children in Pakistan. The investigation was based on police documents and dozens of interviews with victims, relatives, former and current ministers, aid groups and religious officials.
The fear of clerics and the militant religious organizations that sometimes support them came through clearly. One senior official in a ministry tasked with registering these cases says many madrassas are “infested” with sexual abuse. The official asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution; he has been a target of suicide attacks because of his hard position against militant groups.
He compares the situation to the abuse of children by priests in the Catholic Church.
“There are thousands of incidences of sexual abuse in the madrassas,” he says. “This thing is very common, that this is happening.”
Pakistan's clerics close ranks when the madrassa system is too closely scrutinized, he says. Among the weapons they use to frighten their critics is a controversial blasphemy law that carries a death penalty in the case of a conviction.
“This is not a small thing here in Pakistan — I am scared of them and what they can do,” the official says. “I am not sure what it will take to expose the extent of it. It's very dangerous to even try.”
His assessment was echoed by another senior official, a former minister who says sexual abuse in madrassas happens all the time. He also doesn't want his name used because he too has survived suicide bombings due to his stance on militants.
“That's a very dangerous topic,” he says.
A tally of cases reported in newspapers over the past 10 years of sexual abuse by maulvis or clerics and other religious officials came to 359. That represents “barely the tip of the iceberg,” says Munizae Bano, executive director of Sahil, the organization that scours the newspapers and works against sexual abuse of minors.
In 2004, a Pakistani official disclosed more than 500 complaints of sexual assaults against young boys in madrassas. He has since refused to talk, and there have been no significant arrests or prosecutions.
Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Muhammad Yousaf dismisses the suggestion that sexual abuse is widespread, saying such talk is an attempt to malign the religion, seminaries and clerics. He says he was not aware of even the cases reported in the newspapers, but that it could occur occasionally 'because there are criminals everywhere.” Yousaf says the reform and control of madrassas is the job of the interior ministry.
The Interior Ministry, which oversees madrassas, refused repeated written and telephone requests for an interview.
The case of Parveen's son was one of at least three within a month in the towns of Kehrore Pakka and Rajanpur in Punjab province's deep south, according to police reports. Another incident involved the drugging and gang rape of a 12-year-old boy asleep on his madrassa rooftop by former students. And the third was of a 10-year-old boy sodomized by the madrassa principal when he brought him his meal. The cleric threatened to kill the boy if he told.
The AP is not naming the children because they are victims of sexual abuse.
The fear of clerics was evident at the courthouse in Kehrore Pakka, where the former teacher of Parveen's son waited his turn to go before a judge. A half dozen members of the militant organization Sipah-e-Sahabah were there to support the teacher.
They scowled and moved closer when an AP reporter sat next to the teacher, who was shackled to a half dozen other prisoners. The whispers grew louder and more insistent.
“It's too dangerous here,” said one person, looking over at the militants nearby. “Leave. Leave the courthouse, they can do anything here.”
The teacher had already confessed, according to police, and the police report said he was found with the boy. Yet he swore his innocence in court.
“I am married,” he said. “My wife is pretty, why would I do this to a kid?”
HOW MADRASSAS WORK
There are more than 22,000 registered madrassas or Islamic schools in Pakistan. The students they teach are often among the country's poorest, who receive food and an education for free.
Many more madrassas — small two- or three-room seminaries in villages throughout Pakistan — are unregistered, opened by a graduate of another madrassa, often without any education other than a proficiency in the Quran. They operate without scrutiny, ignored by the authorities, say residents living nearby. Parveen's son, for example, went to an unregistered madrassa.
Madrassas are funded by wealthy business people, religious political parties and even donors from other countries, such as Saudi Arabia. The teachings of the madrassas are guided by schools of Islamic thought, such as Shiite and Sunni.
However, unlike the Catholic Church, which has a clear hierarchy topped by the Vatican, there is no central religious authority that governs madrassas. There is also no central body that investigates or responds to allegations in religious schools.
“Basic responsibility, when something happens, is with the head of the madrassa,” says Mufti Mohammed Naeem, the head of the sprawling Jamia Binoria madrassa in the city of Karachi.
There are between 2,000 and 3,000 unregistered madrassas, Naeem says, which makes central oversight even harder. The government has launched a nationwide effort to register madrassas.
The “keepers” of madrassas are also notoriously reluctant to accept government oversight or embrace reforms, according to I.A. Rehman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, which makes sexual abuse harder to prevent.
“This is one of those things, you know, which everybody knows is going on and happening, but evidence is very scarce,” he says. He adds that the power of the people who run the madrassas has increased over the years.
As the religious right has grown stronger in Pakistan, clerics who were once dependent on village leaders for handouts, even food, have risen in stature. With this rise, reporting of sexual abuse in madrassas has trickled off, said human rights lawyer Saif-ul Mulk. Mulk has police protection because of death threats from militants outraged by his defense of a Christian woman sentenced to death for insulting Islam.
“Everyone is so afraid of the mullahs today,” he says.
POLICE HELP THE MULLAH
The fear that surrounds sexual abuse by clerics means that justice is rare. The payoff from offending mullahs to police means that they often refuse to even register a case, says Azam Hussain, a union councilor in Kehrore Pakka. And the families involved are often poor and powerless.
“Poor people are afraid, so they don't say anything,” Hussain says. “Police help the mullah. Police don't help the poor. … Poor people know this, so they don't even go to the police.”
This is particularly true in Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, where more than 60 percent of its 200 million people live. Even Pakistan's own Punjab provincial anti-corruption department in a 2014 report listed the Punjab police as the province's most corrupt department. Police say they investigate when a complaint is made, but they have no authority to take a case forward when the family accepts money, which often happens.
The family of a boy who says he was repeatedly assaulted sexually by a cleric in a Punjab madrassa talks about their tussle with police.
The boy isn't sure of his age. Maybe 10 or 11, he says. His voice is barely a whisper, his head bent low as he talked. He is surrounded by two dozen villagers and relatives, all men, all angry.
He says the cleric threatened him with death if he told anyone.
“I was ashamed and I was scared,” he says. “He told me if I told anyone, my brother, my family, he would kill all my family and he would kill me.”
He says he begged the cleric to leave him alone. Once, the cleric even swore on the Quran that he would stop, but still returned.
In August, when the boy was home, the thought of returning to his madrassa became too much. He pleaded with his older brother not to send him back. But his brother beat him and told him to go back.
The brother, who would only give his first name as Maqsood, looks anguished. “I didn't know,” he says. Their elderly uncle, who looks near tears, covers his face and tries not to look in the boy's direction.
The boy says another student at his seminary was assaulted by the same cleric. But police released the cleric after senior Punjab government officials intervened on his behalf, according to Maqsood.
Demonstrations by villagers forced the cleric's re-arrest. Still, Maqsood says, when he went to the police, his honesty was questioned.
“The maulvi was sitting in the chair like he was the boss, and I was told to stay standing,” he says. “We are being pressured to compromise. … We are poor people.”
Local police deny charges that they favored the cleric or intimidated the family. They say they have consulted a local Islamic scholar about the rape allegations, and that the madrassa has not come to their attention previously for any wrongdoing.
“We need witnesses, evidence,” says Sajjad Mohammed Khan, Vehari's deputy superintendent of police for organized crime.
The top police officer in the district center of Multan, Deputy Inspector General Police Sultan Azam Temuri, also denies that pressure from clerics or powerful politicians prompts police to go easy in such cases. He says cases are investigated when allegations are made. Temuri says his department is trying to tackle child abuse in general with the introduction of gender and child protection services.
The madrassa where Maqsood's brother went, with more than 250 students, has a reputation in the neighborhood for abuse. Two women with their heads covered hurry past, stopping briefly to warn a young Pakistani woman, “Don't bring your children to that madrassa. It is very bad what they do to the children there.”
A sign for the madrassa is emblazoned with the flag of a Taliban-affiliated group. After persistent knocking, a blind maulvi, Mohammed Nadeem, led by a young student, agrees to speak. He denies that any abuse takes place inside the madrassa.
Victims and their families can choose to “forgive” an assailant because Pakistan's legal system is a mix of British Common Law and Islamic Shariah law.
A similar legal provision was changed last year to prevent forgiveness of “honor” killings, where victims are murdered because they are thought to have brought shame on their families. Honor killings now carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison, but clerics in sexual abuse cases can still be forgiven.
Sahil, the organization that scours newspapers for cases of sexual assault, offers families legal aid to pursue such cases. Last year, Sahil found 56 cases of sexual assault involving religious clerics. None of the families accepted Sahil's offer of legal assistance.
In cases that are pursued, convictions do occasionally happen.
In south Punjab, a cleric was convicted of sexually assaulting a minor girl in 2016 and sentenced to 12 years in prison and the equivalent of a $1,500 fine. The same cleric had in the past managed to get several families to settle over sexual abuse cases because of his close links to religious extremist groups, said local officials. This time, a local activist group known as Roshan Pakistan, or Bright Pakistan, persuaded the family of the young girl to resist.
Far more often, the family gives in, as in the case of a 9-year-old girl who was raped by the maulvi of the unregistered madrassa she attended, according to a police report.
Her uncle, Mohammed Azam, points across a field to the madrassa, surrounded by a high wall. The girl started working two years ago, at 7, and her only schooling was in the Quran. She spent the rest of the day sitting cross-legged on a mud floor inside a swelteringly hot room sewing the traditional shalwar kameez.
Last July, a cleric “forcibly took her shalwar off and started molesting her,” according to the police report obtained by the AP. She screamed. Two men heard her screams and stormed into the room, and found the cleric attacking her. Seeing them, the cleric fled, and the men took the bleeding girl home, the report said.
“We would hear that these kinds of things happen, children raped in the madrassas, but you never know until it happens to your family,” says Azam, her uncle.
Yet the family settled the case out of court. He refused to say how much money they got, but neighbors say it was around $800.
“The family took money to not speak about it,” says Rana Mohammed Jamal, an elderly neighbor. He says he believes abuses occurred predominantly in the small madrassas that spring up in poor neighborhoods, “where it is just the mullah and no one can say who he is, and he can do anything.”
Parveen, the mother of the 9-year-old boy who says he was raped by his teacher in Kehrore Pakka, vowed that she would never give in to intimidation. But relatives and neighbors say the family was hounded by religious militants to drop the charges and take money.
In the end, the mother “forgave” the cleric and accepted $300, according to police.
The cleric was set free.
Child welfare agency beefs up probes of cases involving toddlers
by Yoav Gonen
The city's child welfare agency is beefing up its investigations of high-priority cases involving kids 3 and under by getting retired NYPD detectives involved as early as possible.
The initiative, which officials said was piloted with good results on 750 cases since July, is part of the ongoing reforms of the Administration for Children's Services under new Commissioner David Hansell.
“This new, heightened protocol will bring more investigative expertise into our highest-risk cases — throughout the course of the investigation,” said Hansell.
“Over the last nine months, we've instituted reforms across this agency based on evidence, data, and best practices in child protection — and combining child-protective and law-enforcement investigative expertise in our most serious cases is a key component of this.”
The protocol applies to cases involving fatalities, serious injuries or suspected sexual abuse.
The agency said it has increased its investigative consultant ranks — all of whom are retired NYPD detectives — by 26 percent this year, to 173.
Officials said the work includes conducting criminal and domestic violence clearances before child protective specialists ever enter a family's house, leaving them better prepared and safer for the initial visit.
Key findings from the Federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities say that children who die from abuse and neglect are overwhelmingly young: Approximately half are less than 1 year old and 75 percent are under 3 years of age.
Childhood Neglect and the Impact of Invalidation
by Rebecca Lee
What happens when “nothing” happens? A lot. Childhood and adolescent neglect can have a profound and lasting impact on adults. Unlike sexual and physical abuse, some may find it difficult to understand the impact that absence had on their life. While neglect is a form of abuse, since the “action” of the crime is the lack thereof, identifying the problem may be tricky.
What is neglect?
Failure to provide basic needs such as food, supervision, and shelter
Allowing a child to use alcohol or drugs
Failure to educate a child/provide schooling
Failure to provide medical attention
Aside from basic survival, one need that frequently arises when a parent is not physically or emotionally available, is the need to be validated. When there is no one around, how does a child know they “count”? How do they know their feelings matter or if they even exist?
Some people deal with this by turning inward. They may have learned that it does not matter if they speak up or not, their needs will still not be met. They may become quiet and withdrawn. In the opposite extreme, someone who was not validated as a child or teenager may seem dramatic or react with an inappropriate intensity to demonstrate the pain they feel is real and should not be ignored.
When someone is not validated from an early age, their sense of reality may be skewed. It is possible that people who exaggerate and even lie, may be doing so to match their extreme emotions to a reality they think is not extreme enough to warrant validation.
Common Signs of Childhood Neglect in Adults:
Trouble understanding emotions and mood
Trouble trusting emotions and mood
Discounting your concerns as unimportant
Feeling as if something is missing
Problems understanding the reality of a situation
Problems judging intensity
Perceived as cold or aloof
Anxiety involving emotional closeness
Adults that suffered from childhood neglect may continue the cycle by currently neglecting themselves. In the process of discovering what one needs/wants, they must learn how to pay attention to their emotional as well as physical needs.
Asking for help is a crucial step. Adults that didn't learn an appropriate way to handle emotions or basic skills as a child, will have to grow comfortable asking for help. Luckily, since everyone needs other people at certain points in their life, no one will find this unusual.
Understanding what brings joy to life may also have to be consciously learned. Exploring the world and trying new things may seem daunting. By taking small steps, you can gauge how deep you want to plunge into life.
Therapies that help understand the body can be useful in tying emotional to physical reality. Since numbing is frequently a symptom of childhood neglect in adults, the awareness of emotion in the body may be underdeveloped. Yoga, meditation, and a general awareness of physical sensation, are all useful tools to help navigate feelings. After a few months of specifically focusing on the body's reaction to different situations, the sensations will link themselves to certain feelings. This type of physical validation can ground someone firmly in the reality of their being. No one exists in a purely physical or emotional sense. Since both states work together, their connection is seamless.
Different types of therapy work for different types of people. Some include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) -- This helps train brain patterns to make conscious choices for the future.
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) -- Through long term help involving classes and trained counselors, this focuses on behavior and emotional regulation.
Group therapy -- Through “anonymous” groups or groups that are run by counselors, the help of others may be beneficial for those struggling from neglect.
Learning how to take care of oneself when it is not instinctual can be a long road. Once it is accomplished, however, the reliability on individual strength is undeniable.
Babies and toddlers suffer the most severe forms of child sexual abuse
by Harley Tamplin
A groundbreaking study of child abuse images has found a indirect correlation between the age of the victim and the severity of the image.
Children aged two and under are most likely to suffer abuse constituting a category A image – penetrative sexual activity, sexual activity with an animal, or sadism. Research from the Internet Watch Foundation found that Category B images, which involve non-penetrative sexual activity, were steadier throughout different age groups. But indecent Category C images, which do not fall within categories A or B, were more common among 14 to 15-year-olds than the most severe Category A pictures.
This is attributed to self-generated images which are then posted online, the Internet Watch Foundation said. Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the organisation, said: ‘At the IWF, our analysts do what others can't by finding images of real life child sexual abuse in order to have these images removed from the internet. Every time an image is shared and watched by another person the child suffers re-victimisation, and we know this can have a huge and long-lasting impact on a victim.
‘These shocking statistics speak for themselves – the worst abuse is suffered by the youngest. As everyone knows, babies are utterly defenceless. ‘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 study of more images between January 2014 and September 2017 found that 63% of sex abuse images showing children aged zero to two were Category A.
The figure dropped to 57% for three to six-year-olds, 36% for seven to 10-year-olds and 20% for 11 to 13-year-olds. Just 16% of images showing 14 to 16-year-olds were Category A, and the severe images made up just 7% of pictures involving 16 to 17-year-olds. In general, the likelihood of images being Category A increased with age, the watchdog said.
A spokesperson for the NSPCC said: ‘We must never forget that behind every child abuse image is a crime scene and behind each picture is a victim who has suffered a terrifying ordeal.
‘As these figures show many of these victims are the youngest and most vulnerable in society and are re-abused with every click from those seeking out this material for their own gratification. ‘We will continue to work closely with IWF and other agencies to remove child abuse images online, pursue offenders and protect children. ‘However, child abuse imagery is a borderless crime and global efforts to tackle it must be a priority. We would urge anyone worried about an image they have seen online to report it anonymously to the IWF's experts as soon as possible.'
Some Children Weren't Home for Christmas
by Gloria Johns
If there are children in your life you know that this is probably the best time of year for them. Christmas is here!
But not for every child.
Tom Green County is Region 9 of the Department of Family and Protective (DFP). Paul Zimmerman, Region 9 Media Specialist, sent me the following sobering information from the Austin Headquarters.
As of Nov. 2017, 119 children in Tom Green County are in foster care. These are children from ages 0 to 17; “0” counts the number of children under one-year of age.
Counting children in all substitute care programs, for example foster care and kinship placements, 260 children in Tom Green County will not be home for Christmas.
With many detours along the way, a child usually enters the state system when a credible report of abuse is investigated by Children's Protective Service (CPS), located here in San Angelo.
Reports of abuse cover a wide range of suspected offensives: Physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and for younger children it might be failure to thrive.
For example—from a real case—a 12-year-old boy who was locked in the bathroom by his mother for over a year who weighs 30 pounds as a result.
Examples of sexual abuse and types of physical abuse—a two-year-old with an STD, or broken limbs and bruises—are just an example of what CPS workers see far too often.
In an emergency situation, where a child must be seized immediately, the next step would be the Children's Emergency Center. In as little as an hour, and scarred by what has happened, the child is placed in a foreign place with unknown people.
They are safe, and well cared for, but they are not at home.
According to Sammye Rupeck, Executive Director of the Children's Emergency Center—one of three programs under the umbrella of the Concho Valley Home for Girls: In 2016, 65 children spent up to 90 days at the shelter.
Imagine your child's fear in a similar situation.
At that time, the child will tell the story of what happened in a child-friendly environment. It happened in the Hope House, part of the Children's Advocacy Center.
The beauty of the service offered by Hope House—if there is such a thing as beauty in any of this—is that the child only has to tell their story once. Law enforcement officials are monitoring the interview in a side room equipped with a one-way window.
Once it becomes obvious that a child is not going home anytime soon, they are assigned a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer (CASA), who has responsibility for the child's journey through the system.
This includes court appearances on behalf of the child and very likely visits to the home of origin. CASAs are sworn in in district court after training.
“At present, CASA has 340 children in their case load, and only 65 volunteers. By year's end 2016, the organization had served 563 children. Volunteers are always needed,” said Heather Ward, Executive Director of CASA.
Continuing a child's journey to permanency, whatever that may be, The Concho Valley Home for Girls (CVHG) may be the next step.
Sammye Rupeck is also Executive Director of the program for kids 14 to 26 who are “aging out” of care. In other words, some who might have been in the care of the state for many years, after emancipation are pretty much on their own, or used to be, that is.
Instead, girls participate in the Concho Valley Transition Center. In partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission, young adults are given job training and learn how to get and hold on to a job. If needed, the program will help pay for essential living and work-related expenses until they are established.
Janessa Nunez knows first-hand the positive impact of the transition program.
“I came to San Angelo from San Diego as a single Mom when I was 18. I had been in a program in San Diego like the Girl's Home and I wanted that to continue here in San Angelo. I actually Googled ‘support for single moms, San Angelo,' and found the Concho Valley Home for Girls.”
“Sammye (Rupeck) sat me down and listened to what I had to say and from there I was part of a mentoring program. Nobody tells you what to do. They just listen.”
“They helped me get my GED, and I took Quickbooks classes. I needed help with after-care for my son and they helped with that.”
“Even now, they help with Christmas gifts for our kids. There's a pantry there and a boutique and toiletries.
“Had it not been for the CVHG I would have had a really hard time. Maybe my story will help some other girl to reach out,” she said.
The Children's Advocacy Center and the Concho Valley Home for Girls are both United Way agencies. Websites for these agencies respectively, are http://www.cactomgreen.org , and http://www.conchokids.org . Donations that will help these children have as good a Christmas as your own are welcome.
Pay now or pay later
Reduced funding assures continuance of abuse
by Deanna L. Szyndrowski
The old adage “children are our future” is not a cliché. In reality, children today will grow up to be the accountants, construction workers, doctors, musicians, artists and government officials of our tomorrow. There is no price on the importance of setting up our future for continued success, and today more than ever we need the “secret to success.”
But most recently that “price” is called into question on the topic of funding services to children: abuse and neglect, early childhood, affordable quality child care and the effect that the lack of funding in these areas will have on our economy and future communities.
Child abuse and neglect is a hidden problem, happening behind closed doors. Most people do not want to shed light on this topic. It is not the topic of conversations at dinner parties, among friends or in community circles unless you are in the field of treating children who are suffering. We hold true to the stigma; if it happens in the home, we don't talk about it.
I have dedicated my life to talking about the issues. Bringing this reality to focus is surely an unpopular topic. I have not been invited to many parties as I have a bright personality, but my work is a “downer.”
Cutting the much-needed funding to combat, address, and stop child abuse and neglect will indeed increase the incidence of thes social blights. We live in an immediate world and are making decisions that will affect the here and now without forethought for our future.
I challenge those making decisions on funding to interview a child with a bruised face, broken ribs, lack of appropriate clothing, lack of access to food for a full stomach. Perhaps the question would quickly turn to “how can I help this child?”
You see, each day I dedicate my life to those children, as do 229 other employees at SCAN, a number of partner agencies, and those employed at the Department of Child Services. We understand the negative effect that abuse and neglect have on the present and the future of our communities.
We receive funding from generous donors who are invested in our mission to protect children, prepare parents, strengthen families and educate the community on these issues. We are already operating our programs in a deficit – not enough funding to complete the necessary job and being asked to do more with fewer resources.
I struggle with slashing budgets and cost savings on the backs of the most vulnerable populations and the message that sends to those suffering.
Some of the messages I have heard are: “You're not important,” “Your work does not matter,” and “This was your calling, not the responsibility of the government.”
If not our responsibility, whose responsibility is it to support our children?
We learned our values, traditions, how to treat and interact with others, how to hold down a job, and the importance of community from our parents, family and the social environments that we grew up in – you see, we learn what we live.
Children in families that suffer under child abuse and neglect learn fear, learn to express anger with hitting and hurting, learn they will never be good enough to break out of this cycle, learn to numb the pain or solve problems by escaping with substance use, and may learn to sell their bodies to pay the light bill – you see, they too learn what they live.
The cycle of abuse will not end if we do not commit funding. I have a dream that one day I will close the doors of SCAN because my job is done, that we worked collectively to combat this issue and our services are no longer needed.
Instead, I worry that I may lose the necessary funding to keep our doors open and the cycle will continue.
Corey Feldman 'shattered' that he didn't receive more support from his peers following child abuse claims
by Joe Gamp
Core recently claimed former actor Jon Grissom sexually molested him as a child on US talk show Dr Oz. His admission comes after the actor vowed to name his alleged abuser, as a new film on the experiences he suffered as a child alongside fellow film star Corey Haim is due to appear on Lifetime in the new year.
Speaking to People magazine, Corey said: ‘People are finally listening and there's a movement happening. ‘This is your chance for redemption, but also a chance to have justice served not only for Corey and I, but for the rest of the world. There are still kids out there who are being victimized.'
However, Feldman went on to tell how he feels he hadn't received much support after bringing his own allegations to light. ‘I'm still shattered by the fact that I haven't had more support from my peers. Fear is a monster. This is the fear that keeps the secret alive, this is the fear that keeps this whole thing going.' The Goonies actor recently vowed to expose paedophilia in Hollywood, and after previously detailing the abuse he allegedly received in his 2013 autobiographer Coreyography using a pseudonym for the man involved, he has now named his License To Drive and Dream A Little Dream co-star as the person who allegedly attacked him.
Speaking on The Dr Oz Show as Dr Mehmet Oz held up a photo of Grissom, Corey said: ‘That is him. That's the guy. ‘This guy, on his Myspace page and his Facebook page has pictures of me and Corey Haim. ‘He still taunts it and flaunts it.'
The former child actor claims to have been a victim of molestation in the 1980s and has dug out the recording of an interview by police in 1993 about the scandal. He wrote a dramatic outburst surrounding the news on Twitter. The interview was originally conducted as part of an investigation into sexual abuse allegations made against Michael Jackson.
Inspector general: 50 victims of sex abuse verified in 3 years in Nebraska child welfare juvenile justice systems
by JoAnne Young
A nearly yearlong investigation into alleged sexual abuse of children and youth in Nebraska's child welfare and juvenile justice systems showed 50 verified victims in a recent three-year period, the state's inspector general for child welfare reported Wednesday.
It also showed attitudes toward sexual abuse of youth in state care that concerned Inspector General Julie Rogers and her staff, including "problematic attitudes" among system professionals and caregivers toward child sexual abuse and children in the state's care.
Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Kathie Osterman said a statement from HHS would be forthcoming.
Rogers said the investigation started last year with the accumulation of 36 sexual abuse reports since July 2013. The goal was to discover whether adequate steps were being taken by HHS to prevent and respond to abuse of youth in the state's care.
But when she and others dug into the reports, and asked for more data, they ended up with 50 cases, even after weeding down the 36 original cases because some were not state wards or former state wards.
"That was surprising to us," she said. "All of these kids had been abused and neglected or in juvenile justice ... And then they're abused and neglected while the state is their parent."
Some children reported the abuse occurred in a foster home, in an adoptive home or when when they were under state guardianship. Some were in the juvenile justice system or in a home licensed by the department or at a Youth Residential Treatment Center.
Among the 50 abused children and youth in the report, 27 were state wards and youth in residential placements and 23 in adoptive or guardian homes. They ranged in age from 4 to 18 when abuse was disclosed.
In each case, the abuse was reported to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline. They also discovered cases above the 50 that were either screened out incorrectly, not investigated properly and so not substantiated. Others they just couldn't gather the needed evidence.
Rogers said estimates show about 38 percent of child victims disclose sexual abuse, some years later but others not at all. Research shows only 4 to 8 percent of disclosures are false.
Child sexual abuse generally includes everything from rape to molestation, sexual touching and coercing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act. It includes exposure to pornography, voyeurism and sexual talk by phone or internet.
During those three years covered by the investigation, there were 1,284 substantiated victims of child sexual abuse statewide, according to HHS. The agency does not track how many of those children were involved in the child welfare system, Rogers said, but research shows youth in the system are at higher risk than the population at large.
Among the 50 abused children and youth in the report, 36 were abused by adults, 11 by other youth and three by both, Rogers said. Half of them were sexually abused by caregivers -- foster and adoptive parents, guardians or facility staff. All were known to the children and had established relationships with them.
The cases involved sexual assault by fathers, foster brothers, foster fathers, a foster mother, adoptive fathers, other state wards, uncles, unrelated older men and women, older brothers, grandfathers, group home workers and a therapist.
Some of the youths were developmentally disabled or had mental illness.
"I feel like the biggest thing is the attitude about sexual abuse," Rogers said.
She pointed to a recent Nebraska Court of Appeals case in which a Buffalo County District judge had given a man convicted of sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl probation, calling the child the aggressor.
Caregivers and professionals at times dismissed or never reported disclosures, Rogers said, because they assumed troubled children were lying or “acting out.” Inaction after concerns were reported left some children exposed to continuing abuse.
"They just have this harmful attitude about sexual abuse," Rogers said.
In some cases, disclosures were assumed to be a recollection of sexual abuse that occurred in the past, but then never fully investigated, she said. For some youth in the juvenile justice system, disclosures were treated as another example of the child breaking rules, defying authority, seeking attention or causing trouble.
Some children and youth were blamed by caregivers and system professionals for causing the sexual abuse they suffered, or their reports were minimized, the report said.
Rogers said a number of adults and system professionals did not report allegations to proper authorities even though the law requires it. Also, some calls to the child abuse and neglect hotline were screened out, preventing investigations and leaving children vulnerable to ongoing abuse.
The investigation discovered instances in which hotline workers incorrectly determined youth sexually abusing other youth did not meet the definition of child sexual abuse, the report said.
The attitudes contributed to errors and issues that left the system unable to effectively prevent and respond to abuse of youth in its care, she said.
When the state becomes the parent to a child, how does a caseworker talk to that young person about sexual abuse, secrets and what's private, and finding trusted adults?
"People need to know that this happens and we should be able to talk to kids about it in a developmentally appropriate way," Rogers said. "It's very tricky."
The office of inspector general called for the department to foster a culture of zero-tolerance toward child sexual abuse.
The impact of such abuse can be lifelong, Rogers' report said, with a heightened risk for physical and mental health diagnoses, academic problems, risky behaviors, and a possible negative impacts on lifetime earnings.
The inspector general's office made 18 recommendations to the HHS. The department accepted 11 of those, according to the report.
“Preventing and responding to sexual abuse of children is not, and cannot be, the responsibility of DHHS alone. It is a community problem, which will need solutions and action from many in our communities,” Rogers said.
She hopes the report and recommendations to HHS, in addition to the action of Nebraskans will help make needed improvements so that children are better protected, she said.
Fifty-three percent children face one or more forms of sexual abuse: Government
MoS, Home Affairs, Hansraj Ahir said 50 percent abusers were persons known to the child and most children did not report the matter to anyone. Children on the street, at work and in institutional care reported highest incidence of sexual assault, he said.
A centrally-sponsored survey has found that more than 53 per cent children in the country faced one or more forms of sexual abuse, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday.
Minister of State for Home, Hansraj Ahir, said that the Ministry of Women and Child Development had conducted a study on Child Abuse in 2007, covering 13 states and more than 13,000 children.
The study revealed that that more than 53 per cent of children interviewed reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse and 21.90 per cent child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76 per cent other forms of sexual abuse, he said in written reply to a question.
Ahir said 50 per cent abusers were persons known to the child and most children did not report the matter to anyone.
Children on street, at work and in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault, he said.
The 13 states where the survey was conducted were -Assam, Mizoram, Goa, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala.
The neglected child
We are guilty of many mistakes, but our worst crime is to abandon children. We thus neglect the fountain of life. Many of the things that we need can wait; the child cannot not least because his bones, his blood, and his senses are in the formative stage of development.
The recent signal on the health profile of Indian children, which was largely unnoticed, is cause for alarm. More than a fifth (21 per cent) of the children suffering from “wasting” (an insufficient weight-to-height ratio). The country slipped three places to 100 in the 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 119 countries. Incidentally, India fell 45 notches from its rank of 55 in 2014.
The dismal health of Indian women and children is primarily due to the lack of food security. It can be in place when all the people at all times have physical, economic and social access to safe, adequate and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for a healthy and active life. Food security is measured along a continuum, from the most severe state of starvation to acute hunger, followed by chronic persistent hunger, and finally “hidden hunger”. Considerably less investment is required to maintain adequate nourishment for children than is required to treat undernourished children.
India has the world's highest number of moderately and severely underweight children. Among those below five, one in three (35.7 per cent) is underweight, one in three (38.4 per cent) is stunted and one in five (21 per cent) is wasted. This is worse than many sub-Saharan countries. Overall, our country accounts for more than three out of every 10 stunted children globally. This is largely on account of a lack of nutritious food, poor care and feeding practices and inadequate water, sanitation, and health services.
Many children are born to anaemic and malnourished teenaged mothers. Indeed, 33.6 per cent of Indian women are chronically undernourished and 55 per cent are anaemic. In addition, feeding practices among such mothers are poor and the environment they live in with their children are appallingly unhygienic. However, the public health programmes generally overlook infants in the first two years of their lives, when malnutrition can afflict the child. Indeed, malnutrition in the first two years of life can cause permanent mental and physical damage.
Breast-milk helps to protect infants against infection. As it turns out, most children are given water and most spend their first few years subsisting on a diet that is poor in terms of protein and vitamin. Children cannot grow reasonably tall on such a restricted diet. Moreover, research in other countries has shown that supplementary nutrition given in the first two years of life can improve a child's IQ by 10 per cent.
It is not merely the lack of nutrition that results in stunting; the environment plays a significant part as well. Common enteric infections, which are generally due to lack of hygiene or sanitation, can affect the system's ability to absorb nutrients. Thus, even if the child has access to nutritious food, the body may not be able to absorb the nutrition. Also, diarrhoea among children in the poverty-stricken areas during the first two years of life has been linked to an eight cm reduction in height and a ten IQ point decrease if the child is between seven and nine. India's programmes to feed children in school have multiplied over time, but by the pre-school age it is too late to prevent stunting and damage to the intellect that occur by the age of 2. India runs the largest child feeding programme in the world, but it is inadequately designed, and has made an innocuous dent among sick children.
According to the development economist, Jean Dreze, the most serious nutrition challenge in India is to reach out to children under three years of age ~ “It is well known that if a child is undernourished by age three, it is very difficult to repair the damage after that.” The cost of failure ~ both in human and economic terms ~ are huge. Pervasive long-term malnutrition erodes the foundations of the economy by destroying the potential of millions of infants. Children stunted on account of malnutrition run the risk of earning 20 per cent less as adults. Many of them may even turn out to be mentally challenged.
A package of basic measures ~ including programmes to encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children for up to six months, fortifying basic foods with essential minerals and vitamins, and increased cash transfers with payments targeted at the poorest families ~ may yet turn the tide. India boasts two robust national programmes to tackle malnutrition ~ the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) and the National Health Mission ~ but these do not reach enough people. The delivery system is also inadequate and plagued by inefficiency and corruption. Some analysts estimate that 40 per cent of the subsidised food never reaches the intended recipients
Child mortality in India generally occurs from “treatable diseases”, such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and birth complications. The child may eventually die of a disease, but that affliction becomes lethal if he/she is malnourished and unable to resist the ailment. The staff of ICDS attributes part of the blame for malnutrition on parents who neglect their children. Grinding poverty compels most women to leave their babies at home and work in the fields during the agricultural season.
A critical factor behind malnutrition is the failure of malnourished adults to choose nutritious food. One survey by the economists Duflo and Banerjee has found that, overall, the poor in developing countries had enough money to increase their food spending by as much as 30 per cent, but this money was spent on alcohol, tobacco, and festivals. Progress is still slow and the political will patchy, but there are signs that a new approach is being evolved.
India's official think-tank, NITI Aayog, has drafted a National Nutrition Strategy that aims at eradicating malnutrition from the country by 2030. With this objective in view it has set certain targets ~ 1) To reduce under nutrition in children (0-3 years) by 3 per cent per annum until 2022; 2)To reduce the prevalence of anaemia among young children, adolescent girls and women in the reproductive age group (15-49 years) by one-third of the NFHS 4 levels by 2022.
Some other recommendations are for programmes to promote breastfeeding for the first six months after birth, universal access to infant and child-care including ICDS and crèches, provision to provide bi-annual critical nutrient supplements and programmes aimed at de-worming children. As regards, maternal care, the strategy proposes that the government provide nutritional support ~ in particular, adequate consumption of iodised salt ~ to mothers during pregnancy and lactation.
In order to consolidate its efforts towards tackling the challenge of malnutrition, the government has approved the National Nutrition Mission (NNM). With a budget of Rs 9046 crore over a period of three years, the mission is expected to benefit 10 crore people. Through this programme, the government seeks to reduce stunting, malnutrition and low birthweight by 2 per cent every year.
However, these policies can only reap the desired benefits.
Men rape children because they're bored, says study
by Yolisa Tswanya
Cape Town - Boredom, opportunity and revenge are some of the reasons men rape and sexually assault children.
Last week, the Saartjie Baartman Centre shared rape statistics they compiled using a number of reports.
The stats revealed that one in three men said they raped out of boredom, particularly in child rape cases.
“Most men start to rape in their teenage years, between 15 and 19. More than half of the men that have raped a girl younger than 15 say they did it to ‘have fun' or ‘as part of a game.”
Half of the men said they raped children out of opportunity, as they believed the child would not tell.
Deborah Ho-Chung was sexually abused by her aunt's husband from when she was nine years old, until she turned 16.
Ho-Chung said the abuse stopped when she told the relative that she would kill him in his sleep if he didn't stop touching her.
“When there is any kind of abnormal behaviour then you should worry. We are not saying you have to be paranoid about all men around your child, but it's about having the knowledge. The information is all there on the internet.”
She said some of the signs include self-injury, inadequate hygiene and drug and alcohol abuse.
She said the effects of sexual abuse or assault were lasting and, now 57, she has been diagnosed with a personality disorder.
“The emotional scars are there. It touches every aspect of your life and the worst are the psychological disorders. It's not so much the sexual thing, you can get over the sexual thing. Everyone is different but there is always a whole lot of damage at the other end.”
The Tears Foundation provides access to crisis intervention, advocacy, counselling, and prevention education services for those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse.
The organisation's Charlene Roberson said there is a wide range of reasons men rape.
“It could even be for revenge on the mother of the child or a family member that takes care of the child. It is never because of sexual urge, it is always about control.”
Chairperson of the Mitchells Plain Impact Association, Joanie Fredericks said they are dedicated to eradicating sexual violence, but stressed it was something everyone needs to be dedicated to.
“While we seek for ways to address the issue of violence against women, children and men please reach out and be a support to that victim because she/he has gone through too much already. Hold them up and support them and work with us in stopping these sexual attacks on the vulnerable from happening in the first place.”
CASA volunteers provide vital service for children, courts
by Michael Howell
Two new Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children, Mike Cressler, a retired military attorney and Denny Sutherland, a retired firefighter from the National Park Service, were recently sworn in by Ravalli County District Court Judge James Haynes. They are the latest volunteers to join the Bitterroot CASA program under the direction of Julie Crane.
When the District Court assumes jurisdiction over a child, a volunteer guardian ad litem is appointed to serve the child's best interests in the court proceedings. The CASA volunteer's role is to ensure that the child receives proper care while in the system, and see that the child is placed in a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible.
A guardian ad litem conducts investigations regarding all the facts, monitors the child's situation, and makes recommendations to the court. They get to know the child, and meet the parents, foster parents, therapists, teachers, concerned friends and case workers and make recommendations as to what is in the child's best interests. The goal of Bitterroot CASA is to prevent abused, neglected and abandoned children from becoming lost in the court system.
According to Crane, the volunteer has four essential roles. They represent the child in court; they assist the Court by investigating each case and reporting their findings and recommendations; they monitor the progress of the case as it moves through the system to reduce judicial delays and continuances; and they facilitate the services needed to maintain the active and positive growth of the child.
CASA volunteers are unique in providing information not usually available to the Court. Because of the number of dependency cases filed in
Ravalli County and dwindling resources to adequately investigate cases, judges are often compelled to make decisions based on less than complete or objective data. A CASA volunteer's objective, unbiased recommendation in the best interest of the child is an invaluable aid to the judge once the case work begins.
The new recruits bring the number of CASA volunteers in the Bitterroot to 10 but Crane is looking to double that in order to meet the growing demand and will be hosting a new recruitment program in January. Presently, she said, there are so many children in the system that many are not getting the attention they need. Potential recruits are interviewed and then undergo a training/screening process before being selected to join the program.
Bitterroot CASA Volunteer Advocates must be at least 21 years of age, pass screening requirements, and make a two-year commitment and serve in a pre-service program of 28 hours. Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer is urged to contact Crane at 961-4535 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to services to abused, neglected, and abandoned children, Bitterroot CASA also advocates for delinquent youth. It also provides community education and awareness concerning issues of child abuse, neglect and child welfare policy.
73 members of Congress: Investigate sex-assault reports at immigration facilities
by Daniel Gonzalez
U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and 72 other members of Congress are demanding that the Department of Homeland Security investigate reports of sexual assault at immigration facilities.
In a Dec. 18 letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas Homan, the Democratic lawmakers accuse the Department of Homeland Security of failing to effectively investigate reports of sexual abuse and assaults from immigrants held in detention facilities.
ICE contracts with jails and private prisons to hold immigration detainees in addition to running its own facilities.
From May 28, 2014, to July 12, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General received at least 1,016 reports of sexual abuse and assault filed by people in immigration detention.
Of those, only 24 were investigated, the letter said, citing an April civil-rights complaint against Homeland Security and ICE by the non-profit watchdog group Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), which advocates for ending immigration detention.
"DHS and its partner agencies must be held accountable for rampant complaints of sexual assault, abuse and harassment within their immigrant detention facilities," Grijalva said in a statement.
"Many of those being held have fled violence, have been victims of rape, or were otherwise subject to traumatic events. For Homeland Security to carelessly dismiss, ignore or even try to erase such serious claims is not only unconscionable but also unlawful" under federal law, the statement said.
Examples cited in letter
The letter signed by lawmakers cites several reports of sexual abuse and assault contained in the complaint. The examples represent "troubling and serious concerns" of violations of Homeland Security's own regulations under the Prison Rape Prevention Act, the letter said.
An immigrant filed an official complaint that he was raped at the Joe Corley Detention Facility in Conroe, Texas, in September 2013, but he wasn't interviewed about the complaint until two years later. The immigrant was later informed by ICE that "the facts and evidence did not support that the incident occurred."
An immigrant was transferred to the West County Detention Center Facility in Richmond, California, after she filed a complaint that she was sexually assaulted at the Yuba County Jail in Marysville, California.
A child at the Karnes County Residential Center in Texas showed signs of sexually transmitted diseases and vaginal scarring but despite the physical evidence, ICE declared allegations of sexual abuse unfounded.
A transgender woman was sexually harassed by a corrections officer at the Santa Ana City Jail in California in July 2016. The officer performed a strip search on her in the men's changing room, "and demanded she slowly remove each article of her clothing, hand them to him, and run her fingers through his hair."
The CIVIC report found that Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General received a total of 33,126 complaints of sexual and physical abuse against all Homeland Security agencies from January 2010 to July 2016, the letter said. Of those, the inspector general opened investigations into only 225, the letter said.
ICE received 14,693 complaints, more than any other agency within Homeland Security, which also includes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol, Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Protective Service, and the Secret Service.
ICE: 'Zero tolerance' for abuse
In a statement, ICE said the agency cannot comment on pending investigations but has a "zero tolerance" for sexual abuse and assault and takes every allegation seriously.
In accordance with federal law, the agency has implemented "strong protections against sexual abuse and assault of individuals in the agency's custody," the statement said.
ICE facilities are inspected annually and independently audited — with safeguards against sexual assault as a primary focus — to ensure compliance with Homeland Security regulations, the statement said.
"Accusations of alleged unlawful conduct are investigated thoroughly and appropriate action is taken to ensure the safety and security of those involved and others in ICE custody,” the statement said.
YouTube's Child-Abuse Problem Is Getting Worse
by Paris Martineau
In the wake of a viral Medium post calling attention to some very disturbing YouTube channels apparently aimed at children, YouTube has pledged its commitment to ensuring that its channels are safe, clean, and family-friendly. The problem is, well, it's hard to clean up a site to which hundreds of hours of video are uploaded every minute — and there are videos that might be even worse than merely “creepy.”
A recent investigation by The Times found that pedophiles have been using the site as some sort of twisted “shop window” to show off abused children and reach out to other members of the “community.”
One Brazilian paedophile posted a dozen short videos showing children standing silently, licking their lips or dancing. One showed a masked child aged about ten saying: “Hey guys I got new underwear.”
Each video was emblazoned with the paedophile's email address. When an undercover reporter made contact, the man boasted he had 315 gigabytes of material showing “naked” children.
Another alleged child abuser, calling himself Horny Pastor, was allowed to create a YouTube channel despite having a username that had been flagged to US and Canadian child-abuse authorities. He posted five videos including one called “12 yr old Nancy twerking in grey outfit”. In his profile section he invited viewers to swap explicit content on Telegram, the encrypted chat application.
The mere existence of this sort of content is in itself deeply disturbing. It is child exploitation and abuse, plain and simple. But it seems important to keep in mind that — as much as we may wish it could — YouTube cannot solve the horribly complex and depressing problem of online child pornography. This sort of general outrage, while well-intentioned, masks the real problem for YouTube: It's created an environment where disturbed individuals can put up videos like these without any real fear of discovery (or reprisal). YouTube has grown to a scale that makes it almost impossible to adequately moderate, and it's unclear what the solution is beyond radically reducing the pace of its growth.
'Cheated' out of justice
by Suzanne Hirt
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- It started with a pill — a sedative before bed, a powerful painkiller to cure a headache.
The dosage grew gradually, turning teenager Makell Graves into an addict. Then the injections started.
From that point, Makell can recall her childhood only in fits and fragments, mangled in her memory by the trauma that followed.
What she does remember she'd rather not conjure — nauseating visions of being bound and battered as old men violated her body and mind.
Afterward, her mother would drive her home.
"I've kind of always known there was something different between my life and other kids," Makell, now 19, told The News-Journal. She has undergone extensive therapy to combat her addiction and restore her mental health. "I don't really know if I ever realized what was going on because when you're a kid, you automatically think to trust your parents, and that's what I did."
By age 14, Makell's mother was shooting narcotics into her veins in the bathroom of the family's DeBary home, then selling her to strange men for sex, sometimes for as little as a single prescription pill.
The drugs wiped many markers of time and place from Makell's memory. But she thinks the drugs and sexual abuse went on for about two years before local law enforcement poured into her quiet neighborhood and removed her and her sister to safety.
Makell's parents, Michael and Cynthia Graves, were arrested three months later. But under Florida law, the parents were able to trade pleas for light penalties. Meanwhile, Makell's sentence stretches out before her with no end in sight.
Feeling "cheated" out of justice by the punishment meted out to her parents, Makell has come forward, identifying herself in the media to advance her intent to push legislators to strengthen Florida's statute on human trafficking.
Sex trafficking "is not happening somewhere far away from us like everyone thinks," Makell said. "It's literally happening all around you. People either choose to ignore it or they have no idea what it is."
'You don't have to lie anymore'
Holly Ware wasn't expecting the frantic voice she heard when she answered a call from Cynthia Graves. "They're taking my kids!" Graves screamed. "Please don't let my kids go to foster care."
Ware loved Makell's younger sister, Kaytee, like a daughter. Her longtime partner had a daughter Kaytee's age and the two girls were close friends.
Kaytee had spent three summers and countless weekends at Ware's home. "Mama Holly," as Ware was known, often had paid for Kaytee's school clothes, immunizations and doctor visits.
Kaytee was a "good girl" who talked about "God and boys," Ware said. When Ware drove Kaytee home, she'd see Makell outside, scantily clad and smoking a cigarette. Ware thought Makell was a stoner and a street thug.
After hearing Graves' phoned plea that late summer afternoon in 2014, Ware agreed to meet the girls at a state Department of Children and Families facility where they were taken to be interviewed.
There, she got the full story.
Graves had decided to pick Kaytee up early from her Orange City middle school. She took Makell, who hadn't been to class in two years, along for the drive.
On their way home, a neighbor called with a warning: Law enforcement had surrounded the Graves residence.
Graves went home anyway. When they arrived, Volusia County deputies escorted Makell and Kaytee inside to pack their bags. Later at the DCF office, Ware's assumptions about Makell were shattered in seconds.
"(FBI agents) said (Makell's parents) have been IV drugging Makell and selling her to their drug dealers, and that's called human trafficking," Ware recalled. "My jaw fell to the floor. I just thought she was this little pothead. I felt shame for judging her."
That was all it took to shift Ware into "mama bear" mode. "You're gonna come stay with me," she told Makell. "You're gonna be safe."
Makell was skeptical. The first time investigators questioned her, she lied.
"Both my parents would coach me into thinking (what they did to me) was OK, and if anything were to happen, to take the fall for it so they wouldn't get in trouble," Makell said.
Ware convinced her to come clean.
"(Ware) looked at me and said, 'Makell, I know you don't know me like that, but (the authorities) know everything and you don't have to lie anymore,'" Makell recalled. "And I said OK."
Ware's daughter, Reagan, was waiting for Makell outside the interview room. "She just hugged me," Makell said, blinking back tears. "I will never forget that day."
That night, Makell slept on a mattress in Ware's living room. Ware stayed close on the couch to remind Makell she was safe.
"I slept for the first time in two years," Makell said.
Sold for sex
Arrest reports fill in some of the memory gaps Makell would prefer to leave empty.
They tell how Robert Richards, 60-year-old owner of Fresh Off the Hook restaurant in DeLand, handcuffed Makell's hands behind her back and then to a bedpost while he raped her with an object as another young woman watched.
When Richards was finished, Cynthia Graves picked up Makell and the other young woman — one of several Graves prostituted, records show — demanded payment from Richards and drove to Deltona to purchase pills.
Makell was 14.
She usually was "sedated" during sexual encounters, but not always. Sometimes, Makell recalled, her mother would say, "We need money so we can get our drugs, so I need you to do this. It kind of just became like a normalcy or routine in my life for a while."
Makell thinks she was 12 the first time her parents medicated her. She had watched them openly abuse drugs for years. "They didn't try to hide it," she said.
They fed her progressively stronger pills, and then began injecting liquefied narcotics — Dilaudid, Xanax, oxycodone — into her arms, buttocks and between her fingers. Once her parents started shooting her up with drugs, Makell said her memories became muddled.
"There were times when I would wake up in someone's house, or I have little memories of driving to Sanford or just like little bits here and there," she said. "But, you know, the more time that I try to heal, I remember more and more from flashbacks and dreams and stuff like that."
She recalls a Sanford neighborhood haunted by drug dealers, addicts and prostitutes. "(My mother) knew everyone in that neighborhood," Makell said.
Graves could count on collecting cash from two Sanford men in particular, an informant told investigators. To one, Graves sold shoplifted steaks. To the other, she sold Makell.
Police reports refer to those buyers as "James" and "Reggie." Reggie was an active member of the military, according to an informant. Reggie rented hotel rooms for sex acts with Makell and her mother to hide his illicit activities from his wife. Neither man has been prosecuted.
Makell believes her mother sold her to eight different men, including at least three in Seminole County. Only two of the men — both in West Volusia — have been publicly identified.
Richards, the DeLand restaurant owner, was a regular. His reputed preference for underage girls attracted FBI attention. Besides Makell, Richards liked to hire young female employees he could entice with money or gifts in exchange for after-hours sex, a confidential source told investigators.
Cynthia Graves planned to start selling Kaytee as well, the source said, but Makell intervened. "No, take me," Makell insisted.
Richards was arrested Dec. 17, 2014, the same day as Makell's parents. He was charged with child abuse and two counts of lewd or lascivious sexual battery on a child age 12 but less than 16.
He died while awaiting trial. Records do not show the cause of death. If convicted, Roberts would have faced up to 35 years in prison.
In comparison, Makell's parents received relatively light sentences.
Michael Graves pleaded no contest to child abuse. He was sentenced in late August 2015 to a year and a day, with credit for six months in Volusia County jail. He was released in February 2016 after five months in prison, and returned to his DeBary home for three years of supervised probation.
A month after her husband, Cindy Graves pleaded no contest to procuring a minor for prostitution, deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution and child abuse. She was sentenced to five years in prison. She's scheduled for release April 5, 2019.
Reliving the trauma
"Five years? Am I only worth five years?" Makell asked Ware when she heard the news of her parents' short sentences. She was devastated.
But part of the challenge for prosecutors was Makell's state of mind as a result of the trauma she'd experienced.
In sex crime cases, it's common for prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss a plea that does not require the victim to testify, Assistant State Attorney Shannon Peters said.
The deposition process alone is "very rigorous," Peters told The News-Journal. A defense attorney's role is to protect the accused, and though some handle victims with care, others take the opportunity to intimidate.
When Makell was scheduled to speak with prosecutors, she experienced mental and emotional upheaval and was not able to follow through.
"You're confronted with forcing a girl to come into court whether she's having seizures or throwing up," Peters said.
A trial would have required Makell to relive her trauma yet again and be cross examined in a public courtroom.
"She didn't want to have to face the perpetrators in court," said Peters. (Though Makell has come forward in the media, prosecutors are prohibited from naming her.) "If the victim isn't willing to come to court and (testify), we don't have a case. If you don't make a plea deal and they don't come to court, you don't get a second bite of that apple."
Had Michael Graves gone to trial, he could have been sentenced to five years in prison. Cindy Graves could have faced 25 years, but five years was "what the defendant was willing to plead to without putting the victim through a deposition or any court proceedings," Peters said.
Still, Makell said she felt "cheated" by the justice system.
"I think if my parents had been charged the proper way in the beginning and served what they deserved, I would probably be in a different place with everything," she said.
'The law let us down'
An investigation by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office revealed Cindy Graves was "sex trafficking (Makell) for money," an arrest report states.
Human trafficking, a first-degree felony, carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years. But Cynthia Graves wasn't charged with human trafficking. No one has ever been prosecuted for human trafficking in the 7th Judicial Circuit, comprised of Volusia, Flagler, St. Johns and Putnam counties.
Makell is seeking support among Florida's legislators to change that. Aided by Don Mair, who helped draft Gabby's Law after his daughter was hit by a car and killed at a school bus stop, Makell is advocating for a rewrite of Florida's human trafficking statute.
The proposed bill emphasizes harsher penalties and removal of plea deals for those charged with the crime.
"The law let us down," Holly Ware said, "so let's change the law."
State Rep. Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach, said he is working with the House of Representatives' criminal justice staff to draft an effective bill, but it will not be completed in time for the 2018 legislative session.
Leek, an attorney, said the punishment Makell's parents received for "one of the most atrocious crimes I can think of being committed is offensive."
But, he added, "We have to make sure to give law enforcement and the state attorney the discretion they need to put together the best case they can without unnecessary restrictions. It was easy to recognize the problem, but it's hard to find a solution that works."
Florida's human trafficking law requires prosecutors to prove the victim was subjected to force, fraud or coercion. Proof of coercion is usually developed through victim testimony, Peters said.
Drugging a child for the purpose of sexual exploitation is a form of coercion, but there must be a direct connection between the two. In Makell's case, Peters said, "Every time (her parents provided her with drugs), it wasn't for the purpose of sexual acts."
Makell's father — though guilty of giving his underage daughter drugs — was never alleged to have sold her for sex.
"The charges we used didn't have to prove coercion and covered the facts exactly," Peters said. "I don't think the problem is what we charged. The end result is what people are upset about."
Leek said the solution may be to change the standard of proof from coercion to facilitation. While it may be difficult to prove the purpose of Makell's mother's actions was to sell her for sex, Leek said, "What her parents did by drugging her is they took away her ability to reject, her ability to reason.
"What I do know is parents who sell their kids into the sex trade should not be able to walk away with (a short sentence)," Leek said. "There's got to be a better solution."
A taste of justice
In June 2016, nine months after her mother went to prison, Makell suffered a flashback to a sexual assault by a man she could only identify as "Buzz." Ware notified the FBI.
The next day, FBI agents drove Makell to her parents' home and she directed them turn by turn to the door of John Szolosi of DeBary.
Szolosi, 70, pleaded no contest to lewd or lascivious sexual battery, but later admitted his guilt to the court. Szolosi told investigators he paid Cindy Graves a single Xanax for the sex act with Makell.
New charges were filed against Graves, too. But the incident had occurred during the date range already covered by her plea.
In the months leading up to Szolosi's sentencing, Makell had returned to school. Outwardly, she seemed like any other University High School student. But the trauma she has suffered still lingers. One day earlier this year, she pulled into the University High School parking lot for a typical day of classes when memories simmering below the surface struck without warning.
She panicked and dialed Ware, whom she now calls "Mom." Ware officially adopted Makell and Kaytee in 2015, and both girls have taken their adoptive mother's last name.
Ware calmed her. "You're in control. You're not trapped. You can drive home."
When she reached home that day, a wave of nausea hit Makell the moment she stepped through the front door. She vomited again and again until she blacked out. Ware put her to bed. When Makell awoke, she shared previously suppressed details from her hours-long encounter with Szolosi.
"That (memory) was actually so traumatizing," Makell said, "I had to tell my mom what I remembered and what happened because I couldn't physically write it down."
Awaiting sentencing at his home earlier this year, Szolosi told The News-Journal he had "a lot of feelings" about what he did to Makell.
Leaning against his doorframe, an ankle monitor hidden under his jeans, he indicated a desire to express those feelings, but ultimately declined to divulge them without his attorney present. His attorney, Michael Nielsen, did not respond to multiple attempts to contact him. Szolosi was sentenced in September to 10 years in prison and declared a sex offender.
To Makell, Szolosi's sentence felt like justice.
When Ware arrived home from Szolosi's sentencing, Makell ran outside to greet her in the driveway.
"What are we gonna do now?" Ware asked as they wiped away tears.
Makell answered, "Live our lives."
'I want to be a kid'
"Pretty but stupid" is what Makell said her parents called her. They pulled her from public school soon after she started seventh grade.
A teacher came to her house at first, and she was expected to complete her courses online. She didn't, and the teacher quit coming.
When Ware took custody of Makell and Kaytee, Makell should have been a high school freshman. Instead, Ware re-enrolled her in middle school. She made honor roll.
"She did a 180 in a week," Ware said. "She wanted to be a good kid. She didn't want to be what they made her."
Makell will graduate high school in May, and is dual enrolled at Daytona State College. She had planned to pursue a nursing certification, but is now considering a career in law enforcement.
She still has counseling three times a week. Patrick Nave and Diena Cannavino, founders of Bikers Against Trafficking, give their services free to Makell at their state-licensed addiction treatment and counseling center, Ware said.
Survivors of sex trafficking have wounds and addictions they will deal with for the rest of their lives, Nave told The News-Journal.
"Something that happened 30 years ago can be triggered by a movie. Everything is still in the brain."
Scent, he said, is the biggest trigger, and can catch a survivor off guard.
For Makell, each day is a minefield.
Last year, a grocery shopping trip took a dark turn when an elderly man passed Makell in the aisle. The "old man smell" plunged Makell into a disturbing memory. She crumbled to the floor in hysterics.
"In that moment, you don't feel like you're in the middle of a store. You feel like you're back in that bad situation," Makell explained. "And all I had was my mom to just stand there and hold me and tell me, 'It's OK, you're safe.'"
The threat of a sneak attack from her subconscious lingers. Makell still lives in DeBary. Ware has moved them to a new neighborhood. But at any turn, Makell worries she could encounter her father or grandparents or previously unidentified rapists.
"For the longest time I was literally running out of stores and just running from anyone in my past and anything that reminded me," Makell said. "It hasn't really been until recently I've tried to stop running, but it is hard to go into Walmart."
Walter and Esther Graves, Makell's grandparents, live with Michael Graves. Esther said her son won't talk about the case. She and her husband are "very upset that we can't see (Makell and Kaytee)," she told The News-Journal. "We've tried, but (Ware) won't let us."
Michael Graves was prohibited by law from contacting Makell until she turned 18. Makell said her dad doesn't have her number, but if he called she'd have some choice words for him.
Makell didn't want to celebrate her 18th birthday. "I didn't get to be a kid," she told Ware. "I'm not an adult. I want to be a kid."
In recent months, she has finally started sleeping in a bedroom rather than in the living room with Ware.
And another significant thing has changed: Since Szolosi's sentencing — and the toll it took on her mental and physical well-being — she's decided not to pursue prosecution of any perpetrators she remembers in the future.
"Even when there's no more court hearings or interviews like this, we're not going to be a completely normal family," Makell said. "But we're all just really ready to just be done with this."
11 Call for Action Investigation: Law enforcement frustrated by child abuse laws
EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) -- Children are being locked up in their own home or found in filthy living conditions. A shocking 11 Call for Action investigation has revealed Colorado parents can't even face jail-time for it. Local law enforcement officers are telling 11 News the law needs to change.
11 News obtained a picture of a little boy sitting curled in the corner of his room. We blurred out his face to protect his identity. Officers said they found him locked in his own bedroom with no furniture and the windows were boarded-up. Fountain Police Sgt. Mark Cristiani remembers the case vividly.
"Through interviews of the parents, neighbors and other people that knew this family, it was determined that the kids never were allowed out of that room, only to eat once or twice a day," Sgt. Cristiani told 11 Call for Action investigative reporter Katie Pelton.
His parents never spent a day in jail. "Our hands were tied," said Sgt. Crisitiani. He wished he could have done more, but the law doesn't allow it. According to the police report obtained by 11 News, the parents were charged with only misdemeanor child abuse.
"The Colorado statutes at the time, currently, do not allow us to charge anything but a misdemeanor crime because the children didn't show outward signs of necessarily physical abuse or bruises or broken bones or missing teeth, things like that," said Sgt. Cristiani. "So we're left in Colorado with misdemeanor crimes to be able to charge parents who abuse their children like this."
Other detectives recall similar cases. In 2013, a former Colorado Springs city councilman pleaded guilty to child abuse for leaving his son, who has autism, in deplorable living conditions.
"The Charles Wingate case was one that was brought up by the Colorado Springs Police Department as being one that really shook their conscience. That was one where a child was being left in a basement. It was almost for a year, not really having accessibility to the outside. That child really suffered severely from that," said Janet Huffor, the Chief of Staff at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
Court papers obtained by 11 Call for Action, show Charles Wingate was arrested for allowing a child to dwell in extremely unsanitary conditions. He and his wife got probation. Again, officers could only charge them with misdemeanors. "The child didn't have any broken bones. The child didn't have any serious bodily injury that they're looking for to where you would be able to charge a felony," said Huffor. "So all they were able to charge at that time was a misdemeanor."
Detectives compared cases and realized there is a glaring problem in our community. Many of them had similar stories, like another case out of Falcon. "This particular juvenile was being confined in their room sometimes days at a time and their only recourse to get out of the room was a button, which was fashioned on the inside of a door that was locked from the exterior," said EPSO Detective Jason Darbyshire.
"You hear these very upsetting, disturbing cases where you think that person has to be in prison right now for doing something that egregious and the thing you hear from police officers and deputies and detectives is, 'Well they were served a summons,'" said EPSO Detective Patrick Gallagher. "That summons is the same thing you get for driving with a stolen license plate."
"There's got to be a better way," said Huffor. After hearing all of these cases, she couldn't just stand by. "It's a deep, sick in your stomach kind of feeling that you get and that was exactly what happened when I heard about the couple of cases that we've had here recently," she said.
Now she's fighting for kids and fighting to change the law. Huffor reached out to State Senator Bob Gardner who will be introducing a bill during the next legislative session. "It is going to be changing two pieces in our state statutes," Huffor explained. The bill would change both the child abuse statute and the false imprisonment statute.
"The first one underneath the Child Abuse statute will allow a greater leniency for both medical personnel - for the forensic pediatricians that are dealing with these cases where a child is brought in maybe that has severe bruising but does not reach that standard of serious bodily injury - that they would still be able to make those kind of statements in their report, allowing law enforcement to be able to charge an F-5 felony in that child abuse case."
The second piece also allows a felony charge. "We are making a specific category under the False Imprisonment statute to address those under the age of 18 that are being tied, or locked, or caged, for any long extended period of time," Huffor explained. "The current statute states that for adults it's any period over 12 hours qualifies for that F-5 felony underneath the false imprisonment statute."
At this point, the bill doesn't specify a certain number of hours a child can be locked up. It will likely be decided by state lawmakers.
Huffor is no stranger to the Colorado State Capitol. She has already worked to have five state laws passed. This one hits home. "I am a mother and hearing these types of cases, it affects you," Huffor told Pelton. "If there's nothing else that I have accomplished, this is the one thing that I've got to get accomplished, is this bill."
Opponents are expected to argue parents should be allowed to punish their children as they see fit, or lock them up for their own safety. The detectives told us this bill is meant to go after the extreme cases.
"They're being imprisoned in their own room in a way that the state says we can't do to people who are serving life sentences for murder," said Det. Gallagher. "We have to be able to empower a community and these children to get help."
"Nobody wants to break up a family, but children can't be treated like this," said Sgt. Cristiani.
"I don't have to keep telling that kid, 'There's nothing that can be done for you,'" said Det. Darbyshire. "There is something that can be done and I'm the one that can do it."
In a few weeks, Huffor and the other detectives will drive to Denver to fight for the bill. Reporter Katie Pelton will be there and we will let you know what happens.
What happened to the little boy in the heartbreaking image? He and his siblings were returned to the home with their parents.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office tells us that the meeting between law enforcement agencies that led to this new bill, is part of a new effort to make sure local departments communicate with each other about issues they may all be seeing in their own areas.
Police Identify Massive Child Abuse Problem in The UK
by Jack Crowe
Britain's top cop in charge of child protection estimates there are as many as 20,000 British men interested in abusing children, a massive group that law enforcement officials say they are unprepared to address.
Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead man on child protection, told the Guardian his investigations into online pedophilia chatrooms, one of which was attended by over 4,000 British men, led him to conclude that there are roughly 20,000 Britons sexually interested in children. He says this number has grown as technological advancements provide greater opportunities for access to children, leaving the authorities lacking the resources to combat the growing problem.
“We are having to prioritise the threat,” he said . “Some lower-level offenders cannot be arrested and taken to court. There is just not the capacity.”
Bailey's estimates are supported by a recent analysis , performed by a child protection charity group, which found a 31 percent increase in the number of reported cases of abuse in the last year. The authorities attribute much of the jump to a greater willingness to report abuse and increased awareness around the issue.
While Bailey recognizes the increased awareness, he cites the availability of live chatrooms like Periscope, which is owned by Twitter, and Facebook Live as primary factors in the increased threat.
“I think there is more sexual abuse of children being perpetrated both physically and virtually,” he said. “There are more men than five to 10 years ago who are trying to abuse children.”
“I believe there are tens of thousands of men that are now going into chatrooms and forums with a view to grooming children,” he added. “Technology has afforded an access to children that people who have a sexual interest in children never had before.”
Bailey insists that authorities cannot “arrest their way” out of the problem and called on tech companies to police their platforms to prevent child exploitation.
“Software providers have a critical role in policing the environment they create,” he said. “They have a social and moral responsibility to make their platforms safe for children to use.”
Child sexual abuse: a national epidemic that nobody talks about
Too many disturbing reports recently have taken the lid off the scandal of children subjected to sexual violence. The infants, some as young as 4 years, don't realise what they have gone through
by Jaydip Sarkar
Sunil (name changed), an unmarried young servant in the house of a wealthy businessman entices young girls between the ages of 4 and 12 into the empty house when his master is away, with candy or knick-knacks. Once he has lulled them into a sense of false safety he takes their dupattas and strangles them until they pass out. He then tries to have sex with them but fails. Frustrated, he tries to masturbate on the supine and still body but fails again. As his lust turns to anger, he picks kills the child and carries her body upstairs into a toilet. He runs down, gets knives and proceeds to chop up the body, putting them into empty plastic bags and dumps them into large open drains around his house. He then remains in a state of heightened sexual arousal, masturbating repeatedly until his lust calms down, whereupon he contemplates the next catch. Bharat (not his real name), a high-flying non-resident Indian banker flies to UK and over 100 miles from London to Birmingham and checks into a hotel room to meet a 14-year-old girl.
He ‘groomed' this girl through Whatsapp chats and convinced her to have sex with him at a hotel room, even warning her that having sex for the first time would be painful. When trapped by a cybercrime group that traps child sexual abusers, the man who is married and a father initially denies any sexual motive, claims that he thought the girl was 18 and even blames her for asking him to come to the hotel room. But when confronted with explicit text messages that he sent her, breaks down and pleads that he should be let off as he is an Indian national.
Bill and John (names changed), two British charity workers, set up a shelter for homeless boys in Mumbai. The pair were charged with sexual assault after five boys complained to the police about sadistic sexual and physical abuse that involved violent beatings and degrading sexual acts. Mumbai High Court acquitted them for lack of evidence but India's Supreme Court overturned that decision and upheld guilty verdicts. The case raised questions about India's lax laws and highlighted the need for special legislation for child sexual offences in the country.
These are just three of thousands of cases of child sexual abuse that are registered with Indian police on a daily basis. According to a 2007 study conducted by India's Ministry of Women and Child Development, 53% of all children surveyed said they had been subjected to some form of sexual abuse: 1 in 2 Indian children has been sexually abused. Thus, while the society's recent outrage against child abuse is welcome, the truth is that the educated Indian is slowly waking up to a reality that the economically poorer sections of the society have experienced for a very long time.
All molesters are not paedophiles
The child molester is called a paedophile by the Indian society by and large. That is a gross mistake.
Paedophilia is a Greek word which means ‘child lover'. This in itself is a misnomer since these offenders do things to children that demonstrate anything but love. Paedophilic disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis which is given to a person who gets recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, urges or engages in behaviours involving sexual activity with children generally aged 13 years or younger. The person either acts on his desires or these urges and fantasies cause him marked distress or relationship problems. The diagnosis is generally not made for those below 16 years of age and when the perpetrator is a juvenile he must be at least 5 years older than the victim. Evidently the diagnosis is based upon a very narrow, specific and restrictive description and most child molesters do not fit the bill, as the case studies above show. In my long experience of working with sex offenders, the majority of child molesters come into contact with the police and forensic psychiatrists only after they have committed an offence, hardly ever before. We should therefore stop calling such offenders paedophiles and simply refer to them as child molesters.
Giving a medical diagnosis simply medicalises a crime and is misused by lawyers to get a lenient sentence for their clients, rather than prison sentences. Only the most innocuous of offences should be dealt with in the community.
How is a child molester ‘created'?
There is no one ‘cause' for child molestation or paedophilia. It would be nice if were so, then one could work on changing or switching off that cause. I have said already that molesters are not paedophiles. Studies show that the vast majority do not suffer from any other mental disorder although up to 5% of molesters may have a psychotic illness. There is a link between antisocial personality and child molestation as such men are more likely to act out. A very small minority suffer from intellectual and learning disabilities and touch children as they do not have the social and communication skills to engage in age-appropriate sexual activities with others of their age. So, what leads to child molestation? There are many factors which contribute in ‘creating' a child molester. Clinicians and researchers call them ‘risk factors' based upon theoretical research. One of the biggest risk factors for becoming a child molester is a history of being abused himself as a child. Up to 2/3 of child molesters were sexually victimized themselves according to studies. This is ‘Cycle of Abuse' hypothesis. However, not all abused children grow up to be molester themselves, disproving the hypothesis. But those who do molest get sexually aroused by children, without which abuse will not occur – the sexual preference hypothesis. In fact, incest abusers have lower sexual arousal to their victims than do non-familial abusers. What is surprising is that up to 20% of ‘normal' men, those who have never molested anyone, show sexual arousal to children's images when total confidentiality is provided to them in research. This suggests that 1 in 5 men can be a potential molester, except that the vast majority of them are able to control their urges. It's those that don't, who become molesters and only some of them are arrested. Child molestation is a hidden problem since children don't report it often, and the abusers don't come forward or do it openly either. Other major factors associated with molesters are coming from families that have poor attachment and do not show care and affection to their children. Such children suffer abuse and emotional neglect themselves and grow up lonely and unable to show affection or love to others.
They are vulnerable and are targeted by child abusers themselves. Even though its abuse, many of them find some meaning and love through these deviant connections. Such disordered attachment bonds serve as unfortunate templates for future relationships. Accordingly, the young male will develop distrust of age-appropriate romantic relationships and this will encourage him to seek out children who are non-threatening and can be readily controlled. This person grows up to become abusive to those who he can readily dominate and will have little empathy for. As most social skills are gained, particularly in relation with intimate relationships, are acquired through affectional and effective relations with parents, when such relationships are poor, the child (the future molester) will become mistrustful of adults, lack self-confidence and struggle to form adult relationships. Such a man may turn to children not only to serve his sexual needs but also for intimacy and a desire to dominate and thus feel loved, wanted and powerful; things he did not experience as a child.
Their strategies to lure the young
The typical child sex offender is everywhere and can be anyone. Such men, and invariably they are men, can be bankers, teachers, judges, doctors: white collar professionals and not the seemingly obvious criminals who look and act like criminals. They could be your neighbour, work colleague or indeed friend or relative. In fact, campaigners believe most of the abusers are not strangers but people well known to the victims - parents, siblings, relatives and schoolteachers. Such individuals use strategies that experts call “grooming”. It is the psychological process of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child (and sometimes the family when it's a stranger) to disarm a child's natural inhibition and fear of strangers. Most child sex offenders offer young children those things that kids generally yearn for from adults: attention, fun laughter and gifts of the things they love.
In fact, such men often find a convenient vocation to be close to children: volunteer teacher, sports coach in school, school bus driver, child-minder. After ‘grooming' the child to trust the abuser, he would engage in a game of ‘secrets' to ensure the child does not reveal to others what is going on. After touching a child sexually, an abuser may tell him/her ‘This is our secret, don't tell anyone. If you do, no one will believe you or you will get into a lot of trouble'. After touching her he may say ‘Did you enjoy that? Anything enjoyable can't be bad, can it?' They will often identify broken families where the child is lonely or a vulnerable child being bullied at school, or indeed a very small child unable to protect or protest. He may tell the child that s/he is special and worthy of ‘special attention' by the uncle who says ‘I care for you. I'll always be here for you' when her parents don't. They will allow the child to control the relationship to an extent, giving her sexual power over him, and buying her gifts in order to get sexual favours. This is the ultimate tonic for the child: control over an adult. If the child objects or obstructs the advances, the abuser can turn nasty and threaten to tell everyone, or threaten to harm her family by displaying a knife or a weapon. They may even say that ‘this is the last time, it won't happen again' as a way to gain compliance. Of course it is not. The final strategies, for those not so psychologically sophisticated or feeling that their secret could be outed, might be to overpower the child physically, by coercion, violence or to trap the child in a situation of no return, like Sunil used to do in the example above.
Effects on the victim
Children are often too young to know what sexual abuse is or too ashamed to tell anyone else. The effects of child sexual abuse can however be devastating. They display many psychological symptoms, feel powerless, ashamed, and distrustful of others. They often experience other sexual assaults in the future. In the short-term (up to two years), victims may exhibit regressive behaviours (e.g., thumb-sucking and bed-wetting in younger children), sleep disturbances, eating problems, behaviour and/or performance problems at school, and unwillingness to participate in school or social activities.
The latter is often seen in children where abuse has taken place on way to or in school. Longer-term effects include anxiety and depression, self-destructive behaviours such as alcoholism or drug abuse, shyness and insomnia. Victims may show fear and anxiety in response to people who appear like the abuser, a feature due to post-traumatic stress disorder Survivors may feel anger at the abuser, at adults who failed to protect them, and at themselves for not having been able to stop the abuse and many experience difficulties in adult relationships and adult sexual functioning. Abusers may cause victims to feel stigmatized (i.e., ashamed, bad, deviant) and responsible for the molestation. Victims may feel betrayed and distrustful of others if someone they depended on, usually a family member, has caused them great harm or failed to protect them. Studies have consistently revealed that nearly 60% of women who were abused by a family member also reported a rape or attempted rape after the age of 14. Children who experienced rape or attempted rape in their adolescent years were 14 times more likely to experience rape or attempted rape in their first year of college
How to protect your child
Sexual awareness in children and indeed their parents in India are very poor. Parents let their small children go and play with strangers, allow family members to kiss and cuddle them, often inappropriately, and allow even unknown strangers to place the child in their laps. A number of such adults may well experience sexual arousal and have an erection when they do so. Don't put your child's photo on Facebook and certainly don't put one that is without his/her clothes or showing the genital regions. Do object when those known to you put up such images. Listed below are a few principles of child safe-guarding that should be exercised by all, but particularly by parents and adults in caretaking roles with children. Parents must be aware of what others can do, however close the relationship might be. No relationship is taboo, and I have seen many fathers abuse their daughters in the worst possible way. Become aware of those adults in your family and amongst friends and visitors that women find a little lecherous and inappropriate. Identify those adults who appear to prefer the company of the child rather than the adults when he is with your family. Those men who have a alcohol and drug disorder and indeed those with severe learning disability and mental illness should be observed too when they are with your child. It does not harm to be vigilant, and you do not have to tell anyone what you are doing, but your vigilance can save your child from untold miseries in their life, even if it makes you a little paranoid along the way. Make your child learn and name body parts. No age is too young to begin. Don't just stop at ears, eyes, head, arms and nose. Go on to tell them about legs, thighs, mouth and genital areas. You may choose an euphemism – a funny name usually - for the genital areas for your boy or girl. While doctors suggest using proper words – penis and vagina – so as not to associate such words with shame and embarrassment, parents generally use in western countries the word ‘pee pee' or ‘privates' is used for penis and for girls its ‘twinkie' or ‘minnie'. I know of Indian parents who use the word ‘tutu' for penis and ‘nunu' for vagina when they are teaching their kids about body parts. The children should next be made aware of what is ‘good' and what is ‘bad' touching. ‘Bad' touching is when an adult touches the child in the private areas and mouth or when an adult puts his hand underneath the child's clothes. Teach your children to say ‘No' and tell you when an adult engages in inappropriate behaviours. Teach him/her also to disclose secrets to you, and that will only happen if the child loves and trusts you. Abusive adults make children think that what's going on is ‘our private secret'. Children need to learn that keeping secrets from trusted adults is not a good idea. They should feel that they can tell the trusted adults ANYTHING without getting into trouble. Another specific distinction the child needs to learn is the difference between secret gift and the surprise gift. A surprise gift is something that you may give your child for her birthday, without her prior knowledge and you do so in the presence of others. The surprise gift is a secret for a very short time and it ends with laughter. Secret gifts are those that an adult gives a child and tells her not to tell anyone else. That gift is a bribe to ensure the child does things with that adult behind closed doors or away from the gaze of others. The secret gift can never be enjoyed because it has to be consumed when nobody is watching. So the secret gift feels like trouble and ends in tears.
Parents can support children to develop the skills and confidence to identify abusive and controlling relationships and to speak out by using the mnemonic PANTS.
P – Privates are private: no one should touch you there
A – Always remember your body belongs to you and
N – No means no
T – Talk about secrets that upset you
S – Speak up, someone can help.
What can society and the government do
Children must be kept safe everywhere, not just at home. Place-based approach ensures keeping children safe in every place that they go to. So a school, a playground, a sports club, or an event; all must have policies and procedures that explicitly and specifically addresses child safe-guarding. Government should ensure that all such places are given licenses to work with children only if they have such policies in place. Parents must ensure they only allow suitable people to work with children. At home this could mean ensuring the babysitter has trusted references. At school this may mean that they ask to see safeguarding rules and insist that schools and other organisations follow safer recruitment practices and ensure that everyone working or volunteering with children has regular child protection training so they know the signs of sexual abuse. In the final reckoning, the only secret worth discovering is how our happy children pack innocence and wisdom together. In the meantime, let us safeguard our children from the common tricks played by paedophiles.
(The author is Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Specialist in managing sex offenders)
'Sextortion' legislation proposed; New Baltimore sexual assault survivor unimpressed
by Richard Moody
ALBANY — A sexual assault survivor from Greene County called Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed new penalties for predators who use the internet to settle scores and gain revenge “sexually feel-good legislation.”
Gary Greenberg of New Baltimore survived a sexual assault when he was 7 years old and said the proposal does not go far enough to end abuses — especially against children.
Cuomo announced new proposals as part of his 2018 State of the State address, which have been released piecemeal this month, that would create new penalties for predators who digitally extort sexual favors from people or upload personal sexual photographs or videos to the internet to hurt someone, also known as revenge porn.
“The dangerous proliferation of sextortion and revenge crimes disproportionately targets young women and girls and causes harm and embarrassment that can follow victims their entire lives,” Cuomo said. “This new legislation outlaws this horrific, exploitative practice once and for all in New York and will help provide New Yorkers with peace of mind both on and offline.”
The proposal outlines four new offenses related to what the governor called sextortion and revenge porn:
• Unlawful Publication of Sexual Images: A person spreads images of intimate sexual nature or compels someone to engage in conduct by threatening to spread images of intimate sexual nature with intent to cause harm to mental or emotional health. This will be a class A misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year in jail or three years' probation.
• Sexual Extortion in the 3rd Degree: A person compels or induces another person to expose his or her genitalia or engage in sexual conduct by instilling a fear that if the demand is not complied with, he or she will intended to harm the person, or another person, with respect to his or her health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships. This will be a class E felony and punishable by up to four years in prison.
• Sexual Extortion in the 2nd Degree: Same as above, but the victim is under 17 years old. This will be a class D felony and punishable by up to seven years in prison.
• Sexual Extortion in the 1st Degree: Same as above, but the victim is under 15 years old. This will be a class C felony and punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Someone convicted of any of these crimes would be required to register as a sex offender.
“The time is right for new laws that recognize these threats and strengthen protections for all New Yorkers,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg is not impressed with the governor's proposal, he said.
“Of course, I support this as sexual predators are master manipulators and now use social media to come in contact with their victims,” Greenberg said. “This proposal will, however, do nothing to stop the epidemic of child sexual assault from occurring.”
Greenberg is pushing the governor to include legislation he advocates for called the Child Victims Act, which would extend the statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children in the 2018 state budget.
The Child Victims Act has failed to pass in the state Senate multiple years in a row, always dying in the Rules Committee.
“New York state is last in reforming child sexual assault laws and Gov. Cuomo needs to make the Child Victims Act a major priority in his State of the State address and 2018 budget,” Greenberg said. “Good-feeling laws are not what is needed at this moment in history. We need decisive leadership to reform outdated laws to give justice to victims of heinous sexual abuse crimes.”
“Threats and acts of sexual manipulation in this online era have reached disturbing proportions,” Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-106, said Thursday. “As we have clearly seen in the #MeToo era, young women and girls, especially, are way too frequently the targets of revenge porn, ‘sextortion,' sexual harassment and assault in our society.”
Tara's Law is passed without funding
by Michelle McConnaha
Last January, Rep. Ed Greef, R-Florence, introduced House Bill 298 to require the Office of Public Instruction to create a curriculum for school districts to provide elementary school children with education and information - including steps to take to report - when they are experiencing sexual abuse.
The idea for the bill came from Tara Walker Lyons of Hamilton, who was 12 when she was sexually abused by a relative. Years later, she was in treatment at the Montana Chemical Dependency Center for her alcohol abuse, when she realized how deeply that sexual abuse as a child affected her life.
When Greef sponsored the bill, it included $1.5 million in funding, but the tight budget forced him to remove that fiscal note to get the legislation passed. When the Montana legislature passed Tara's Law, it joined 45 other states requiring information about childhood sexual abuse be taught in schools.
In April, Governor Steve Bullock signed the law that would provide the groundwork for teachers to truly begin addressing childhood sexual abuse and provide them with the material to help young children understand the difference between right and wrong touching and tell a trusted adult when abuse occurs.
By November, Lyons and Greef realized the work isn't over - without a mandate or funding, no curriculum or training personnel are in place.
OPI does have a webpage with information on sex trafficking and sexual abuse, the new law, and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services' guidelines for identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect.
Dylan Klapmeier, OPI's communication's director, said the agency is developing a mandatory reporting class that teachers take as part of their required courses for certification renewal. But the law does not require OPI to develop a curriculum for teachers to use in their classes about childhood sexual abuse.
“There were many versions of the bill discussed and debated and many people who wanted curriculum, but that isn't what ended up passing,” Klapmeier said. “Curriculum is created at the local level currently.”
Klapmeier said that to develop curriculum, OPI would need the funding to hire a specialist.
Greef is optimistic that the next legislative session will have funding for the law. He believes teachers should request the materials they need.
“It needs to originate at the local level,” he said. “I haven't spoken to a teacher yet who isn't aware of the need and who wouldn't welcome having the additional resources. The interest from the teachers is very sincere. They desire it.”
Lyons continues to share her experience with teachers, counselors, prisoners, lawmakers, and anyone who will listen. Other young sexual abuse victims have become brave enough to add their testimonies to the presentation to get this educational piece in place.
Lyons will be in Helena when the Legislature reconvenes in 2019, but is busy looking for other partners as sources for curriculum development, such as Emma's House, which is a child advocacy center in Hamilton.
“I plan to go back and keep working,” she said. “Schools are beginning to reach out to me. I know that this isn't over. We just have to keep pushing forward.”
Mormon cult leaders indicted for forcing almost daily sex rituals with underage girls, said God would destroy their families if they refused
by Cristina Maza
A group of Mormon cult leaders is being charged with organizing sexual religious rituals with underage girls and threatening them with damnation if they did not participate, according to court documents filed in Salt Lake City , Utah, on Wednesday.
Defendants Warren Jeffs, Lyle Jeffs, Seth Jeffs and Wendell Leroy Nielsen are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), an offshoot of the Mormon Church that still practices polygamy over a hundred years after the mainstream Mormon Church abandoned it. The Southern Poverty Law Center has described the group as a white supremacist, antigovernment, totalitarian cult.
According to the court documents filed Wednesday, girls between the ages of eight and 14 were forced to participate in sex acts that were filmed by members of the church. The practice came to the attention of the authorities after one of the girls came forward.
The young girls allegedly had bags placed over their heads and were driven to an undisclosed location where the rituals took place. Once there, they were forced to respond only to a number they were given, and were forced to engage in explicit sexual acts with members of the church. The rituals took place between five and six times a week and were filmed for consumption by other church members.
The victims were allegedly told that God would destroy them and their families if they told anyone about the sex rituals. Warren Jeffs, the leader of the group, told the plaintiff in the case that God would punish her if she cried during the rituals and that any pain she felt meant that God was unhappy with her.
The plaintiff, whose abuse began when she was eight years old, said that once she turned 14, she was enlisted to act as a witness and a scribe for the rituals, documenting the abuse of other girls. At the age of 16, she was forced to attend “ladies classes” meant to prepare her to be a good wife. These sessions also included acts of sexual abuse.
The court document alleges that sexual abuse with underage women has been a fundamental part of the FLDS church for decades, even before FLDS emerged from a religious organization known as Priesthood Work.
“The Priesthood Work originated for the purpose of preserving and perpetuating the practice of sex with underage and multiple women,” the court document reads.
The defendants are being charged with conspiracy to committee battery and sexual abuse of a child, and infliction of emotional distress, among other charges.
Warren Jeffs is already in prison on separate charges of being an accomplice to rape. Since his conviction in 2007, many of the cult's members moved to enclosed compounds in Colorado and Texas.
Previously, FLDS members lived in small enclaves along the border with Utah and Arizona. In 2008, the state of Texas took 400 children from an FLDS compound into custody after a 16-year-old girl reported that children were being abused and girls as young as 14 were being forced to marry men much older.
ACEs-how to build resilience
by Kathy O'Connor-Wray
Experiences (ACEs) have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue. Adverse childhood experiences are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have substance use disorders. ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person's lifespan, including those associated with substance misuse. ACEs include:
Intimate partner violence
Mother treated violently
Substance misuse within household
Household mental illness
Parental separation or divorce
Incarcerated household member
ACEs are a good example of the types of complex issues that community prevention workforce often faces. The negative effects of ACEs are felt throughout the nation and can affect people of all backgrounds. Successfully addressing their impact requires:
1. Assessing prevention needs and gathering data
2. Effective and sustainable prevention approaches
3. Prevention efforts aligned with the widespread occurrence of ACEs
4. Building relationships with appropriate community partners through strong collaboration
Many studies have examined the relationship between ACEs and a variety of known risk factors for disease, disability, and early mortality. The Division of Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, conducted a landmark ACE study from 1995 to 1997 with more than 17,000 participants. The study found the following:
ACEs are common - 28% of study participants reported physical abuse and 21% reported sexual abuse. Many also reported experiencing a divorce or parental separation, or having a parent with a mental and/or substance use disorder.
ACEs cluster - 40% reported two or more ACEs and 12.5% experienced four or more. Because ACEs cluster, many subsequent studies now look at the cumulative effects of ACEs rather than the individual effects of each.
ACEs have a dose-response relationship with many health problems - as researchers followed participants over time, they discovered that a person's cumulative ACEs score has a strong, graded relationship to numerous health, social, and behavioral problems throughout their lifespan, including substance use disorders. Furthermore, many problems related to ACEs tend to be comorbid or co-occurring.
ACEs and Prevention Efforts
Research has demonstrated a strong relationship between ACEs, substance use disorders, and behavioral problems. When children are exposed to chronic stressful events, their neurodevelopment can be disrupted. As a result, the child's cognitive functioning or ability to cope with negative or disruptive emotions may be impaired. Over time, and often during adolescence, the child may adopt negative coping mechanisms, such as substance use or self-harm. Eventually, these unhealthy coping mechanisms can contribute to disease, disability, and social problems, as well as premature mortality.
ACES and Substance Use
· Early initiation of alcohol use. Efforts to prevent underage drinking may not be effective unless ACEs are addressed as a contributing factor. Underage drinking prevention programs may not work as intended unless they help youth recognize and cope with stressors of abuse, household dysfunction, and other adverse experiences.
· Higher risk of mental and substance use disorders as an older adult (50+ years). ACEs such as childhood abuse (physical, sexual, psychological) and parental substance abuse are associated with a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder.
· Continued tobacco use during adulthood. Prevalence ratios for current and ever smoking increased as ACEs scores increased
· Prescription drug use. For every additional ACE score, the rate of number of prescription drugs used increased by 62.
· Lifetime illicit drug use, drug dependency, and self-reported addiction. Each ACE increased the likelihood of early initiation to illicit drug use by 2 to 4-fold.
· Suicide attempts. ACEs in any category increased the risk of attempted suicide by 2 to 5-fold throughout a person's lifespan. Individuals who reported 6 or more ACEs had 24.36 times increased odds of attempting suicide.
· Lifetime depressive episodes. Exposure to ACEs may increase the risk of experiencing depressive disorders well into adulthood—sometimes decades after ACEs occur.
· Sleep disturbances in adults. People with a history of ACEs have a higher likelihood of experiencing self-reported sleep disorders.
· High-risk sexual behaviors. Women with ACEs have reported risky sexual behaviors, including early intercourse, having had 30 or more sexual partners, and perceiving themselves to be at risk for HIV/AIDS. Sexual minorities who experience ACEs also demonstrate earlier sexual debut.
· Fetal mortality. Fetal deaths attributed to adolescent pregnancy may result from underlying ACEs rather than adolescent pregnancy.
· Pregnancy outcomes. Each additional ACE a mother experienced during early childhood is associated with decreased birth weight and gestational age of her infant at birth.
What's Your ACE Score?
There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who's an alcoholic, a mother who's a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one point. So, a person who's been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three points. There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma. The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.
Two thirds of the 17,000 people in the ACE Study had an ACE score of at least one — 87 percent of those had more than one. Eighteen states have done their own ACE surveys; their results are similar to the CDC's ACE Study.
What's Your Resilience Score?
This questionnaire was developed by the early childhood service providers. There are 14 questions to assess support systems and resilience. The resilience questions are only meant to prompt reflection and conversation on experiences that may help protect most people (about three out of four) with four or more ACEs from developing negative outcomes. A secure early childhood is helpful, but not necessary. A higher number of positive experiences is not necessarily more protective. Use this link to identify your own ACES and resilience score - http://www.irenegreene.com/wp-content/uploads/ACEScoreResilienceQ2.pdf
How do people deal with difficult events that change their lives? For many people, using their own resources and the kinds of help listed above may be sufficient for building resilience. At times, however, an individual might get stuck or have difficulty making progress on the road to resilience.
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors.
Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn't experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.
A combination of factors contributes to resilience. Many studies show that the primary factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. Relationships that create love and trust, provide role models and offer encouragement and reassurance help bolster a person's resilience. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.
A licensed mental health professional can assist people in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward. It is important to get professional help if you feel like you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living as a result of a traumatic or other stressful life experience. Primary Care Clinic of Jackson has mental health services on-site, call us today at 731-265-6197 if you need assistance.
Sheriff's Office: Rise in reported child neglect cases 'good thing' Reflects fact that more crimes are actually getting reported
by Ashley Mitchem
BAKER COUNTY, FL - A rise in reported child neglect cases in Baker County, double what was reported a year ago, is actually a good thing, according to the Baker County Sheriff's Office.
In 2017, the Sheriff's Office said it worked 12 reported child neglect cases. In 2016, there were five. Sheriff's Office Maj. Randy Crews said the rise in child neglect cases is a good thing because it reflects the fact that more people are actually reporting the crimes.
“What I will tell you, is child neglect cases, or anything to do with child abuse, the numbers that get reported are not the actual numbers that are happening,” Crews said. “It's actually good when you get more reported because that means individuals are coming forward reporting child abuse. It's generally kept quiet – hidden -- but it happens on a lot larger scale than what's actually being reported.”
A recent child neglect case that rocked the Baker County area was the death of Lonzie Barton. The 2-year-old's remains were found in woods off Interstate 295 in Jacksonville's Bayard area following a six-month search.
Crews said he hopes people will continue to come forward if they think a child is being neglected or abused.
“The last thing we want to do is have children being abused and people sitting on that information and being quiet and not reporting it,” Crews said. “That's what we need to do, be vigilant and when it's reported, take it seriously and investigate it.”
Crews said one clue, besides the obvious bruising and unexplained injuries, would be change in behavior.
Besides child neglect, there was a slight uptick in murder cases from one in 2016 to two in 2017. In June, a man was shot to death in Margaretta. The other was a murder-suicide in August. A man killed his wife and then himself, according to authorities.
The 2016 murder involved a mother and her boyfriend who were charged with killing her son.
That's compared to neighboring Duval County, where 119 murder cases were reported, according to News4Jax's count. Crews attributes the big difference to population but also the gang activity in Duval County.
“We do like to pride ourselves on being a small, tight-knit community (where) everybody knows everybody,” Crews said.
Crews said they're also doing a better job at solving crimes.
In 2016, The Baker County Sheriff's Office solved 40.7 percent of its cases. In 2017, they've solved 43.6 percent.
Crews said drugs and property crimes are the county's biggest issues, so that's what they will continue to focus on in 2018.
Lawmaker to Propose Jail Time for Leaving Kids Alone in Cars
A state lawmaker says he'll again propose legislation to make leaving children alone in a car a crime punishable by jail time
by the Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A state lawmaker says he'll again propose legislation to make leaving children alone in a car a crime punishable by jail time.
Democratic Sen. Leonidas Raptakis, of Coventry, Rhode Island , says he plans to reintroduce a bill barring anyone from leaving a child under age 7 unattended in a motor vehicle for more than 15 minutes. He says his bill would make it a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.
Raptakis has introduced similar legislation in the past but it stalled due to opposition by parents.
Raptakis says child neglect and child endangerment are serious crimes, but there's no law specifically barring people from leaving children alone in a car.
The General Assembly session is set to begin Tuesday.