Today's NAASCA news:
March 30, 2017
Outraged mom says TSA treated family "like dogs" during son's pat-down
by CBS News
(Video on site)
A mother is outraged with the Transportation Security Administration after she said officers treated her family “like dogs” at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Jennifer Williamson posted a video to Facebook on Sunday that shows a TSA agent thoroughly patting down her 13-year-old son for about two minutes. She said her family spent about an hour at the checkpoint and missed their flight.
The TSA said the procedures performed by the officer in the video met new pat-down standards that went into effect earlier this month, reports CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca. Instead of several variations, there is now just one full-body pat-down.
“We were treated with utter disrespect as if we were criminals,” Williamson said in an interview you'll see only on “CBS This Morning.”
She turned her anger into action, recording a TSA officer and posting it on Facebook.
“I believe he was patted down excessively. They went over his sensitive areas, a little more than necessary, especially given that he wasn't wearing bulky clothing or anything like that,” Williamson said.
Williamson said the whole thing started when agents found a laptop in his book bag as it went through the scanning machine. They then said her son would have to submit to a pat-down, even though he did not set off the body scanner. She requested they screen him in other ways because her son suffers from sensory processing disorder, which makes him sensitive to touch.
In the Facebook video, the agent explained the procedure and then patted down his backside, front and down his legs. His supervisor who was observing them then instructed the man to complete the final step. As per policy, the TSA officer used the back of his hands for pat-downs over sensitive areas of the body.
The TSA said the boy cooperated during the screening process and all approved procedures were followed. As for the wait time, in a statement, the agency said the passengers were at the checkpoint for “approximately 45 minutes, which included the time it took to discuss screening procedures with the mother and to screen three carry-on items that required further inspection.”
“His first question to me was, ‘I don't understand why they did this. I don't know what I did wrong,' and to me that was a sign of trauma for him to think that he had done anything wrong,” Williamson said.
New TSA procedures took effect on March 2. The administration consolidated different variations of the pat down into one uniform standardized procedure using enhanced security measures. The change is partly the result of an undercover audit in 2015 by the Inspector General's Office of Homeland Security that revealed major lapses in security.
Ariz. university officers' to wear patches to support sexual assault survivors
The patch is intended to increase awareness, support and encourage conversation with officers about sexual violence awareness, response, recovery and prevention
by the Associated Press
TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State University police officers will wear their support for sexual assault survivors on their uniforms' sleeves for the next month.
The ASU Police Department says its officers during April will wear special teal-colored "ASU Police" patches on their uniforms.
The special patch is the same as the regular patch except for the teal coloring that includes the addition of teal ribbons on each side of the state seal.
According to the department, the patch is intended to increase awareness, support and encourage conversation with officers about sexual violence awareness, response, recovery and prevention.
The department says it considers sexual assault a serious crime and takes all reports of sexual assault seriously.
Just One Teacher
by J.C. Bowman
Eighty-thousand Tennessee teachers can do everything right at their school and in their classes, and one teacher can do something horrendous and give the other 79,999 a bad name. It takes just one teacher to cause irreparable damage.
After all the facts are gathered in the ongoing Maury County case involving a 50 year-old male teacher and a 15 year-old female student, we will see legislative changes that will be directed at helping curb future inappropriate student-teacher activity. This one teacher has created problems for the family of the student, his own family, his community, his school, and his peers.
Unfortunately, we know that sexual abuse and exploitation of children is a growing problem in our society. We should not be shocked when sex offenders seek employment in jobs where they have contact with children such as churches, schools, youth groups, hospitals, and social services. We have to do a better job of screening applicants in those fields. Jennifer Fraser, an abuse survivor herself wrote: “If adults can't recognize abusers, children are even less likely to realize that what's happening is abuse and that it is doing damage of a kind they can't see.”
We must carefully make sure that we are protecting all of our minor children in public education. However, we have seen many false claims made against a teacher, and once an accusation is made it is nearly impossible to restore a teacher's reputation. It is a difficult balancing act. There will never be a perfect system.
ABC News reported that the “FBI and the Justice Department do not keep statistics on the frequency of sex-related assaults involving teachers and students.” However, the “most recent statistics from the Bureau of Justice on school violence show that students are more likely to be sexually assaulted outside school grounds.”
It is atypical for victims, especially children, to disclose sexual abuse at the time it is happening. They fear being blamed for their supposed consent to the abuse. In addition, they fear losing the “approval” of their abuser. They also do not want to disappoint their parents. Many victims wait years, if they report the abuse at all, to talk about what happened to them.
Dr. Kit Richert identified physical indicators of sexual abuse such as pain, itching, bleeding, swelling, or bruising in the genital or anal area; blood in the child's underwear; frequent bladder infections; STDs; pregnancy in pre-teen girls; and complaints about headaches and sickness. The behavioral indicators of sexual abuse are: sudden change in the child's normal behavior, starts acting differently; depression or suicidality; running away; regression to more childlike behavior; changes in relationships to adults, such as becoming more clingy or more avoidant; lower school engagement and lower achievement; exhibits sexually provocative behavior or becomes promiscuous; the child has or talks about friends that are unusually older; the child talks about having sex or being touched; and the child is extremely avoidant of undressing or physical contact at school.
The good news is that there are a number of resources available to empower stakeholders to prevent sexual misconduct and abuse in schools. One organization, Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation is the national voice for the prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment of students by teachers and other school staff. Their 5-point strategy includes:
Increasing public awareness of educator sexual abuse by breaking the silence in a strong and united voice.
Fostering recovery of survivors through mutual support and access to information.
Encouraging survivors of educator sexual abuse to report their offenders to local law enforcement officials and state education department credentialing offices.
Insisting upon implementation of and adherence to child-centered educator sexual abuse policies, regulations, and laws.
Directing attention to the maintenance of proper boundaries between school staff and students by promoting annual training, the adoption of professional standards, and codes of ethics.
It takes one teacher to give all teachers a bad name, especially if it involves an adult sexually abusing a child. We all are victims when one teacher betrays the trust bestowed upon them by a community to educate our children. There are many survivors in our midst. We simply have to do a better job of protecting our children.
Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville
The Family Place hosts 8th annual “Steppin' Up for Children”
by Jennifer Steele Christensen
Esterlee Molyneux, executive director of The Family Place, welcomed guests of the center's 8 th annual “Steppin' Up for Children” event with an expression of gratitude.
“Your attendance shows that you care about children,” she said, next quoting Nelson Mandela. “‘There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.'"
The Family Place has been providing educational, therapeutic and supportive services to individuals and families in Cache and Rich counties for 35 years, with a commitment to child abuse prevention. The agency hosts “Steppin' Up for Children” at the Cache County Courthouse each year as a kick-off for its National Child Abuse Prevention Month activities in April.
Keeping with tradition, the steps of the courthouse were filled to overflowing during the event with 451 pairs of children's shoes, each of them representing a local victim of child abuse during the past year. Miss Cache Valley, Codi Smith, collected the shoes from community donors and helped arrange the display.
“I think it kind of makes it more real that each shoe represents a child in the valley that has been abused in one way or another,” she said. “It's sad to know that this is going on in the valley.”
Each presenter during a 40-minute ceremony expressed similar feelings, acknowledging that no one is immune from the effects of child abuse, neglect and endangerment. Featured speakers included Brent Platt, with the Department of Human Services; Utah Children's Justice Center (CJC) Program Administrator Tracey Tabets; and Deondra Brown, cofounder of the Foundation for Survivors of Abuse.
Speaking of the importance of raising public awareness of child abuse, Platt said, “Here's a secret. Child abuse and neglect, it's happening within our homes. It's happening with relatives, it's happening with neighbors, it's happening with the people we go to church with. I guarantee that every one of us in this room have been affected by child abuse or neglect in some form or another.”
Both Platt and Tabet emphasized the difficulty DCFS, the CJCs and law enforcement often have in addressing the issue.
“Our office and our centers to some degree are really the ambulance at the bottom of the hill, Tabet said. “If a child enters our doors, it's likely because something has already happened.”
Citing the importance of collective action in addressing child abuse, Platt asked, “Where's the faith community? They need to be here. They're a piece to this puzzle. Where's schools? We have to have education involved. We can only do so much because we're already downstream a lot of the time. The fact is, they have to be around the table if we're going to make a difference. ”
Tabet centered her message on resilience. Having worked in the Utah Attorney General's Office for nearly 25 years, where she's witnessed the devastating effects of abuse, Tabet said every child deserves to have access to quality services, and every adult should be “well-versed in Child Abuse 101” and child abuse prevention.
“But we really want people to think beyond that,” she said, “because if we truly want to be empowered as parents and as a community, we need to be thinking bigger. We need to be thinking about protective factors and resilience, and resilience is really just the ability to bounce back.”
Explaining that trauma can result from any sort of violence, loss or emotionally difficult or harmful experience, Tabet said the key to resilience is connectedness—with a positive parent, a supportive school network, a faith community or a neighborhood activity.
“All of those parts are working together to build a safety net of relationships that is reinforced by policies and services that recognize that sometimes citizens may need just a little bit of extra help,” she said. “Your community is only as strong as those who live in it…and this is a community determined to create and maintain strong social ties, to commit resources and to build capacity to help residents weather whatever may fall into your path.”
Tabet described Brown, who was sexually abused by her father, as “the picture of resilience.” Brown and her sister, Desirae Brown, are currently involved in a collaboration between their foundation, DCFS, Utah's CJCs and the Utah Attorney General's Office. The partnership is called One with Courage Utah and addresses childhood sexual abuse. Brown encouraged the Steppin' Up audience to actively advocate for children who experience all types of abuse.
“I wish someone had noticed the shy little girl who was too afraid to speak,” she said. “I wish they had followed up on that feeling deep in their gut that something was wrong. Don't be that person doomed to wonder if you could have made a difference in a child's life. Be the hero that a child is wishing and praying for this very moment. ”
Brown was passionate in expressing her feelings that, while it may take a village to raise a child, “it takes that same village to keep a child safe.” She also said the pain, sorrow, fear and betrayal that come with abuse do not have to define individuals as people.
“We can stand up, face the demons head on, and move forward with hope and optimism for a better future,” she said. “Resilience is a very powerful thing. It means that despite what threatens to knock us down, we get up and push forward to a brighter day. With enough perseverance and determination, we will eventually be able to look back and see how far we've come, and I can promise you there's nothing more satisfying. ”
Steppin' Up for Children concluded with Belva Hansen, after whom The Family Place's Logan facility is named, sharing agency's signature “Starfish Story.” Dr. Diane Calloway-Graham, who has been a therapist at the agency since 1990, was deeply moved by the event.
“What a great opportunity and a privilege it is to be able to work side by side with children, families, adolescents and adults who have experienced difficulties in their lives and help them become more resilient,” she said. “The Family Place is committed to this community and is a great place for people to come and feel safe and to work through their trauma.”
With Calloway-Graham's remarks came a call to action.
“Be committed in your community to make a difference and be a hero, as was said today, to a child, to an adolescent, to anyone that you can help and support along the way.”
Child Abuse Statistics in Utah
The Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) has 1,100 employees statewide working from 36 offices.
A call to DCFS is made in Utah every 8 minutes.
Over the past year, there were 9,993 child abuse victims statewide (451 in Cache and Rich counties), with seven fatalities. Seventy-three percent of the perpetrators were parents or guardians.
On average, 27 cases of child abuse were substantiated per day, or the equivalent of an entire elementary school classroom.
Twenty-two Children's Justice Centers serve abused children in 28 of Utah's 29 counties. They are tasked with helping victims of abuse make disclosures to law enforcement in a safe and supportive environment.
Learning more about sex assault this month
by Christy Steadman
A woman is forced to have intercourse while on a date. She says no, but he says her provocative clothing suggested otherwise.
A child is inappropriately touched by a trusted adult while getting dressed before school in the morning.
A young man in his teens takes a jog at dusk. Moments later, he is attacked, disrobed and fondled.
All of a sudden, those individuals feel unsafe in their world. And more likely than not, none of them would report the offense.
The above scenarios are not unrealistic.Each is an example of a sexual assault. Often it's a hidden crime, leaving the victim silenced and traumatized while the perpetrator remains in the community, without ramifications for his or her actions.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office states that a sexual offense can be any form of non-consensual sexual activity. This includes rape, statutory rape and sexual touching and photographing. Crimes of moral turpitude, such as obscenity, pandering, pimping, prostitution and indecent exposure, can also be considered a sexual assault.
“Public awareness is the only way the community can address these issues,” said Allison Boyd, director of the 1st Judicial District's Victim Assistant Unit. “Only by victims coming forward can we make the community a safer place.”
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Nationally and across the globe, people are banding together to bring awareness to sexual assault, child abuse prevention and crime victims' rights. Cities will be making proclamations to address these issues and advocates are organizing call-for-action movements.
• • •
Ralston House, which has three locations and serves Gilpin, Adams, Jefferson and Broomfield counties, is a nonprofit agency that provides a safe place for child and teen survivors of abuse to tell their stories and begin the healing process. The organization expects to talk to 1,200 children and teens this year.
“We would love for less kids to show up at our door,” said Don Moseley, executive director of Ralston House. But unfortunately, “child abuse does happen in our communities.”
Moseley said many vicitms of childhood sexual assault do not report it until much later in life.
“These kids are up against offenders who have planned how to hurt them,” he said. “Kids often have no way of protecting themselves. It's important for us, as adults, to protect them.”
In general, Moseley said, the perpetrator will take six months to a year to figure out how to get the child not to tell. Most of the time, the child is led to believe that it is his or her fault. For example, Moseley said, an adult may tell the child that her nightgown was arousing.
These techniques make a child feel guilty, Moseley said.
A 2003 study by the National Institute of Justice found that 3 of 4 juvenile sex assaults are done by somebody that the child knows and trusts. Sometimes threats are involved, such as telling the child that if he or she says anything to someone, the adult perpetrator will kill himself.
“It's a very planned activity,” Moseley said. “Most of these kids sit silent.”
One way that Ralston House helps raise awareness is by being an advocate for the Jefferson, Gilpin, Adams and Broomfield county communities to plant pinwheel gardens in April.
Blue pinwheels are a symbol of child abuse prevention awareness across the nation. The gardens remind child abuse survivors that they are not alone, and that the community supports the child victims, Moseley said.
“Pinwheels are a way for the whole community to say, `We understand that child abuse happens and we are going to try to stop it,' ” Moseley said.
• • •
A common misconception is that sexual assault is only a woman's issue, said Katie Schmalzel, Colorado School of Mines' prevention programs manager and deputy Title IX coordinator.
But that is not true, she said. “It impacts an entire community.”
The Mines campus is active throughout April to bring awareness to sexual assault, Schmalzel said. Among its campus activities is a clothesline project and Wear Denim Day. The clothesline project gives everyone an opportunity to decorate a T-shirt to commemorate a sexual assault survivor. The shirts will hang in the student center for the entire month.
Wear Denim Day is an international movement that takes place the on the last Wednesday in April every year. It is based on a a decision by the Supreme Court of Appeals in Rome that overturned a rape conviction of a driving instructor against a young woman, saying she must have helped him remove her tight jeans, therefore giving consent to sex.
“The case made international headlines,” Schmalzel said, “and the young woman's jeans became a symbol of awareness that what someone wears is never an excuse for rape.”
There isn't a good answer on how to prevent sexual assaults, but Schmalzel suggests “bystander intervention” is one way to fight back.
Be aware that sexual assaults do occur and that anyone can be a victim, she said. Educate yourself, learn to identify what the red flags are and step in when it's safe for you to do so.
“Don't assume that it's not your problem because of the assumption that somebody probably already did something,” Schmalzel said. Often, she added, that's not the case.
• • •
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) reports that out of 193,112 total crimes reported by law enforcement agencies across the state, 3,275 of the crimes were rape. And of the 3,275 total rape reports, 141 of them were attempted offenses, meaning nearly 96 percent of the rapes were reported as completed rapes.
The above statistics are reporting only rape cases, and do not include other sexual offenses. And, it is important to remember that the frequency and actual number of sexual assaults are difficult to pinpoint because it is a crime that is often underreported, Boyd said.
This could be for a number of reasons, she said — victims might think nothing can or will be done about it, or they may think no one will believe them because generally there are no witnesses. Because sexual assault is a traumatizing experience, Boyd said, it is difficult to make decisions on what to do.
“Fear is a huge issue,” Boyd said.
Victims may be afraid that if they come forward, the perpetrator will retaliate.
“It's very important that victims feel supported,” Boyd said.
To show that support, the 1st Judicial District Attorney's Office hosts the annual Courage Walk during National Crime Victims' Rights Week, which takes place this year on April 2-8. The walk happens on April 8 and the entire community is invited to honor victims' courage.
“By raising awareness,” Boyd said, “we can help victims feel safe enough to come forward, break the silence and end the violence.”
How to get involved
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, National Child Abuse Awareness Month and National Crime Victims' Rights Week. Here are some suggestions on how to get involved locally.
Wear a teal ribbon in April. The teal ribbon is the symbol of sexual violence prevention.
Participate in Wear Denim Day. Wear Denim Day occurs on April 26 worldwide. Governmental agencies, businesses and other participating groups have their employees or members pay $5 to wear jeans to work instead of professional clothing. Some local organizations participate as a fundraiser for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Learn more about the coalition or Wear Denim Day at www.ccasa.org.
Local governments will be making proclamations. The dates are as follows: April 3, Arvada; April 11, Jefferson County Commissioners; April 13, Golden; April 24, Westminster.
National Child Abuse Awareness Month
Plant a pinwheel garden. Blue pinwheels are a symbol of child abuse prevention awareness across the nation. Pinwheels cost $5 each and can be obtained through the Ralston House, which is the benefitting nonprofit. There is no limit to how many pinwheels a person may purchase. People are asked not to drop in to the Ralston House locations to purchase pinwheels, so as not to disrupt any sensitive interviews with children that may be taking place. The Ralston House will arrange delivery of pinwheels. To purchase pinwheels, call the Ralston House at 720-898-6752 or learn more at www.ralstonhouse.net.
National Crime Victims' Rights Week
Attend the Courage Walk. National Crime Victims' Rights Week will be observed this year on April 2-8, and the 1st Judicial District Attorney's 24th annual Courage Walk takes place April 8 beginning at 11 a.m. at the Jefferson County Courthouse, 100 Jefferson County Parkway, in Golden.
Registration and a free continental breakfast will be offered at 10 a.m., and the half-mile walk from the courthouse to the Courage Garden, which is just south of the courthouse, begins at 11 a.m.
The event is family-friendly, the path is wheelchair-accessible and dogs are welcome as long as they are well-behaved and remain on a leash.
The walk is free, but a suggested $10 donation will be used to maintain the Courage Garden and benefit the Victim Assistance Unit. For more information, visit www.victimoutreach.org or call 303-271-5570.
Community Leaders Address Child Abuse Prevention
by Taylor Kinzler
In 2016, more than 2,000 cases of child abuse and neglect were confirmed in Maine.
Law enforcement and state agencies gathered in Augusta to discuss ways to combat this issue.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
An opportunity for community leaders and law enforcement to come together and ensure the safety of children in maine.
“If we don't take care of our children, where does that leave our future?”
“More than 50,000 phone calls are made annually to child abuse hotlines. But the key to preventing abuse is education and collaboration among law enforcement and protection agencies.”
“What we must realize is that it will take a community effort to keep our children and our family safe,” said DHHS Commissioner, Mary Mayhew.
“We have a network of child abuse prevention councils,” said Jan Clarkin, Executive Director, Maine Children's Trust. “There's one in virtually every county in the state of Maine.”
“You know we can't do it ourselves and they can't do it without us.”
Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason has investigated dozens of child abuse cases.
“Throughout my 30 year career, I've seen a lot of things.”
As an officer and a parent, responding to these calls can be difficult.
“But nothing that bothers me quite as much as going into a child's bedroom, where there's a dirty mattress on the floor with no sheets and there's no toys in sight. But I look in the corner and there's a stack of empty 12 packs.”
“When the reports do come in to the state, they do evaluate risk factors present as they substantiate cases,” said Clarkin.
Some of those risk factors include mental health, substance abuse and prior convictions.
Organizations like the Maine Children's Trust work to stop abuse before it happens, offering parent visitation, outreach and early childhood education programs.
Giving families the tools they need to provide a stable environment for their children.
“Ask what you can do reach out to your local child abuse neglect prevention council. See how to be involved. Raising strong communities is not just a parents job, it's a community's job.”
To report child abuse or neglect, contact the the Maine Child and Family Services line at 1-800-452-1999.
The hotline is open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
Child Abuse May Lead to Early Puberty
by Rick Nauert PhD
New research establishes that child abuse can influence physical development as well as psychological maturity.
Pennsylvania State University investigators discovered young girls who are exposed to sexual abuse are likely to physically mature and hit puberty earlier than non-abused peers.
While it has long been known that maltreatment can affect a child's psychological development, the new study shows that the stress of abuse can impact the physical growth and maturation of adolescents as well.
Drs. Jennie Noll, director of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, and Idan Shalev, assistant professor of biobehavioral health, found that young girls who are exposed to childhood sexual abuse are likely to physically mature and hit puberty at rates eight to twelve months earlier than their non-abused peers.
Their findings appear in the Journal of Adolescent Health .
“Though a year's difference may seem trivial in the grand scheme of a life, this accelerated maturation has been linked to concerning consequences, including behavioral and mental health problems and reproductive cancers,” said Noll.
The body is timed so that physical and developmental changes occur in tandem, assuring that as a child physically changes, they have adequate psychological growth to cope with mature contexts. “High-stress situations, such as childhood sexual abuse, can lead to increased stress hormones that jump-start puberty ahead of its standard biological timeline,” Noll explained.
“When physical maturation surpasses psychosocial growth in this way, the mismatch in timing is known as maladaptation.”
In the past, there have been studies loosely linking sexual abuse to maladaptation and accelerated maturation, but the longitudinal work completed by Noll and her team has been the most conclusive and in-depth to date, beginning in 1987 and following subjects throughout each stage of puberty.
Researchers used statistical methods to control for race, ethnicity, family makeup, obesity, socioeconomic status, and nonsexual traumatic experiences. They then compared the pubescent trajectories of 84 females with a sexual abuse history and 89 of their non-abused counterparts. Working closely with nurses and Child Protective Services, the subjects were tracked from pre-puberty to full maturity based on a system known as Tanner staging.
Tanner staging is a numeric index of ratings that corresponds with the physical progression of puberty. The study's researchers focused on breast and pubic hair development as two separate mile markers for pubescent change. Subjects were placed somewhere from one (prepubescent) to five (full maturity) on the Tanner index and their Tanner number and age were mapped out and recorded over time.
“We found that young women with sexual abuse histories were far more likely to transition into higher puberty stages an entire year before their non-abused counterparts when it came to pubic hair growth, and a full eight months earlier in regards to breast development,” Noll stated.
“Due to increased exposure to estrogens over a longer period of time, premature physical development such as this has been linked to breast and ovarian cancers. Additionally, early puberty is seen as a potential contributor to increased rates of depression, substance abuse, sexual risk taking, and teenage pregnancy.”
The researchers believe they were able to accurately rule out other variables that may have aided in accelerated puberty, pinpointing child sexual abuse and the stress hormones associated with it as a cause for early maturation in young girls.
Their findings add to the body of work highlighting the role of stress in puberty, and it is the hope that the research will lead to increased preventative care and psychosocial aid to young women facing the effects of early maturation.
Dr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.
Perry principal, teacher resign after accusations of hiding child abuse
by Dallas Franklin
PERRY, Okla. – A Perry school principal and a teacher have resigned after allegations they both failed to report child abuse or neglect.
The Perry Public School Board of Education met Monday night to vote on whether or not to accept the resignations of 5th grade math teacher Jeffrey Sullins and Upper Elementary School Principal Kendra Miller.
The board approved the resignation agreements, KFOR crews confirmed.
Miller and Sullins each face misdemeanor counts after failing to report accusations of sexual abuse against their students.
Police arrested 85-year-old teaching assistant Arnold Cowen earlier this year on accusations he inappropriately touched at least seven girls.
The assistant chief told NewsChannel 4 at least 20 children may have been victims, likely over the course of several years.
At least 10 students may have been victimized in 2017, according to court documents, when Perry Upper Elementary School Principal Miller dismissed past allegations and failed to notify police or the victim's parents.
Students as young as 10 complained Cowen fondled them and touched their breasts, according to arrest affidavits, sometimes during “lengthy hugs and inappropriate touches.”
According to court documents, Miller fielded multiple complaints from students but told them they had to be accidental.
“Principal Kenda Miller tells her that it's possible, that Cowen has long arms and, when he reaches around to hug her, his long arms touch her boobs,” one student told police, according to the affidavit. “Principal Kenda Miller tells her to refrain from hugging Cowen and to only ‘fist bump' him.”
As a result, students told police they were afraid to tell their parents about the interactions and often would cry in the bathroom.
During interviews with other teachers, police were told “Cowen was definitely the victim of false accusations and he was a model instructor and of great help to the school.”
Miller told police, according to court documents, police were not told of the complaints because they were “deemed to be false by her staff and herself. Stating, ‘we have had these allegations on Cowen before, but we determined they were fabricated by the students.'”
In interviews with police, Miller said Cowen's of “great moral character and was a very ‘nice guy.”
Police said, when Sullins was told of inappropriate touching, he told the student she was “making stuff up,” at one point taking her into the hallway and calling her a liar, documents show.
“[The student] was escorted to the office to see Principal Kenda Miller, but since she was not available, [the student] was sent back to class, where she continued to work with Cowen,” according to the affidavit. “Sullins did allude to the fact that a majority of the teachers were aware of the incident/accusations.”
Cowen faces more than 20 counts of lewd or indecent acts to a child as well as child pornography possession charges.
Miller was charged with one misdemeanor count for failing to report child abuse or neglect. Her court hearing is scheduled for April 27.
Sullins has been charged with two counts of failure to report child abuse or neglect. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Both Miller and Sullins had their teaching license revoked by the State Board of Education last month under emergency orders.
Here's How We Can Start Preventing Child Abuse
by Alana Walczak
Ding! I'm attuned to the sound of Facebook messenger. When my phone chimes, I am drawn to check it. “Who is messaging me now?” I wonder.
Since I began working at CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation), I have received many private messages from people in my life asking for help.
Sometimes, it's a friend who was abused as a child and is talking about it for the first time. Or, it's a colleague who is fostering a child who is dealing with poor attachment and challenging behaviors. Sometimes, it's a teacher who has just become aware of how many children in her classroom are witnessing violence at home.
Every time, it's someone new.
My experience is not unique to me. Everyone who works at CALM hears from friends about their childhood trauma. Everyone is asked for help from someone who never received it growing up.
The commonality of this experience has brought home to me just how prevalent “adverse childhood experiences,” or ACEs, are.
I've learned that only one in four children who experience early trauma — things like abuse, neglect, exposure to violence in the home, parental substance abuse or mental illness — receive help along the way. That means 75 percent of children who need support are invisible. They are often unknown to anyone.
While the scope of this problem can seem overwhelming, I am heartened to know that child abuse is an issue we can address. CALM is partnering with many local organizations to identify childhood trauma early and to prevent it even before it starts. I'm so proud of our groundbreaking efforts.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time when we engage our community to raise awareness about the importance of providing safe, stable and loving environments for growing children.
It is a time to reflect on the urgency of this issue, and the reality that we absolutely know how to prevent child abuse. I invite you to take a moment to learn how CALM and our many partners are working together to interrupt the cycle of violence.
From 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, CALM is hosting an open house at our Santa Barbara office at 1236 Chapala St. Please join me and others in our community to learn more about the ways that CALM prevents child abuse.
Of course, we'll feed you delicious treats and welcome you warmly into our space. We will also provide you the opportunity to experience a simulated therapy session and a “typical” educational presentation done in our local elementary schools. It will definitely give you a glimpse of the real-world work we do in our communities every day.
And, if you'd like to know more about ACEs, I'd encourage you to attend a free screening of the film Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope. The documentary delves into the science of early childhood trauma and gives us hopeful strategies — as parents, as grandparents, as teachers and as interested community members — to treat and prevent toxic stress.
I am really excited about this documentary because it shares the research about toxic stress and its direct connection to negative health outcomes throughout the life span. It also speaks directly to the work CALM is doing in collaboration with so many partners throughout Santa Barbara County.
The Child Abuse Prevention Council is offering free screenings of Resilience throughout the month of April:
» April 4, 3:30 p.m. at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, 2975 Highway 246 in Santa Ynez
» April 6, 3 p.m. at Santa Maria Public Library Central Branch, 421 S. McClelland St. in Santa Maria
» April 20, 6:30 p.m. at La Cumbre Junior High School, 2255 Modoc Road in Santa Barbara
» April 24, 6 p.m. at Dick DeWees Community Center, 1120 W. Ocean Ave. in Lompoc
Early childhood adversity is being called the one of the biggest public health crises in our country. My experience of receiving calls and Facebook messages from friends and acquaintances supports the idea that a majority of adults have experienced some level of childhood trauma.
I hope you can take some time in April to reflect on how this issue affects you and your family, and to learn about the issues facing children and families throughout our county. Together, we can prevent child abuse.
— Alana Walczak is CEO of the nonprofit CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation), a leader in developing programs and services that effectively treat child abuse and promote healing, as well as programs that help prevent abuse through family strengthening and support. Click here for more information , or call 805.965.2376. Click here for previous columns . The opinions expressed are her own.
Georgia launches new app to help prevent child abuse, fatalities
GaCFR app designed to be quick resource for families, caregivers, police
by News4Jax staff
In an effort to prevent and reduce incidents of child abuse and fatalities in Georgia, a new mobile app called GaCFR was launched by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in collaboration with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and the State Office of the Child Advocate.
A study conducted by the Georgia Child Fatality Review Program, which evaluates all injury, sleep-related and unexpected or suspicious deaths involving children under 18 years old, found that more than half of child deaths in Georgia could have been prevented.
The GaCFR app is designed to be a quick resource for families, caregivers, support agencies and law enforcement agencies. Within the app are links to report missing children, report abuse, investigative checklists and access a host of other resources.
A free download of the app is available for Android, Apple and Windows operating system devices. Use keywords “Georgia Child Fatality Review” when searching for the app. Law enforcement will need an activation code to access the special features.
Law enforcement agencies may contact Georgia Child Fatality Review Program at ChildFatalityReview@gbi.ga.gov to receive a code to access special features within the app.
The GCFR's mission is to serve Georgia's children by promoting more accurate identification and reporting of child fatalities, evaluating the prevalence and circumstances of both child abuse cases and child fatality investigations and monitoring the implementation and impact of the statewide child injury prevention plan in order to prevent and reduce incidents of child abuse and fatalities in the state.
Kentucky Has Second Highest Child Abuse Rate in U.S.
by SurfKY News
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (3/28/17) — The number of Kentucky children who died from abuse, as well as overall cases of abuse, is on the rise.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau “Child Maltreatment 2015” report — released in 2017 — shows a jump in child abuse cases in both Kentucky and Indiana. The commonwealth had 18,897 victims (17,932 in the 2014 report), or about 19 out of every 1,000 children. Kentucky's rate is more than double the national average.
“We're hoping the significant increase in cases is the result of more people spotting and reporting abuse, which means we're potentially preventing even more deaths and getting children and families the help they need,” said Erin Frazier, M.D., chair of the Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse, which is led by Norton Children's Hospital.
The study also shows 16 Kentucky kids died as the result of abuse, compared with 15 fatalities the previous year. Nationally, child abuse cases and deaths are on the rise. Here's how both states stack up to the rest of the country.
“We've been doing a lot of education throughout Kentucky and Indiana to try to reduce the number of children dying from abuse,” Dr. Frazier said. “Still, it's apparent that we have plenty more work to do.”
“We all can do our part to keep kids safe and put an end to abuse, which is 100 percent preventable, by staying in control, being smart in choosing a child's caregiver, knowing how to get support and identifying the signs before it's too late,” said Kelly L. Dauk, M.D., chair of the Norton Children's Hospital Child Abuse Task Force and pediatrician with University of Louisville Physicians.
In recognition of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, here are some ways you can help:
• If you're a parent and you feel yourself about to lose control, it's OK to step away. Put your child in a safe place and then listen to your favorite song, take a few deep breaths or call a friend.
• Keep a list of friends' and family members' phone numbers to call for support.
• If you know a parent who may need a break, offer to babysit so he or she can step away for an hour or two.
• Offer to run an errand for a neighbor with small children who has difficulty getting out of the house. A small gesture like that can greatly reduce stress for the parent.
• Learn the TEN-4 bruising rule: Children under age 4 should not have bruising on the torso, ears or neck. Infants too young to crawl should never have any bruises. If you see these bruises, there is concern the child may have experienced abuse and you can do something before it's too late.
SC family awarded $3.75M after DSS failed to investigate child abuse case
by Kendall McGee
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – A Spartanburg County family has been awarded $3.75 million after a jury found that the South Carolina Department of Social Services failed to investigate multiple reports that the child was in danger.
According to the press release from the firm that brought the lawsuit, the grandmother called SC DSS multiple times to voice her concern that the 21-month-old baby girl was in danger while living with her mother and the mother's live-in boyfriend.
The grandmother was worried the child was being abused and neglected, and complained to DSS twice over the phone and once in person. The relative reported that the mother's boyfriend, Robert Steadman, had a domestic violence record and the mother and the boyfriend were accused of using drugs, according to the lawsuit.
Despite the woman's multiple pleas to look into the matter, the SC DSS failed to investigate at all.
A press release says the baby was attacked by the mother's boyfriend a few weeks later.
“He hit the toddler in the face, bit her multiple times on her back and buttocks, broke both her arms and her right leg and ripped out large chunks of her hair. She did not receive medical attention until the next day. She was hospitalized for several days in the intensive care unit. She also tested positive for cocaine at the hospital,” said the press release from attorney Heather Hite Stone.
During the trial, the victim's orthopedic surgeon testified the baby's bone breaks occurred over a period of a few weeks, signaling to the doctor that the abuse has been “ongoing and chronic.”
The lawsuit says Steadman was arrested and admitted to felony child abuse and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.
The jury awarded the grandmother $3.75 million, but the damages will be reduced because of the South Carolina Tort Claims Act that caps judgments against the state.
“Had SCDSS investigated this matter they could have prevented the abuse that this poor baby had to suffer. We are pleased that the jury stood up for this child,” said Stone.
posted for Carol D Levine
The story of one. Trafficked Boys: Vandalized innocence hidden in plain sight
by Jerome Elam - Sep 20, 2014
WASHINGTON , September 20, 2014 — It was August of 1970 and the heat of a summer's day in the Deep South refused to relinquish its grip as night descended like a dark curtain. The sweat had pooled in the middle of my back and my hair lay tangled and matted across my damp forehead as I lay face down on the small couch.
The hollow thud of the camper door being slammed shut pulled me temporarily back into realty. The couch I was laying on creaked and groaned as the bald and overweight man stood fastening his belt. The drug-induced haze of cocaine mixed with alcohol had a strong grip on me, but there were times I could almost taste the dust and grit of the world outside.
Since the age of five I had been trafficked sexually by a pedophile ring. It was now three years later and I was a well known and popular “date” for the sexual predators that my “owners” sold me to on a regular basis.
Suddenly the loud roar of an engine boomed outside. It was a bookmark for my life because I knew exactly how the night would unfold. That night I was being trafficked along the amateur stock car racing circuit and customers had traveled great distances to satisfy their twisted sexual appetites.
My life had fallen into a dark abyss early on as domestic violence; alcoholism, childhood sexual abuse and divorce dominated my world.
Following my mother's divorce from my biological father, her life began a downward spiral that left me abandoned and alone, vulnerable to those who prey upon the innocent. My mother's world existed at the bottom of a bottle and when she met a man named Neale who began to molest me, alcohol facilitated her complete escape from the reality of what was happening to me. Before long Neale shared me with the pedophile ring he belonged to. Soon I was being trafficked sexually, trapped by threats of violence against my mother and forced to take cocaine and alcohol.
For seven long years I was trapped in a hell no one deserves. I was nothing more than a shell of a human being enduring suffering and torture at the hands of psychopaths and sociopaths as the world looked on. I attended school, and from the outside appeared to be a “normal child” but I was being trafficked in plain sight. I was often pulled out of school to “service” clients and after school, holidays and weekends were all just a never-ending nightmare for me. All of the signs were there but no one cared enough to look or had the training or education to realize my bruises and lengthy illnesses were all red flags for a child suffering endless abuse.
The Department of Justice estimates that between 100,000 and 300,000 children are at risk of being trafficked in this country right now. Human trafficking is a $9.5 billion a year business in the U.S. according to the United Nations and within the first forty-eight hours of leaving home, a runaway child will be approached by a human trafficker. Human trafficking is second only to the drug trade as the largest criminal enterprise according to the Justice Department. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reports that pimps can make from $150,000 to $200,000 per year for each child. The NCMEC also reports a pimp has an average of four children and the Polaris Project, an anti-trafficking non profit, reports the average victim of sex trafficking is forced to have sex 20-48 times a day.
These numbers are shocking and part of a tragedy that is actively swallowing America's children. The life of a child being trafficked is brutal. Drugs, alcohol, beatings and death threats are used as tools to keep innocent children as slaves to the depths of depravity. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports the average life span of a child being trafficked is seven years. The drugs, alcohol and abusive lifestyle wither the fragile spirit of a child leaving them to die in the shadow of hope.
Our children are being thrown into the darkest abyss of humanity and some have been lost in a broken system. In 2010, Los Angeles officials reported that 59 percent of juveniles arrested for prostitution were in the foster care system. In addition, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that of the children who are reported missing, who are also likely sex trafficking victims, 60 percent were in foster care or group homes when they ran away.
In July of 2013, the FBI rescued 105 children who were forced into prostitution in the United States, and arrested 150 pimps in a series of raids in 76 American cities. The campaign, known as “Operation Cross Country,” was the largest of its type and conducted under the FBI's “Innocence Lost” initiative. It all took place in just 72 hours. The youngest victim recovered was just 9 years old. (Reuters).
Historically, women have been identified as the overwhelming majority of victims of human trafficking but recent studies have shown male victims of trafficking have been severely overlooked. In a 2008 study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, of those who were sexually exploited in New York, fifty percent of victims were found to be boys from the United States, being trafficked domestically. Until now anti-trafficking organizations have been focused on female victims but that tide is now starting to turn. A 2013 study by the organization ECPAT discovered males are more likely to be arrested for shoplifting or other petty crimes even though they are being trafficked sexually.
One of the great myths about male victims of sex trafficking is that they are predominantly homosexual. The truth is the majority of trafficked youths are not gay, according to Steven Pricopio from the organization Surviving Our Struggle, a center for young male trafficking victims. Most are trapped in a life of sexual servitude through threats of violence against their families or themselves. “They don't see them as victims … It's not an issue of sexual orientation, it's an issue of right circumstances which bring you to exploitation or the vulnerability that brings you into being sexually exploited.” Pricopio says.
Also included in the John Jay study was the fact that forty percent of male victims were forced to service female clients. The lens through which we currently view human trafficking has to change and we need acknowledge that this scourge defies gender, race, and socioeconomic status. Instead of viewing victims of trafficking as either a male or female problem we have to now examine the expanse of its scope and treat it as a human problem.
The path to becoming a victim of sex trafficking is similar for both males and females. Income is not the sole determining factor in assessing the vulnerability of children. Traffickers have no limitations on the methods they will use to lure victims into an inescapable trap. Human trafficking has also infiltrated our schools.
Traffickers will hand pick a child to be a recruiter, typically one who has formed a trauma bond with their trafficker and place them in a school. The recruiter will wear nice clothes and jewelry and drive a nice car. When the other kids compliment the recruiter on their clothes or car the recruiter will say, “I can show you how to have all this and more.” It doesn't take long before the trafficker has the new child trapped with threats of violence against their family and friends.
There are factors that do make a child more vulnerable, and one of the most common risk factors among victims is a dysfunctional family environment. Alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse all create a chasm in the self-esteem of a child. Traffickers actively target these children and soon they are lost to the darkness few survive.
My escape from the world of human trafficking came at a high cost. I had tried to tell at least ten people that I was being trafficked and my reward for this was among other things having three of my ribs broken. My life had become an abyss of worthlessness and pain and at the age of twelve, I stood in my mother's rose garden, a bottle of sleeping pills in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other. As the agents of my demise tumbled down my throat chased by the warmth of the vodka, I felt a sense of peace wash over me. I felt a peace I had never felt before. I had finally escaped the nightmare and I was no longer afraid.
Suddenly, I awoke in the emergency room to a group of wide-eyed doctors who had witnessed me depart this world for a total of three minutes. God, it seems, had other plans for me and I was finally freed from my nightmare as the horrified doctors noticed the bruises that formed a tapestry across my body chronicling the abuse I suffered. I sincerely believe it is through God's intervention that I am here today as a survivor of human trafficking and not a casualty. I stand here today not only as a survivor but as a living testament that there is always hope and a light inside all of us that no one can extinguish.
Please join me in the fight to end human trafficking and save the next child before they are sentenced to a vandalized childhood with a lifetime of broken hopes and dreams. Learn the signs of human trafficking and call the human trafficking hotline at 1-888-3737-888 if you suspect someone is being trafficked. To learn more about the signs of human trafficking visit the Polaris Project website: http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/recognizing-the-signs or the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign http://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/indicators-human-trafficking.
Brazilian woman convicted of human trafficking deported from US
BALTIMORE, Md. – A foreign national who was convicted and wanted by Brazilian authorities for international human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation was removed from the United States yesterday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Stefania Joaquina Campos Rezende, a 39-year-old citizen of Brazil, was arrested Feb. 14 by a Fugitive Operations Team assigned to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) office in Baltimore. She was identified as a fugitive alien after an immigration judge issued her a final order of removal in 2006. She arrived at Belo Horizonte International Airport in Brazil yesterday and was turned over to local authorities to serve the sentence in her human trafficking conviction.
“ICE is committed to targeting, arresting and removing international criminals who attempt to use the United States as a safe haven from prison sentences,” said ERO Baltimore Field Office Director Dorothy Herrera-Niles. “The removal of a convicted human trafficker will keep our community safe, and allow exploited victims in Brazil to receive justice.”
Campos Rezende had been detained at the Worcester County Jail, located in Snow Hill, Maryland, since she entered ICE custody in February. In addition to her conviction in Brazil, Campos Rezende was recently convicted on felony drug charges stateside.
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 1,700 foreign fugitives from the United States who were sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. In fiscal year 2016, ICE conducted 240,255 removals nationwide. Ninety-two percent of individuals removed from the interior of the United States had previously been convicted of a criminal offense.
ERO works with the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the United States. Members of the public who have information about foreign fugitives are urged to contact ICE by calling the ICE tip line at 1 (866) 347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also file a tip online by completing ICE's online tip form.