National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NAASCA Daily Digest
EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day we bring you news articles, opinion pieces, crime stories and official information from government web sites. These are highlights, and constitute the tip of the iceberg .. a small percentage of the daily information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse, trauma and recovery. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" and every voice makes a big difference.
HOME PAGE
programs / projects
RECOVERY
together we can heal
RESOURCES
help stop child abuse
ABOUT
a little about us
CONTACT
join us, get involved

Today's NAASCA news:

March 1
, 2017

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

United Kingdom

Issue of children who sexually abuse other children is not something that can be ignored

by Simon Hackett

A recent string of high profile cases involving “celebrity perpetrators” along with a series of ongoing inquires into historical child abuse in the UK has brought sexual abuse into the public consciousness in an unprecedented way.

Similar inquiries are also underway internationally – notably the ongoing Australian Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, which has spent the last four years hearing testimony from thousands of Australian survivors.

It is arguable that the media attention given to these high profile cases has increased the number of people coming forward to disclose their experiences of abuse. But while this is obviously a good thing, the way these cases are often portrayed and covered, tends to reinforce unhelpful stereotypes.

This includes the idea that all abuse is carried out by adult paedophiles preying on vulnerable children. And as a consequence, means that the issue of child sexual abuse committed by other children is significantly downplayed.

Juvenile abusers

Official figures indicate that between a fifth and a third of all cases of child sexual abuse in the UK involve “perpertrators” under the age of 18 – but the figures could in fact be much higher.

In a random UK general population survey of more than 6,000 people, a staggering two-thirds of the sexual abuse reported by respondents in their childhoods, had been committed by other children.

Even when reports of child and adolescent perpetrated child sexual abuse gains media attention, it is often portrayed in a way that presents the children as mini versions of adult sex offenders, or “paedophiles in waiting”.

The reality of course is somewhat different – with many high profile studies suggesting that most children and young people who commit sexual offences in their adolescence do not then carry on sexually offending in adulthood.

Protection vs criminalisation

For many of these child perpetrators, their own histories of abuse play a role in their offending behaviours. This is often part and parcel of an enmeshed experience of trauma, neglect and pain – which has also been shown in our research.

We conducted the largest UK study of young people who had sexually abused other children. Of the 700 children we spoke to, we found that 50% of young abusers had themselves been victims of sexual abuse. Our research also showed that 50% had experienced physical abuse or domestic violence in their lives.

Seen through this lens, we need to respond to these cases carefully. Yes, we need to protect victims and stop these children from abusing, but our interventions shouldn't stop there.

We need services that can offer expert help to children and their families to prevent further victimisation and help them lead offence-free lives in the long-term.

Such services are sadly lacking at the moment, but the recently launched NSPCC operational framework should help agencies to get their acts together as this framework provides a structure for local safeguarding children boards to help them implement their policies and practice responses.

Realities of abuse

We also need to have better awareness of the realities of child sexual abuse – along with the issue of children and young people who harm others sexually. Because a lack of public knowledge around this promotes a distorted and stereotypical view of child sexual abuse. This can often lead to the overplay of some risks – such as “stranger danger” – while underplaying others.

Failing to understand the specific needs of children and young people who present with harmful sexual behaviours also means that they are more likely to receive inappropriate criminal justice responses that are designed with adults in mind.

This can include being placed on the sex offender register or, in the US, “community notification schemes”. These publish details of young people and adult sex offenders, including their addresses, offence details and photographs online.

Such measures, being inherently adult focused, at best fail to provide a balanced response to the issue of harmful sexual behaviour. And at worst, they may cause irreparable developmental damage to children who fundamentally need our help.

http://theconversation.com/issue-of-children-who-sexually-abuse-other-children-is-not-something-that-can-be-ignored-73478

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

5 Ways You Can Teach Your Preschooler About Consent

by Alana Romain

There's a seemingly endless amount of things we need to prep our kids for before sending them out into the world (or at least off to school) for the first time. And the truth is, teaching them how to wipe their own butts, pick up after themselves, and be kind to others is just the beginning.

There are other not-so-obvious skills that you won't find on the back of any school checklist — and some of them might just be the most important. Case in point: Teaching our kids about body safety, consent, and boundaries, as well as what to do if someone doesn't respect them.

I know what you're probably thinking: Just the idea of bringing up that topic to a preschooler is pretty terrifying. Believe me, I get it. It's uncharted territory, and forces us to face the very difficult reality that things like childhood sexual abuse exists. We don't want to say the wrong thing and scare them, by making them think that the world around them is not a safe place. But the reality is, as much as we might think that harm could never come to our children, the statistics paint a very different story.

According to The Advocacy Center, an estimated 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. In fact, the vast majority of reported sexual assaults in this country (approximately 70 percent) involve children who are 17 and younger. Child sexual abuse advocate, founder, and CEO of Lauren's Kids, Lauren Book, shares the good news that when children are taught about boundaries and are empowered about their own bodies, they are less likely to be victimized. In fact, Book tells Babble that, “95 percent of sexual abuse is actually preventable with education and awareness.” (Whoa.)

So, what can parents do specifically to help keep their kids safe? It all comes down to having open, honest conversations about consent and safety in everyday situations. And, yes, this includes with people their children already know and trust. The State of California's Department of Justice reports that more than 90 percent of sexual abuse is committed by someone familiar to the child, and abusers are often the people we'd least expect. Book, for one, was a victim of sexual abuse for six years at the hands of her female, live-in nanny. It might not be easy to have these conversations, but the following five steps can help ensure that you're teaching your preschooler what they need to know to keep them safe.

1. Teach them proper names for their private parts.

Talking about private parts with children can feel super uncomfortable, which is why many parents resort to using cutesy names — or avoiding the discussion all together. However, Book says that teaching children the proper names for their private parts is imperative, not only because children who know the proper names of their body parts will be better able to disclose abuse, but also because not talking about it teaches them private parts are taboo or shameful.

“When you taught your baby all of their body parts, you pointed to your eyes and said ‘eyes' or ‘ears' or ‘nose' or ‘chin.' But we usually don't give them names for their private parts,” Book tells Babble . “So inherently, they think ‘something must not be right about these parts that I know that I have, but I'm not supposed to talk about it.'”

Book says all children need to know not only what their private parts are, and what they are called, but that they are off-limits. They need to understand that nobody should be looking at them or touching them, unless they're hurt or need help. If somebody does, they need to immediately tell mom or dad (or another trusted adult) about it.

One other important detail that parents overlook about the “private parts” talk? Mouths should also be considered a private part.

“Parents should tell their kids that nobody should be putting anything into their mouths, except for the dentist,” Book says. “And who is with you when you're at the dentist? Mommy or Daddy, [so it's OK].”

2. Help them identify “safe” vs. “unsafe” touches.

Many parents avoid discussing sexual abuse with their kids because they think it'll scare them. But the best bet, according to Book, is to encourage children to make the distinction between “safe” and “unsafe” touches — particularly because “unsafe” touches don't always feel “bad” or “wrong,” particularly in the early stages of abuse when predators are still grooming their victims.

“Parents can talk to children about safe vs. unsafe, and identify ‘what is a safe touch?' Maybe for one child it's braiding her hair, while for another, it's getting his back scratched,” Book tells Babble . “Those are safe touches that make you feel loved, happy, excited. And then you can talk about unsafe feelings, [asking] ‘how does that make you feel? What's an example of an unsafe touch to you?'”

This doesn't have to be a formal conversation. Having some nice cuddle time with your little one? That could be a good time to point out how happy and safe it feels. Did your child throw a tantrum and try to hit or bite you (or maybe another child tried to hit or bite them)? That could be a good time to explain how that felt unsafe and hurtful.

3. Encourage them to speak up and ask for help.

Recognizing the difference between safe and unsafe touches is the first step, but what they should do if someone touches them in an unsafe way? According to Book, children should be encouraged to use their loud “I Mean Business” voices and say, “Stop, that's not safe!” And then, your child should absolutely tell you what happened.

“It's about teaching children that there are limits,” Book tells Babble . “If something happens that makes you feel uncomfortable, I want you to come tell me.”

4. Let them know that they don't have to keep secrets that make them uncomfortable.

For a lot of parents, teaching children to be respectful and to avoid things like “tattle-telling” is high on the list of things we want our kids to learn. But Jayneen Sanders, sexual abuse advocate and author of a number of books like, Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept and My Body! What I Say Goes!, notes that we should also make sure children know that there are certain times when they should absolutely tattle.

“Secrets are the currency predators deal in,” Sanders tells Babble . “If a child has been educated to tell secrets that make them feel bad or uncomfortable to an adult they trust, then the [abuse can't continue.] By educating children to tell, we empower them.”

Abusers specifically look for children who they know will keep the truth of what is happening under wraps. Sanders explains:

“Abusers often test a child's ability to keep a secret on a number of occasions before sexual abuse begins, perhaps by saying, ‘Here is a special lolly for you but don't tell your parents I gave it to you. It can be our little secret.' If the child keeps that secret, than the abuser is off to a good start.”

That doesn't mean of course, that parents should never expect their kids to keep certain details to themselves. While Sanders recommends that parents enforce a “no secrets” policy in the home, she says that “happy surprises” (like what they're giving their friend as a birthday gift, let's say) are totally fine.

“Children need to know they don't always have to do what adults or older teenagers say,” Sanders tells Babble. “If the secret being feels wrong, then it is wrong — and there are no exceptions.”

5. Let them know that you will always believe them.

As parents, we'd all like to think that our children believe they can tell us anything. But how often do we make sure that assumption is correct? Ensuring that children feel comfortable having open communication with their parents — and that they can say anything without having their fears or concerns downplayed or ignored — is perhaps the most important thing parents can do to keep their children safe.

“What parents need to understand is they should never let their fear of sexual abuse put their kids at risk,” Sanders tells Babble . “It can happen, and it does. But so many survivors have said to me, ‘If only I'd known it was wrong from the first inappropriate touch,' or, ‘If only someone had believed me, it could have been so different.'”

The thought that awful things could happen to our children is probably the most difficult part of parenting. And honestly, sometimes it's hard to know whether we are doing the “right” things to keep our children safe. But when it comes to body safety and abuse-prevention, there are many things that can help mitigate the risk that all children face. And it's never too early, or too late, to start doing them.

https://www.babble.com/parenting/how-to-teach-your-toddler-about-consent/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alabama

Montgomery authorities see significant increase in child abuse, neglect cases

by Jennifer Horton

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -- Investigators continue to work on a severe child neglect case, where three children were reportedly living in deplorable conditions with feces and urine on the floor.

Child advocacy workers say they are seeing a spike in child neglect cases, something this region hadn't reported until 2016. They are using this case to ask everyone to be more aware of their surroundings, especially children in their neighborhood.

“This issue crosses all socio-economic lines,” Child Protect Executive Director Jannah Bailey explained. “If you know kids live in a house, and you normally saw them playing outside on a Saturday and then you don't see them anymore, that may be something you need to check on.”

The neglect cases are all the same, the victims weren't enrolled in school, drugs, predominately meth, is in the home, they are living in extreme filth and the majority need immediate medical attention.

“Even in the worst situations, this is the norm for these children, this is all they have known,” Bailey explained. “That's what we tell kids, ‘you aren't
in trouble', but our job is to make sure kids are safe, to make sure they have a safe place to live where an adult isn't hurting them, where they are fed, clothed and educated.”

Bailey stresses any concern of child abuse or neglect is not too small to report to DHR. Mandatory reporting laws allow anyone to make an anonymous report to their county DHR.

“The number of times I have made reports myself, I have never been asked to come to court, I have never been subpoenaed,” Bailey stated. “We always have to err on the side of the child.”

Child Protect has seen an increase in cases across the board. Last week, they conducted 24 forensic interviews in four days.

“It was just unbelievable,” Bailey admitted. “One of the things we are doing to address that, as of tomorrow, March 1, we are opening satellite offices in Elmore and Autauga counties and putting staff there to alleviate the increase we are seeing in Montgomery.”

No word if child abuse is on the increase or more reports are being filed.

Here is a list of county DHR offices where anonymous reports of child abuse and neglect can be filed.

http://www.wsfa.com/story/34629484/montgomery-authorities-see-significant-increase-in-child-abuse-neglect-cases

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pennsylvania

AG's child abuse investigation continues, one year after scathing report on Altoona-Johnstown Diocese

by Dave Sutor

For decades, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown allegedly perpetrated a coverup to protect priests accused of sexually assaulting children.

Accusations against a few reported abusers, including Rev. Francis Luddy and Msgr. Francis McCaa, became publicly known during those years. But, for the most part, they were treated as isolated incidents by the community, instead of indications of a systemic problem.

That changed one year ago – on March 1, 2016 – when the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General released a grand jury report, accusing the diocese of sheltering at least 50 priests and other religious leaders, allegedly under the direct supervision of former Bishops Joseph Adamec and James Hogan.

The 147-page document provided information about “secret archives” kept by the diocese, a payout chart for different types of abuse, testimony from at least four priests who admitted to inappropriately touching children, and detailed biographies of the accused.

Tony DeGol, the diocese's secretary for communications, called the report “heartbreaking for all Catholics” and “especially painful for the survivors of sexual abuse and their loved ones.”

Even though the report has been released, the investigation is still considered to be ongoing.

“Through our grand jury report issued one year ago, we shined a light on clergy members' sexual abuse of children,” said Joe Grace, communications director for new Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “The Office of Attorney General will do everything in its power to uncover and prosecute these crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”

'Present' and 'future'

The diocese, in response to the report, held prayer services for victims and released a list of priests who had credible allegations of child sexual abuse made against them.

“Over the past year, Bishop Bartchak has devoted much of his time to collaborating with a diverse group of stakeholders to develop a new comprehensive approach that will help to make the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown a leader in the field of youth protection,” DeGol said. “We will be announcing the product of these efforts in the near future.

"We cannot change the past, but we have certainly learned from it. In that spirit, Bishop Bartchak is focused on the present and the future. He remains committed to the safety and protection of all children and youth in the Diocese, and he pledges continued support to those who have been harmed.”

But George Foster, who was personally called a “hero” by former Attorney General Kathleen Kane for collecting information about pedophile priests for years, does not think the diocese has done enough to address the issue.

“No, my personal observation is, I don't see anything that has substantially changed in the way the diocese monitors itself that makes me think they're not going to repeat some of the mistakes from the past,” said Foster, who is working on a book about abuse in the diocese.

Foster said Bartchak “didn't respond to this as a shepherd” but rather “responded to this as an attorney.”

'Old guard is still up'

Releasing the report brought national and international attention to the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.

The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Guardian and other well-known news outlets covered the story.

Child abuse advocacy groups, including Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and Road to Recovery, have supported alleged victims.

“People are accepting that this happened here, and it's not good,” Judy Jones, SNAP's Midwest associate director, said. “They're upset with the bishop, and the bishops before.”

SNAP recently set up a local chapter.

The organization has also frequently commented on local message boards and held events in order to draw attention to the allegations. The group plans to hold a press conference on Wednesday, beginning at 11 a.m. near the diocese's headquarters, to mark the one-year anniversary of the report's release.

“The truth needs to be coming out even if it's ugly,” Jones said.

Mitchell Garabedian, a Massachusetts attorney, has been an outspoken critic of the diocese over the past few years when he has represented dozens of victims.

“The report has raised awareness so adults realize they have to protect children who are in the presence of clergy,” said Garabedian, who achieved national prominence when he helped expose a coverup of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and was portrayed in the film "Spotlight."

“I don't believe the report has changed the attitude of the Catholic Church inside of Pennsylvania or outside of Pennsylvania," Garabedian said. "The old guard is still up. The attitude of protecting priests at all costs still exists. Children are still at risk.”

Brother Baker case

In 2014, Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan was investigating allegations against Brother Stephen Baker, who is believed to have abused upward of 100 children when he served at what was then called Bishop McCort High School from 1992 into 2001.

She soon realized the case stretched beyond her jurisdiction into other parts of the diocese. Callihan believed the county lacked the manpower and money to conduct the necessary investigation. Plus, a conflict of interest existed because an individual who reported his alleged abuse to the diocese and Johnstown Police Department previously worked for the district attorney's office.

So Callihan referred the case to Kane, whose investigation into Baker quickly expanded to include the entire diocese.

A separate grand jury report on Baker was released later in March 2016. It included indictments against Revs. Giles A. Schinelli, Robert J. D'Aversa and Anthony M. Criscitelli on charges of endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy.

The three defendants – in their roles as ministers provincial of the Third Order Regular, Province of the Immaculate Conception – are accused of giving Baker assignments that provided him access to children.

Oral arguments in their cases are scheduled to begin on April 27 in the Blair County Courthouse.

The attorney general's office has established a tip line for victims to call: 888-538-8541. Hundreds of calls have been received.

Diocese officials have encouraged victims or their loved ones to call the number.

“As always, we urge anyone with any information concerning the sexual abuse of minors to report it to authorities immediately,” DeGol said.

http://www.tribdem.com/news/ag-s-child-abuse-investigation-continues-one-year-after-scathing/article_f690d1aa-fdf7-11e6-8d04-670a37b18d0f.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Washington

Parental education programs seek to prevent child abuse

by Caroline Rourke

SPOKANE, Wash. - 28-year-old Joshua Mobley is accused of killing a 10-month-old child who was in his care, and many community members now wonder what could have been done to prevent it.

There are a number of places, such as the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, that provide services for parents in a moment of crisis.

There are also places like Partners with Families and Children, that work proactively and reactively to combat abuse.

“We are a children's advocacy center-- we provide child forensic interviews and medical exams for children where maltreatment is suspected,” said PWFC developmental director Linda Safford.

From supporting children through difficult court testimonies, to helping with substance abuse problems..
PWFC is an agency that attempts to attack the child abuse problem at its roots.

“Often times in their need and their urgency to get care for their children that's where these situations occur,” Safford said.

But, those roots run deep.

“We know from our partners at the [Spokane Regional] Health District that in 2015 there were 5,431 documented cases of child abuse or maltreatment in Spokane County.

Additional SRHD data also states that, in the past decade, over 50,000 cases of child abuse have been documented in our county, a number Safford describes as “staggering.”

PWFC treats around 1,000 families a year, and additional clients in it's substance abuse and mental health programs. Safford said many of the people they work with are single parents.

Spokane offers a number of resources, but many are focused on mothers.

At PWFC, anyone seeking to learn more about childcare – mothers, fathers, or even caregivers/babysitters-- has options.

“PWFC fills the gap, fills component around parent education and parent support and specifically around fathers,” said PWFC Mental Health and Clinical Director Christie Pelz.

The “Engaging Fatherhood” program is one of several that aims to minimize the stigma surrounding seeking help-through empathy.

“When you can sit in a room with other dads and other men in a parenting role, all of the sudden 'it's not just me feeling like I'm at my wit's end'- it gives you a little bit of hope that 'I can make it through next time,'” said Pelz

It works. Parents in the program check in each week, and take pre and post program surveys that point to improvements.

“We see decreases in harsh punishment, and decreases in unrealistic expectations that they may have,” Pelz said.

Because caring for a child is not always easy- but abuse is not the answer.

“It's tough being a parent.. and it's wonderful to have that opportunity to normalize the frustration,” Pelz said.

PWFC takes referrals from agencies, but is open to anyone. For more information about the programs they offer, visit their website.

In a crisis moment, parents can call the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery for help. Their phone number is (509) 5 35-3155 and more information is available on their website.

http://www.kxly.com/news/local-news/parental-education-programs-seek-to-prevent-child-abuse/366994436

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pennsylvania

House, Senate child abuse bills both address statute of limitations, differ on retroactivity

by Dave Sutor

Two separate bills to extend the statutes of limitation for victims of child sexual abuse have been introduced into the Pennsylvania General Assembly this year.

Both would eliminate all age limits for criminal actions and civil lawsuits against alleged abusers going forward.

However, there is a major difference.

A House of Representatives bill – introduced by state Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Democrat from Berks County, and supported by state Rep. Frank Burns from East Taylor Township – includes a two-year window in which past victims could file civil complaints against their alleged abusers. The Senate version does not contain any such retroactivity.

That point of contention led to the issue going unresolved last year when similar bills were debated after the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General issued a report – released one year ago on March 1, 2016 – that accused the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown of covering up child sexual abuse.

“My reason for retroactivity is all victims deserve justice in this commonwealth,” Rozzi, an alleged victim of child sexual abuse, said.

Retroactivity is opposed by President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, a Republican from the 25th District who put forth the Senate bill, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, and the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania. Scarnati's office did not respond to a request for an interview.

Sam Marshall, president and CEO of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, said the Senate version provides “very strong protection against child abuse” for “today's children and children going forward.”

Opponents of retroactivity believe it would violate the Pennsylvania Constitution's remedies clause that states “all courts shall be open; and every man for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation shall have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial or delay.”

The two-year window will “not pass muster under the Pennsylvania Constitution,” according to Marshall.

Rozzi and his supporters, including Shaun Dougherty, a Westmont resident who came forward with his allegations of abuse after the grand jury report was released, disagree.

“Retroactivity needs to go up and be voted on,” Dougherty said. “And, if it is deemed to be unconstitutional, which I don't believe it will, but if it is deemed to be unconstitutional, I, as a victim, need to hear that from a judge, from an elected judge in Pennsylvania.”

Rozzi's bill includes a severable provision that states if any part of the legislation is held invalid by the courts that it shall not affect other parts of the statute. He has challenged the president pro tempore to let the court system decide the constitutionality.

“If Scarnati thinks it's unconstitutional then what's he so afraid of?” Rozzi asked.

Under Pennsylvania's current civil statute of limitation, victims who were under the age of 18 when the abuse occurred can file civil claims until age 30. Criminal charges can be brought until age 50 by alleged victims born after Aug. 27, 2002.

Those statutes prevented any new charges or claims being brought against the living priests accused of committing child sexual abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown grand jury report. At the time of its release, the attorney general's office called for eliminating the statutes.

http://www.tribdem.com/news/house-senate-child-abuse-bills-both-address-statute-of-limitations/article_1fb104ea-fe09-11e6-8154-2b774e538b47.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Virginia

Bristol, Va. records significant increase in child abuse cases

by Olivia Bailey

BRISTOL, Va. - In about three months, Bristol, Virginia authorities tell us they have already worked more than 20 child abuse cases in the city. Investigators say it is a problem they have seen increasing over the past several years.

Detectives are constantly focusing on building their next case, but this year many of those new cases deal with child abuse.

"The cases come in, and regardless of just about every case we're working on, these go to the front of the line," Sgt. Steve Crawford said.

In 2015 to 2016, the number of child abuse cases rose 28 percent. Crawford said that is a significant increase, but an even more jaw-dropping number is the increase they have seen this year. In the first two months of 2017 compared to that same timeline in 2016, it was a 70 percent increase in cases.

Crawford said, "That is neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse."

News 5 also reached out to the Bristol Department of Social Services to see if the criminal caseload translates to the number of cases they are working. They told us they have also seen an increase, removing 18 children from homes in just three months.

Director of Bristol, Virginia Social Services Kathy Johnson said, "So many times, we go into a home regardless of what the complaint is when you start peeling off those layers, you find different issues, but I think overwhelmingly the drug abuse is prevalent here."

While the goal of Social Services is to keep families together, they tell us situations involving substance abuse are considered a serious or severe case. The department is mandated to respond to those cases within 24 hours.

"It creates an urgent situation because the parents or caretakers are incapacitated by the drugs, so the child's needs aren't being met," Child Protective Services Supervisor Jeff Justice said.

The department currently has 226 open cases under investigation or going through a family assessment. They tell us such a high number can stretch resources thin for those providing assistance in the community. However, the biggest concern of all is helping those children through the traumatic situations.

Crawford told us they believe part of the reason for the increase in cases is due to help from members of the community reporting suspected abuse. He encourages anyone to contact their local authorities if you suspect child abuse. A hotline you can call is 1-800-552-7096.

http://www.wcyb.com/news/bristol-va-records-significant-increase-in-child-abuse-cases/366086322

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Mexico

Baby Brianna child abuse expansion bill dies in House committee

by Madeline Schmitt

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) A bill to expand the state's child abuse statute, known as “Baby Brianna's law,” died in a House of Representatives committee Monday. The sponsor of the bill says she's disappointed and not happy.

The bill, House Bill 45, was sponsored by Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque. The bill expanded the penalty for people who abuse a child over 12 years of age, resulting in the death of that child.

Right now, only those people convicted of abusing a child to death under 12-years old are sentenced to life in prison. If the child is over 12, the maximum time served is only 18 years.

Rep. Maestas Barnes thinks that when Baby Brianna's Law was enacted, it was unfair to separate these as two crimes. That's why she sponsored HB45, which would give those who kill a child by way of child abuse life in prison, no matter the child's age.

Her bill, however, died in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee Monday and Rep. Maestas Barnes is not happy about it. This came after the bill passed two other House committees.

KRQE News 13 spoke to Rep. Antonio Maestas, D-Albuquerque, who voted “no” to the bill in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.

“We don't look at policy in appropriations, we ask ourselves one simple question: Do we have the money? And this year, the answer's no,” Rep. Maestas said.

Rep. Maestas said it would cost too much money to keep people in prison longer and to hold the trials for these people. He pointed to the state's Fiscal Year 18 budget crisis, which is still unresolved.

Rep. Maestas Barnes says the money argument is just a smoke screen for what is really a party-line vote.

“The extra time that an individual's going to serve under the new law wouldn't go into effect, wouldn't affect the budget for 18 years after the conviction,” she said.

Rep. Maestas Barnes says the message the Democratic representatives who voted “no” to her bill are giving, is that New Mexico's children are not valued equally.

This same bill was introduced in the 2016 Special Session with Rep. Maestas Barnes as a co-sponsor.

During that session, Rep. Antonio Maestas voted “no” to the bill in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill still made it to the House floor, however, for a vote. There, Rep. Maestas voted “yes” to the same bill.

The bill ultimately died on the Senate side, however.

Here's a list of the lawmakers, listed with their party and county, who voted “no” to Rep. Maestas Barnes' HB45 in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee on Monday:

•  Patricia Lundstrom (D-McKinley)

•  George Dodge (D-Guadalupe)

•  Harry Garcia (D-Cibola)

•  Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Bernalillo)

•  Nick Salazar (D-Rio Arriba)

•  Tomas Salazar (D-San Miguel)

•  Christine Trujillo (D-Bernalillo)

•  Rodolpho “Rudy” Martinez (D-Grant)

•  Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson (D-Bernalillo)

Rep. Candie Sweetser, D-Luna, walked out of the hearing before the bill was voted on and therefore was not present.

http://krqe.com/2017/02/28/baby-brianna-child-abuse-expansion-bill-dies-in-house-committee/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jamaica

We need to speak out against child abuse

by Addadga Cruickshank

Child abuse is the physical, sexual, emotional mistreatment or neglect of a child. Child abuse can occur in a child's home or in the organisations, schools or communities the child interacts. There are four major categories of child abuse: neglect, psychological/emotional abuse, and child sexual abuse.

Child abuse is occurring in Jamaica right under the noses of the relevant authorities, yet nothing of any substance is being done to prevent these acts. Almost everywhere you go in and around the streets of Jamaica one will see these acts being played out. Women can be seen begging on the streets with a child in tow, or even having the kids walking around selling bag juice and other stuff.

Young teenage girls are being abused sexually on a daily basis by some of those who are employed in the public transport sector. The main perpetrators are the route taxi drivers and minibus crews. Apart from being sexually abused, their lives are also put at risk when they are crammed into these taxis and buses for maximum gain.

The very powerful song Concrete Angel is sung by Martina McBride and is a very touching one indeed. The main theme of the song is child abuse. The song tells a story about a little girl (named Angela Carter in the music video) who's trying to deal with abuse from her alcoholic mother. Some people, including the girl's teacher, seem to notice signs of abuse, but just try to ignore it. Ultimately, the little girl is killed when her mother beats her to death in a drunken rage.

Situations like this happen regularly and will continue to occur if the relevant authorities keep sitting around waiting for someone to lodge a report. Teachers, in particular, need to be more aware and sensitive to any unusual cuts and bruises that children go to school with. Any sign of physical abuse should be reported immediately to the police or the Child Development Agency.

The police should start cracking down on paedophiles who go around parading as legitimate providers of public transportation. Family members and neighbours should begin to report suspicious activities to the authorities, where children are concerned. Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; they are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, mothers, uncles or cousins. There are other acquaintances such as friends of the family, babysitters, or neighbours. Strangers are often not the offenders in most child sexual abuse cases.

Child abuse is a complex phenomenon with multiple causes, and understanding the causes of abuse is crucial to addressing the problem. We owe our children an obligation, whether they are ours or not. Until children are fit to function as self-supporting and informed adults, we have an obligation not to take advantage of their defencelessness so as to inflict damage, or to demand their submission to acts that are not in their best interests.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/We-need-to-speak-out-against-child-abuse_86454
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~