4% of UK adults have seen child sexual abuse images-survey
by Owen Bowcott
As many as 4% of adults have engaged with images of child sexual abuse on the internet and 16% of young women receive unwanted sexual requests online each year, academic research reveals.
The extent of web-facilitated exploitation is detailed in a series of reports for the next strand of hearings at the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA), looking into the role of the internet, which starts on Monday.
Three separate studies assessing the latest research have been released as the week-long session begins at the IICSA's headquarters in London.
One, a report by a team at Huddersfield University, estimates that as many as a tenth of adults in England and Wales take part in “online sexualised conversations” with children and teenagers aged under 18.
Last year the NSPCC reported that police forces in England and Wales recorded 5,653 incidents in 2016-17 of sexual crimes against children and young people in the UK in which there was an online element to the crime – up 44% from the previous year.
Between a quarter and a third of perpetrators who send unwanted sexual requests or who engage in grooming are female, according to international studies.
“It is unlikely that the proportion of adults in England and Wales who engage with images of child sexual abuse would fall below [the] more conservative estimate of 4%,” the report states.
It adds: “It would be fair to assume that no less than 5% of young men and 16% of young women receive unwanted sexual requests each year. Young women are between two and three times more likely than young men to receive unwanted online sexual requests and to be targeted by online groomers.”
About 1% of online images of child sexual abuse available globally are produced by people living in the UK, a study in 2013 found, while 6.5% of the demand for such images comes from people living in the UK.
The Huddersfield University report concluded: “The online world is safe for most young people.” That was partially due to the efforts of organisations such as police agency the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command, the Internet Watch Foundation, the NSPCC and Barnardo's to “enhance the safety of the online spaces” and partially to increased familiarity with online risks among parents and young people.
It cautioned, however, that almost a quarter of child sex abuse images were produced through covert means without the victim's awareness and a growing proportion were computer-manipulated images of photographs.
The second report to IICSA, by researchers at Lancaster University, warns that 11- to 14-year-olds are most at risk from online abuse. Different studies have found that between 15% and 48% of children take part in sexting.
“Girls feel under more pressure to send self-generated sexual content and appear to be more harmed by it if the image is shared again,” the study notes.
A third report, by the independent institute NatCen Social Research, profiled perpetrators. It found that those convicted of online child sexual abuse were “generally male, white, young, educated, intelligent, employed, and have less prior criminal history than contact offenders”.
Typically, it adds, they “experience problems with intimacy, emotional loneliness, low self-esteem, under-assertiveness and empathy” that lead to difficulties in developing and maintaining relationships with others.
“Online offenders,” it observes, “may also suffer from depression and/or various personality disorders, as well as other mental health issues. However, this is not unique to this offending group and shares parallels with the more substantial contact offending research base.”
Met experienced 700% rise in online child abuse case referrals, inquiry told
by the Gazette-News
Britain's biggest police force witnessed a 700% spike in the number of online child abuse cases referred to them by national investigators over three years, an inquiry has heard.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) alerted Scotland Yard to potential paedophiles operating over the internet on 647 occasions between January 1 and September 30 in 2017.
This marked a jump of 700% since 2014, the national child abuse inquiry was told, fitting a pattern of “almost year-on-year” increases across all forces.
Child abuse investigators at the NCA also received more than 30,000 tip-offs from a US monitoring group about online predators in the UK during just one year, it was heard.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is holding public evidence hearings to examine how the internet allows sex offenders to target youngsters.
Jacqueline Carey, counsel to the inquiry, said in her opening statement: “On any view, whichever way the statistics are looked at, there has been a marked increase in the last five years in relation to online-facilitated child sexual abuse.
“The panel may wish to consider whether that is a trend which is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”
Sexual offending online can include the use of the internet to force a child to take part in or witness sexual activity, grooming them online for abuse or posting indecent images.
Setting out the escalating problem, Ms Carey pointed to a rise in referrals to the NCA by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Referrals from the US-based organisation about offenders they had identified with IP addresses in the UK shot up from 1,591 in 2009 to 30,661 in 2016.
A single tip-off could contain information about multiple offenders or victims, up to 5,000 child abuse images linked to a single UK user or thousands of IP addresses linked to one offender or victim, the hearing was told.
It is then investigated by the NCA's specialist team at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, who pass information on to local forces when they can pinpoint offences to a geographical area.
Police forces in England and Wales recorded 5,653 incidents of sex crimes against children which had an online element in 2016-17, up from 3,903 in 2015-16, according to the NSPCC.
The Metropolitan Police had 333 crime reports relating to online child sexual abuse during 2016, which “seemed to increase just after periods of school holidays”, Ms Carey said.
It was found that 90% of victims were female and the average age of the victim was 13.
The Internet Watch Foundation, a UK-based safety watchdog which flushes out abuse pictures and videos online, passed on information about 35,000 indecent posts to websites as of October 2017.
However, much offending was said to occur on the dark web, which allows users to browse anonymously.
Around 80% of traffic on one browser, The Onion Router (Tor), was found by researchers to end up on sites with names that indicated it had indecent images of children.
The IICSA also commissioned its own research into the issue, finding one in 10 adults have had a sexualised conversation with a child.
Evidence sessions will be held for five days this week.
GoFundMe accounts set up for Perris victims fake, only 1 source set up for donations
PERRIS, Calif. (KABC) -- The Corona Chamber of Commerce and Riverside University Health System are gathering donations to help the 13 people held captive by their parents in Perris.
Child Protective Services received thousands of calls from people who want to help the children and adults who were found extremely malnourished and some chained to beds inside a Perris home.
The Riverside University Health Center Foundation set up a fund to accept donations and the chamber of commerce created a page listing clothing sizes and items needed for the victims. You can access the page by clicking here or here .
People who want to make donations are warned that any GoFundMe accounts created for the children were fake, as the health center fund is the only legitimate donation source.
On Monday, 13 victims ranging in age from 2 to 29 were found shackled to their beds amid foul conditions in a home in the 100 block of Muir Woods Road. A 17-year-old girl escaped from the residence that day and called 911 using a cellphone she managed to get from inside the home.
She told authorities she and her other siblings were held captive by their parents. When authorities arrived to help her, they thought the girl was only 10 years old because of how emaciated she looked.
Authorities investigated her claims and arrested her parents, 57-year-old David Allen Turpin and 49-year-old Louise Anna Turpin. At first, Riverside County sheriff's deputies thought they found 12 children inside the home, but discovered that seven of them were adults ranging in age from 18 to 29.
Both parents were arrested on suspicion of torture and child endangerment and are each being held on $9 million bail.
On Wednesday, investigators served search warrants to the home, spending about seven hours combing through evidence, and walked out with several boxes, two safes and pieces of wood that appear to have been part of bed frames.
For neighbors in the area, what is suspected of happening inside the house of horrors became more real as they saw the items being removed.
The family at one point also lived in Fort Worth, Texas, and when the Turpins were foreclosed on, the new owners said they found the carpets soiled, windows broken and boarded up, and scratches on the inside of the doors.
At the time, those owners thought the marks might have been from pets, but now aren't sure.
Shelly Vineyard was a neighbor of the Turpins at another home they lived in in another part of Texas.
"I thought it was a religious compound over there. They were weird and homeschooled the kids and kept them away from everybody and wouldn't say names. I just thought maybe they were a little out there," she said.
Elizabeth Flores lived with her sister Louise Turpin while she was in college in the 1990s. She remembered very odd behavior from David Turpin then.
"If I were to get in the shower, he would come in there while I was in there and watch me, and it was like a joke," she said. "He never touched me or anything."
Flores, who spoke to "Good Morning America" in an emotional interview , said she was shocked to hear about the abuse.
"I thought they were really strict, but I didn't see any type of abuse," she said.
She said the Turpins were always private. She said once her father wanted to fly out to see them, but Louise had an odd response.
"She told him not to come. He got the ticket, he was going to surprise her, and he called her to tell her he was coming, and she told him not to come," Flores said.
In recent years, the Turpins never let the family communicate with the children.
"We begged to see them - the whole family. I've asked for 20 years to be able to Skype them," she said.
Calif. county received "not one" call about couple accused of torturing children
by David Begnaud
PERRIS, Calif. -- As David and Louise Turpin face 75 counts of child abuse, torture and neglect of their 13 children, more information is coming out about what happened once the siblings were rescued . Mary Parks, spokesperson for the Riverside County Department of Social Services said that of the 60,000 calls they received last year, "not one" was about the Turpins.
"We did not get one phone call nor did the police department," Parks said. "And we have staffs, teams of professionals, that man our hotlines 24/7, trained to take those calls."
A source close to the investigation tells CBS News:
All of the 13 siblings had diminished mental capacity
The 17-year-old girl has a first-grade-level education
They are all extremely pale, scared and skittish
After being freed, they specifically asked social workers if they could stay together.
They didn't ask anything about their parents.
They were, according to our source, astounded that people wanted to help them.
After receiving clothing, some described being "honored" to finally have shoes of their own.
Eventually, investigators could get a window into their world -- every child kept a journal. Several boxes of journals were recovered inside the home.
One thing county officials have been weighing is what happens next for the six children who are over 18 -- no longer minors.
Susan von Zabern, the director of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, said they "will be seeking authorization for the adult children as well as the minor children, and if conservatorship is necessary, that is what we will be seeking."
CBS News has just learned that someone in Southern California has volunteered to take in and adopt all 13 of the kids and adults and their release to that family could happen as early as Monday. The seven adult siblings are currently being cared for at a local hospital.
The six minor siblings are also together at another hospital. CBS News has been told that physically, they're doing well, despite their horrifying ordeal.
Bail for the parents has been set at $12 million each. Prosecutors said the abuse started when the family was living in Texas, but the plan to escape was hatched about two years ago.
Prosecutors said the 17-year-old escaped out of a window on Sunday morning, taking a sibling with her. That sibling got scared and went back inside -- but that didn't derail the plan.
Prosecutors said that in addition to the beatings, the siblings were also restrained with ropes.
"These defendants eventually began using chains and padlocks to chain up the victims to their bed," said Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin. "These punishments would last months at a time."
They allege the siblings were not allowed to use the bathroom, they were allowed to take only one shower a year and were only allowed to wash their hands above the wrist. They were fed very little and were on a strict schedule.
"The 29-year-old female victim weighs 82 pounds," Hestrin said.
The parents were also accused of taunting them, such as putting pies on the counter and not letting them eat it. The siblings had not seen a doctor in years, and they had never seen a dentist. Workers say their adjustment to society will be challenging.
"They lack a basic knowledge of life -- many of the children didn't a know what a police officer was," Hestrin said.
Why It's So Hard For Victims Of Extreme Abuse To Leave
What child abuse experts have to say about the distressing case of the Turpin family
by Anna Almendrala
When police entered the home of David and Louise Turpin in Perris, California, they encountered 12 siblings who were being held in filthy, dark conditions ? some chained to furniture. The youngest was only 2 years old, and officials said they were shocked that seven of the emaciated victims turned out to be adults, ages 18 to 29.
The 13th child, a 17-year-old who police said looked to be about 10, had jumped out of a window to call police to the home.
As more details begin to surface about the torture and confinement the children endured, as well as the seemingly normal and fun vacations and outings they participated in as a family, a familiar question is emerging about the victims, especially the adult children: Why didn't they just leave?
The parents, who have both been charged, are accused of torturing their children with physical restraints, beatings and strangulations . But the psychological control the parents had over their children must have been immense to keep anyone from speaking out or escaping earlier, child trauma experts say.
What's more, it's typical in domestic violence situations for some of the stronger victims to put off leaving for fear of what might happen to the smaller children left behind, explained Chandra Ghosh, who is associate director of the Child Trauma Research Program at the University of California, San Francisco.
“When we think about legal adults not walking away from [abusive] situations, what we know is that many women live in that situation and don't walk away, sometimes to protect their children,” Ghosh said. “We don't know what [the Turpin children] were told in terms of harm to possible younger siblings ... but the idea is that you have the possibility of walking away, but the smaller children do not.”
Compounding the childrens' vulnerability is the general erosion of community support in the U.S., Ghosh said.
Every minute that passes in the U.S., an average of 20 people are the victims of intimate partner violence , while an estimated one in four children will experience some form of maltreatment during their childhoods. While cases of abuse in total isolation are exceedingly rare, they're just on the extreme end of a spectrum of abuse within families.
The parents' total control over their children's interactions with the outside world — which extended to exclusively home-schooling them and forcing them to sleep during the day to be awake at night ? makes it all the more remarkable that one child was able to escape and call for help, said Sarah Enos Watamura, a developmental psychologist who researches stress and health at the University of Denver.
“While you might feel that your situation is unacceptable or really painful and difficult, you'd still have to think that another reality is possible for you in order to act on that,” she said.
“Why did the -year-old reach out? What is it about that individual child that gave her the impetus to feel that she has the advocacy to do something?”
While Watamura allows that we may never know what prompted the teen to take charge of her own rescue, officials are calling her “courageous” — not only for being strong enough to escape but also for being wise enough to take photos as evidence.
What makes the Turpins' case all the more unusual is that the children were imprisoned in a community where one might expect frequent passers-by or encounters with neighbors on a regular basis. Indeed, neighbors who have talked to news outlets about the Turpins said that they occasionally greeted the children when they were in the front yard but got no response .
“It's just easier to do that when you're socially isolated out in the country or sometimes in a very, very highly populated urban area where people just don't know anyone else,” said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. “The fact that they pulled it off once again shows the extreme level of not just physical control, but I think cultural control that they maintained over their family.”
While nobody could have expected the Turpins' neighbors to report the strange interactions they had with the family, the community is coming to terms with the horror taking place in its midst. Perris residents who are discussing the case with journalists are expressing a mix of shock, anguish and grief over what police found in that home.
“I would've put my life on the line to see that they were freed from this kind of bondage,” one man told KTLA reporter Courtney Friel .
But the truth is that in the U.S., we're no longer expected to know our neighbors' names — let alone their struggles. Ghosh hopes that this case alerts Americans to the reality that domestic violence and child abuse are incredibly common, and that neighbors can do something about it. But first they have to get to know each other.
“Violence is happening all around us, and these are the severe cases that kind of wake us up,” Ghosh said. “We want to know our neighbors and help our neighbors so that we can help each other and support each other, not so that we can judge each other.”
State task force on child sexual abuse recommends more training for teachers
HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Members of a state task force on child sexual abuse are recommending that lawmakers consider implementing new rules that would require more training for teachers.
The suggestion is one of five listed in a new report released last week by the West Virginia Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children.
The five recommendations are listed as follows:
1) Require training for all public school employees to detect and respond to suspected abuse and neglect.
2) Simplify and clarify current mandatory reporting laws to make them easier to understand and to implement.
3) Strengthen non-criminal sanctions for offenders by requiring background checks for professional educators and adopt extensive screenings when licensing child-service professionals.
4) Collaborate and coordinate to leverage resources and identify strategies for the sustainability of child abuse prevention approaches
5) Strengthen school systems' capacity to provide age-appropriate, comprehensive, evidence-informed child sexual abuse prevention education.
Jayne Landacre, the executive director of the Harrison County Child Advocacy Center, said teachers are often the most reliable mandated reporters.
In fact, according to a national study cited in the task force's report, school personnel "identify and report more child abuse cases classified as causing harm to the child than any other profession or organizational type."
But, in that same report, members point to other national studies that show two-thirds of teachers "do not receive specific training in preventing, recognizing, or responding to child sexual abuse in either their college coursework or as part of their professional development."
In the full story above, Landacre says a lack of training means good-intentioned teachers could miss subtle signs of abuse.
Abuse, trauma can alter a baby's brain
by Amy Linn
Today, more than at any other time in history, science and medicine show the vast, interconnected dance between a baby's outside world and the core of its being: its brain.
The most basic human connections are being understood through the lens of brain science, neuroscience, behavioral science and beyond, revealed in magnetic resonance imagining at institutes such as Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child.
Today's studies show the harm down to the dendrites and DNA.
Severe trauma, also known as adverse childhood experiences, can leave children in near-constant fear and anxiety, always on the verge of fight-flight-or freeze mode, research shows. The result can be a constant release of stress hormones in the body, harmful enough to alter architecture in the developing brain.
“The biological response to this toxic stress can be incredibly destructive and last a lifetime,” the American Academy of Pediatrics described the process in a 2014 policy paper.
Beatings that leave bruises, sexual or emotional abuse, domestic violence, a drug-addicted parent — those and other major childhood adversities can shrink key parts of the brain, MRI scans show.
“We've seen the impacts of adverse childhood experiences for years,” said Deborah Harris, senior consultant for New Mexico's Infant Mental Health Teams. The program sees some of the state's most vulnerable babies, removed from their homes by Child Protective Services for maltreatment. “Now we actually have the brain research to support the theory.”
Harris says the science shows how critical it is to give infants and children the services they need. They can't be expected to get over the abuse on their own.
“It's embedded in their brain and body,” Harris said.
The concept of adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, was born in 1998 with a study of more than 17,000 Kaiser Permanente patients in San Diego.
It revealed that physical abuse, sexual abuse and other ACEs were far more common than previously understood. And as the study discovered, the more ACEs people experienced, the more likely they were to have bad outcomes, including drug abuse, alcoholism, mental illness, suicide, cancer and chronic, life-shortening diseases.
The ACE study offered the medical world a new way to understand human development. The brain science has taken it even further.
Brain scans show childhood trauma can cause shrinkage in the hippocampus, the area linked to memory storage and retrieval. The constant state of high stress can alter the amygdala, the brain's fear-processing center, and affect the neuro-endocrine and immune systems.
Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child defines toxic stress as “excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body and brain.” That sort of activation can lead to dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain linked to cognition and decision-making.
On one thing, all researchers agree: Trauma is particularly harmful from ages 0 to 3, when more than 1 million new neural connections in the brain are formed every second.
The stress from child maltreatment can hinder the formation of neural pathways, which let neuro-signals zoom across different parts of the brain to form critical connections, research shows.
A thriving neural network promotes health in the parts of the brain responsible for behavior, language, memory, motor skills, impulse control and executive functioning, according to the 1998 landmark study that launched the ACEs concept.
Chronic releases of stress hormones are also linked to changes in the way DNA is expressed. The study of epigenetics examines how stress can modify chemical “markers” on genes, switching them on or silencing them.
Scientists now theorize that toxic stress causes epigenetic changes that allow trauma to be transmitted over the generations. The mechanism offers an explanation for the historical trauma experienced by Native Americans, by children of Holocaust survivors and others.
In response, the AAP has called for “a new basic science of pediatrics,” based on an “ecobiodevelopmental” model. It would take into account how children's experiences — and traumas — can shape lives well into the future.
Suffering early trauma, many NM kids face devestating consequences
by Amy Linn
Today, everyone should be talking about ACEs: adverse childhood experiences. That's the view of a growing legion of experts who regard childhood trauma as one of the most profound and urgent public health challenges in the country.
Hundreds of studies link adverse childhood experiences to a huge array of diseases, mental illnesses and lifelong problems. An ACE is defined as one of 10 kinds of trauma, including all the things that happened in Frankie's life, and more. Among them: sexual, physical or psychological abuse; emotional or physical neglect; mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence; an absent parent or incarcerated household member.
Exposure to these assaults at a young age can alter brain architecture, interrupt neurocircuitry, damage endocrine and immune systems and have lifelong harmful impacts on health and the human condition, potentially for generations to come.
The “toxic stress” of trauma can impair learning and emotional regulation, undermine social functioning and even change the signature of DNA.
An October 2017 report from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found nearly 30 percent of New Mexico's children had two or more ACEs – the fourth-highest rate in the country. A 2016 study by the New Mexico Sentencing Commission established a clear connection between traumatic experiences and juvenile delinquency. Among all 220 teens held in detention in 2011: Every one of the girls – 100 percent – had two or more ACEs; for boys the rate was 96 percent.
Nearly 25 percent of the girls experienced nine major traumas. A parent beat them so hard it left marks. They saw their mother punched or threatened with a gun. They'd been raped, molested, verbally abused or constantly humiliated. Someone at home was alcoholic or drug addicted. They'd gone hungry.
The study underscored what could be called an ACEs-to-prison pipeline.
“You're basically creating a group of kids who are going to have lifelong learning problems – they're basically going to be like human road kill on the economic highway,” says primary care physician Andy Hsi, who co-wrote the report with specialists like George Davis, former director of psychiatry for New Mexico's Children, Youth and Families Department.
But if this picture appears unremittingly bleak, the bigger message is that all early childhood experiences are powerful. Positive experiences are as determinative as negative ones. They build resilience and give children “protective factors” that help them thrive.
Even children who suffer severe adversity can develop resilience, according to Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child, a national leader in toxic stress and brain research. Resilience is built upon healthy early parenting and bonding, which make infants feel safe and nurtured.
“Loving the baby, kissing, holding, massaging, breastfeeding: The baby understands that language,” says Sanjeev Arora, a UNM physician and founder of Project ECHO, which brings high-quality medical treatment to remote parts of the state and worldwide. “The entire human experience is very intricately linked to feelings of security and lack of fear.”
USA Gymnastics' rot runs deeper than serial sex abuser Larry Nassar
by Heidi Stevens
I keep thinking about that People magazine cover, the one that declared them “America's Sweethearts!” while they grinned for the camera, more than half of them sharing an unspeakably painful secret.
The Final Five — Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Lauren Hernandez, Madison Kocian — held a record-breaking number of Olympic team medals among them, embodied precision, grace and muscle that defied what we understood to be humanly possible, and were united by more than their athletic prowess.
They were united, at least three of them, in their abuse by a predator who exploited their trust and by a system of enablers that did nothing to stop him.
On Monday, Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics announced the resignations of three leaders — Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley — just a few days after Raisman's gut-wrenching testimony in court about sports doctor Larry Nassar , who stands accused of sexually abusing her and more than 100 other women.
Douglas and Biles also have accused Nassar of sexual abuse. Close to 100 women testified last week at sentencing hearings for Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics doctor and sports medicine physician at Michigan State University who pleaded guilty to charges of criminal sexual conduct and child pornography.
Nassar already has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes. Under a plea deal, he faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 to 40 years for molestation.
Then what? Are his survivors healed? Is the culture that bred and fed Nassar?
Not even close.
John Geddert, the U.S. women's gymnastics coach for the 2012 Olympics, was just suspended while USA Gymnastics completes an investigation.
ESPN magazine published an article last week, “ Nassar Surrounded by Adults Who Enabled His Predatory Behavior ,” that examines, among other things, Geddert's relationship with Nassar. It will boil your blood, but it's essential reading if you want to understand this mess.
“John and Larry were like this perfect storm,” Priscilla Kintigh, a former student and, later, employee at Twistars, one of Geddert's gyms. “You become so unapproachable that your own gymnasts don't feel comfortable telling you what's going on. ... Kids were terrified of (Geddert).”
One Michigan State University trustee, Mitch Lyons, is calling for the university's president, Lou Anna Simon, to step down, following questions over what she knew about Nassar and when she knew it.
“I don't feel that President Simon can survive the public outcry that has been generated by this tragedy and even less so after hearing the testimony of these brave survivors of Larry Nassar's abuse,” Lyons wrote in a statement . “I feel that our best recourse is for President Simon to resign immediately in order to allow the healing process to begin, first and foremost for the survivors and secondarily for our university.”
On Friday, the university's board of trustees asked state Attorney General Bill Schuette to launch a review of the university's handling of the events surrounding Nassar.
Where was this outrage in 2014 when Simon learned about a Title IX complaint and a police report filed against a school physician?
A damning Detroit News story alleges at least 14 Michigan State representatives — athletic trainers, assistant coaches, a university police detective and an official who is now MSU's assistant general counsel — were warned about Nassar in the two decades before his arrest. The women testifying in Nassar's sentencing hearing are alleging the same.
Where was the outrage then?
“Your abuse started 30 years ago,” Raisman read to Nassar in her incredibly powerful impact statement last week. “But that's just the first reported incident we know of. If over these many years, just one adult listened, and had the courage and character to act, this tragedy could have been avoided.”
That's what I keep coming back to.
How badly we wanted to believe these girls are our sweethearts.
How badly we want to win.
How little we've evolved, really, since the days of Roman gladiators — ready to watch flesh torn from bones, complicit in human suffering, willing to sacrifice human dignity for our entertainment.
“Larry was the Olympic doctor and he molested me at 2012 London Olympic games,” Raisman said in court. “(The United States Olympic Committee) say now they applaud those have spoken out, but it's easier to say that now. When the brave women who started speaking out back then, more than a year after the USOC says they knew about Nassar, they were dismissed. At the 2016 Olympic games, the president of the USOC said that the USOC would not conduct an investigation and even defended USA Gymnastics as one of the leaders in developing policies to protect athletes. That's the response a courageous woman gets when she speaks out? And when others joined those athletes and began speaking out with more stories of abuse, were they acknowledged? No. It is like being abused all over again.
“I have represented the United States of America in two Olympics and have done so successfully,” she continued, “and both USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee have been very quick to capitalize and celebrate my success. But did they reach out when I came forward? No. So, at this point, talk is worthless to me. We're dealing with real lives in the future of our sport. We need to believe this won't happen again.”
Is that even possible? Maybe.
If the sport undergoes a complete overhaul, and if Raisman and her fellow survivors are involved at every step. They deserve a say in a whole lot more than Nassar's future.
If USA Gymnastics CEO Kerry Perry is willing to accept, and ask for, even more resignations.
If gyms get smarter about their logistics — where they place exam rooms, who's allowed into them and how empowered they feel to speak up, for starters — and about their culture.
Athletes shouldn't live in fear of their coaches. Victory shouldn't be so paramount that athletes who do find the courage to speak up are brushed aside for fear of wrecking the winning formula. Adults shouldn't be so enamored of medals that they silence kids' voices and their own instincts.
Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson East released a video Monday night saying if she had a daughter, she wouldn't enroll her in gymnastics.
“Until we protect these little girls as human beings,” she said, “instead of protecting them as gymnasts just to make sure they win gold medals, we aren't going to make any progress that's meaningful.”
Exactly. Let's go.
Dylan Farrow gives first TV interview on sexual abuse allegations against Woody Allen
by Danette Chavez
Though Dylan Farrow has gone on the record as a child and an adult with her allegations of sexual abuse against her adopted father Woody Allen, she gave her first-ever TV interview on the matter today on CBS This Morning.
Speaking with co-host Gayle King in the first of two segments, Farrow reiterates in harrowing detail how, when she was 7 years old, Allen allegedly molested her. Now an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, she says she utilizes a different vocabulary as an adult; where when she was a child, she told her mother, Mia Farrow, and a physician that Allen had “touched her private parts,” the now 32-year-old uses anatomical terms like “vulva” and “labia.” When King asks if she can't see why Allen would claim that the younger Farrow had been coached by her mother in retaliation for his affair with Soon-Yi Previn, she answers with a bit of understandable frustration: “What I don't understand is how is this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached more believable than what I'm saying about being sexually assaulted by my father?” Farrow also claims Allen frequently held her in his lap and asked her to get into bed with him while they were both in their underwear. She cites this as part and parcel with the abuse, because her father, who she says was her hero, never showed brother Ronan Farrow the same attention.
In the second part of the interview, Farrow addresses the actors who continue to work with Allen despite expressing support for the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, urging them to “acknowledge their complicity.” She tells King, “I have been repeating my accusations unaltered for over 20 years and I have been systematically shut down, ignored or discredited. If they can't acknowledge the accusations of one survivor, how are they going to stand for all of us?”
CBS reached out to Allen regarding the interview with Farrow, and this was his response:
When this claim was first made more than 25 years ago, it was thoroughly investigated by both the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital and New York State Child Welfare. They both did so for many months and independently concluded that no molestation had ever taken place. Instead, they found it likely a vulnerable child had been coached to tell the story by her angry mother during a contentious breakup.
Dylan's older brother Moses has said that he witnessed their mother doing exactly that – relentlessly coaching Dylan, trying to drum into her that her father was a dangerous sexual predator. It seems to have worked – and, sadly, I'm sure Dylan truly believes what she says.
But even though the Farrow family is cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time's Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation, that doesn't make it any more true today than it was in the past. I never molested my daughter – as all investigations concluded a quarter of a century ago.
Colorado received record-breaking number of child abuse reports in 2017
by Cassa Niedringhaus
The state of Colorado received a record-breaking number of calls to its child abuse and neglect hotline in 2017, data shows.
Coloradans made 211,554 calls to the hotline throughout the year — an average of nearly 580 calls each day. The number increased from 206,107 calls in 2016, according to a news release by the Colorado Department of Human Services.
Department officials launched the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline in January 2015 as a resource for residents to learn the warning signs and report child abuse and neglect.
"If you are worried about a child or teenager in your neighborhood, at your church or in school, don't hesitate to call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS," said Minna Castillo-Cohen, director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families at CDHS, in the news release. "Even if you aren't sure, making that phone call is one of the best ways you can help a kid in Colorado."
Read more at the Fort Collins Coloradoan: http://noconow.co/2ruJEXn
New Mexico Attorney General Sees Loophole in Child Abuse Law
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is calling for legislation that expands the duty to report child abuse or negligence
by the Associated Press
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas called for approval of new legislation Monday that expands obligations under state law to report child abuse or negligence.
Balderas warned that current law creates an obligation to report abuse by parents, guardians and custodians of children but leaves out abuse by other people such as school personnel.
He endorsed a bill introduced by Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City and Rep. Liz Thomson of Albuquerque that aims to close the loophole in the New Mexico Abuse and Neglect Act.
The bill would broaden state reporting obligations to cover abuse and neglect by almost anyone. Supporters urged GOP Gov. Susana Martinez to add the bill to the agenda for the current 30-day legislative session.
Balderas invoked as a cautionary tale the case of former teacher Gary Gregor, who has been charged with sexually abusing elementary school girls after concerns were raised in other states.
In 2015, a ruling issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court clarified provisions of a state statute that calls for "every person" to report abuse or neglect, not just by those whose occupations are spelled out by law.
Exclusive: Internet giants 'enabling paedophiles to abuse', police chief warns
by Sejal Karia and Jamie Roberton
Internet giants are "fundamentally enabling" paedophiles to sexually abuse children, the police chief in charge of child protection has told ITV News.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey accused companies of failing to take steps to stop their sites being used to facilitate child abuse.
He warned the threat from sex offenders on online platforms - specifically citing live streaming apps and chatrooms - was growing at a "phenomenal pace", putting children at "really significant" risk.
Asked whether internet firms were letting children down, Mr Bailey replied: "Yes..without any doubt at all. They are making some progress but it is nowhere near enough.
"These companies are making sums of money which are huge, but the fact is that children are being abused and not enough is being done to make chatrooms safe places for our children to go and not enough is being done to take down indecent imagery which is out there.
“They have a moral and social responsibility to make their platforms safe."
Mr Bailey, who is the lead officer for child protection at the National Police Chiefs Councils, added: "Absolutely no question at all - they [internet companies] are fundamentally enabling it."
His condemnation comes as police deal with an overwhelming spike in the number of reported online child abuse.
The internet and evolving technology have afforded offenders access to prey on the young at an unprecedented rate.
Government figures, released late last year, revealed a 700% increase in the number of indecent images referred to law enforcement agencies since 2013.
Police are arresting an average of 400 people every month for viewing child abuse material but Mr Bailey warned that there are "tens of thousands" more interested in sexually abusing children.
Internet firms, he argued, had a duty to respond more vigorously.
"Intelligence is being shared but that's not the point.
"The point is that I believe those images that are out there could and should all be taken down and chatrooms should be being policed and they should make sure two young people who want to have a conversation in a chatroom can do it safely without facing the threat of an adult coming into that room, trying to groom them with one thing and one thing alone on their mind - and that is their sexual exploitation."
He added: "If I was to set-up a shop on the high street and - regardless of any how many millions of pounds I made in that shop and how many people I employed - if a product of my business on the high street was that children were being sexually abused, how long would that business be open for?"
Kyran Peet was groomed online and abused by an older man at the age of 13.
Now 20, Kyran has waived his right to anonymity to warn young people about the potential dangers of social media.
"Part of me thinks - regardless of what internet companies do - people like this will find a way to do something horrible but there are definitely ways to prevent it," he said.
"When you're that age...you think you're more mature than you are but you are naive and young whether you like it or not.
"If you're online, you only need close friends and family. You don't need to make contacts at that age - you're fine surrounded by people who you know and to not branch out because online can be a scary place."
Carly Adams, who works with victims of child abuse at the Children's Society, said the government needed to consider taking tougher action to hold internet companies to account.
"If they [internet firms] are in a position where they have access to information about children that are being abused or exploited then they absolutely have to do something and if they are not, then the government needs to hold them to account," she said.
In response to our interview with Simon Bailey, a spokesperson for Facebook told ITV News that it had a "zero tolerance" approach to child sexual exploitation, while Snapchat said the safety of its users was a "top priority".
Facebook and Instagram
We have zero tolerance for child exploitation on Facebook and Instagram.
We proactively search for and take down this kind of content and immediately alert the police to potential offenders and young people at risk.
We've spent the past decade working with safety experts including the Internet Watch Foundation, Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command and the UK Safer Internet Centre to develop powerful tools to combat this kind of activity and we have a global team responding around the clock to reports from our communities.
– Facebook and Instagram
The safety of our community is our top priority and we go to great lengths to prevent and respond to any instance of child exploitation on our platform.
Our dedicated trust and safety team and law enforcement operations team work round the clock to enforce our policies and work closely with law enforcement and national organisations to prevent and respond to this type of illegal activity.
– Snapchat spokesperson
Live.me is extremely invested in creating a positive and safe community for its users. Through human moderators and artificial intelligence, Live.me has continued to focus on users' safety and as the social platform grows, additional measures are being added and scaled up to combat community policy violations. Live.me does, however, take issue with the accusation of 'fundamentally enabling child sex abuse', which we believe shows a lack of understanding of social media platforms on the agency's part.
We have invested and continue to invest significant resources to develop the tools, technology, systems, and processes to combat some of the dangers that exist on social platforms, including, but not limited to grooming.
We work closely with law enforcement agencies across the globe to support investigations while navigating complex privacy issues. Instead, we would love to see these agencies provide guidance and leadership to make reporting and escalation more universal and accessible for all internet apps and services.
– Live.me spokesperson
Senate body passes resolution seeking death sentence in child sexual abuse, murder cases
by Ikram Junaidi
ISLAMABAD: Breaking from its stance against the death sentence, the PPP on Monday strongly supported the hanging of those convicted of child sexual abuse and murder.
Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairman PPP Senator Rehman Malik suspended the agenda of the parliamentary body's meeting and announced that the committee will discuss the kidnapping, rape and murder of two girls, seven and four, from Kasur and Mardan.
During his tenure as the interior minister, the then president Asif Ali Zardari had put a moratorium on death sentences on the demand of the European Union.
In the meeting on Monday, Mr Malik proposed that the child sexual abuse and murder be punished by hanging.
“We need to know why the murderers could not be tracked down. Many people have called me and suggested that culprits of such heinous crimes should be hanged in public. According to section 364-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, a person can be given the death penalty, life imprisonment or a minimum of seven years of imprisonment for kidnapping or murdering a child of less than 14 years. It is unfortunate that we have failed to give justice to our children,” he said.
He then tabled a resolution which was unanimously passed by the committee. He said a draft bill will be moved to make amendments to the law. However, Senator Javed Abbasi said the execution of death sentences can be done by amending the rules and that new legislation is therefore not needed. The interior ministry was then directed to give input on whether public executions can be done by making amendments to the rules.
Supreme Court advocate Anees Jillani disagreed with the suggestion and said its implementation will mean there is no difference between the government and the Taliban.
The father of seven-year-old Zainab, who was kidnapped, raped and killed in Kasur, Ameen Ansari was also invited to the meeting. He said his daughter and her five-year-old cousin were going to their aunt's house on Jan 4 for Quran lessons.
“Zainab had some money and she went to the shop while her cousin went to their aunt's house. The shop is just 100 metres from their aunt's house. When Usman came home, the family got to know that Zainab had not gone to her aunt's house and that she was missing. I was in Saudi Arabia so my brother-in-law informed the police,” he told the meeting.
“Residents of the area cooperated but the police did nothing for the recovery of the child. They were requested to get sniffer dogs to track down Zainab and the family even offered to pay for this, but the police did not. When the body was found and identified, we once again requested the police to get sniffer dogs but they refused. Locals cooperated with us and provided CCTV footage in which my daughter can be seen with the suspect,” Mr Ansari said.
He added that the CCTV footage shows the suspect passing through the area the morning after the abduction which meant he was still in the area.
“My family requested the police to cordon off the area and search all houses, but they refused. Officials visited [us] a few times and would go back after eating oranges,” he said.
Mr Ansari said he was told that the suspect had used a spray which dazes children.
Additional Inspector General of Police (IGP) Investigation Punjab, Khuda Bakhsh said nine such cases had been reported since June 2015 within a three kilometre radius in which girls between the ages of five and 10 were kidnapped and sexually abused.
“DNA tests show that in eight of the cases, the culprit is the same. He throws the dead bodies near the victim's house so the family gets the bodies. We have deputed as many as 200 people for the arrest of the suspect and 692 DNA tests have been conducted despite the fact that one test costs Rs60,000. Inter Services Intelligence is also helping us in identifying the culprit,” he said.
Senator Malik suggested that a national database of DNA be formed with the help of the National Database and Registration Authority.
“Culprits will be identified within minutes if we had such a database,” he said.
Deputy Inspector General Mardan Alam Khan Shinwari said the police was investigating the case of the four-year-old girl killed in Mardan and that so far, it has not been determined if she was sexually abused. The committee decided to call the doctor who had conducted her medical exam.
Children at risk of neglect or abuse increases over past decade, report finds
by Stephanie Borys
Rates of children at risk of neglect and abuse are on the rise across Australia, according to a new report, prompting calls from child-protection advocates for more investment in early-intervention programs.
More than 54,000 children were monitored by child-protection services last financial year due to concerns for their welfare.
A report by the Productivity Commission revealed that number was increasing over the past decade.
Hetty Johnston, the founder and chairwoman of Australia's leading child-protection organisation, Bravehearts, is disappointed by the figure.
"Collectively we are failing our children in every single way," she said.
Ms Johnston said drugs and alcohol were partly to blame for the increase.
"I can tell you that they [parents] are turning to drugs, they are using drugs, they are getting addicted and they are neglecting and abusing their children as a direct consequence of that and that number is skyrocketing," she said.
The report also showed nearly 48,000 children were taken away from their parents and placed into out-of-home care last financial year, an increase of more than 16,000 over the past decade.
Ms Johnston said early intervention was key to reducing the number.
"We have to start talking about prevention … and not just talking about it, actually doing it, because there are some incredibly fantastic programs out there that could teach young people from the get-go and we are not doing it," she said.
Her sentiment is echoed by Natalie Lewis, the chief executive officer of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak.
"This is not about trying to find new money to throw at an old problem," she said.
"It is actually about redirecting that money into where the evidence tells us it is best placed to make a true impact in terms of these numbers."
Both women were referring to early intervention programs, parental support, early childhood care and ensuring there was adequate housing to assist those doing it tough.
Ms Lewis also pointed to the report's findings that Indigenous children were overrepresented in the child-protection system.
"We are at a point now where Aboriginal children are more than 10 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children and that is up from last year."
However, the report identified authorities had improved their response times in dealing with individual cases.
More than half of all cases were placed under investigation within a week of concerns about a child being raised.
But one in five investigations took more than 90 days to reach a conclusion on how to handle the situation.
Sex Trafficking Happening in Every Wisconsin County
by Latoya Dennis
January is human trafficking month -- a time when groups trying to eradicate the crime, raise awareness about it. Across the world, it's estimated that around 27 million people are being trafficked for sex. Most of them are women. The numbers here are hard to pin down. But some experts say Milwaukee is a hotbed for the activity. WUWM caught up with a couple people working to fight sex trafficking in Wisconsin.
What were you doing at age 13? For many people, the answer probably revolves around going to school and hanging out with friends. But that's not the case for all 13 year olds. In fact, 13 is the average age of girls who are sex trafficked across the country, according to Dana World-Patterson.
“When we go back to being 13 years old, we weren't thinking about how do we pleasure someone day in and day out with our bodies,” World-Patterson says.
World-Patterson chairs the Milwaukee human trafficking taskforce. For the past decade, she's been working to eradicate the problem here. She says over time, awareness has grown about who the victims are.
“When we started 10 years ago, that's all we heard. That it was an inner city black girl no father, poverty stricken problem,” World-Patterson says.
World-Patterson says in reality, sex trafficking victims are often boys who are younger than 13 and girls, and men and women of varying ages and ethnic backgrounds. She says the crime is happening in all of Wisconsin's 72 counties. She says once people across the state began to pay attention, the way they thought about human trafficking started to change.
“It opened the eyes of individuals in different counties that I believe just wanted to maintain the status quo that said no, it's an inner city thing. That's them over there,” World-Patterson says.
World-Patterson says the one thing that all victims have in common is that they are in some way vulnerable. As part of her quest to eradicate the crime, she educates people about what the traffickers look like.
“They show up as boyfriends. Now also be mindful of this, that it's not just men who are traffickers. So it's also the nice lady in the grocery store who approaches the girl at 11 o'clock at night like honey, why are you out here? Shouldn't you be at home? What's going on? So we also have to be mindful of the smooth talking females that are also recruiting for this lifestyle,” World-Patterson says.
World-Patterson says last year alone, hundreds of women went missing here. And she says it's likely that many of them at least had some sort of contact with traffickers.
As part of an effort to stop sex trafficking, state lawmakers last fall passed legislation calling for truck drivers to be trained to recognize -- and report -- trafficking. And Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel says the state has developed screening tools and training programs for medical staff and police officers to identify victims. Schimel says now the goal is to crack down on the buyers.
“These individuals are the ones who are creating the demand. If they're willing to pay for sex with people who are being trafficked, therefore, that's why the traffickers engage in this and have people working in modern day slavery,” Schimel says.
Schimel says one of the biggest challenges in eradicating sex trafficking is that it's an underground business.
“The people who are purchasing sex, they don't want to talk about what they're doing. The survivors are different than most crime victims because they've been manipulated and had so much fear instilled in them that they don't come forward voluntarily either. And then of course the traffickers don't want to talk to us,” Schimel says.
Schimel says the days of street walkers are largely gone. Much of the sex trafficking now occurs online, also making it tough to track down the predators.
Meanwhile, Dana World-Patterson -- chair of the Milwaukee human trafficking taskforce -- says there's another industry that needs to be targeted, in order to cut down on trafficking: strip clubs.
She says she's known victims of trafficking as young as 13 who've been put to work as strippers.
'Explosion' in child sex trafficking tied to Internet, former prosecutor says
by Jordan Fenster
Westchester County, like the rest of the country, has seen an “explosion” of child sex trafficking, according to Miriam Rocah.
Rocah is now a distinguished fellow in Criminal Justice at Pace University but until last year she was, since 2001, a federal prosecutor working in the southern district of New York, running the White Plains office for the last five years of her tenure.
In her 16 years as a federal prosecutor, Rocah saw the Internet become the culturally pervasive utility it is today, and that's to what she attributes the rise in child sexual exploitation.
"What happened was that the Internet made online child pornography much more relevant, and the ability of child predators to meet and exploit children,” Rocah said. “That's how you get what I would call really an explosion.”
Sex trafficking is often seen as a very specific thing, Rocah said, though based on her experience, the reality is usually very different.
“I did not see a lot of cases about traditional sex trafficking — a house where people are being kept and sold for sex,” she said. “The cases I saw dealt with kids who they met online. They got into so-called ‘relationships,' which transferred into face-to-face.”
Once snared, predators do use sex with children as a commodity.
“They often would end up trading sex with minors to others either for money or drugs,” she said.
Rocah, along with her colleagues at Pace will be hosting a conference on the subject, called “Child sex trafficking: It's happening in Westchester County.”
The conference, scheduled to begin 10 a.m. Jan. 24, will take place at the New York State Judicial Institute on the Pace Law School Campus at 78 North Broadway in White Plains.
Based on statistics maintained by the Polaris Project, New York State is fifth in the country for human trafficking, with sex trafficking making up the lion's share of that activity.
The nonprofit Polaris Project runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline, funded by the Office on Trafficking in Persons, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The organization maintains statistics based on calls to the hotline and, according to those statistics, there were 332 human trafficking cases reported in New York in 2016. Three-quarters of those calls, 252 of the 332 human trafficking reports made in 2016, were sex trafficking-related
But still Rocah said the myth that it can't happen here persists, a myth she hopes to dispel at the conference.
“We will have some specific case examples of cases that were here in Westchester,” she said. “We had a lot of them in my time in the White Plains office.”
The keynote speaker at the conference is known only as “J.S.,” who as a child survived commercial sexual exploitation and was later featured in the film, “I am Jane Doe.”
“She was your average kid playing soccer, doing well in school, wanted to be a doctor,” Rocah said. “It's happening to kids who I think people don't think of as the traditional kids this kind of thing happens to. It really can happen to anyone.”
Rocah said prevention is difficult, but possible.
"Sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of children are really crimes of manipulation," she said. "The people who perpetrate them are master manipulators and prey on the vulnerabilities of their victims to get them into situations they then can't get out of. The key to prevention of these kinds of horrible acts is understanding the manipulation of the predators and being able to see it coming and see through it."
The conference is being hosted by the Pace Criminal Justice Institute at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, the Westchester County Anti-Trafficking Task Force, the International Organization for Adolescents, the Junior League of Northern Westchester, My Sisters' Place, the Pound Ridge Police Department and the Pace Women's Justice Center.
If you go
What : “Child sex trafficking: It's happening in Westchester County”
When : 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24
Where : The New York State Judicial Institute, Pace Law School Campus, 78 North Broadway, White Plains
Study Finds More Than 9,000 Brothels Masquerading As Legit Businesses
The "massage parlors" can be fronts for human trafficking, Polaris reports
by David Lohr
The human trafficking industry is booming, according to a newly released report that indicates thousands of modern-day slaves are forced to work in plain sight in every U.S. state.
Polaris, a nationally known anti-human-trafficking organization, released the results of a three-year study this week that identified more than 9,000 illicit massage parlors in America. The report, “Human Trafficking in Illicit Massage Businesses,” claims there is substantial evidence of workers being victimized.
The business is so prolific, according to the report, that it's second in prevalence only to trafficking in escort services.
“This is the first comprehensive analysis of these particular businesses,” Polaris CEO Bradley Myles told HuffPost. “I don't think anyone had an idea there is that many of them. The sheer volume of these businesses is astounding.”
Also astounding are the profits. Polaris' research estimates that these businesses, which more often than not are part of an organized criminal network, generate revenue of about $2.5 billion a year.
Human trafficking expert Kerry Ward said she's not surprised by the number of illicit massage parlors Polaris identified.
“Their methodology is reliable and there's not really an equivalent in my opinion,” said Ward, a Rice University associate professor of history whose main area of research is human trafficking.
“It's impossible to get 100 percent accurate numbers ? it's crime,” Ward explained. “But I think everybody involved in looking at sex trafficking recognizes that there are unknown victims and that there's probably even more of these [illicit establishments] out there.”
Dr. Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, a leading expert trial witness and author of Hidden in Plain Sight: America's Slaves of the New Millennium , agrees.
“I think it's under-counted,” Mehlman-Orozco said. “It's a clandestine crime that's able to flourish because of how they operate.”
While not every illicit massage parlor is staffed by trafficking victims, many apparently are.
The report indicates that women working in establishments where trafficking occurs are often from China or South Korea. They speak little or no English and are typically in their mid-30s to late 50s. They're recruited to satisfy an apparently increasing demand.
“Women are rarely locked or chained inside massage parlors, but this does not mean they feel empowered to leave,” said Esther Lai, a Polaris consultant on survivor experiences. “They are mentally trapped. Traffickers recruit vulnerable women and control them through debt bondage, shame and by manipulating the cultural background they bring with them to America.”
Victims reportedly said they've faced violence or the threat of violence and have had travel documents confiscated.
Polaris identified California, Florida, New Jersey, New York and Texas as the states with the highest number of establishments that masquerade as legitimate massage parlors. Instead of providing therapeutic massage services, the illegitimate parlors offer a variety of sexual favors, for a price ? everything from “hand relief” genital stimulation to intercourse.
“There is a very proud, strong, legitimate massage profession, and people across the country love to get legitimate massages,” Myles said. “The legitimate businesses are very frustrated that these imposters that have nothing to do with actual massage have weaved their way into the industry and sell sex by exploiting vulnerable women.”
The distinction, Myles said, is not always clear. Illicit operations often set up shop in urban business districts, where some will go so far as to secure permits and licenses to conceal what they're doing.
There are indicators that a massage parlor is engaging in commercial sex with potential human trafficking. Some, according to the report, include services priced significantly below market levels, services offered primarily or only to men, locked doors with buzzers, covered windows and evidence women are living at the establishment.
However, not all of them hide. Some have suggestive names or blatantly advertise “Asian gals.”
The illicit parlors also provide customers with a built-in cover story for sex-buyers — that they just wanted a massage.
“This type of trafficking is unique, because it's so publicly observable,” said Myles. “There's a misconception that these places are harmless, and so they fall lower and lower on the priority list of all the things law enforcement has to deal with.”
When police do make arrests, according to the report, the workers are often charged with prostitution, but the traffickers and sex-buyers often go free or remain unmentioned in press accounts.
“A lot of the women are working as a subcontractor, so when police come in and catch them attempting to provide erotic services, the proprietor will blame the woman ? ‘I didn't know she was doing that, go ahead and arrest her,'” Mehlman-Orozco explained. “Because of deception, indentured servitude and the fear of being deported, the victims typically won't cooperate with law enforcement. Even if the proprietor is charged, they'll plead down to tangentially related crimes, which result in a slap on the wrist.”
In January, the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act,” which was proposed by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), cleared the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation .
The bill is aimed at holding websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking ? including ones that promote illicit massage parlors ? liable for those crimes. While the bill might sound good on the surface, Mehlman-Orozco said its passage would make it even more difficult to identify and rescue trafficking victims.
“What they don't understand is that even if they get rid of these websites, sex trafficking will still exist,” she said. “It will just push these crimes further underground and inhibit the ability of law enforcement to intervene. That is not a fix. The best thing we can do is keep it above ground.”
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he'd like to see a strategic and coordinated effort between law enforcement, state and local regulating agencies, and community-based organizations.
“We must shift to a victim-centered response, emphasizing our efforts to target exploiters and empower survivors,” Ferguson said.
To that end, Polaris is launching a national campaign to enact stricter state and local laws.
“It boggles the mind why this hasn't been done,” Myles said. “Since starting this project, we've seen a very positive response from police, prosecutors and [politicians], so there is a hunger out there to approach this problem differently. We plan to spend the next three years engaging states as they improve their efforts.”
Myles added, “What an amazing heist they've been getting away with ? $2.5 billion every year ? all the while pulling the wool over everybody's eyes. That's about to change.”
People can receive help or report a tip of suspected human trafficking in the United States by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or by sending a text to Polaris at “BeFree” (233733).
Tips to keep your child from becoming a victim of sexual abuse
Following the arrests of two Charlotte men in the last week for sex crimes involving minors, Pat's Place is offering strategies for parents to prevent child sexual abuse.
by Kendall Morris
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Following the arrests of two Charlotte men in the last week for sex crimes involving minors, Pat's Place is offering strategies for parents to prevent child sexual abuse.
A former soccer coach was arrested Friday after he was accused of having child pornography on his computer.
According to a search warrant, a woman was looking at her boyfriend's laptop and found a folder that contained pornography involving girls that appeared to be underage. The boyfriend, 28-year-old Peter Trask, called his employer, the Carolina Rapids, on January 5 to self-report that he had child pornography on his computer .
In an unrelated case, a CMS employee is accused of sexually exploiting a minor. Henry "Buff" Dillard was arrested last Friday, according to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office.
Ann Glaser, director of program services for Pat's Place, said it's important for parents to have open conversations with their children starting at an early age to make it comfortable to talk about these subjects.
She said that can mean starting with talking about a child's body, appropriate relationships, and appropriate touches.
“What's really important for families and parents in particular to know is that it's not the stranger that they need to be afraid of,” Glaser said.
She said about 90 percent of the time a sexual predator is someone that a child already knows.
"For example, tutors, or music instructors, or voice instructor, that type of thing, or coaches,” Glaser added, “and so you're going to want to ask, ‘Do you do background checks? Do they have access to children one-on-one?'"
It's also important, Glaser said, for parents to recognize the signs of “grooming” behavior when adults interact with children because a predator can use trust with a family to get close to a child.
"What that also does is make it more likely that a child won't be believed because the parents trust this person,” Glaser said. “They're upstanding members of the community."
If you believe your child may be the victim of sexual abuse, Glaser said parents should start by addressing the topic in a calm way and ask open-ended questions in a nonleading way.
For more strategies from Pat's Place, click here .
Will #metoo movement empower victims of child sexual abuse?
by Beth Adams
(Audio interview on site)
Since the #metoo movement started several months ago, scores of women have accused powerful men of sexual harassment and assault.
When it comes to victims of child sexual abuse, only 10 percent disclose their story during their childhood.
Deb Rosen, executive director at Bivona Child Advocacy Center, says the #metoo movement may empower more children to come forward, but the stories may also trigger traumatic memories for others.
"Fundamentally, I think it is good for kids to see grownups coming forward and telling their truth and speaking up for what's right. But I think there are many layers of dynamics that prevent children from telling their truth."
Like adult survivors, children often fail to confront their abuser for fear of retribution, guilt, and shame.
Rosen said the sentencing hearing of convicted abuser Larry Nassar this week is a once in a generation experience.
Nearly 160 young women spoke at the hearing or had others read their statements about how the former U.S. Gymnastics Team physician sexually assaulted them.
"There's no question that children and watching and listening to this story,” said Rosen. “I know my children are. What they are seeing are young women speaking about things that happened to them and the powerful impacts of that."
In 2016, Bivona Child Advocacy Center evaluated 1,919 children. They included 1,588 victims of alleged abuse and 331 survivors of secondary abuse (children who witnessed abuse or lived in a household where abuse was alleged.)
Granite State Debates--Dawn Phillips: Marsy's Law would give crime victims a voice
by Dawn Phillips
I don't like to think of myself as a victim; I am a survivor. Unfortunately, there's no denying that I was recently re-victimized by the criminal justice system in New Hampshire.
Beginning when I was just four years old, the innocence I had as a child was stripped away by terror and fear at the hands of an adult who was supposed to love and protect me. Although my abuser was convicted, I struggled to escape the memories of what happened during my childhood in New Hampshire. I needed to get away, so I left the state and started a new life, trying to leave the pain behind me.
As an adult, I thought I had finally overcome my past. I realized I was wrong after I received a personal phone call from an investigator from New Hampshire. The investigator told me that my abuser, after all of these years, was trying to have his name removed from the state's sex offender registry. I didn't hear much after that. I was overcome by memories of being abused as a child. I knew that this man had been convicted of the abuse that haunted me for more than a decade. In my heart, I also knew that this man was trying to get off the sex offender registry so that he could then go undetected and abuse another child.
I would later go on to learn that the man who so viciously abused me was claiming that he should be able to be removed from the sexual offender registry because it was prohibiting him from accessing subsidized housing. He wanted to erase his crimes so he could have a free place to live. Sadly, I was never notified of this process. I was never told it was happening at all.
What's worse is that I found out the ACLU of New Hampshire was representing my abuser in this case, and trying to paint him as a poor, old, sympathetic man. ACLU-NH used his case as part of its larger effort to remove hundreds of the most dangerous sexual predators from the public sex offender list.
With more digging, I discovered that for more than two years, my offender had been working through the courts on this effort. I was never notified during these two years. I was never given the opportunity to speak to the court about how dangerous this man truly is. I had no voice.
It's hard to describe the emotions I felt while watching a hearing on this matter, after the fact, on YouTube. The hurt from being left out and ignored, and the fury of seeing my abuser rewrite history to paint himself as an innocent, frail old man is hard to put into words. There was no mention made of the victim. No mention of that four-year old girl who was afraid to get up and use the bathroom in the middle of the night because she might be beaten. I was never given the opportunity to speak to the court about how dangerous this man truly is. The monster who took away my childhood had constitutional rights and a voice. I had none.
In an effort to ensure that no other child in New Hampshire has to face a system that is so heavily stacked against them, I am now working to pass Marsy's Law for New Hampshire. Marsy's Law offers basic rights for victims: the right to notification, the right to be heard; right to a trial without delays; and the right to restitution. Thirty-five states guarantee basic rights for victims of crime within their state constitutions. If this bill were already in effect in New Hampshire, I would have been notified and I would have had a voice. I want to make sure that no other victim has to suffer in silence like I did.
It doesn't surprise me that the ACLU and a small number of criminal defense attorneys are trying to stop this bill from passing. Take these groups for what they are: groups that promote the rights of criminals and fundamentally disagree with giving victims equal rights. But they don't get to silence me anymore. I am proud to stand with the governor, attorney general, 22 state senators, the House Speaker, the House minority leader, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, law enforcement, victim advocates, and survivors of crime who are in full support of Marsy's Law.
I urge citizens to stand with victims and their families. Please help pass Marsy's Law.
Dawn Phillips is a child sexual abuse survivor.
The Twisted Psychology of Parents Who Torture Their Children
by Jeffrey Kluger and Belinda Luscombe
Don't try to fathom what was going on in the minds of the California parents who starved and imprisoned their 13 children for years before one of the victims escaped and informed the police last weekend. Really, there is no unraveling it—not fully, at least. Basic empathy and the care of offspring are among the most fundamental lines of code in the human operating system. When that gets corrupted—when the protectors become tormentors, when the nurturers become jailers—it's nearly impossible to grasp, much less explain.
That doesn't mean that forensic psychologists and others aren't trying. Even as the Turpin children begin a long period of recovery, and the parents—David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49—face sentences of 94 years to life, experts are trying to understand both the dynamics of the home and, more mysteriously, the parents' motivations.
The darkest part of an already dark reality is that while children may be abused by all manner of people, parents are overwhelmingly the likeliest offenders. According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), 71.8% of child abuse or neglect cases occurred at the hands of victims' parents in 2015, the most recent year for which numbers are available. The leading risk factors in that study were—no surprise—parental alcohol abuse, drug abuse or domestic violence.
In the Turpins' case, there are no reports yet of substance abuse. And while the treatment the Turpin children received was violence by any measure, it was less systematic battering—though that was part of it—than a sort of patient, sadistic torment: reportedly forbidding them to use the bathroom, allowing them to shower only once a year, starving them while at the same time tormenting them with fresh pies placed just out of reach. Drugs, alcohol or uncontrolled anger don't explain that kind of slow, cold cruelty. But other factors might.
“In my experience there is usually a psychopathology in the parents,” says trauma psychologist Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, an adjunct professor in the department of psychiatry at Georgetown University. “They're depressed perhaps, they're bipolar, they're schizophrenic. Some of the parents themselves might have been abused as children, though I say that warily because it's not an excuse to abuse your own children.”
David Finkelhor, professor of sociology and director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, sees two other diagnostic profiles that might fit the parents: delusional or paranoid states, which can lead to all manner of irrational or abusive behavior.
A misguided ideology might be another factor. “Parents may tell themselves they're protecting their children from the corruption of an awful society,” says Finkelhor, “or that children are evil and need to be chastised or brought into line.”
The starvation may have been a similarly convoluted way of dealing with the business of feeding a family of fifteen. Louise Turpin was listed in records as a homemaker. While her husband appears to have been unemployed in recent years, he worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman at an annual salary of $140,000 as recently as 2011. But that was the same year the Turpins filed for bankruptcy, listing debts of $100,000 to $500,000.
“He may have felt like this was the only way for the family to survive under the pressures that were being imposed on them by society,” says Finkelhor.
The co-conspiratorial nature of the crimes implicates both spouses equally, and they have been charged accordingly. Initial suspicion, however, will likely fall mostly on the husband as the initiator. The seven-year age difference between the two is not terribly much, but it would have seemed bigger when they married 32 years ago. He was also the principle wage-earner in the household, which creates its own kind of power disparity.
“It may just be that she drank his Kool-Aid,” says Finkelhor.
Not all experts would be so likely to give Louise Turpin even a small pass. Elizabeth Skowron, a professor of counseling psychology and a research scientist at the University of Oregon's Prevention Science Institute, says that in her group's work, mothers are very often both the perpetrators and initiators of abuse. The NCANDS data backs that up, with 70% of victims mistreated by the mother, the large majority of those times without the participation of the father. Still, in this case, she sees a potential for collaboration.
“From what I can gather, they're both in this eyeball-deep,” says Skowron. “[It seems like they were] mutually engaged in keeping their children held hostage.”
One additional risk factor for either or both parents might be a state that Skowron calls “extreme threat-sensitivity,” often seen in highly abusive parents. “They view the world through a lens of things that are threatening, that ‘my child is more powerful than me,'” she says. “‘If I am in complete control then I can calm down.'”
Indeed, Skowron says that such parents actually become more physiologically stressed in the few instances that they show nurturing behavior to their children. Better — for the parents at least — to crack back down and feel that their world is in order again.
All of this will be for the Turpins to contemplate during the lifetime of imprisonment they likely face, and for the children to resolve in the longer, potentially much brighter futures they have ahead of them. Trauma specialists are generally sanguine about the ability of children to recover from such unimaginable abuse, which is one mercy. Another will be if what's learned from the horror show of the Turpin home helps prevent or at least mitigate the next such tragedy.
Another Voice: Extend the statute of limitation for child sexual abuse
by William Canavan
Sexual abuse of infants, children and adolescents is a common occurrence.
Scientific efforts to measure this problem indicate that approximately one in three or four girls and about one in six or seven boys are subjected to some form of sexual abuse. This child sexual abuse is more common than asthma, diabetes and seizure disorders combined, and they are among the most common childhood diseases. This abuse causes long-lasting significant psychological trauma to the child. It exacts a terrible toll. This psychological trauma often leads to risky maladaptive behaviors that cause very serious long-term adult physical diseases that result in disability and early death.
The human brain does not finish physical maturing until a person is in his or her mid-20s. Very often, a person needs that maturation to be completed before healing of the psychological trauma can progress. Even then, that process may take years.
Consistent with these considerations, a bill to extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse was introduced last year in the New York State Legislature. The measure passed in the Assembly. It was endorsed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. However, State Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan, did not bring the bill to the Senate for a vote. The bill could come up again in the new Legislature term, which is underway.
As a Western New York pediatrician taking care of minors reported to be victims of child sexual abuse, it is my opinion that the bill should become law and thus extend liability for criminal charges to 28 years old from 23 and extend the liability for civil lawsuits to 50 years old from 21. There would also be a one-time, one year period in which cases from any time could go to court.
This bill would give victims time to mature and then get enough therapy to have the psychological strength to pursue justice in court, where a decision validating their claim often enhances the therapeutic effect for them. Any elected official not voting for this bill is an accomplice to the abuser in that the victim is not allowed to be validated and the trauma from the abuse is less likely to be resolved. Likewise, not voting for this bill amounts to being an accomplice to future crimes, since the abuser can remain free to abuse again.
All of us should contact our representatives in the New York Assembly and Senate and our governor and ask them to support and vote for this bill for the sake of so many children who are so vulnerable and have so little voice of their own. If our elected officials fail to vote for this bill, we should ask them whose wishes they served instead of children in need.
William Canavan, M.D., is a pediatrician in a hospital clinic. He also works with the Child Advocacy Center in Buffalo.
Larry Nassar Sentenced To 40 To 175 Years In Prison For Child Sexual Abuse
"I've just signed your death warrant," Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said to the former USA Gymnastics doctor
by Alanna Vagianos
Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University team doctor who treated some of America's best athletes, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison Wednesday for sex crimes that have shaken the sport's governing body.
Nassar, 54, will spend the rest of his life behind bars as a result of Michigan Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina's sentence on seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.
“I've just signed your death warrant,” Aquilina said after handing down the sentence.
The judge gave a lengthy and powerful explanation of how she viewed Nassar's apology and calculated his sentence. “It was not treatment what you did. It was not medical,” she told Nassar. “You do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again.”
She also called on federal authorities to investigate how Nassar's abuse was allowed to go on for so long. “Justice requires more than what I can do on this bench,” Aquilina said.
Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis called Nassar a “master manipulator” in her closing argument.
“The breadth and ripple of this defendant's abuse and destruction is nearly infinite,” Povilaitis told the court. “The defendant is a twisted, beloved, renowned doctor who used his prestige to gain trust of these girls and exploit them.”
Nassar, in his statement to the court, said he will carry his victims' words “for the rest of my days.”
“Your words these past several days have had a significant emotional effect on myself and has shaken me to my core,” Nassar said, turning to face survivors in the courtroom. “I also recognize what I'm feeling pales in comparison to the pain, trauma and emotional destruction you are all feeling.”
Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to the crimes on Nov. 22, and admitted that he sexually assaulted young girls under the guise of medical treatment. He's already serving a 60-year sentence on federal child pornography charges, and still faces sentencing for three additional criminal sexual conduct crimes in Michigan. Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Nassar to 40 to 125 years.
The judge allowed Nassar's victims to deliver or read impact statements in her Lansing, Michigan, courtroom. For seven days, Nassar was forced to listen as 169 survivors and family members read statements that were emotional, cathartic and powerful.
“Little girls don't stay little forever. They turn into strong women that return to destroy your world,” Nassar family friend Kyle Stephens said in her impact statement last week. Stephens, who said Nassar began molesting her when she was 6, was the first woman to read her statement in court.
Over 140 women have accused the now-disgraced doctor of sexual abuse, including Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman , Gabby Douglas , McKayla Maroney and Simone Biles . According to court documents, Nassar gained the trust of girls and their families, which then gave him cover for exams that allowed him to fondle and digitally penetrate the girls as team doctor for USA Gymnastics and various Michigan State University sports teams.
“Larry, you do realize now that we ? this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time ? are now a force and you are nothing,” Raisman said in her victim impact statement . “The tables have turned, Larry. We are here and we are not going anywhere.”
Raisman revealed in November that Nassar sexually abused her during her time on the USA Gymnastics Olympic team.
“I was just so scared and nervous about what people were going to think,” Raisman said in a November interview. “I was a textbook victim, brainwashed to believe I was fine.”
Many of Nassar's victims told how the abuse has affected them, with stories of PTSD, family issues, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, intimacy issues, a distrust of men, a distrust of doctors, shame, guilt and suicidal thoughts.
“I was a carefree silly little girl until this happened, and afterwards there was a cloud and the cloud has followed me into every relationship in my life, especially the most important ones,” survivor Lyndsy Carr said in her statement.
Dancer Jessica Smith told of debilitating migraines she experiences because of the trauma from Nassar's abuse.
“Since being victimized, I suffer from a rare form of extreme migraines that no neurologist has been able to fully understand or diagnose,” Smith said in court. ”... These migraines begin with half of my body going numb, including my tongue, causing me to be unable to speak. I also lose basic functioning skills such as fine motor and even gross motor. The effects of my migraines can cause me to be confused and unable to think straight for up to days after the initial searing headaches. This in addition to my anxiety and inability to sleep leaves me in an unhealthy state both physically and emotionally.”
The first public allegation against Nassar came in September 2016 , a year before the #MeToo movement took off. He was let go by USA Gymnastics in 2015, and was subsequently fired from his faculty position at MSU . He was arrested for possessing at least 37,000 images of child pornography in December 2016, and in July pleaded guilty to three federal counts relating to child pornography. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison in December.
Many of Nassar's victims said they told coaches, parents and trainers about the abuse, but it continued. The Detroit News reported that at least 14 Michigan State University staffers and representatives were warned about Nassar's abuse over the course of two decades, and failed to stop it.
Dozens of victims called out the university and USA Gymnastics.
“A simple fact is this: If Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee had paid attention to any of the red flags in Larry Nassar's behavior, I never would have met him, I never would have been ‘treated' by him, I never would have been abused by him,” Maroney said in her impact statement.
MSU doctor Brooke Lemmen and MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages have both resigned in the face of mounting accusations. The dean of MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine, William D. Strampel, took a medical leave from his position in December.
The president of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny, resigned in March. Three of the organization's directors resigned this week, and John Geddert, who coached the American 2012 Olympic team and reportedly was close with Nassar, was suspended.
“I knew that he abused me. I reported it,” Nassar victim Amanda Thomashow said in her impact statement. “Michigan State University had the audacity to tell me I did not understand the difference between sexual assault and a medical procedure.”
Emma Ann Miller, 15, in an emotional impact statement this week, said that after Nassar's case, she and other survivors will be coming for the school.
“The best part of my story, titled Miller vs. MSU, is I know I'm not alone,” Miller told the judge. “You see, Your Honor, we are just getting started.”
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
by Alexandra Lehnert
The case of the former U.S.A Olympic Doctor trial has a lot of parents talking, and wondering about their kids. Have they been assaulted? Or how they'd even know it?
Dr. Philip Hyden, a child abuse specialist and pediatrician with Valley Children's Hospital says parents need to make sure they are constantly asking questions, and are very involved in their child's lives.
"I think it's paramount because you don't want your child damaged from achieving a goal that caused them to have repercussions for the rest of their lives," says Hyden.
Hyden says often times if a child is being abused, or assaulted, its by someone that child knows, and likely trusts.
So parents, Hyden says to prevent this you have to be in tune with your children, and what is going on in their lives.
He says it is critical to establish a mutual trusting relationship with your kids so they know they can always come to you.
Teach them what is right versus wrong, because at a young age, they may not know.
Ask a lot of questions, of your child,k of their doctor, or teacher, or daycare provider.
And if somethings seems off, ask more questions.
"I think you just have to be really, not hyper-vigilant, to your child's need, cause if you're not, something could happen, and you may feel terrible if you didn't intervene when there were warning signs," says Hyden.
Some of the warning signs include a child acting differently. If they start withdrawing from the things that interest them, from their family, or from their friends.
Hyden says children acting out could be another warning sign. If they start acting more aggressively, or sexually, parents should ask questions.
He says if you suspect something is wrong, go straight to the person in question's boss.
Hyden says if a child is being abused they are often told to stay quiet, and do for fear of retaliation.
Larry Nassar shouldn't be the only one going to jail
Survivors reported Nassar's abuse to coaches, trainers, parents, therapists, a training facility owner, and even law enforcement officials-but all in vain
by Michael Dolce
I t is tragically ironic that in the same month we applauded the courageous young survivors confronting Larry Nassar in court for his horrific abuse, we also celebrated the wisdom and legacy of the Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. One of King's great lessons was that justice can be hindered by “the appalling silence of the good people”.
Indeed, so many survivors of Larry Nassar's atrocious acts asked one question time and time again: why was he not stopped sooner by the good people who had reason to know of his crimes?
Gymnast Larissa Boyce, runner Christine Achenbach and softball player Tiffany Lopez all recounted their complaints to otherwise “good” people at Michigan State University about Nassar between 1997 and 2000, many years before his relentless abuse of children was stopped.
They and many other survivors reported Nassar's abuse for many years to coaches, trainers, parents, therapists, a training facility owner and even law enforcement officials – but all in vain. Common among the complaints of these survivors is that they were not believed and were silenced, while Nassar continued to attack child after child after child. These survivors' stories are all too common – in cases that make the news and those that do not.
I have represented child sex abuse victims as a lawyer for many years and in virtually every case the survivor takes a huge risk in speaking up at all. I repeatedly see child sex abuse survivors, just like most adult sex crime victims, disbelieved by numerous people – especially those who were in positions of power to stop the abuse in the first place.
It seems easier for them to reject survivors and stifle their voices than to accept responsibility for not protecting them or having the courage to act to protect the next vulnerable child the abuser targets.
In one case, I even saw a child abuse investigator testify that she closes all cases of child sex abuse and takes no further action if the victim is under six, unless there is confirming physical proof (which is rare). She does not even bother interviewing all known witnesses and does absolutely nothing to monitor the perpetrator thereafter.
Too often, people in a position to help turn away from this horror pretend it does not exist, or simply refuse to believe that someone as charming and talented as Nassar could be capable of such crimes. With all we know about child sex predators, there is no excuse for such ignorant inaction.
After-the-fact arrests and so-called internal investigations can do nothing to make amends for the harm to children whose abuse could have been prevented in the first place. Nassar is now known to have sexually abused some 140 young girls, and he probably abused many more. It appears the overwhelming majority of them never would have been abused at all, if the more than a dozen “good” adults who were told over the years about Nassar's crimes had acted decisively to stop him, just like other cases we have seen in the news, from the Catholic Church to Penn State.
And if organizations, like USA Gymnastics, steadfastly enforced common sense methods to deter and prevent child sex abuse, like prohibiting examination and treatment of children alone in a private room – an opportunity for abuse that Nassar favored – numerous children would be spared such crimes.
These organizations, which predators purposefully infiltrate to access potential victims, must be proactive in preventing the opportunity for abuse before it happens. They must not believe, as many of their officials have testified in cases I have handled, that you just can't stop it from happening in the first place – that there must always be a first victim. That is simply not true, and it is an immoral abdication of the sacred duty to protect children to act as if it is.
I myself am a survivor of child sex abuse, and I join my fellow survivors in saying that those who fail to act in the face of a child's cry for help is to be complicit in the crime and, most certainly, to be responsible for what happens to the next child the abuser targets.
I join my fellow survivors in saying that institutional actors who fail to implement and enforce measures to prevent abuse in the first place are responsible for the harm that results. And I add to the cries for such inaction to be treated in all respects as a crime. Nassar should not be the only one going to prison.
Born in 1963, Larry Nassar was but a very young child when King was taken from us in 1968. There was plenty of time for those “good” adults who ignored and silenced Nassar's child victims when they cried out for help, over many years, to take Reverend King's lessons to heart before Nassar struck even once. But they did not.
As a child sex abuse survivor, as an advocate for other survivors and as a parent, I pray society will realize that the appalling silence of the good people is absolutely intolerable in the face of any evil – especially evil that threatens defenseless children. I pray we finally learn this time.
Michael Dolce, a victim of child sex abuse, is now a victims' rights attorney at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll.
How to Keep Children Safe From Abuse at the Pediatrician's Office
by Roni Caryn Rabin
How can parents know if a doctor is touching a child in an inappropriate way?
After scores of young women testified about being sexually molested by Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, the former doctor for the American gymnastics team who was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on Wednesday, their parents wondered how they could have missed the signs . Some were even in the exam room at the time but were unaware that anything was wrong.
Detecting sexual abuse in a medical setting can be challenging. We teach young children that doctors are among the only people allowed to touch their genitals . That can make it confusing if a patient encounters an abusive physician like Dr. Nassar.
“The natural inclination is to trust a doctor, especially when they tell you, ‘This is something that will make you feel better,' ” said Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, or RAINN.
That said, parents should trust their instincts. If they're alarmed by a health provider's practices — frequent genital exams, unconventional medical treatments that involve genital manipulation, disregard for rules about using gloves during sensitive exams or having an adult chaperone present during a child's exam, even inappropriate jokes or comments — they should question the doctor, get another opinion or switch doctors, experts said.
“If you're in a situation where the physician does genital exams for medical complaints that don't seem to warrant them, or does a genital exam that takes an extraordinary amount of time — it should really just be a quick look, unless there's something notable, a specific reason — those are red flags,” said Dr. Cindy Christian, a co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrics's policy on protecting children from sexual abuse by health care providers. “If the complaint is a sore throat or a hurt finger, there's no need to examine the genitals.”
The most telling indication that something may be wrong is when a child signals discomfort or distress. Most physicians who treat children and adolescents go to great lengths to put their young patients at ease, talking the patient through an exam or procedure in advance so the child knows what to expect, explaining the reasons for the procedure, and making sure the child is on board.
“It's very important that people not feel uncomfortable with what's happening to them at the doctor's office, particularly children and adolescents,” said Dr. Julia Potter, an adolescent medicine specialist at Boston Medical Center. “They should not be made to feel that something is happening to their body that is out of their control. If a child says, ‘I don't want you to check my breasts,' or, ‘I don't want you to do a genital exam,' that's a valid opinion that most pediatricians would respect.”
And if your children share their distress with you, don't dismiss it. “Believe your children when they tell you that what's happening to them feels uncomfortable,” said Katelyn Brewer, president and chief executive of Darkness to Light , a nonprofit organization that educates adults on how to recognize and prevent child sexual abuse.
“Come straight out and ask your child: Did the doctor touch you in a way that you're uncomfortable with?” Ms. Brewer said.
What's Standard in the Exam Room
Annual physicals for children and teenagers usually entail a full-body examination, including a check of the genitals that can help monitor development as children go through puberty. But unless the child has a specific complaint, these exams are usually brief.
Boys usually have a testicular exam once a year, but should be able to opt out if they're uncomfortable. These typically last less than a minute. The boy usually stands, removing only as much clothing as necessary; the doctor feels each testicle for masses and generally will use gloves, though there is no internal penetration of any part of the body.
Parents are usually in the room when young children are being examined, but teens may not want a parent present. Doctors should offer to have an adult chaperone come in during a sensitive procedure like a genital exam; if no one is available, the patient should have the option of postponing the exam, Dr. Christian said.
For girls, visual and manual breast exams may be done to assess growth and development during puberty, but manual exams are not required and should be carried out only with the adolescent's permission.
A breast exam is done with the pads of the fingers, not the finger tips or palm of the hand, and the patient should wear a gown, with only one breast exposed at a time.
Even in a gynecological visit, there is rarely any reason to do an internal pelvic exam on girls younger than 21, the age when screening for cervical cancer is recommended. Unusual symptoms like pelvic pain could trigger a pelvic exam earlier, but the doctor should explain to the patient exactly what's entailed, step-by-step, before initiating the exam, and always wear gloves.
What Parents Can Do
Talk with children — and listen, said Jenny Coleman, director of Stop It Now! , an organization that works to prevent child sexual abuse. “It's never too early to talk to children about healthy sexual development and how their bodies work, and what's private — and to make them feel comfortable asking questions, and know that you're a trusted person to come to.”
If you're unsure about an exam or treatment a doctor recommends for your child, ask if alternatives are available — there is almost always another option — or postpone it until you have more information. Get a second opinion, do your own research, and ask other parents, family members and trusted friends.
If you or your child have a bad feeling about your doctor, find a new one. Teenage girls often prefer a female pediatrician. But don't forget that women may also be abusive or that boys can also be abused, and may be even less likely than girls to report it.
“You always have the right to change physicians if you're unhappy or even just uncomfortable with your child's care,” Dr. Christian said. “There might be nothing wrong — it just might not be the right doctor for you.”
Doc Arrested For Making Child Porn At Work; He Called It "Research"
by Aaron Keller
A Western New York State doctor has been arrested and charged with receipt and possession of child pornography, according to a federal criminal complaint obtained by Law&Crime . The doctor, David Blasczak , of Newark, New York, and with offices in nearby Clyde, allegedly admitted to both purchasing and creating sexually explicit images of children, the complaint says, and confessed to taking photos of the genitals of children at his medical office. Read the criminal complaint below.
The federal investigation into the doctor began when agents in Arizona started digging into a suspected child pornography website, which is not named in the complaint. The agents eventually obtained payment records for purchases made on that website, but one of the payment processors is also not named in the complaint. Federal agents eventually began tracing the payments back through PayPal , and that information led them to the doctor's name, addresses, and financial accounts.
While state police and federal agents were raiding his home, Dr. Blasczak initially denied having images or videos of child pornography, but later admitted it, police said. He also allegedly admitted to buying child pornography online. The doctor even told agents what his “favorite type of child pornography” was, the complaint says. The complaint goes on:
BLASCZAK denied ever abusing any of his child patients, but admitted to Agents that he previously photographed the genitals of children at his office. When asked, BLASCZAK claimed that he was conducting his own independent research about child sex abuse and paid the parents of approximately 8 children to photograph the children's genitals. BLASCZAK told Agents that he told the parents that he was conducting medical research. BLASCZAK admitted that he was not sanctioned by a hospital, university, medical organization or any other professional medical board to photograph children's genitals.
It gets worse. After state police and federal agents took him back to the local state police barracks, Dr. Blasczak allegedly admitted to sexually touching and photographing his now-deceased daughter's friends during sleepovers. He also admitted to masturbating to the photos of patients and family friends, according to the criminal complaint.
WHEC-TV in nearby Rochester, New York reports that there were two other criminal investigations into the doctor, neither of which resulted in any charges. One woman told WHEC-TV that the doctor approached her husband about photographing her very young daughter's genitals, purportedly so that the images could be used as a comparison images in cases where other children had been abused. The woman told the TV station she vehemently refused.
7 Things You Do As An Adult If You Suffered Emotional Abuse As A Teenager
Teens are not responsible for what happens, but the effects of such actions reflect in their behavior as adults.
by Simran Arora
Every reaction is backed by an action, what you sow is what you reap, what goes around comes around and so on. We have grown up listening to such statements. But how often do we take them seriously? At times we fail to realize that our own actions have such a deep impact on our kids. And this time, it is not about what you sow is what you reap. This time it is about how our own actions impact another person's life. One such thing is teenage abuse, the teenager himself or herself is not responsible for what happens, but the effects of such actions reflect in their behavior as adults.
Whatever happens in your teenage; things you see, hear or experience, reflect in your behavior as adults. And this separates you from the rest, and not in a good way. But how do you spot a person who has suffered emotional abuse as a teenager? Note different aspects of their behavior. You may feel it is not necessary, but trust us, knowing what a person has been through or understanding your own conundrums can make all the difference.
1. Asking the same questions again and again
This means you have trust issues, and that too, with yourself. You know the answer, you know you are right, but you still continue to ask the same question again and again because you doubt yourselves.
2. Apologizing constantly
If you experienced emotional abuse as a teen, where you were made to realize that you are wrong all the time, you start doubting your abilities. Hence, you end up apologizing again and again for everything, even when you didn't do anything wrong.
3. You are constantly scared that something bad can happen
Even when everything is just in place, you end up worrying a number of times that something bad is going to happen. Due to teenage abuse, you fail to believe anything truly.
4. You end up being tough and sensitive at the same time
Going through abuse is not a joke, neither an easy task that anyone can undertake easily. Due to all the emotional abuse, you end up becoming stronger and tougher. However, deep down, you continue to be a sensitive person. All the emotions you experienced as a teen make you sensitive to your and others' sentiments.
5. Sensitivity to loud noises
Going through emotional abuse can sometimes be about getting yelled at very often. So you start associating loud noises with abuse and can become sensitive to such noises.
6. You soon turn into an introvert
Due to all the abuse, you start fearing people and avoid any form of contact with them. You go into your own shell and try to distance yourself from others as much as possible.
7. Issues maintaining eye contact
Emotional abuse can kill your confidence and you can become anxious as soon as you have to maintain eye contact with a person.
Newly built cottage offers safe haven, specialized therapy for child victims of sex trafficking
by Jane Caffrey
New Life Refuge Ministries, a local volunteer organization that is on the front lines in the war against sex trafficking, has reached an important milestone. After more than a year of hard work, it is ready to open a safe house for the youngest victims of the terrible crime.
Children rescued from sex traffickers cannot always be returned to their homes. Now there is a haven for those young victims in the countryside. It is a cottage that was just built, and soon sex trafficking survivors will be moving in.
Walking the stone path to the cottage could be the first step in the road to recovery for local girls rescued from the sex trade.
"79,000 children are being trafficked in the state of Texas, and there are less than 30 beds. We couldn't build these houses fast enough," Minta Moore, Executive Director of New Life Refuge Ministries, said, referencing a University of Texas study.
The cottage is in a rural setting, but the location cannot be disclosed for the safety of the young girls who will live there. The home will give those girls a chance to leave behind their life on the streets, and the men who sold and bought their bodies.
"All the girls that I've dealt with on my cases have been through quite an ordeal, but they don't realize that they've been through an ordeal," Michelle Putnam, Chief of Intake at the Nueces County District Attorney's Office, said. "Not only do they need a safe place where they can go to be away from their trafficker, but also somewhere that has the specialized counseling that is necessary."
Specialized staff are being trained to work at the cottage now. Trained house parents will be on hand 24 hours a day, and there will also be specialized counselors. In addition, on-site schooling, horse therapy, art, music, and gardening will help the young victims mend their lives.
The home has many community spaces, but each girl will have her own bedroom.
"We consulted with a survivor, and she's like, that is really so important, to be able to have your own space, especially as you're kind of going through those intense healing times," Moore said.
The cottage is the first of it's kind in South Texas, and one of only a few shelters for girls rescued from sex trafficking in the state.
Eventually, New Life Refuge will build three more cottages nearby, including a shelter for boy trafficking victims. That will be only the second facility for boy victims in the country.
"Just showing kids the love, and the healing that that can offer them, is so important to really help them to become the person that they've been created to be," Moore said.
New Life Refuge Ministries will hold its annual fundraiser, Celebration of Courage , on Friday January 26th.
A sex trafficking survivor, Theresa Flores, will deliver a speech.
State Representative Todd Hunter will emcee the event, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will be the honorary chair. Entertainment includes music by Jake Ward Band.
New Life Refugee Ministries will use the money raised to begin construction on the cottage for boy victims of sex trafficking. The girls' cottage was completely built through donations to the organization.
From the FBI
Online Predator Used Familiar Tactics to Victimize 12-Year-Old Girl
A 32-year-old Georgia man who pretended to be someone else online is behind bars after using familiar predatory tactics to coerce a 12-year-old girl to produce child pornography and send it to him.
The victims of this type of crime—commonly referred to as sextortion—are almost always vulnerable teenagers who are tricked online and then find themselves in a nightmare situation: They are afraid to tell their parents or friends what is happening, and believe complying with their abuser is the only solution.
“The predators typically pretend to be teenagers online and lurk on popular social media sites,” said Special Agent Kevin Orkin, who investigated the case from the FBI's Atlanta Division. “The victims—striving for attention, maybe having issues with their parents, as teens often do—are easily manipulated.”
The predators establish an online relationship, flirt, and in time convince the victims to send them a sexually provocative picture. “That initial image might not be too incriminating by today's standards,” Orkin said, but the predators use the image to blackmail the victims. If they don't send more explicit material, the victims are told, the image will be shared online with their friends and family to humiliate them.
“The victims are too scared to tell anyone what's going on,” Orkin said, “and before they know it, they are in way over their heads.”
In the case of the Georgia man, Gerardo Uribe, he masqueraded online as a 13-year-old boy, and later as a 25-year-old man. After the young victim sent a partially nude image of herself at his request in 2014, Uribe was eventually able to take over one of her social media accounts by resetting her password and then locking her out.
With access to all her information, including the initial compromising image, Uribe coerced the girl into providing more sexually explicit material—four images that met the federal definition of child pornography.
The girl's parents discovered the crime and reported it to the local sheriff's office, which referred the matter to the FBI. Through various investigative methods, Uribe was located in Georgia and charged with child pornography offenses.
He pleaded guilty in August 2017, and in November 2017 was sentenced to 10 years in prison. A Mexican citizen who was living in the United States as a permanent resident, Uribe will be deported after he completes his prison term. Investigators said that Uribe had tried to victimize at least one other girl.
“Sextortion is a growing problem on social media sites,” Orkin said, and although it may be easy to blame the victims of sextortion for the predicament they find themselves in, he explained, “we are talking about children being manipulated by adults. It's clear that these criminals are preying on their victims and taking advantage of them in the worst way.”
Orkin urged parents to routinely monitor their children's Internet access and keep computers in common areas of the house. Because mobile devices are regularly used outside the house to connect to social media sites, Orkin also suggested that parents insist on knowing the passwords and PIN codes to their children's online devices.
“When it comes to online relationships,” Orkin said, “the best practice for children is simple: If you don't know a person in real life, don't friend them on social media.”
Why kids are so good at keeping their abuse a secret
by Rachel Bertsche
Last week, more than 160 women publicly shared victim impact statements , detailing the horrors they endured at the hands of Larry Nassar, a former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. It's nearly impossible to read these statements — even fragments of them — without feeling some sense of horror, disgust, and sadness at what so many young girls faced over the past 20 years.
But it's also hard not to wonder: How? How did Nassar get away with this for so long? How did so many victims keep their pain quiet? How did these girls bear the burden of this secret? And what makes girls, and all children, so adept at keeping secrets in the first place?
It should be noted, of course, that not all of Nassar's victims stayed quiet. Some told their parents, or USA Gymnastics officials, or Michigan State University administrators, and were told they were mistaken — they were confusing a medical exam with abuse — or they were simply not believed. But plenty of young victims were forced to hide in plain sight, enduring abuse, sometimes even when their parents were in the room. And while it may seem unimaginable that children could be so adept at keeping secrets that not even their parents suspected anything, experts say it's quite usual — and that the added stress of elite athletics only compounds the pressure to stay quiet.
When you look at sexual abuse, period — in adults and kids — delayed disclosure is the norm,” Kristen Houser, spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “But this is more so in kids. The experience of sexual abuse at the hands of an adult you are supposed to trust is a shocking and confusing experience. We aren't talking about violent assaults with weapons or things that makes it obvious to children that what's happening is wrong. When it is done in subtle ways, and especially when we're talking about, say, a 12-year-old, there are questions of Did that really happen? Did I do something to deserve that? So if you're not certain why something happened and you feel shame about it, the last thing you want to do is tell someone, because you're afraid you'll be blamed, judged, and not believed.”
While all children share this tendency to keep abuse quiet, Houser says that boys and girls may do so for different reasons — with girls having the added pressure of being socialized at a young age to put other people's needs before their own, potentially compelling them to stay quiet. “Boys may be afraid of being labeled gay,” she says, “where girls may fear not being believed or being called a slut,” she explains.
In addition to the confusion and shame, there is also a stigma when it comes to talking about sexual assault that even children are attuned to, says Katelyn Brewer, CEO of Darkness to Light , a nonprofit aimed at preventing child sexual abuse.
Individuals are adept at understanding discomfort in other people at a very young age,” Brewer tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Ours is not a society that makes it comfortable expressing that someone has done something to you that you did not ask for, and we are a society centered around victim blaming. Women who are survivors of sexual assault — women who are over 18 and legally able to defend themselves in a courtroom — are scared to death to speak out if they are sexually assaulted in the workplace. Compound that with an adolescent or a child who is already not self-confident and doesn't know how to deal with complex situations and potentially hasn't been told its OK to talk about body parts with trusted adults, and they take it all on themselves.”
As with so many of the sexual abuse cases that have come to light in recent months, power dynamics play an important role when it comes to the abuse of children, and especially the abuse of child athletes.
When someone who has control over whether or not you succeed, or even whether you are given the permission to compete, it can be terrifying to feel like you're being put in the place of upsetting that person, and you fear retribution. ‘If I tell, will I stay on the team? What will he say about me to the other coaches or players or teammates?'” Houser says. “Not to mention the extra factor, in this case, that entire families had aspirations about these girls' careers. It was an environment in which you follow directions and don't ask questions, a culture of compliance. As a kid you look at all those things on the line and it feels insurmountable.”
Even when kids aren't athletes, these power issues come into play. “Kids know that adults are more powerful than they are,” Brewer says. “If an adult says you are going to get in trouble if you tell, or that Mommy told me this is OK, kids may be afraid to question that.” In the USA Gymnastics case, she says, the desire to succeed and the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality only made things harder.
Both experts are hopeful that the press surrounding the victim impact statements in the Nassar trial will help discourage secret-keeping.
Talking about sexual victimization has become more and more common in our culture,” Houser says. “The more the stigma of talking crumbles and the more people who come forward, the more people will feel like it's OK to talk. Plus, I think it's been eye-opening to the public to see how truly life-changing speaking out has been to the victims — to their self-esteem and their aspirations.”
For parents of young children who want to address this head-on, Brewer says families need to start by having a frank conversation about their bodies. “Adults have to be comfortable in their discomfort when talking to their kids. This isn't an easy topic. You have to be comfortable saying ‘vagina' and ‘penis,' and in most social situations that is incredibly difficult, even among adults. But when you talk to kids about anatomy without embarrassment or shame, it instills in them an understanding that there is no shame,” she says. Having the vocabulary to talk about their bodies will ensure there is clarity in a situation where a child is trying to report abuse, Brewer adds.
When it comes to secrets, Brewer says, parents should emphasize communication and safety. “It can help to explain that secrets are best kept when they are surprises, and anything that goes beyond that is probably not a good secret to keep,” she says. “Because this is a topic that so desperately needs the lid blown off.”
Child sexual abuse more common than we admit
by Ric Tinney
You've probably not given much thought to child sexual abuse. It has been six years since the Penn State scandal broke and over two years since Spotlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Until recently, it was only occasionally that we'd read stories in the press of child sexual abuse. When we do read about it, we may question the validity of these horrific things and prefer to view these types of stories as "fake news." But the truth is sexual abuse occurs much more than we would like to admit - even in Victoria and surrounding communities.
Shockingly, statistics demonstrate one in every 10 children will be a victim of sexual abuse before age 18. To help make this more real for you, close your eyes and think of the faces of any 10 children; they could be your children, your grandchildren or perhaps their friends. Now, let the realization hit you that one of them will likely be a sexual abuse victim. And even more alarming - if that child happens to be gay, the odds of sexual abuse increase to a shocking 1 out of 2. Child sexual abuse knows no limit - no economic class, race or ethnicity. Nor is it restrained by any geographic locations.
Another fact: only one of every 10 children who has endured abuse will ever tell. That means that nine out of 10 abused children who are walking on our streets, living in our homes and sitting in our churches are carrying a terrible secret, a secret that will influence the direction of their entire lives. The effects of carrying this secret could include drug or alcohol misuse, inappropriate sexual behaviors, chronic depression and suicide.
An example of this can be seen in a recent news story of an individual in the judiciary branch who has been accused of sexually abusing a male teen many times during a period of years. Only now as an adult, the victim has told his secret for the first time. During the decades following the abuse, the victim had run-ins with the legal system fueled by alcohol and drug addiction issues, and he served time in the prison system - characteristics that are all too common for victims who have not received support services.
The chances of you encountering firsthand knowledge of a child being abused are great. Ask your children if they have been touched inappropriately or if anyone has made them feel uncomfortable. Put aside the fears of getting an answer we don't want; be more afraid that our children may be suffering in silence. What would you do if you discovered one of the children you were thinking about was actually a victim of abuse? Put yourself in the shoes of the child experiencing abuse and just imagine what they are feeling. A child needs to be given the opportunity to share their story, tell their secret and be believed.
Hope of South Texas, Inc., (the local Child Advocacy Center - CAC) provides the victimized child a chance to be released of that secret and guides them to healing. At the CAC, children can talk to an interviewer who is trained to ask age-appropriate, non-leading questions in a way that reduces the trauma of telling their difficult and painful story. The interview is recorded so the child does not have to repeat their story many times during the criminal justice system's process, which can create additional trauma. The CAC turns that model upside down by providing one safe, child-friendly facility where child protection, criminal justice and child treatment professionals work together to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable and help children heal. In this neutral setting, team members collaborate on strategies aiding investigators and prosecutors without causing further harm to the victim. This multidisciplinary approach significantly increases the likelihood of a successful outcome in court and long-term healing for the child.
After the initial telling of the story, it is vital that the child receive mental health services to deal with the abuse and emotional trauma. At Hope of South Texas, the model known as Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is used. This therapy has been proven very successful in working with abuse victims by taking the victim from a moment of crisis and trauma and turning it into an opportunity for hope and success.
Since reopening in 2013, Hope of South Texas, Inc., has helped nearly 1,200 children and families. In September 2017, the surrounding counties of Jackson, DeWitt and Goliad began receiving access to services.
For some, the path to healing is clear, and for others, the obstacles may seem insurmountable, but regardless of a child's trauma, their level of need or their ability to pay, Hope of South Texas, Inc., is here to help.
To learn more about the services offered by Hope of South Texas, Inc., call 361-576-9404 or visit hopecenterstx.org .
Ric Tinney has served as the executive director of Hope of South Texas, Inc. since April of 2013. He may be emailed at "email@example.com.
Texas will start using screening tool to identify youth victims of sex trafficking
by Steffi Lee
AUSTIN (KXAN) – John Nehme knows how difficult it is when it comes to identifying victims of sex trafficking.
“Victims don't self-identify as victims,” he said.
Nehme is with Allies Against Slavery, an organization based in Central Texas focused on supporting survivors, publishing research and working with partners who provide services to victims.
“The responsibility is on us to get better at recognizing if it's happening,” he said.
However, providers and support groups often face challenges when it comes to gathering information about a victim, or someone who may be one.
“Often, what Service Provider A is seeing and experiencing with a survivor is not being passed on to what Service Provider B or what law enforcement is seeing with that individual,” Nehme said. “So the coordination of care becomes incredibly challenging.”
Allies Against Slavery has an identification tool their partners use, where they're able to store notes about physical and social signs of the individuals they come in contact with. They use that information to figure out what resources are needed.
Research from Allies Against Slavery and the University of Texas, published in 2017, shows there are an estimated 79,000 minors and youth who are sex trafficking victims in the state.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department is currently in the process of rolling out a new screening tool that will be used statewide when identifying youth victims of sex trafficking.
“If your expectation is that the child is going to disclose, you're missing a lot of them,” Kimberly Grabert, director of human trafficking and child exploitation, said.
The Commercial Sexual Exploitation Identification Tool (CSE-IT) is from WestCoast Children's Clinic in California. The non-profit says it's currently being used at more than 80 agencies in California, Montana, New Jersey don't interview the children they work with. Instead, they score their level of concern based on the information they have and see regarding physical and social signs.
“These types of tools allow us to look at those components that are circumstantial,” Grabert said.
Andrea Sparks, director of the Child Sex Trafficking Team under Governor Greg Abbott's office, said it will be a critical learning process for all agencies as they start using this tool. While the tool is free, a $50,000 grant from the office will help pay for training.
Grabert says the goal of having this tool available in Texas is to prevent caseworkers, therapists, providers, special investigators and anyone else involved with caring for the child who may be a victim from making decisions in isolation.
“When you get them all together, you don't get holes in your safety net,” Grabert said.
The tool will be used with any child recovered from a runaway episode or child that comes forward with a sex trafficking allegation, Grabert said. A spokesperson from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department said they're in the process of building it into their automated systems. Intake staff will begin to use the tool in the next month and Juvenile Probation Departments will come online this spring as each department has their staff trained.
Grabert hopes the tool will also help with building specialized intervention services, specialized placements and can strengthen provider infrastructure that already exists. In addition to that, data that comes in through the tool can draw a statewide picture of what's happening in Texas communities.
“It's the opportunity for every single person in the state of Texas to step up,” she said.