Examining if statute if limitation on reporting child abuse can be removed
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has said her ministry is looking at ways to ensure that such survivors 'get justice too, even if it is late in life'.
by Express News Service
ACKNOWLEDGING THAT “children who are abused don't find the courage to report their abusers till they become adults”, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has said that her ministry is looking at ways to ensure that such survivors “get justice too, even if it is late in life”.
Taking cognizance of the issue raised by Indian-origin Canadian scientist Purnima Govindarajulu on reporting of child sexual abuse by adult survivors, Maneka said they were working on removing the statute of limitation on reporting incidents such as molestation so that survivors can complain later in life.
In a note dated February 3, in response to Purnima's petition on Charge.org that garnered support from more than a lakh people, the minister conceded that in many cases, like in Purnima's, the survivor realises that they have been abused only after they become adults even though they carry the trauma with them all through their lives.
The Indian Express had reported on February 1 about the WCD Ministry's decision for a relook at child sexual abuse laws in India after 53-year-old Purnima, who was sexually abused as a child, met Maneka last week to point out the gray area in the legal framework, which currently does not give adult survivors any recourse despite the repeat nature of the offence.
In her note, the minister said, “A one-time abuser can go on to become a repeat offender and target multiple children, because children don't tend to report abuse. It gives the offender a sense of immunity that he will never be caught. We are looking at whether the statute of limitation on reporting incidents such as molestation can be removed, allowing survivors to complain later in life. This will prove to be a deterrent for child abusers because they will know that they can't get away with their crimes.”
Purnima's case has been documented by the Canadian police in a ‘General Occurrence Report', which she is now using as evidence to get police in Chennai to register a complaint against her perpetrator, who is now in his seventies. However, with neither the POCSO or IPC explicitly having any provision for late reporting of child sexual abuse, she had to petition the WCD Ministry for a change in laws.
Can we start believing the victims now?
by Roger Sherman
When will we ever learn? That is the question that came to mind when I read the details of the sexual abuse allegations against former state legislator Brandon Hixon, who killed himself earlier this month. His first young victim — at the time a 10-year-old girl — told her mother about the molestation she had suffered, and she was the one sent to a counselor. Why don't we believe the children?
Hixon's other known victim — a now-teenage relative whose abuse started at age 4 or 5 — displayed classic signs of having been abused. She refused to go to the Hixon home and avoided going near it. In hindsight, her parents can now see why. Why do most of us not see what is right in front of our eyes?
Over 100 girls and women testified in court against USA Gymnastics' team physician Larry Nassar, who exploited his position to sexually abuse the girls. Many of these elite athletes say that both USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where the doctor was employed, knew about the allegations but had refused to do anything about them. Many of the now-women told of how their lives had been changed forever as a result of the abuse they suffered at Nassar's hands. When will society put the lives of these and countless other brave survivors ahead of the reputations and careers of the adults who perpetrate the abuse?
What risks are we all willing to take on behalf of our children and the children in our communities? Is this not our highest calling?
Child sexual abuse has been called a silent epidemic. At least 1 in 10 children in the United States have been, and will be, sexually abused — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of those will never be reported, even in situations where an adult has been informed. How can we change this?
The first thing we need to do is believe the children who take the brave step of disclosing. There are very few false allegations.
Next, we need to learn how we can prevent abuse from occurring in the first place. The Idaho Children's Trust Fund is working with people and organizations throughout Idaho to promote the research-based curriculum, Stewards of Children, which teaches steps to prevent and respond appropriately. Over 15,000 Idahoans have been trained in this curriculum. Contact us if you want to be trained.
Finally, 36 states have passed legislation to require training of teachers and students in their public schools. This is something for our policymakers to consider. If there is anything good that can come out of the tragedy surrounding Brandon Hixon, I hope it is that we learn how to stop abuse right now.
We have heard many disturbing revelations about child sexual abuse over the past few weeks in Idaho and nationally. As the director of the Idaho Children's Trust Fund, which is also the state affiliate of Prevent Child Abuse America, I have the privilege of working with people throughout Idaho and the nation who are working to change this. My hope for change is based in their good work.
Roger Sherman is the executive director of the Idaho Children's Trust Fund/Prevent Child Abuse Idaho.
Md. police and lawmakers target digital evidence in child abuse cases
by Amanda Iacone
Maryland State Police have begun to chip away at a backlog of digital evidence, and new funds have started flowing that could help the agency and other police departments around the state move faster on investigations into child sexual abuse.
Digital evidence from phones and computers touches all types of crimes, from homicides to financial fraud. But it is especially prominent in cases of child abuse, as smartphones have become a way for predators to connect with, groom and abuse their young victims.
Smartphones played key roles in two recent child abuse cases that shocked the region: Deonte Carraway and Carlos Bell, teaching assistants who victimized dozens of the students under their charge at schools in Prince George's and Charles counties, respectively.
A WTOP investigation exposed a chronic backlog of digital evidence across Maryland — a tsunami of data waiting to be scrutinized by highly specialized technicians. Last summer, the backlog at the state police's digital crime lab was 10 months.
Charles Tucker, an attorney representing one of Carlos Bell's victims, said he's elated to hear that more funding is now available to help police scrutinize the digital evidence faster.
“Unfortunately for the victims in the Bell case, it's too late for them,” Tucker said.
Evidence on Bell's cellphone languished for months, unseen by police, caught up in that backlog. When a state police analyst finally began to comb through the phone's files, investigators in Charles County had enough evidence to quickly arrest Bell. But six months had passed since the phone was seized, and during that time, Bell victimized another eight children.
Bell was charged in Charles County with abusing or exploiting 42 children. Last month, he pleaded guilty to more than two dozen charges. He faces a lifetime behind bars when he is sentenced this spring.
“There's a lot of other individuals out there like Bell waiting to be discovered and found, if only we can get through this backlog,” Tucker said.
New grant funding should help reduce the backlog, said Lt. Matthew Kail, who oversees the state police digital crime lab as the technical investigations section commander.
“The state police is putting more resources toward this,” Kail said.
“We are doing a lot of different things right now to move forward in this area — to hopefully get our backlog down and examine evidence in a more timely manner,” he said.
The agency plans to use roughly $771,000 in grant funds to pay for new equipment, including specialized computers with exceptional processing power and software — and the extra equipment will allow analysts to process twice as much evidence, Kail said.
The backlog, Kail said, is currently less than 10 months. But state police officials said that right now, it could take anywhere from four to 10 months to analyze the evidence in pending cases, depending on the type of case and the amount of data involved.
Kail said they also plan to hire a public affairs officer, whose primary job would be to help educate children and parents about the dangers that lurk on the internet and through social media.
The new funding comes from Alicia's Law. Passed in 2016, the Maryland law provides $2 million in grant funding annually for police departments to investigate and prevent child sexual abuse.
The money became available in the fall for the first time.
The remaining Alicia's Law funding was divvied up among 18 other government agencies, non-profits and police agencies, including the Charles County Sheriff's Office, which received a $28,000 grant that will help cover overtime for investigators.
“We need to work these tips as quickly as possible.” said Capt. Stephen Salvas of the Charles County Sheriff's Office. “When you're working something and you get to the end of the shift, this is going to allow detectives to continue working these tips without having to pause and come in the following day.”
The Center for Children, a nonprofit that works with the victims of child abuse in Charles County, received almost $52,000. The money will pay for training and for developing strategies to assist in investigations and prosecutions related to crimes involving children and the internet.
Although the $2 million in funding is included in Gov. Larry Hogan's budget proposal for next year, no bills have been filed that would increase the grant funding laid out in Alicia's Law. Lawmakers still have some time, however, to file bills this session.
Waiting for action
Families whose lives have been hurt by Bell are looking to school officials to make changes that will ensure a healthy and safe learning environment; they're also looking to state lawmakers to address the same issues statewide, said Tucker.
“There has to be some kind of action. The children need it. The families want it,” he said. “We're just waiting for the legislators to do their jobs and craft something that make sense.”
So far this session, legislators in both the House and the Senate have filed multiple bills that would address child sexual abuse.
Cases like Carraway and Bell, and others in Montgomery County are fueling legislative momentum in Annapolis, said Del. Eric Luedtke, a Montgomery County Democrat who chairs the House Education Subcommittee.
“Those situations have pointed to flaws in how we prevent child abuse and how we deal with incidents of child abuse once they come to light. And I think that's driving some of the reforms we're seeing,” he said.
Pending legislation includes the following:
Senate Bill 131 would mandate training for teachers, doctors and others who are required by law to report suspected child sexual abuse.
Under Senate Bill 132, those mandatory reporters could face a misdemeanor charge for failing to report suspected abuse as required by law. Currently, Maryland has no penalty.
House Bill 301 would allow evidence from a sex offender's past victims to be given during criminal trials in order to demonstrate a pattern of abuse or assaults.
House Bill 251 would require a school sex education curriculum to cover the concept of consent.
Many of the bills have been introduced in past years but failed to garner enough support to make it to the governor's desk.
“Our state needs to step up and do more to protect our kids against abuse and neglect,” said Sen. Susan Lee, D-Montgomery County, who is sponsoring two of the bills.
“We're just trying to help the children. We're trying to protect them from some of these egregious acts, of those individuals who take advantage of them and abuse and neglect them.”
Boy, 13, and girl, 14, investigated over sickening video that showed 'them covering a baby's face with a plastic bag before waterboarding the child and boasting about the about online'
by Max Margan and Mikaela Barwick
(Video on site)
Police are investigating two teenagers who allegedly uploaded horrific footage showing them inflicting unthinkable abuse on a child.
The video made international headlines when it was shared to social media showing a child's head covered with a plastic bag as he struggled to breathe.
Officers say a 13-year-old boy and a girl, 14, who claim to be parents, are currently being investigated.
In the sickening footage, the crying baby could be seen trying to pull the bag off his head - but the person holding him forced it back on.
'We're not child abusers, we're just teaching them discipline. Making sure that they're not dead, but then can't breathe,' the boy could be heard saying.
Police have spoken to the teenagers, who have since been released, a spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.
'Police interviewed a 13-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl in relation to a video released on social media,' the spokesman said.
'They have been released pending summons. The toddler involved is safe and well.'
The pair are expected to soon be charged and will face court over the matter at a later date.
The footage, uploaded to Snapchat , also showed the baby lying in what looked like a bath as water is tipped on his face.
'He is dying tonight for sure,' one video was captioned, while another read: 'I can't believe he is steal (sic) alive.'
The pair defended their behaviour in another video, obscuring their faces with emoji icons.
'That's my child, that's our child, yeah,' they were heard saying.
'That's my husband and that's our child. And you're not going to teach us how to treat our child, OK?' the girl said.
The boy then added: 'If I want to slap my child, I'll slap him as much as I want'.
Their actions have been roundly condemned on social media, with thousands suggesting the child should be taken from their care.
'Hope the child has been taken off them. This child will remember this for the rest of his life,' one wrote on Facebook.
'Poor child, those kids don't deserve to be parents! The kid will be better off with a foster family anyway,' another said.
'Vile creatures! Joking about your child dying. I hope he's removed from your ''care'' ASAP,' yet another commented.
The Department of Health and Human Services said it was unable to comment on individual matters.
'The Department works with Victoria Police and a host of agencies to ensure the welfare of children at risk,' a spokesman said.
How to prevent child sexual abuse: Know the myths and realities
For parents, knowledge is power. Myths about sex offenders abound-here are the facts
by Elizabeth Jeglic and Cynthia Calkins
How would you describe a sex offender? In all likelihood, you would describe a monster — someone who lurks behind bushes and rapes unsuspecting women or abuses children. And that is how sex offenders are portrayed in the media. For most of us, much of what we know about sex offenders comes from movies, TV shows and news stories. However, those stories are often sensationalized portrayals — or cases that are the exception to the rule — rather than the norm. While cases like these do exist, they remain statistically rare, in that they happen very infrequently. In this article, we are going to review the myths and realities of sex offenders and sex offending behavior. It is important that, as parents, you know the true facts — knowledge is power. We have set up this article in a myth versus fact format, as myths about sex offenders abound, and it is important to separate myth from reality.
Myth: Most sex offenses are committed by strangers.
Fact: The large majority of sex offenders are known to the victim.
This is perhaps one of the most dangerous and most important myths about sexual offending. Most people imagine sex offenders as strangers lurking in the bushes or driving white vans. This is categorically untrue. The vast majority of sex offenders are known to their victim. Fewer than 10 percent of children are assaulted by a stranger.
One study found:
34 percent of children were assaulted by a family member,
59 percent of children were assaulted by an acquaintance, and
7 percent of children were assaulted by a stranger.
This knowledge is incredibly important because it shows that many of us are scared of the wrong people. This is what we call the stranger danger phenomenon. It is the belief that sex crimes are predominantly committed by strangers when, in reality, they are most often committed by those who are known to us and to our children. What is even scarier is that many of our laws and policies are based on this stranger danger myth. As a consequence of the stranger danger myth, we no longer let our children walk to their friends' houses or the park by themselves—but we readily drop them off for playdates or leave them with family members, babysitters, and community leaders, often without so much as a second thought about their safety and security.
Myth: All sex offenders will reoffend.
Fact: Only a small percent of released sex offenders will reoffend sexually.
There is a common belief that all sex offenders will reoffend, and thus the majority of our sexual violence prevention policies are based on this assumption. In reality, however, sex offenders have the lowest reoffense rates of all types of offenders. Over a three-year period, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that only 5 percent of released sex offenders committed another sex crime.
The most comprehensive study to date used a sample of almost 20,000 released sex offenders, and researchers found that over a period of five to six years:
13.7 percent of all types of sex offenders reoffended sexually and
12.4 percent of all child molesters reoffended sexually.
While these rates are not zero, they are not 100 percent either. Given that there is no psychological profile of a sex offender (see next myth), it is easiest to focus on those who have already committed a sexual offense, since there is an increased likelihood they will do it again if they have done it once before. But as we see from the statistics, most sex offenders will not reoffend sexually.
An important study was done in New York State where researchers examined all the new sex crimes that took place over a twenty-year period. They found that only 5 percent of all new sex crimes were committed by someone who had previously committed a sex offense. That means 95 percent of the sex offenders were unknown to authorities before their crime occurred.
This New York study has important implications for sexual violence prevention. Our current sex offender laws and policies focus almost exclusively on already detected sex offenders—the ones who commit 5 percent of the new sex crimes—and very few resources are dedicated to prevent the abuse caused by the other 95 percent. These policies are already very costly, and there is not much money dedicated to prevention. In other words, the lion's share of the resources go to preventing only a small part of the overall offenses. These laws can also give us a false sense of security: by focusing on a tiny sect of the population known to have committed crimes, we ignore less obvious, but in fact much larger, risks.
Myth: There is a specific type of a person who becomes a sex offender.
Fact: There is no sex offender profile, and we still do not know what makes some people commit sexual offenses.
Profiling shows on television make it look like it is easy to figure out who committed a crime because of certain personality and behavioral characteristics (i.e., a profile) associated with criminal offenses. There has been a lot of research done to try and determine a sex offender profile, but what the research has in fact shown is that there is no specific profile for those who commit sexual offenses. In general, those who are involved in the criminal justice system tend to be less educated and have lower incomes, but this is not the case for sex offenders, as neither socioeconomic status nor level of education are risk factors for sexual offending behavior. Sex offenders come from all strata of society—they can be unemployed, but they can also be lawyers, doctors, educators, and members of the clergy. Some people assume that those who have been abused themselves are at much higher risk of committing sexual abuse. But the evidence here is thin. One important study showed that only physical abuse and neglect—and not childhood sexual abuse—predicted future sexual offending behavior.
Myth: Sex offenders are “sick.”
Fact: The majority of sex offenders do not have a serious mental illness.
One way that we rationalize to ourselves that people could do such heinous acts is to think that there is something wrong with them or that they are sick or mentally ill. While there is some truth to that myth—in that sex offenders do have a higher rate of serious mental illness, including disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, than the general population—the large majority of sex offenders are not seriously mentally ill.
One study found that 24 percent of all sex offenders had been hospitalized for a psychiatric problem as compared to 5 percent of the general population. This means that while the rates of mental illness are higher among sex offenders, more than 75 percent of them do not have a serious mental illness. It is thus difficult to understand how and why someone would commit a sex crime—and that is precisely what researchers are trying to figure out.
Myth: Only men commit sexual offenses.
Fact: While it is true that most sex offenses are committed by men, women also commit sex offenses.
Many may find it hard to imagine that women commit sex offenses, but they do. Official sexual abuse data indicates that females perpetrate between 4 to 10 percent of all reported sexual assaults.10 It has been suggested that the rates of sexual abuse committed by women are in fact higher, but go unreported. We have all watched with interest cases such as that of Mary Kay Letourneau, the Washington State school teacher who was incarcerated for sexually abusing her twelve-year-old student (and who later married that student upon her release from prison), but most female-perpetrated sex crimes take place in the context of caregiving activities. Therefore, it is sometimes more confusing for the child to know whether he or she has been victimized, and even if they feel that anything has happened at all, so much so that they do not report it. One of the reasons female sex offenders go undetected or unreported is due to our social beliefs that men cannot be sexually assaulted by women or that women are nurturers and thus would not hurt a child. While the vast majority of women do not harm children, there are some that do. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that women perpetrated half of the non-penetration sexual abuse reported by men.
Myth: Only adults commit sex offenses.
Fact: About one-third of all sex crimes against children are committed by someone under the age of eighteen.
This includes what we more traditionally think of as date rape among adolescents, but it also includes young people who offend against children under the age of twelve and whose offense behaviors mirror that of child molesters as opposed to rapists. About one in eight youth who commit sexual offenses are under the age of twelve.
The research shows that youth who commit sexual offenses are different from adults who commit sexual offenses. While most adult sex offenders act alone, about 15 percent of all youth who commit sexual offenses do so in groups. About 12 percent of these offenses take place at school. Further, they are more likely to offend against those known to or related to them. Finally, when youthful offenders target victims under twelve, they are more likely to offend against boys.
Youth who commit sexual offenses are more likely to be male, and only 7 percent of all reported cases are females. However, girls who commit sexual offenses tend to be younger than boys—31 percent of girls are under the age of twelve when they commit their offense.
Myth: Youth who commit sexual offense go on to become adult sex offenders.
Fact: The majority of youth who commit sexual offenses do not commit another sexual offense in adulthood.
The good news is that youth who commit sex crimes before the age of eighteen rarely go on to become adult sex offenders. It is estimated that between 7 and 13 percent of those who commit a sexual offense as a minor will commit another offense over a five-year period. The number that will commit another sex offense once they reach adulthood is even less: estimates put it at fewer than 10 percent.
Myth: Most sex crimes take place in public areas like parks.
Fact: Most sex crimes against children take place in private settings.
There has been a lot of debate in parenting forums about “free-range parenting,” which entails—in part—letting children hang out in the neighborhood and go to parks unsupervised. While this was normal behavior in our youth, in more recent years cultural norms have changed. Parents have actually been investigated, and sometimes charged with neglect, for leaving their children in parks by themselves. One reason for this strong reaction is the fear that children who are unsupervised in the community will fall prey to a sexual predator. In one of our own studies, we found that only about half of one percent (0.5 percent) of all the sexual offenses in a sample of nearly 1,500 sexual offenses took place in a public location, such as a park or a school, and were perpetrated by a stranger against a child victim. In another one of our studies, we found that 75 percent of individuals who committed a sexual offense met their victims in private (typically residential) settings. This also ties in with the research on who is a sex offender. As we talked about before, we are often worried about our children getting snatched from the street and the playground, but most offenders get to know their victims in more intimate settings because they are family, friends, and community members. Thus, the laws created to keep sex offenders away from areas in which children hang out do little to keep them safer, because this is not where the crimes are occurring.
Myth: Child molesters spontaneously attack when they find a victim.
Fact: Many child molesters engage in what is known as grooming behaviors.
When many of us think about sex offenses, we think about the stranger in the white van or the Central Park rapist who lurks about and grabs their victims. However, these types of crimes are exceptionally rare. In reality, many of those who molest children use “grooming,” which refers to the behaviors that the sexual offender engages in before abusing the child. This usually involves gaining the trust of the child and parents so that the abuse can take place without detection. Research suggests that
about half of all cases of child abuse involve grooming. However, it is believed that grooming is actually much more common; it escapes detection because these grooming behaviors often make the child much less likely to report the abuse. Many of the more famous cases you have heard of in the media, such as the sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and Jerry Sandusky, involved grooming tactics used to build connections with the victims and gain the support of the parents to avoid detection.
Myth: Most sex offenders were abused as children.
Fact: The link between childhood abuse and perpetration is far from clear.
Most individuals who are sexually abused in childhood do not perpetrate offenses against others. In fact, only a small minority of them do. While the general public often assumes that childhood trauma and abuse can lead to sexual offending, researchers are not certain about the connection. What's clear is that there are many pathways to committing abuse. Sexual abuse may certainly play a role for some offenders, but it has not been isolated as an important causal factor. In fact, research shows that childhood neglect puts people at greater risk of committing abuse than childhood sexual abuse does.
Myth: Sex offenders are incurable.
Fact: Most sex offenders will not commit another sex offense once they have been identified.
There is a considerable body of research showing that the risk for sex offending decreases across the lifespan, such that as those who have committed sexual offenses get older, the likelihood that they will commit new sex crimes decreases.
This also ties in to the question as to whether sex offenders can be treated. Most known sex offenders will receive some treatment either in prison or once they return to the community. There is a lot of debate about whether sex offender treatment works, and the jury is still out on this question. The most recent meta-analytic study (a big study that combines the findings of all existing studies to date) looking at whether sex offender treatment works found that offenders who attend sexual offender group treatment programs are less likely to reoffend than offenders who are not offered treatment (10.1 percent treated versus 13.7 percent untreated). While this difference may be small, the consequences of sexual abuse are so large that even a small reduction is meaningful.
Will those who have committed sex offenses always have urges to offend? We have yet to answer that question. What we do know, however, is that this may not matter. Research shows that there are quite a few people in our society who have deviant and often illegal sexual thoughts and desires, but who do not act on them. Further still, we know that some sex offenders do not have deviant or illegal thoughts or fantasies, yet they commit sexual crimes nonetheless. Results from studies that look at treatment effectiveness look promising, and it seems better to continue to develop and test our treatment approaches rather than simply assuming that offenders cannot be helped.
Take Home Message
Now that you have all these facts, what do you do with this knowledge? As mentioned at the beginning of the article, knowledge is power. Some of this knowledge may have been new to you, and perhaps your own personal sexual prevention efforts may have been misguided. This information is not meant to scare you—rather, we aim to give you the resources to better target your prevention strategies. Some of this knowledge may make you more afraid (that anyone can be a sex offender); or, it may make you more comfortable letting your children out in the world. For example, knowing that most sex offenders are family and acquaintances may help you to be more vigilant of the people you leave your children with. On the other hand, knowing that few sex offenders are strangers and that sex offenses don't often happen in public spaces, it may be safer than you thought to let your child play outside or in the local park.
Some of this knowledge is overwhelming, and as parents, we get that. Anytime we let children out of our sight, there are dangers, both sexual and otherwise, from the world around them. However, we hope that by knowing the facts, we will all be better equipped to send our children out in the world aware of the risks, but also aware of what can be done to mitigate some of those risks.
Police Departments Warn Facebook Users to Stop Allegedly Sharing a Child Abuse Video
by Tom McKay
Police departments across the country are warning Facebook users that a child abuse video captioned with a vague plea to identify the perpetrator is spreading across the site via direct messages and status updates—and that sharing this nightmare chain letter or even viewing its contents is, obviously , a crime that could result in serious penalties up to and including felony charges.
Police departments in Alabama , Florida , Illinois , Michigan , Massachusetts , Tennessee , Texas , and a number of other states have all warned that possession or distribution of child pornography is a crime and directed anyone receiving the messages report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's anonymous tipline . Per AL.com , police and non-profit officials have in particular had to warn the public that sharing such content is not legal even if the purpose is supposedly to express outrage or help identify the perpetrator. Polk County, Florida police told Fox 13 their inboxes have been inundated with reports:
The video, according to law enforcement officials, shows an adult male sexually abusing a young child.
“PLEASE DO NOT SHARE those images or video,” the Polk County Sheriff's Office said in a message posted to their Facebook page Sunday. “Images and video depicting the sexual abuse of a child are pornography. Sharing them, even if your intent is to help, is a crime and continues to victimize the child.”
It's not totally clear how far the messages have actually spread—many of the police statements seem pre-emptive, and it's possible that the spread of the video is more limited than the widespread warnings might suggest. Many of the police departments appear to simply be hearing about the alleged viral phenomenon via other police departments in other states, and the internet often fuels panics over exaggerated criminal incidents . However, in this case the incidents have attracted FBI attention, the International Business Times reported.
According to AL.com , while Alabama police investigators say they have confirmed the image originated in that state and have identified the perpetrator and victim shown therein, that conclusion has been challenged by Central Alabama Crime Stoppers, which says investigators have not even been able to nail down what year the video is from.
“If you receive this video through social media, report it to the social media platform and delete it immediately,” CACS executive director Tony Garrett told the site. “Do not share it, as criminal charges may result.”
“If you see something of that nature in the summary of your messages, do not actually open the message but instead delete it immediately,” Marshall, Texas police wrote, per the Houston Chronicle .
Facebook recently started a new program to remove revenge porn from the site, though said system involves having human moderators review the content. Per the Guardian , it should nonetheless technically have the ability to compile a digital footprint of the content in question and automatically remove it from the site due to partnerships with agencies like the NCMEC. Anyone receiving the messages or who sees someone post the video should contact the NCMEC tipline or call 1-800-843-5678.
Ten per cent of online child sex abuse images feature infants
Average viewer of child abuse material 'a middle-aged married man with children'
by Conor Gallagher
One in every 10 images of online child abuse material detected in Ireland depicts children under the age of three.
Of the remainder (61 per cent) are mostly of children aged between four and 12 with nearly half of all images showing the active rape of a child, according to 2016 data from Hotline.ie, a service operated by Irish internet service providers that works with gardaí to tackle online child abuse.
“People think of the victims as being teenagers and upwards. There is no age too young for these images. Europol has dealt with images with an umbilical cord,” child protection advocate and former senator Jillian van Turnhout told The Irish Times .
Viewers and distributors of child abuse material are believed by experts to be using increasingly sophisticated methods to avoid detection, meaning those caught by the authorities represent the tip of the iceberg, she said.
In 2016, Hotline.ie received 7,141 tip-offs about suspected child abuse imagery, most from people who stumbled across them while browsing online.
A follow-up assessment found 385 of the reports related to “child pornography” under the law (child pornography is the term used in the legislation but child protection advocates argue the term normalises abuse). Each report typically involved tens or hundreds of images.
A further 6,084 of the reports were found not to involve illegal material. Assessors determined they were either adult pornographic images or images of children which, while possibly containing nudity, were not produced for a sexual purpose (for example, a child in a swimsuit at the beach).
It is impossible to know exactly how many people in Ireland are accessing child abuse material but studies from other countries provide a rough guide.
A highly regarded German study, the MiKADO Project, conducted an online survey of almost 9,000 males, 2.4 per cent of whom admitted to accessing child abuse images. Applying the same percentage to the Irish population would mean more than 56,000 active male users.
State records reveal physical child abuse reports went up 20 percent in fiscal year 2016
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Department of Human Services Child Welfare 2016 Report claims there were 11,843 unduplicated child abuse and neglect victims in Oregon, and in 94 percent of those cases the perpetrators were family members.
It's a disturbing statistic to staff at local relief nurseries.
"It's a little alarming," said Crystal Ross of the Volunteers of America Family Relief Nursery. "That's a pretty high increase."
DHS tells FOX 12 the 2017 Child Welfare Report will not come out until later in 2018.
The Volunteers of America Family Relief Nursey in southeast Portland was established to keep kids safe from abuse and provide at-risk families with intensive support.
It's support Lauren Murray feels while she visits the daycare, years after surviving the unthinkable.
"I was kidnaped and held hostage by my ex-boyfriend at knifepoint," said Murray.
Murray's son was there with her at the time. The two escaped unharmed, but back then, Murray said she was also battling a drug addiction.
Ultimately because of it all, her son wound up in foster care.
"DHS said he was around unsafe people so they took him," she said.
Eventually Murray regained custody of her son, but admits she felt overwhelmed by the stressors of parenting. She turned to the relief nursery for help.
"Overall, it's just a great program for health and support. Not everyone has a village they can go to, not everyone has hope, friends and family, so I think this really fills in that gap for people,” Murray said.
"Without relief nurseries in place where they are, I'm afraid some parents would feel in my own words, hopelessness," said Ross.
Ross oversees the nursery intervention and prevention program for families with children 6 weeks to 5 years old. Ross said employees specifically work to strengthen what they call "fragile families" that are at risk of abusing or neglecting children, or at risk of permanently losing custody.
Sometimes staff will make home visits and even offer transportation to the nursery. All services are provided at no charge to families.
"Transportation is a huge barrier, it's a big challenge for many clients," said Ross. "Many clients are in transition, so they may not be where they are in a few months. We'll meet them in a bank parking lot, a grocery store, we will come and pick them up and meet them where they are."
Right now, Ross said they're helping more families than ever before. In 2017, they took in 153 different children.
"At our outer southeast site, there's a wait list for the waiting list, the need is that great out there," said Ross. "I do think it has to do with people experiencing homelessness, mental and physical health, poverty, all of it contributes to the higher number we're seeing."
The relief nursery in southeast Portland is one of about 30 different relief nurseries established across Oregon. All fight to stop child abuse before it happens and teach parents how to cope with any challenges they may be facing.
"We work collaboratively with relief nurseries like Lifeworks, but there's relief nurseries everywhere across the state,” said Murray. “We do what we can to meet quarterly, collaborate and find out what we're doing and what works best to help families."
Murray credits staff at the VOA Family Relief Nursery for changing her family's life.
"I didn't have custody for a year, so it was really hard not to feel guilty and not to parent out of guilt. The relief nursery helped me understand that structure is still really important," said Murray.
By sharing her story, she hopes to inspire others to get help.
"This is not a place where you will be judged. I think there's a lot of shame that people feel in asking for help with children, but there's no shaming here. Everyone is open and honest and really nice. They go out of the way to help you in any possible way they can."
The first step to receiving services at a relief nursery is to call and set up an intake appointment. Staff will determine if you qualify to receive services.
For more information, go Volunteers of America Relief Nursery or Lifeworks .
Bill would protect child-abuse reporters
by Marc Stewart
People often know about horrific child abuse but sometimes don't report it to the authorities despite the law requiring them to do so.
Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d'Alene, hopes to change that with legislation designed to help protect the identity of the accuser.
“It is not uncommon for an individual to witness or suspect child abuse or neglect, but not report this abuse or neglect for many reasons,” said Amador, who is sponsoring the bill. “Such as fear of their name being included in the police report or retaliation by the accused, intimidation by the abuser, or self-doubt about if what they saw qualifies as abuse. It is essential to remove every obstacle that would impede reporting, as delays in reporting can result in more severe cases and more harm to the child victim.”
Current Idaho law is inconsistent in protecting the identity of the reporting party of child abuse. If abuse is reported to the Department of Health and Welfare, the identity of the reporter can remain anonymous; those reporting to law enforcement have no right or expectation to privacy.
“The CARE Act will remedy this inconsistency in Idaho law and will encourage more individuals to report suspected cases of child abuse and negligence,” said Amador. “If the CARE Act spares one child from the continued horrors of abuse or neglect, it will be a win for all of Idaho.”
Amador introduced the Child Abuse Reporting Protection (CARE) Act on Monday. The bill aims to provide legal protections for individuals reporting child abuse to law enforcement agencies in Idaho. It will likely receive a full hearing by the House Judiciary Rules and Administration committee within the next two weeks.
The bill provides protection of a person's identity during the initial investigation process by law enforcement. The name of the reporting party would be redacted from the police report when made public. The investigating agencies would still have access to all information. As such, the legislation does not jeopardize the initial investigation or subsequent judicial process.
Amador said his proposed amendment to Idaho code would provide protection for all citizens who report possible abuse, neglect or abandonment, while still maintaining the accused's constitutional rights “to be able to confront with the witnesses against him” during judicial proceedings.
The legislation is supported by the Idaho Sheriff's Association, the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police, Idaho CASA (Court Appointment Special Advocate) Association, Family Advocates of Idaho, the Idaho Health Districts, Panhandle Health District, and the First Judicial District CASA Program.
“My experience with 10 years at CASA, first as a child victim advocate and now as the CEO, is that during our case investigations we usually find someone suspected the child abuse but did not report it,” said KJ Brant, CEO of North Idaho CASA, who supports the bill. “It is a citizen's responsibility to report child endangered, even when in doubt, and let law enforcement and other professionals make the determination. When reporting doesn't happen, a child continues to suffer.”
Most children don't report sexual abuse, here's what parents need to know
by Sara Forhetz
SPRINGFIELD, MO. -- Sadly it happens all too often, and in most cases, children never report their sexual abuse. The Child Advocacy Center saw 991 kids in 2017, specifically for sexual abuse.
Here's what experts want every parent to know.
"The best way for the parent to prevent or reduce the likelihood that their child is going to be abused is to talk to their child, and that talk should actually occur before the child turns 8," said Linda Saturno with the Child Advocacy Center.
Ninety-percent of children know their sexual abuser.
Sixty-percent are abused by someone the family trusts.
It's a tough conversation, but one Saturno says every parent must have.
"Talking with the child about these are your body parts, these parts are private. No one should touch you in those parts and make you feel uncomfortable in any way," Saturno said. "By doing that the child becomes more informed, and is more likely to tell a parent if someone does touch them in an inappropriate way."
Experts advise popping in randomly to your child's daycare, or other child care facility.
Authorities say Anthony Wayne Kurth, 48, of Springfield, is charged with sodomy, child molestation and attempted statutory rape for sexual abuse that went on for a 7 year period-- undetected by those who could help. The child was under 14 years old.
In Webster County, Justin Diehl, 29, was in court Monday, charged with rape and sodomy-- having sexual relations with two teenage girls at his home in Elkland, ages 15 and 16.
Diehl admitted to authorities numerous instances of sexual abuse.
"The best way for a parent to react is in a calm manner, to ask the child only open ended questions such as 'well what did happen, or when you went to visit Suzie's house, tell me what happened next. How did that make you feel? Who was there when it happened?"
By eliminating one-on-one situations between children and adults, or younger kids, with older kids-- it will cut down on the likelihood of abuse.
From the World Health Organization
Violence against children
Violence against children includes all forms of violence against people under 18 years old, whether perpetrated by parents or other caregivers, peers, romantic partners, or strangers.
Globally, it is estimated that up to 1 billion children aged 2–17 years, have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the past year (1).
Experiencing violence in childhood impacts lifelong health and well-being.
Target 16.2 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against, and torture of, children”.
Evidence from around the world shows that violence against children can be prevented.
Types of violence against children
Most violence against children involves at least one of six main types of interpersonal violence that tend to occur at different stages in a child's development.
Maltreatment (including violent punishment) involves physical, sexual and psychological/emotional violence; and neglect of infants, children and adolescents by parents, caregivers and other authority figures, most often in the home but also in settings such as schools and orphanages.
Bullying (including cyber-bullying) is unwanted aggressive behaviour by another child or group of children who are neither siblings nor in a romantic relationship with the victim. It involves repeated physical, psychological or social harm, and often takes place in schools and other settings where children gather, and online.
Youth violence is concentrated among children and young adults aged 10–29 years, occurs most often in community settings between acquaintances and strangers, includes bullying and physical assault with or without weapons (such as guns and knives), and may involve gang violence.
Intimate partner violence (or domestic violence) involves physical, sexual and emotional violence by an intimate partner or ex-partner. Although males can also be victims, intimate partner violence disproportionately affects females. It commonly occurs against girls within child marriages and early/forced marriages. Among romantically involved but unmarried adolescents it is sometimes called “dating violence”.
Sexual violence includes non-consensual completed or attempted sexual contact and acts of a sexual nature not involving contact (such as voyeurism or sexual harassment); acts of sexual trafficking committed against someone who is unable to consent or refuse; and online exploitation.
Emotional or psychological violence includes restricting a child's movements, denigration, ridicule, threats and intimidation, discrimination, rejection and other non-physical forms of hostile treatment.
When directed against girls or boys because of their biological sex or gender identity, any of these types of violence can also constitute gender-based violence.
Impact of violence
Violence against children has lifelong impacts on health and well-being of children, families, communities, and nations. Violence against children can:
Result in death. Homicide, which often involves weapons such as knives and firearms, is among the top three causes of death in adolescents, with boys comprising over 80% of victims and perpetrators.
Lead to severe injuries. For every homicide, there are hundreds of predominantly male victims of youth violence who sustain injuries because of physical fighting and assault.
Impair brain and nervous system development. Exposure to violence at an early age can impair brain development and damage other parts of the nervous system, as well as the endocrine, circulatory, musculoskeletal, reproductive, respiratory and immune systems, with lifelong consequences. As such, violence against children can negatively affect cognitive development and results in educational and vocational under-achievement.
Result in negative coping and health risk behaviours. Children exposed to violence and other adversities are substantially more likely to smoke, misuse alcohol and drugs, and engage in high-risk sexual behaviour. They also have higher rates of anxiety, depression, other mental health problems and suicide.
Lead to unintended pregnancies , induced abortions, gynaecological problems, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Contribute to a wide range of non-communicable diseases as children grow older. The increased risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and other health conditions is largely due to the negative coping and health risk behaviours associated with violence.
Impact opportunities and future generations. Children exposed to violence and other adversities are more likely to drop out of school, have difficulty finding and keeping a job, and are at heightened risk for later victimization and/or perpetration of interpersonal and self-directed violence, by which violence against children can affect the next generation.
Violence against children is a multifaceted problem with causes at the individual, close relationship, community and societal levels. Important risk factors are:
biological and personal aspects such as sex and age
lower levels of education
having a disability or mental health problems
being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender
harmful use of alcohol and drugs
a history of exposure to violence.
lack of emotional bonding between children and parents or caregivers
poor parenting practices
family dysfunction and separation
being associated with delinquent peers
witnessing violence between parents or caregivers
early or forced marriage.
high population density
low social cohesion and transient populations
easy access to alcohol and firearms
high concentrations of gangs and illicit drug dealing.
social and gender norms that create a climate in which violence is normalized
health, economic, educational and social policies that maintain economic, gender and social inequalities
absent or inadequate social protection
post-conflict situations or natural disaster
settings with weak governance and poor law enforcement.
Prevention and response
Violence against children can be prevented. Preventing and responding to violence against children requires that efforts systematically address risk and protective factors at all four interrelated levels of risk (individual, relationship, community, society).
Under the leadership of WHO, a group of 10 international agencies have developed and endorsed an evidence-based technical package called INSPIRE: Seven strategies for ending violence against children . The package aims to help countries and communities achieve SDG Target 16.2 on ending violence against children. Each letter of the word INSPIRE stands for one of the strategies, and most have been shown to have preventive effects across several different types of violence, as well as benefits in areas such as mental health, education and crime reduction.
The seven strategies are:
I mplementation and enforcement of laws (for example, banning violent discipline and restricting access to alcohol and firearms);
N orms and values change (for example, altering norms that condone the sexual abuse of girls or aggressive behaviour among boys);
S afe environments (such as identifying neighbourhood “hot spots” for violence and then addressing the local causes through problem-oriented policing and other interventions);
P arental and caregiver support (for example, providing parent training to young, first time parents);
I ncome and economic strengthening (such as microfinance and gender equity training);
R esponse services provision (for example, ensuring that children who are exposed to violence can access effective emergency care and receive appropriate psychosocial support); and
E ducation and life skills (such as ensuring that children attend school, and providing life and social skills training).
A May 2016 World Health Assembly resolution endorsed the first ever WHO Global plan of action on strengthening the role of the health system within a national multisectoral response to address interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children.
According to this plan, WHO in collaboration with Member States and other partners, is committed to:
Monitoring the global magnitude and characteristics of violence against children and supporting country efforts to document and measure such violence.
Maintaining an electronic information system that summarizes the scientific data on the burden, risk factors and consequences of violence against children, and the evidence for its preventability.
Developing and disseminating evidence-based technical guidance documents, norms and standards for preventing and responding to violence against children.
Regularly publishing global status reports on country efforts to address violence against children through national policies and action plans, laws, prevention programmes and response services.
Supporting countries and partners in implementing evidence-based prevention and response strategies, such as those included in INSPIRE: Seven strategies for ending violence against children .
Collaborating with international agencies and organizations to reduce and eliminate violence against children globally, through initiatives such as the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, Together for Girls and the Violence Prevention Alliance.
Can state child welfare services talk to kids without your consent? Depends on who you ask
by Jeff Clark
James Luster of Gulfport said he will never forget the events of Monday, Jan. 29. That was the day he learned he was being investigated by Mississippi Child Protective Services.
Luster denies the allegations and said they were “not true.”
“A representative from MDCPS told me that an anonymous complaint had been filed against me for abusing my children,” Luster said. “I later found out my 10-year-old daughter and my 11-year-old stepdaughter had been interrogated while they were at a Gulfport elementary school — MDCPS did not have the right to question my daughters without anyone else present.”
With more than 27,000 cases of child negligence reported in the state in 2017, more parents and guardians may find themselves in situations similar to that of Luster — wondering if the rights of their children had been violated during a one-on-one interview. The answer, according to MDCPS, is no.
“Our policy does not require another adult to be present during a staff member's interview with a child,” said MDCPS communications director Lea Anne Brandon.
Under a MDCPS policy section provided by Brandon, it also says the parent does not have to be notified of the interview.
According to the policy, “The Worker will notify the parent/ guardian or custodian or caretaker before interviewing the child, unless notification would endanger the child or impede the investigation. All child(ren) should be interviewed privately with documentation addressing time and location. If not notified prior to interviewing child(ren), the parent/caretaker should be notified immediately following the interview, unless this would endanger the child(ren).”
CPS in the schools
Luster also voiced his frustration with the Gulfport School District for allowing the children to be interviewed without supervision.
“The school had no right to let my daughters be interviewed alone by someone claiming to be from CPS,” he said.”
Brandon said the CPS interview process is left to the discretion of the school districts.
“Our policy says that may be interviewed without the parent's consent if the notification would endanger the child or impede the investigation,” Brandon said. “If the principal or other school official insists on being present, advise school official that they may be subpoenaed to court to testify and have him/her sign a confidentiality statement, which is filed in the case record.”
She said students with IEPs (individual education plans) or special needs fall under the same guidelines of the policy.
“If a school official thinks there is a need for a staff member to be involved, that individual would be subject to being called to testify and must sign a confidentiality statement,” Luster said.
Gulfport School District superintendent Glen East said his schools handle CPS cases by the book.
“We have an agreement with CPS and that agreement is to follow their procedures,” East said.
Child abuse/neglect cases in Mississippi
Brandon said 27,777 cases were reported in 2017. Of those cases, only 26 percent were substantiated. 2,364 cases were reported in Harrison County in 2017 and 698 of those cases were substantiated. She said 1,212 children were taken into custody in Harrison County in Fiscal Year 2017.
”MDCPS cases are opened and assigned to a caseworker/supervisor for all substantiated reports,” Brandon said. “If the report is not substantiated, the case is closed and so noted. Cases can either be in-home where the agency works with families to resolve problems but children are not ordered into custody by the courts or it can mean that we have a custody case where a child or children are taken into custody by the state.”
The MDCPS was formed in 2016, making it a separate agency from the Mississippi Department of Human Service. Brandon said investigation policies have not changed since the agency was formed.
The sex trafficking victim who needs training wheels
The thought hits me like a punch to the gut: she is too young to ride a bike without training wheels, but not to be a survivor of sex trafficking
by Tim Swarens
TIJUANA, Mexico — It is the small things that break a heart.
I am standing in the courtyard of a home for child trafficking survivors. A dozen girls have lined up to tell me their ages and to share their dreams for the future.
They are 16, 15, 12 years old. One wants to be a teacher, one an attorney, another a hair stylist.
The last girl, the one standing closest to me, looks up into my eyes. She is 6 years old. And she wants to become a veterinarian.
Behind the girls is a row of bicycles. The smallest has a pink heart attached to the handle bars. And pink training wheels on the back.
The thought hits me like a punch to the gut: The bike's owner is too young to ride without training wheels. She is not too young to be a survivor of sex trafficking.
Later, I ask Alma Tucker, the founder of this shelter, La Casa del Jardin , about the story of the 6-year-old who wants one day to provide care for sick animals.
The child, Tucker tells me, is the youngest of three sisters at the shelter. Her older siblings were 8- and 11-years-old when they arrived at La Casa del Jardin nearly four years ago.
They were malnourished; covered in lice; and the 11-year-old suffered from a severe vaginal infection, likely caused by sexual contact.
But for months no one knew the full horror of what had happened to them. Not until the day when Tucker, in her office, heard a knock on the door.
It was the 8-year-old. For the first time she told Tucker about the American man who crossed the border on weekends to take the girls to a hotel. He paid their mother $100 for each girl he took away. Their mom used the money to buy drugs.
At first, the man took only photos. But the 8-year-old said that one day he gave her a drink, and she fell asleep. When she woke up, blood was flowing from between her legs.
The child, Tucker says, finally revealed her ordeal not out of concern for her own safety but because she was worried about her younger sister and brother, who were still living with their mom.
No one in a position of authority, Tucker says, had known that the younger children even existed. But soon they were rescued, and the 6-year-old -- the girl who rides with training wheels -- was reunited with her older sisters at La Casa del Jardin.
The man from America, Tucker says, was never identified.
On the day I met them at La Casa del Jardin, the three sisters seemed happy and healthy. They played games together, sang and helped prepare for another survivor's birthday party. They were children again.
“My heart is full when I see the girls reading a book, singing or dancing,” Tucker says. “That's what a little girl should be doing. Not going to a hotel.”
A month later, I am standing on the front porch of another shelter for child trafficking and abuse survivors. This time in Pattaya, Thailand.
On the stoop before me is a row of Hello Kitty and Barbie flip-flops. They range in size from small to smaller.
My heart breaks again.
Inside, I am greeted by the 10 girls who live there. The youngest is 6 years old. The oldest four girls are only 11.
As the children play a game with a staff member in one room, the shelter's co-founder, Jeremy Kraus, leads me through the rest of the house. A Mickey and Minnie Mouse growth chart hangs on one wall. In the bedrooms, dolls and teddy bears rest on the beds.
“We want our kids to dream and to love life,” Kraus says.
After more than a decade managing group homes for abused and troubled children in the United States, Kraus and his wife Jenifer moved from California to Thailand to aid sex trafficking victims. The NGO they founded, Thrive Rescue , opened its first shelter in 2012. It now operates four therapeutic group homes for girls and boys who've been abused and trafficked.
Pattaya has long had a reputation as a magnet for pedophiles from around the world. Thai and international authorities in recent years have arrested dozens of men, many from the United States and other western countries, for buying sex with children in the area.
Jeremy Kraus praised local police for their work to identify and rescue trafficking victims. “The Thai government has cracked down quite a bit on traffickers,” he says. “They've been very supportive of the work we are doing.”
As we leave the house, the girls wave and smile. Their shoes — the Hello Kitty flip-flops worn by sex trafficking survivors — still sit in a row outside the front door.
On a warm fall day a few miles from the White House, Tina Frundt and I sit on a restaurant deck, discussing the child sex trade in America's capital.
Frundt is herself a survivor, sold as a girl in Chicago and Cleveland. She now runs Courtney's House , a program for young female and male trafficking victims in the Washington, D.C., area.
Like other survivors, she is blunt about the duplicity of the sex trade. When I note that many buyers insist they didn't know the age of their victims, Frundt scoffs. “They know,” she says.
To illustrate, she tells me about one 13-year-old girl who arrived at Courtney's House. She still played with dolls.
“The men always talk,” Frundt says. “They talk about their wives, their children, their jobs. So I asked this girl, ‘What did the men talk about with you?'
“She said, ‘One of them asked me about my favorite TV show.'
“What did you tell him?
“‘Sponge Bob, Square Pants'.”
Pink training wheels. Hello Kitty flip-flops. Sponge-Bob, Square Pants. These are the things of childhood.
And of child trafficking.
The heart breaks.
911 dispatchers train to spot sex trafficking
by Jerzy Shedlock
When Jodi Gaylord answers certain 911 calls at the emergency dispatch center in Vancouver, details can raise red flags. She asks herself, “Could this be a sex-trafficking situation?”
“It crosses my mind more so now when I'm looking at calls,” said Gaylord, dispatch supervisor with Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA). “Especially when we're tracking calls and it seems someone's life may be in danger based on their location, (or) when parents report something is wrong, and it's not just a runaway situation.”
Gaylord was just one dispatcher in four groups who attended a training on sex trafficking in October. CRESA dispatchers were educated on the subject by trained professionals, and what they learned can be used to inform police officers responding to calls.
Several things struck Gaylord about the training: the immense amount of investigative work the cases require; how indoctrinated the victims can become; and emerging tools to combat the issue, such as a cellphone app that shares photos of hotel rooms, which are used to lead law enforcement to a missing person's location.
The training was possible because of a $50,000 state grant awarded in June to the Human Trafficking Task Force of Clark County, a coalition of more than a dozen local agencies that in some way have a stake in combating the practice of forced labor and sexual exploitation. The group tends to focus on the latter issue.
Despite being around for more than six years, the task force has maintained a low profile in the county, and the grant is the first it's received. The work of its members is often unseen, such as when it helps parents whose children may have been forced or coerced into sex trafficking or when it offers housing to victims and survivors.
Task-force communications chair Michelle Bart said the money has allowed the organization to embark on new projects that will help its mission and increase its visibility in the community.
“Unlike years ago, trafficking is no longer underground,” Bart said. “You can go to the mall and see it happening right in front of you. The community needs to be aware and know what they're seeing so they can help report things.”
What constitutes sex trafficking is nuanced. In general, sex trafficking happens when someone uses force, fraud or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or causes a minor to commit a commercial sex act.
What's clear is it's a booming industry.
Officials say it's thriving due to “buyers” fueling the demand, coupled with traffickers and pimps exploiting vulnerable victims who often have difficulty escaping the lifestyle.
Also, sex trafficking is hard to track.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline tallies all the substantive calls it gets about human trafficking. Out of the 27,201 calls it received last year, 559 came from Washington.
The state with the most calls was California, which is noteworthy because, according to law enforcement, much of the trafficking here and in Pacific Coast states is carried out along Interstate 5.
States also report known cases of sex trafficking to the hotline. Of the 4,460 cases reported last year, 80 were in Washington.
Getting accurate data
Local data is much harder to come by.
“Accurate data has not been collected on that level,” said Kay Vail, task-force chairwoman and co-founder. “The state of Washington has task forces statewide trying to collect it, but there are barriers. For example, some agencies want to keep the confidentiality of their clients private, so they don't share it.”
The county's task force tends to focus on sexual exploitation and the trafficking of minors. Bart said its members want to find victims at a young age, because the older they get the harder it can be to get them help.
According to Shared Hope International, a common age a child enters sex trafficking is 14 to 16.
Clark County Juvenile Justice Center and Vancouver police carried out an informal count of underage victims several years ago, Vail said. The total number of kids who met their criteria for sex trafficking was 58, she said.
A portion of the grant money is going toward obtaining more accurate numbers. A new database will serve as a central location for all entities — law enforcement, courts, nonprofits — to enter sex-trafficking-related data.
The Children's Justice Center oversaw the previous version of the database. Other organizations likely had their own. Now, the contributing entities, all of which are thoroughly vetted, will be invited to pool information in hopes of creating a clearer picture of sex trafficking in Clark County.
Whoever contributes to the database has to sign a memorandum of agreement, and so far, not everyone involved is willing to do so. Special insurance and other requirements are needed by many of the task-force members' agencies before they can help out.
“There's a lot that's going into getting the database up and running the way we want it to. Those requirements are needed because often traffickers are able to manipulate the system,” Bart said. “So, we felt the need to fund it with the grant money.”
The grant money will also fund a new website for the task force, more trainings and money to relocate or protect people wrapped up in sex trafficking, if needed.
For its website, the task force for years has used a Facebook page. The new website will serve as a portal to information about sex trafficking and related resources.
Ongoing training will be carried out for members of the task force so they can become leaders in the field, said Vail, and others wanting training can also request it. That can include training outside of Washington — law enforcement in Louisiana has asked for it.
The grant money is a start, Bart said. She said it is simply a “chunk of change” when compared to what could be done. And the source of the grant, the Washington Department of Children and Family Services, put restrictions on how the task force could use the funds.
Moving forward, the task force can apply for more grants. One idea is obtaining funds for an officer solely dedicated to sex trafficking cases.
Aim is to be proactive
The Clark County Sheriff's Office currently handles such cases reactively, Chief Criminal Deputy John Chapman said in an email. Chapman is a member of the task force.
“Our tactical detective unit is usually responsible in these investigations and we have given special training to (a detective),” Chapman said in an email. “Due to staffing, the past couple of years, we have had to curtail our proactive efforts.”
The county's Child Abuse Unit prosecutor Colin Hayes said the number of court cases involving child sex trafficking falls between one and three each year. The cases are difficult to try before jurors, but that's not the reason the prosecutors' unit sees so few.
“At this time, local law enforcement does not have enough resources to dedicate personnel to the proactive investigation of trafficking cases,” Hayes said.
A sergeant and detective from the Vancouver Police Department's Digital Evidence Cybercrime Unit sit on the task force. Sgt. Joe Graaff said the Police Department does reactive and proactive sex-trafficking investigations. Limited resources means those investigations have focused only on those involving children, Graaff said.
“While the majority of our investigations are reactive, the unit has learned of new approaches to sex trafficking investigations that will make more efficient use of time and resources,” the sergeant said in an email. “2018 will see an increased level of proactive enforcement targeting both the buyers of sex with children and those trafficking children for the sex trade.”
What Sen. Flanagan owes N.Y.'s children
by Robert Hoatson
The first time I spoke publicly about my sexual abuse as a young adult was May 20, 2003. It was late in the day in Albany, and only two legislators remained at the hearing for my story.
It's a terrifying moment when you open yourself up, as most victims know, and I shook throughout my testimony, despite being determined to share my truth.
I called for the resignations of any and all leaders who helped cover up the sexual abuse of children and teenagers — not seeking any retribution for myself, but in the hopes that I somehow might be able to protect other young people from the horrors I faced. I asked to bring these sexual predators to justice, and to bring forth legislation that would give victims their day in court and shine a spotlight on those hidden sexual predators who remain in our communities.
That was 15 years ago.
Every year since, I've made annual trips to Albany to advocate for the passage of the Child Victims Act. But I have never even seen it come to the floor of the state Senate for a vote. That is shameful.
The Child Victims Act would allow child sex abuse victims until the age of 28 to pursue criminal charges against their perpetrators, and until 50 for civil charges. Evidence shows victims typically don't bring claims against their abusers until they are well into adulthood, often after they turn 40.
As I know all too well, most individuals are not ready to confront the trauma that comes with sexual abuse by the time they are 23 — which is the age current New York law has set for survivors of child sex abuse to file criminal and civil claims.
Most importantly, this bill creates a one-year “window” for victims to bring forth their previously unaddressed claims. This opens the courthouse doors to victims and brings justice to those who prey upon our most vulnerable.
Over the years, I've spoken to dozens of legislators and their staffs. I've worked with Assemblywomen Margaret Markey (now former) and Linda Rosenthal, and state Sen. Brad Hoylman, who have led the fight for justice. I've joined other courageous survivors and advocates throughout New York State in telling their stories and relentlessly pushing the Legislature to pass the Child Victims Act. Yet, we've continuously come up short.
I think this year is different. It is clear to everyone there is one hurdle standing in the way of the passage of this bill: the state Senate's majority leader, John Flanagan.
Flanagan's objection is unclear: He has dodged questions for years and has refused to meet with survivors and advocates. For a bill that has such strong bipartisan support in the Assembly — passing 139 to 7 in a vote last year — it remains a mystery why Flanagan continues to side with sexual predators.
However, 2018 is a new year, and the previous conversation surrounding sexual assault and abuse has changed. Since I began telling my story, thousands of sexual abuse victims have since come forward and said “me too” — I, too, was sexually abused as a child. They were abused by family members, coaches, teachers, members of the clergy, loved ones and countless other predators.
Over the past several months I have been to the offices of Republican state senators in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island with my fellow survivors and advocates, and have been met with empty rhetoric and blanket statements of support for protecting the children of New York. One would think during a time when these brave individuals across our country are coming forward and telling their stories our elected officials would act accordingly.
I remain hopeful that this will be my last year of trying to persuade New York State legislators to pass the Child Victims Act.
Last month, Gov. Cuomo included the plan in his 2018 executive budget, demonstrating once again his leadership in shaping New York as a progressive leader of this country. Editorial boards — including the one at this very publication — have voiced the necessity and support for the bill. New Yorkers in every corner of this state are making it clear that we will no longer tolerate hidden sexual predators in our communities.
Sen. Flanagan, it's time to stop protecting predators. It's time to finally protect New York's children.
Hoatson is a former Catholic priest, president and co-founder of Road to Recovery and member of New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators.
If you suspect child abuse and want to report it; There's an app for that
by Bob Burks and Symphonie Privett
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services is going high-tech.The new "Report Abuse" app puts the power in the palm of your hand, to report suspected child abuse or neglect and help Mississippi children get the care they need.
With the app, it only takes about five minutes to report abuse. All you have to do is click on the MDCP's "Report Abuse" App. Then you'll see an electronic form where you can fill out the information you know about the child involved and the type of abuse or neglect you think is happening.
Once submitted, it goes to MDCPS' central intake unit and is then investigated.
"We get almost 30,000 calls per year or reports a year of suspected child abuse and neglect and we respond to every one of them," said MDCPS Commissioner Jess Dickinson.
Of that 30,000, Commissioner Dickinson says about 7,000 turn out to be legitimate cases, and he expects reports to increase with the help of the app.
"If you see it in a grocery store, in a parking lot, at the park or anywhere a person sees suspected child abuse and they have their cell phone with them, they can report it right then and there," added Dickinson.
When you report something, it remains anonymous.
"We don't want anybody to fail to report child abuse or neglect simply because they're afraid of retribution or being identified," said Dickinson.
The app is said to be the first of its kind in the country. And thanks to a collaboration with researchers at Mississippi State University, it gives MDCPS another way to reach children in need.
"There will be more children who will be protected, will get a quicker response and who will escape what otherwise might have been some terrible circumstances simply because of this app.
The app is available for download right now.
Boys-the silent victims of sex trafficking
by Tim Swarens
More than 1 million children, according to the International Labour Organization, are exploited each year in the commercial sex trade. IndyStar columnist Tim Swarens, through the support of a Society of Professional Journalists fellowship, spent more than a year investigating a lucrative business where children are abused with low risk to buyers or traffickers, despite tougher laws and heightened international awareness of the scourge. Google, Eli Lilly and Co., and Indiana Wesleyan University provided additional support for this project.
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The silence nearly killed Tom Jones.
As a child, Jones was raped, abused and sold to men for sex. The brutality ended when he was 15. But, like many male victims, Jones didn't seek help, didn't tell anyone about the trauma he had suffered.
Instead, he buried his pain and shame deep inside, carrying the burden alone and in silence for another 15 years.
Silence did not equal acceptance. “I'm lucky, because I shouldn't be here,” Jones says. “I put a lot of focus and energy into taking my own life.”
Two suicide attempts failed. And Jones says he was preparing for a third attempt when he decided finally to reach out for help.
Even then, years after the exploitation ended, it was difficult for Jones to acknowledge what he had suffered. “I was very ashamed to talk to a therapist who I knew cared about me,” he says.
“Key informants pointed out their belief that law enforcement has very little understanding of (commercially exploited) boys. For example, when filing human trafficking reports, they would often ask: ‘Why couldn't he get away? He's a boy.' One informant said she was forced to explain to law enforcement professionals before filing a report that boys and young men can be bought and sold just like girls.”
— “And Boys Too,” ECPAT-USA, 2013 report.
Tom Jones' tortuous journey — from male child trafficking victim to adult survivor — is far more common than is often acknowledged by anti-trafficking organizations, law enforcement and the news media.
“Boys hear that it only happens to girls,” Steven Procopio, clinical director of MaleSurvivor, a network of therapists and survivors,says. “This is seen as a gender-biased, gender-specific issue.”
The United Nations' International Labour Organization reinforced that mindset in September when it released updated estimates on the number of human trafficking victims worldwide. The ILO reported that of the 4.8 million people forced to work in the sex trade in 2016, virtually all were girls and women.
As I reported on this series, some nonprofit leaders involved in the fight against trafficking in the U.S. delivered the same message. Boys, they told me, are rarely the victims of commercial exploitation.
“It makes me very angry,” Jerome Elam, a male survivor who is CEO of the Trafficking in America Task Force, said. “The UN and others are not acknowledging the problem. They're just not getting it in terms of the sex trafficking of males.”
Multiple studies support Elam and Procopio's contention that boys are exploited far more often than is commonly understood.
In 2016, a Department of Justice-commissioned study, Youth Involvement in the Sex Trade, found that boys make up about 36% of children caught up in the U.S. sex industry (about 60% are female and less than 5% are transgender males and females).
In 2008, researchers from the John Jay School of Criminal Justice reported that boys account for about 45% of child trafficking victims in New York City.
In 2013, an ECPAT-USA report concluded that the “scope of (the commercial sexual exploitation of boys) is vastly under reported.” The researchers also cited the need to better identify male victims, to raise awareness about the harm caused by commercial exploitation and to provide more services designed specifically for boys.
But years later, little progress has been made either in identifying or providing help for male victims.
The result is that tens of thousands of boys and men continue to suffer in silence. And like other victims of sexual abuse, they're at greater risk of depression, suicide and chronic diseases. They're more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. More likely to land in prison.
Relationships also suffer, with spouses and children frustrated and perplexed by their loved one's bouts of depression, random anger and emotional numbness.
“They haven't told even their families what they've been through,” Jones says.
“We were met with more resistance because we are helping boys. But we owe it to the world to see that boys are provided with the care they need.”
— Chris Smith, co-founder (with his wife, Anna) of Restore One, a North Carolina-based nonprofit providing treatment for trafficked boys.
Why do boys continue to be overlooked in efforts to combat trafficking? Male survivors and their advocates have strong opinions about the answers.
“We live in a culture where men are perpetrators and women are victims, and there are no gray areas,” Procopio of MaleSurvivor said. “There's a lot sexism involved with this issue.”
Boys don't fit the popular script of who is and isn't a victim of trafficking. Liam Neeson didn't bust through doors in the Taken movies to rescue his son. Journalists seldom write heartbreaking stories about 15-year-old boys sold on Backpage.
And even in 2018, Procopio notes, a dangerous myth persists that an adolescent boy who is exploited by an adult is somehow “lucky” to get the sex that every young male supposedly craves. In reality, male victims of commercial exploitation and sexual abuse suffer the same types of trauma as females. Their pain is just as devastating. There's nothing lucky about it.
Elam points to another misconception that pushes boys into silence: The fear that the abused will become an abuser. Although it's true that sexual abuse victims are at increased risk of harming others, a strong majority do not perpetuate the crime. Still, an unfair stigma that they pose a danger to children is often attached to male survivors.
All of which makes it harder for boys and men to break the silence.
“We're not inclined to come out and say we were raped as children because we're afraid we'll be ridiculed,” Elam says.
The reluctance to speak up is understandable, but it carries damaging consequences. Victims feel even more isolated. Government agencies and nonprofits are reluctant to provide services for an invisible population. Police, teachers and others in regular contact with youth don't receive training in how to identify and help male victims.
In many ways, it's a repeat of how female victims were treated a decade ago. Although we still have far to go, we've thankfully come a long way in better identifying, assisting and accepting girls exploited in the sex trade. But we're failing our boys.
Procopio and others say another form of bias — discrimination against gay and transgender males — also helps explain why boys aren't acknowledged as victims and offered help. “There's a lot of homophobia. But this issue is not about sexual orientation,” Procopio says. “Trafficking is about power and control.”
Gay and transgender youth are more likely to become trafficking victims, according to the Polaris Project, in part because family conflicts push many of them to run away from home. Once on the streets, runaway kids, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, are highly vulnerable to exploitation. Gay and transgender youth also are at significantly higher risk of physical violence than others working in the sex trade.
Yet, according to the 2016 Youth in the Sex Trade study and other research, most male child trafficking victims aren't gay. The majority are heterosexual boys manipulated or forced into having sex with men. As a consequence, Procopio notes, it's common for straight male victims to question their sexual orientation long after the abuse ends.
In Southern California, Tom Jones, after surviving what he calls his era of silence, now pours his energy into reaching other men struggling with the aftermath of trafficking and abuse.
Jones leads a loose network of male survivors who are at various points on the path to healing. He encourages the men to enter counseling, but many aren't ready for that step. In fact, he's met only about a third of the network's members face to face. Many of the survivors are not yet ready to engage in anything more threatening than sending and receiving text messages.
One man, despite years of interaction with Jones, won't acknowledge that he suffered the abuse he describes. “He says it happened to a friend,” Jones says.
For many victims, the shame and guilt are still buried too deep to speak the truth, to shatter the silence that holds so many men as emotional prisoners.
But Jones, Elam and others keep speaking out on victims' behalf, keeps shouting the message that boys are exploited in the sex trade far more often than many want to admit.
“When you wake up to it, when you see how big it is,” Jones says, “I don't know how you turn away.”
Reforms haven't cut state's child abuse rate
by Matt Stout
Children in Massachusetts are being abused and neglected at the highest rate in the nation, according to newly released federal data that shows the growing number of victims hasn't budged in three years despite a series of reforms at the state level.
More than 32,000 Massachusetts children were victims of so-called maltreatment in federal fiscal year 2016, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
As a result, the Bay State has a nation-leading rate of 23.3 victims per 1,000 children, more than double the national average. It marked the third straight year Massachusetts had the highest rate of abuse and neglect, starting in 2014 — the year before Gov. Charlie Baker took office — when reports jumped by 50 percent in one year alone.
But they've stayed steady or even increased since, and at an unmatched pace. In the past five years, no other state has eclipsed a rate of 20 victims per 1,000 kids.
The data, released earlier this month, comes as Baker and the Department of Children and Families have touted a series of reforms since he took office, including pumping an additional $155 million into the budget and adding nearly 600 new staffers to shore up the beleaguered agency.
DCF Commissioner Linda Spears, who testified before lawmakers yesterday on Beacon Hill, defended the state's dubious ranking, saying it has “one of the lowest thresholds” for reporting in the country.
“We receive proportionally more reports than other states,” she said while descending a flight of stairs from the hearing, where aides had tried to hustle her from the State House as reporters trailed behind.
“We've come a tremendously long way in the last few years,” she said. “We have a lot to build on.”
Aides to Spears later said they attributed the initial spike to “increased public awareness” following a string of high-profile deaths, including the death of Jeremiah Oliver — a Fitchburg boy who went missing in 2013 while under DCF's watch and was later found dead.
“The public has continued to be vigilant in reporting suspected abuse and neglect to the department,” a DCF spokeswoman said.
Other state data show improvements could be coming. The Office of the Child Advocate, a state-level watchdog, released data yesterday showing the number of allegations of abuse and neglect in so-called out-of-home settings — including foster care — dropped by about 21 percent last year, to 655.
The report, however, was a mixed bag: 40 children in state care of custody died last fiscal year, a jump from 35 in 2016. That included one child that was 3 years old or younger who died of physical abuse, and 18 others who died of a sudden or unexpected death, many of which included accidental suffocation in a bed.
“For me, the better measure is the substantiated reports of abuse and neglect, particularly for the children the commonwealth is responsible for,” Maria Mossaides, director of the Office of the Child Advocate said. “You don't have controls over incidents happening, necessarily.”
SC coaches, church volunteers, Scout leaders would be required to report child abuse
by John Monk
COLUMBIA, SC -- A bill aimed at expanding child-safety protections against molesters and other abusers took a small but significant step forward Wednesday.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville, would add coaches, camp counselors, Scout leaders, firefighters, school and college administrators, as well as “clerical or nonclerical religious counselors” to those who are required by law to report cases of suspected child abuse or neglect.
A “mandated reporter” is a person who the law requires to report suspected abuse to either law enforcement or the S.C. Department of Social Services. Already, nurses, doctors, members of the clergy, teachers, principals, mental health professionals, social workers and judges are required to report suspected abuse.
Bannister, chair of the subcommittee that on Wednesday sent the bill to the full House Judiciary Committee, told his panel that he was proposing the change because there is a growing religious group in Greenville whose members “are holding themselves out as counselors” but who are not part of any organized church.
“I'm trying to close the loophole that allows somebody ... to offer religious counseling when they have no training, they are not clergy, they're not counselors,” Bannister said.
State Rep. Micah Caskey, R-Lexington, asked Bannister if his proposal might keep volunteers from offering to work with youth at churches or other places.
Bannister told Caskey he would favor child safety over the scruples of a, hopefully, limited number of people who won't volunteer because they prefer to keep silent about suspected child abuse rather than report such cases.
Rep. John McCravy, R-Greenwood, told Bannister the language about church volunteers might be too broad, since all members of churches might counsel each other. That would mean all members of a church might be considered mandatory reporters, he said.
McCravy was the only member of the five-member panel to vote against forwarding Bannister's bill to the full Judiciary Committee.
Maggie Cash, executive director of the S.C. Children's Hospital Collaborative, which is involved in child-abuse detection initiatives, told Bannister's panel that her group “absolutely” supports his proposal.
Bannister's bill originally was aimed only at religious counselors. But he added the broader language to include coaches, Boy Scout leaders and others, borrowing language from another bill, sponsored by state Rep. Peter McCoy, R-Charleston.
Mandatory reporters who report a suspected child abuse or neglect case to law enforcement or Social Services in good faith are shielded from lawsuits if their report turns out to be unfounded. However, mandatory reporters who fail to report child-abuse cases are subject to being fined $500 or sentenced to six months in jail.
Advocates of the Bannister and McCoy bills say they are motivated by the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State, where allegations of abuse by the assistant coach Jerry Sandusky reportedly were told to the university officials. When those officials took no action, the abuse continued.
In South Carolina, leaders of The Citadel publicly apologized in 2011 for not reporting to police allegations of child sex abuse against a summer camp counselor. That counselor turned out to be a serial child molester.
Why child abuse like the Turpin family horrors is so hard to prevent or halt
by Naomi Schaefer Riley
Hard cases make bad law. That may be the disturbing but difficult-to-avoid lesson from the stomach-turning abuse suffered by the 13 children of David and Louise Turpin for at least a decade.
The Turpins, who are set to return to court Feb. 23, are an extreme example. It's not only the number of children they allegedly mistreated or even the length of time for which the abuse went on. It's also the fact that — so far as authorities can figure and despite what seems like a thorough search by the media — no one appears to have reported the Turpins to the police or child services. This fact alone makes the Turpin family unlike almost every other case of extreme neglect or abuse that has been uncovered in the last few decades. And it's why any attempt to pass new legislation based on this tragedy will be at best ineffective at preventing similar situations and at worst unnecessarily infringe on the freedom of millions of decent families.
Our system for child protection is hardly foolproof. Those in Southern California will recognize the name of Gabriel Fernandez, the 8-year-old boy killed by his mother and her boyfriend in Los Angeles in 2013 after multiple reports of abuse. In Philadelphia, there was Danieal Kelly, the cerebral palsy-stricken girl who died in 2006 at age 14 after almost a decade of investigations by city caseworkers. In Florida, there was Tariji Gordon, who was removed from her home after her twin brother suffocated,then returned to her mother. She was later found dead and buried in a suitcase.
Political leaders responded to each crime with policy changes of one sort or another. In some instances, they hired more caseworkers or increased penalties for child abuse. They publicized hotlines to call when someone suspected abuse. Something had gone wrong inside our child welfare bureaucracy — between the moment a report of abuse was made and the time a caseworker decided not to remove a child from his or her home. The changes had limited, if any, effect on the overall success of the systems.
The Turpins weren't even on the radar of that system. It didn't fail them as much as it simply didn't apply. Cut off from extended family years ago, they successfully isolated themselves in Riverside County and other locales. After one of the daughters ran away from home when they lived in Fort Worth, a former neighbor told the Los Angeles Times that he considered reporting them to authorities but decided against it because he knew that David Turpin had a gun. Others who noticed odd behavior simply decided to respect the family's privacy.
The children's isolation was partly a function of homeschooling. The Turpins met California's minimal requirements for the practice. Since their arrest, there have been calls for tightening those regulations. If only the children had been forced to report to authorities in some way, the thinking goes, surely someone would have realized what was going on. But there are reasons to question whether this would have solved the problem.
In her 2013 memoir, “Etched in Sand,” Regina Calcaterra describes growing up on Long Island during the 1970s and '80s with a mother who beat her and her siblings regularly. Cookie, as Regina and her siblings called their mother, left them alone for weeks at a time with no food and sometimes no heat. While Cookie was using the state's payments for housing and food to buy drugs and alcohol, Regina and her siblings were regularly enrolled in school.
Occasionally the police or child services would realize something was wrong. The siblings went to live with foster families more than once. But Cookie was a great liar and the siblings — who did not want to be split up into different foster homes — learned to lie as well. The abuse went on for two decades.
More contact with authorities might have reduced the isolation of the Turpin children. But, as sociologist Richard Gelles, an expert on child welfare systems, told me, “it doesn't confront the issue that some people are able to put up a good front.” That the eldest Turpin son attended community college, earning A's in many classes, bears this out.
Gelles, who is the former dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, notes that teachers and administrators — like neighbors and relatives — often engage in “selective inattention.” The research, according to Gelles, suggests that people are less likely to report those who look like them and seem to be from the same socioeconomic group. This is particularly true for white, middle-class families. “The more people are like me, the more reluctant I am to report their deviant behavior,” Gelles explained.
Unfortunately, this tendency isn't something that state or local governments can easily fix. Indeed, despite the horrors of the Turpin case, it's not clear that we'd want them to try. We are already living in a country where more than a third of children under 18 years old come into contact with child services. Some of these are no doubt instances of real neglect and abuse but others involve kids who have been left in the car while their parent runs into the dry cleaner. Do we really want to encourage people to report on their neighbor's parenting practices more than they already do?
The Supreme Court has said that parents have the right to raise children without unwarranted government intervention. As Gelles notes, we have created “a legal moat around the house, which very few of us would want to give up.” The Turpins are the terrible but extremely rare price we pay for this liberty. It's hard to imagine what kind of state intervention would have prevented or halted the abuse.
Warning signs of child sexual abuse
by Amanda Aguilar
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — With sexual assault dominating headlines, experts said it's important for parents to look for warning signs of child sexual abuse and start having the conversation with their child.
KSN's Amanda Aguilar spoke to the coordinator at Via Christi's Forensic Nursing unit, which works closely with victims of sexual assault.
According to Tina Peck, parents need to know what's normal or out of character for their child so that they can easily recognize the signs.
Warning signs to look out for include:
Change in sleeping habits: Are they having nightmares or wetting the bed?
Change in eating habits: Are they refusing the eat, or is their appetite drastically increasing?
Interactions with others: Are they becoming more distant?
Complaints about headaches or stomach pains
Peck said most child sexual abuse happens by someone the child knows, not a stranger. Sexual abuse also doesn't always leave physical trauma.
“There are a lot of forms of touching and abuse that occur that do not leave physical signs,” said Peck.
When parents have conversations about sexual abuse with their child, Peck said it's important to listen and believe the child.
If parents have any suspicions of possible child sexual abuse, they need to contact law enforcement.
“It's very important for parents and agencies not to conduct their own investigation,” said Peck. “They need to contact 911 as soon as possible so that the investigation can get underway as soon as possible.”
Once law enforcement is contacted, they will refer the case to the Exploited and Missing Children unit — which has special detectives that work on child sexual abuse cases.
For more information on recognizing sexual abuse, visit the National Sex Offender Public Website .
Erie County launching campaign to combat child sexual abuse
by Michael Mroziak
Erie County will become the sixth county in New York State to roll out an education and training campaign that will work with members of the community to develop strategies to prevent child sexual abuse.
The Enough Abuse Campaign was introduced in New York in 2012 by the statewide organization Prevent Child Abuse New York. In Erie County, partners including the Erie County District Attorney's Office, Lee Gross Anthone Child Advocacy Center and Crisis Services will provide free training to institutions and individuals to recognize the warning signs and develop strategies to prevent child sexual abuse.
"The Enough Abuse Campaign aims to provide the resources and knowledge, directly to parents and families, to ensure a child's safety by utilizing a public health approach to prevention," said Crisis Services chief executive officer Jessica Pirro.
District Attorney John Flynn offered some alarming statistics to open the news conference in his downtown Buffalo office. Erie County, he said, has the second highest number of cases of child abuse in New York State. An estimated 9,000 cases were reported last year but Flynn says law enforcers believe only about one tenth of the incidents happening are actually being reported.
Flynn and child advocates say it's time to stop being silent about crimes committed against children.
"The overwhelming majority of child victims are abused by people they know, trust and respect," Flynn said.
"That's why this program is so important, because what we're doing is educating our citizens, we're educating our teachers, our religious leaders, our Boy Scout leaders, our Boys Club leaders, our athletic coaches, we're educating the entire community who have a responsibility and role in molding and teaching our children how to recognize and prevent child sexual abuse."
The Lee Gross Anthone Child Advocacy Center has been designated the host agency for the campaign. Its director, Rebecca Stevens, said training will be made available and crafted to fit the needs of the people or organizations.
"We can be flexible with the amount of time that you have and the number of people," she said. "For example, we could speak to 250 people in an auditorium or a small book club on a Wednesday night in their home. Some of the modules can be an hour or they could be three hours, depending again on what is easy, what is accessible and what people have the time and availability for."
Currently, the modules are designed for people ages 12 and older. Stevens says additional modules are in development to work directly with younger children.
At the same time, Flynn pointed out that while there's a need to become more aware of child sexual abuse, parents need to remember that a wide majority of the people who will interact with their kids pose no threat.
"I think it's important that we don't go too far and create a society where we are hovering over our children, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.
What's the difference between sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape?
by Sarah L. Cook, Lilia M. Cortina and Mary P. Koss
The terms “sexual abuse,” “sexual assault,” “sexual harassment” – and even “rape” – crop up daily in the news. We are likely to see these terms more as the #MeToo movement continues.
Many people want to understand these behaviors and work to prevent them. It helps if we are consistent and as precise as possible when we use these terms.
But what does each term mean?
We are three scholars who have specialized in the scientific study of sexual abuse , rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment over several decades.
Let's start by defining each of these terms. Then, we can look at how these behaviors sometimes overlap.
The term that has been in the news most recently with reference to sports doctor Larry Nassar's trial is sexual abuse, a form of mistreating children. Sexual abuse is mainly used to describe behavior toward children, not adults.
All 50 states have laws that recognize that children are not capable of giving informed consent to any sex act. In the United States, the age at which consent can be given ranges from 16 to 18 years.
Sexual abuse can include many different things, from touching a victim in a sexual manner to forcing a victim to touch the perpetrator in a sexual way to making a victim look at sexual body parts or watch sexual activity. Sexual abuse of a child is a criminal act.
In 2012, the FBI issued a revised definition of rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” The revised law is gender neutral, meaning that anyone can be a victim.
When carefully examined, the FBI definition does not look like most people's idea of rape – typically perpetrated by a stranger through force. The FBI definition says nothing about the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator and it says nothing about force. It does, however, say something about consent, or rather, the lack of it. Think about consent as your ability to make a decision about what happens to your body.
A perpetrator can compel a victim into a penetrative sex act in multiple ways. A perpetrator can ignore verbal resistance – like saying “no,” “stop” or “I don't want to” – or overpower physical resistance by holding a person down so they cannot move. A person can penetrate a victim who is incapable of giving consent because he or she is drunk, unconscious, asleep, or mentally or physically incapacitated; or can threaten or use physical force or a weapon against a person. Essentially, these methods either ignore or remove the person's ability to make an autonomous decision about what happens to their body. State laws vary in how they define removing or ignoring consent.
Perpetrators can't defend against charges of rape by claiming they were drunk themselves or by saying they are married to the victim.
Rape and sexual assault have been used interchangeably in coverage of events leading to the #MeToo movement, and this practice, though unintentional, is confusing. In contrast to the specific criminal act of rape, the term sexual assault can describe a range of criminal acts that are sexual in nature, from unwanted touching and kissing, to rubbing, groping or forcing the victim to touch the perpetrator in sexual ways. But sexual assault overlaps with rape because the term includes rape.
Social and behavioral scientists often use the term “sexual violence.” This term is far more broad than sexual assault. It include acts that are not codified in law as criminal but are harmful and traumatic . Sexual violence includes using false promises, insistent pressure, abusive comments or reputational threats to coerce sex acts. It can encompass noncontact acts like catcalls and whistles, which can make women feel objectified and victimized. It includes nonconsensual electronic sharing of explicit images, exposure of genitals and surreptitious viewing of others naked or during sex.
Sexual harassment is a much broader term than sexual assault, encompassing three categories of impermissible behavior.
One is sexual coercion – legally termed “quid pro quo harassment” – referring to implicit or explicit attempts to make work conditions contingent upon sexual cooperation. The classic “sleep with me or you're fired” scenario is a perfect example of sexual coercion. It is the most stereotypical form of sexual harassment, but also the rarest .
A second, and more common, form of sexual harassment is unwanted sexual attention: unwanted touching, hugging, stroking, kissing, relentless pressure for dates or sexual behavior. Note that romantic and sexual overtures come in many varieties at work, not all of them harassing. To constitute unlawful sexual harassment, the sexual advances must be unwelcome and unpleasant to the recipient. They must be “sufficiently severe or pervasive” to “create an abusive working environment,” according to the U.S. Supreme Court .
Unwanted sexual attention can include sexual assault and even rape. If an employer were to forcibly kiss and grope a receptionist without her consent, this would be an example of both unwanted sexual attention and sexual assault – both a civil offense and a crime.
Most sexual harassment, however, entails no sexual advance. This third and most common manifestation is gender harassment : conduct that disparages people based on gender, but implies no sexual interest. Gender harassment can include crude sexual terms and images, for example, degrading comments about bodies or sexual activities, graffiti calling women “cunts” or men “pussies.” More often than not, though, it is purely sexist, such as contemptuous remarks about women being ill-suited for leadership or men having no place in childcare. Such actions constitute “sexual” harassment because they are sex-based , not because they involve sexuality.
Come-ons, put-downs: They're both bad
In lay terms, sexual coercion and unwanted sexual attention are come-ons, whereas gender harassment is a put-down. Still, they are all forms of sexual harassment and can all violate law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 .
Historically, social attitudes towards all these hostile actions have assumed a continuum of severity. Sexist graffiti and insults are offensive, but no big deal, right? Verbal sexual overtures cannot be as bad as physical ones. And, if there was no penetration, it can't have been all that bad.
These assumptions do not hold up to scientific scrutiny, however. For example, researchers at the University of Melbourne analyzed data from 73,877 working women. They found that experiences of gender harassment, sexist discrimination and the like are more corrosive to work and well-being, compared to encounters with unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion.
We have tried to clarify terms that are now becoming household words. Of course, life is complicated. Abusive, assaulting or harassing behavior cannot always be neatly divided into one category or another – sometimes it belongs in more than one. Nevertheless, it is important to use terms in accurate ways to promote the public's understanding.
Finally, we take heed that society is in a period like no other and one we thought we would never see. People are reflecting on, and talking about, and considering and reconsidering their experiences and their behavior. Definitions, criminal and otherwise, change with social standards. This time next year, we may be writing a new column.
ATV Center has opened adult forensic program
Child Advocacy Center coming for Highland, Clinton counties
by Alternatives to Violence Center
The Alternatives to Violence Center, with an office in both Hillsboro and Wilmington, has recently been awarded funding through the Ohio Attorney General's Office and United Way of Clinton County to expand on services addressing the issue of sexual violence and child abuse.
On Oct. 1, 2017, the agency opened its adult forensic program, which provides evidence collection and supportive care to victims of sexual assault, ages 14 and up.
“Services now include forensic exams completed by registered nurses who are specifically trained to gather forensic evidence,” Director Julie Brassel said.
She said that in the program's first week of operation it served two adult victims of sexual assault.
The program is a one-stop holistic approach where survivors are met by not only an on-call nurse, but also a trained advocate. Services include counseling by a licensed therapist, legal assistance through attorneys, court advocacy, support groups, safety planning, medical advocacy, shelter, personal advocacy and a 24-hour crisis line.
“Prior to the agency opening the forensic program, survivors were driving an hour or more to have evidence collected in a hospital emergency room,” Brassel said. “The process for some was over 12 hours long, which generally included trips to two different hospitals.”
At the AVC's new center, survivors are greeted and explained the process in a space fashioned after a living room.
“We know nothing we do will completely alleviate the pain they are encountering, but we know for certain the environment at our facility is more soothing and private than a bustling emergency room,” Brassel said.
She said that evidence collection takes approximately two hours to complete.
“Compared to emergency rooms serving multiple patients, the victim is our priority and sole patient, meaning we can assess their safety, and provide care and support at a much faster pace,” Brassel said.
The director said that victims seen are given new blankets and new fuzzy socks during the exam, and then are provided with new clothing as they prepare to leave. Not only is the process faster for the victim, but law enforcement have reported being pleased with how close the facility is, decreasing their time in driving to and from to collect evidence kits, Brassel said.
The agency has also been awarded funds to open a child advocacy center. Brassel said the program will be open to Clinton and Highland counties and will feature nurses trained to gather evidence in pediatric cases, as well as certified forensic interviewers and a recording system used during interviews with children who report abuse.
Brassel said that the agency has hired Kimberly Newman, who has 17 years of experience in facilitating forensic interviews. A multidisciplinary team will review cases and evidence, ensuring that best practices are followed while reviewing gaps in services.
As with the adult program, the Child Advocacy Center will be comprised of therapists who provide trauma informed care utilizing an evidence based program. Additionally attorneys will be available to help families deal with the aftermath of abuse. Advocates will provide safety planning, case management, transportation and support to the child and non-offending family members. The agency is hiring a full-time nurse to provide forensic exams for children, as well as general assessments and referrals for follow-up care. On-call nurses will ensure the program is available 24/7.
“I really can't stress how much our community has worked to help establish these programs. Members of the Sexual Assault Response Teams in both Clinton and Highland counties have really been the moving force behind the center expanding services,” Brassel said. “For example, Clinton County Children Services traveled with us to visit other Child Advocacy Centers in the state, and researched recording systems. Highland County Community Action has worked with the agency to provide follow-up medical care to survivors. Clinton County Prosecutor's Office provided nurses with education and training on being an expert witness in court.”
Brassel believes the Child Advocacy Center will be open late spring 2018.
For more information on these and other agency programs, visit the agency's website at avconline.info or the agency's Facebook page.
No more #MeToo: Teach children to prevent sex abuse before it happens
by Edward E. Burr
Parents, schools and lawmakers must seize this opportunity to equip our children with the tools they need to ensure safety for themselves and others.
We've seen allegations that titans of the entertainment industry, community leaders and elected officials have sexually harassed or assaulted others. We've listened as more than 150 women detail the horrendous abuse they suffered at the hands of gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. And we've also seen Oprah Winfrey declare on national television that “ Time is up !” for those who wield their power to prey on others.
We are living in extraordinary times.
I have watched each development of the #MeToo movement with a mixture of awe and disheartenment. The bravery of the survivors is inspiring, but in the face of so much evil we can feel powerless.
Sexual harassment and abuse are clearly prevalent in our country. How can we protect our children? What can we do to create a new movement, one in which the next generation can proclaim #NoMoreMeToo?
Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney ended her statement in court with a call to action: “Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it's time to take our power back.” She is right.
Education is the key to prevent abuse
We must focus on giving power to children by educating them to prevent the abuse from happening. Research shows that 95% of child maltreatment is preventable through education. We must seize this opportunity to equip our children with the tools they need to ensure safety for themselves and others.
Sadly, we know that one in five girls and one in 12 boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthdays. Because of the trauma they suffer, victims are at a higher risk for experiencing psychological disorders, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, criminal behavior and other negative impacts. Many children who are victimized suffer in silence, but those who receive prevention education are more likely to speak out, giving trusted safe adults the opportunity to help them.
Children need a program that works to stop abuse before it ever happens. In 2015, a study by Florida State University's School of Teacher Education showed that elementary school students had a 96% gain in safety knowledge after they completed a program to give them information and strategies to prevent bullying, cyberbullying, digital abuse and all types of child abuse. Those are powerful results that show these programs can help children have a better understanding of abuse.
Educators, you have a powerful platform of influence. Schools serve as the single best place to implement prevention programs. Parents can help by supporting schools' decisions to teach these programs and by fostering a dialogue at home. And lawmakers can make a difference by requiring all schools to provide abuse prevention education —and by holding them accountable to do so.
Together, we can educate, empower and protect more children so they can proclaim #NoMoreMeToo.
Edward E. Burr is the chairman and founder of the Monique Burr Foundation for Children .