Valley man helps adult survivors of childhood abuse
(2 videos on site)
by Marina Barnett
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- April is National Child Abuse Prevention month and a Valley man is working to help adults who are survivors of childhood abuse.
Charlie Tinsley survived 19 years of childhood abuse and now serves as an ambassador for the National Association of Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse (NAASCA).
They have a website with resources and a radio show that survivors can call into to share their stories and hear other survivor's stories.
Tinsley said a lot of adult survivors he meets have not processed their abuse, or talked about it, and the radio show helps.
"There's a sense of shame that comes along with that and I think that we need to get away from the shame and the stigmas that come with being survivors of abuse, and be honest with ourselves," said Tinsley.
There's a six month interval on the website, so survivors can tell share their stories and find new and different ways to tell them. They can listen to the show at any time.
Be aware of sexual abuse by siblings
by Kat Perry
The Children's Advocacy Center is a multi-disciplinary team of partners that promotes the healing of child sexual abuse victims by providing a strong community response to investigation, treatment and prevention of abuse. Of the 474 children seen in the past two years by our local center, 20 percent were abused by a sibling. Globally, one-third of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by a person under the age of 18.
Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro (1998; 2005) define sibling sexual abuse as “sexual behavior between siblings for which the victim is not developmentally prepared, which is not transitory, and which does not reflect age-appropriate curiosity. It may or may not involve physical touching, coercion, or force.” In the book “The Sibling Bond” by Bank and Kahn, sibling incest is characterized as either “nurturance-oriented incest” (expressions of affection and love) or “power-oriented incest” (use of force and domination).
Prevalence rates are difficult to calculate because victims may not realize that they are being abused until years later and have a better understanding of the encounters, are afraid of reporting, or are not believed. Adults often fear what disclosure will do to one or both of the children or dismiss it as “kids being kids.” What differentiates sexual abuse from sexual curiosity or “playing doctor” is the use of coercion, secrecy and domination by the abusing sibling.
More than 80 percent of the non-offending care providers seen at the Children's Advocacy Center were themselves victims of child abuse, but most never sought services or had services offered to them when they were children. Many report that even when they told an adult about their victimization, they were either not believed or were told that they would be fine and nothing was done to validate their experience, help them speak their truth or provide them with services and support to help them heal.
Children who were sexually victimized by other minors, including sibling on sibling abuse, can experience the same problems as children victimized by adults — anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicide, eating or sleeping disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and difficulty trusting peers in the context of relationships. The victim might think that the act was normal, think they were the initiator or think they voluntarily participated in the act.
Clearly, both children need help in these situations. The child being abused needs appropriate care to prevent the lifelong trauma impact experienced by many survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The child who is abusing needs proper treatment because they may have also been sexually abused and treatment can prevent them from repeating that behavior. Many adult perpetrators began sexually abusing when they were under the age of 18.
According to “Darkness to Light” (Finkelhor, Shattuck, Broman-Fulks, et al):
• Early adolescents between ages 12 and 14 are the peak of child offenders. This age-range experiences a lot of changes as puberty begins, and if they have a skewed view of sex, they may perpetrate against a younger or smaller child.
• Seventy percent of perpetrators have between 1 and 9 victims. This means that if a child perpetrator gets help after their first victim, they are less likely to go on to abuse more children.
• Sex offenses are the crimes least likely to involve strangers as perpetrators. Just like adult perpetrators, a child sexually abusing another child is most likely a friend or family member — rarely a stranger.
• Children who disclose their abuse within one month are at a reduced risk for depression. If your child can talk about the abuse with you and are believed, they are less likely to suffer from depression later in life related to the abuse.
Sexual abuse can be hard to think about and harder to discuss, but it's important to educate yourself so you can teach your child what to watch out for. Be aware of everyone your child spends alone time with — older children and adults. Make sure they know that their body is private and no one can touch them without permission. Believe when your child tells you they are being abused.
Every step you take, every talk you have, every time you listen — you are protecting your child from sexual abuse.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of child sexual abuse, free and confidential help is available by calling/texting 1-800-871-7741 or chat at sapars.org . To report child abuse, call the 24-hour Department of Health and Human Services Emergency line at: 1-800-452-1999 or deaf/hard of hearing line at: 711.
Children and Family Services respond to child abuse protests: 'We share your concerns'
by Chris Anderson
Hugs and handshakes were exchanged between both parties, showing signs of understanding and unity from all sides.
"We hear your demands. We hear your concerns. We share your concerns for the children of our community," said the director of Children and Family Services. "We do our best everyday to protect every child that comes into this system, and we will continue to do that."
The group of protesters camped outside of the Children and Family Services for 24 hours straight , seeking action after reports of child abuse cases being handled improperly or neglects. Specifically, the case of Aniya Day-Garrett was brought up. Aniya's mother and her boyfriend have been charged with the abuse resulting in the 4-year-old's death.
Aniya's death prompted an investigation throughout the county department into the practices surrounding child abuse reports and whether a follow-up on those reports are ensued.
The Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services have not specifically said if the demonstrations and press conferences will shape future plans and procedures when dealing with child abuse investigations.
Erie County Child Abuse Prevention Task Force Hosts 'Be a Superhero'
Kids got a chance to meet local heroes, including firefighters, police, EMS rescuers and other officials
by Erie News Now
For the Erie County Child Abuse Prevention Task Force, a special outreach effort Sunday could not be more timely.
It was actually a family-oriented event at Tom Ridge Environmental Center called Be a Superhero.
Kids got a chance to meet local heroes, including firefighters, police, EMS rescuers and other officials.
The idea is to help families learn about child abuse prevention techniques but also show kids that real super heroes don't wear capes, but they are there to help if a child has a problem.
"Our theme is to be a superhero," said Gina Lesoski, Erie County Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. "For us, that means reporting child abuse if you see it. We want to encourage the community to pay attention. We want these children to come here and try to meet with some authority figures, law enforcement and EMS, so if something does happen in their life, they are not so afraid maybe to talk to these people and get help."
Another goal of this first-time event to help kids know what is okay and what is not. Several organizations involved in the Child Abuse Prevention Task Force participated.
Why the Victorian myth of portraying paedophiles as strangers still persists today
Most child sex abuse happens within families, but we still cling on to the Victorian idea of paedophiles as outsiders
by Ailise Bulfin
The Victorians portrayed paedophiles as scary strangers and social outsiders. By portraying them in this way, it was possible to avoid the unthinkable reality that children could be abused in respectable middle-class homes.
This myth of the stranger paedophile is still persistent today. And even though the evidence shows that most child sexual abuse is perpetrated by close family members, the stranger myth continues to distract our attention from the most common type of abuse.
The way we understand child sexual abuse today has its roots in social and medical theories developed in the late-19th century. The stranger myth originated partly in these theories and also in sensational journalism and popular fiction. Because it was a taboo subject, it was impossible to represent child sexual abuse directly in cultural works like novels. It was even difficult to discuss it in textbooks or newspaper articles, and the focus was kept firmly on stranger perpetrators.
An important event that helped make the discussion of child sexual abuse public was the publication of a series of newspaper exposés of child prostitution in 1885 by the investigative journalist, WT Stead. With the sensational title, The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon , the reports described a booming London trade in providing young girls for violent sexual exploitation.
Another event that opened up the discussion was the creation in 1896 of the medical concept of paedophilia. It was publicised in a very successful textbook on deviant sexuality, which focused on violent sexual crimes committed by strangers and almost entirely overlooked the act of incest. These treatments of the issue helped keep the focus off domestic problems. They allowed child sexual abuse to be portrayed as a lower-class problem of public morality, associated with stereotypes of poverty, slums, substance abuse and poor hygiene.
In the realm of fiction, some writers got around the taboo by using the metaphors of gothic writing to sneak sexual content past the censor. In this way, child sexual abuse could be represented using the figure of the monster who preys on children.
For example, in Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), there is a bizarre incident where Mr Hyde cruelly tramples a little girl underfoot on a nighttime London street. This has been interpreted as a covert reference to the problem of child prostitution, coming just after the maiden tribute scandal the year before.
The vampirism in Bram Stoker's Dracula , probably the best-known Victorian gothic tale, has long been interpreted as violently sexual. But the fact that most of the vampires' victims in the book are children, means it too can be read as covertly representing child sexual abuse. By showing highly sexualised monsters preying on children, Dracula and many similar popular tales may have helped to circulate the stranger myth to a wide audience.
Gothic writing also gave credence to the stranger myth in another important way. Because it was difficult to describe child sexual abuse directly, even the non-fiction accounts often used gothic conventions to hint at unmentionable acts. The child prostitution articles used the sensational metaphor of the “sacrifice” of girls to the “insatiable” “maw” of “the London minotaur”. And the medical textbook, which featured a number of cases that involved cannibalism, even referred to the perpetrators of sexual murder as “modern vampires”.
Victorian attitudes die hard
Although it is no longer taboo to discuss child sexual abuse or to describe it explicitly, it is still not an experience or issue that is easily raised, especially when it occurs in a domestic setting. The focus is still on extreme cases committed by strangers and treated in a sensational way by the media, such as the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
And the modern horror genre still seems to be used often to engage with child sexual abuse, with a continuing tendency to distance the perpetrators by making them monstrous. For example, in the classic 1984 horror movie, A Nightmare on Elm Street , Freddy Krueger was originally conceived of as a child molester, and this is made explicit in the 2010 remake.
Although we like to think we live in more enlightened times, we seem to be reproducing the unhelpful disavowal of domestic child sexual abuse that was so prevalent in Victorian times, and over-focusing on “stranger danger” and extreme cases. We are now willing to point the finger at institutional abuse, for example, but we are still unwilling to admit that child sexual abuse happens behind the closed doors of ordinary-seeming families. And this makes it even more difficult for the survivors of abuse to deal with their experiences.
'Protect Our Children: Sexual Abuse, The Law & Justice
by ABC 7 NY
NEW YORK -- On Saturday, April 21, WABC-TV will air a special entitled "PROTECT OUR CHILDREN: SEXUAL ABUSE, THE LAW, & JUSTICE" at 7 PM, EDT. (also to be re-run Sun. 4/22 at 5:30 a.m.). The program is hosted by Eyewitness News Anchor Diana Williams and addresses child sexual abuse and alarming statistics that reveal the fact that in this country, one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of eighteen. It is a scourge that is propped up by denial and deficient laws.
The program begins by addressing the worst form of sexual abuse, child sex trafficking. We profile a young woman, who prefers to remain anonymous, but describes being a freshman in college and finding herself victimized and vulnerable to this crime when she was in desperate financial need. With therapeutic support from the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center and GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Services), she escaped the grip of her exploiter and dreams of creating a Foundation to save others like herself.
The statistics are grim and children are most vulnerable between the ages of seven and thirteen. Six years ago, this series addressed the issue of New York State having one of the most restrictive Statute of Limitations, requiring that charges be made before the victim reaches the age of 23. Since 42 is the average age at which victims reveal having been abused, justice is denied to most adult survivors of child sexual abuse. While the State Assembly annually approves the Child Victims Act, the Senate still refuses to call for a vote on it, with an array of lobbyists blocking this change.
We feature three victims working with experts in a fight for justice and a struggle to change the law:
Fabio Cotza, is now Senior Director at the Safe Horizon Bronx Child Advocacy Center, and was raped when he was just nine years old. He speaks eloquently of the issues he faced, the impact on him personally, his attempts at suicide and his valiant efforts to recover from his abuse and save others.
Bridie Farrell, former member of the US National Speed Skating Team and a three-time American Record Holder, was just 15 and training for the Olympic trials in 1998, when she says she was sexually abused, by a much older team member. She is active in the #MeToo Movement and has Co-Founded a non-profit, "New York Loves Kids," dedicated to speaking out about child sexual abuse.
Brian Toale, was 16 and attending a prestigious Catholic high school on Long Island, when he was sexually abused. Ironically, the Archdiocese of Rockville Center has initiated a program enabling victims of clergy abuse to file for compensation. While it may provide justice for some victims, it has very limited parameters and since Brian was abused by a lay teacher, he has no recourse, but continues his efforts as an advocate for victims of child sexual abuse and the Child Victims Act.
This Special is the 21st in a series from WABC-TV's "Protect Our Children" campaign that originated in 1998. The campaign includes informational safety messages, a web site and campaign that continues to broadcast the pictures of missing children in every Eyewitness News Program. The previous Specials have received six Emmy Awards, six "Gracie" Awards from the American Women in Radio-TV-Film (AWRT) and Awards from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, (NCMEC). All of the segments along with additional material, web-chats and links to resources and agencies that can be of help will be posted on ABC7NY.com/Protect after the airing of the program.
PROTECT OUR CHILDREN: SEXUAL ABUSE, THE LAW, & JUSTICE
WEB ADDRESSES & PHONE NUMBERS
Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center
GEMS Girls Educational & Mentoring Services
National Trafficking Hotline
National Runaway Safeline
800-RUN-AWAY (786-2929) Hotline
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
800-656-HOPE (4673) Hotline
800-621-HOPE (4673) 24 Hour Hotline
Bridie Farrell - Athlete & Advocate
NY LOVES KIDS
Leaders - A NYC Outward Bound School
Times Up Movement
Brian Toale Blog
From Victim to Survivor/ Giving Back the Shame
Birzon Strang & Associates
The Diocese of Rockville Centre
SNAP Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Mental Health America
For Resources & Expert Advice
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
24 Hour Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
National Center For Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)
800-THE LOST (843-5678)
Group focuses on child abuse prevention, sexual assault awareness
by Alyssa Mulliger
Several Spartanburg County service providers and nonprofit organizations know the importance of working together to create a healthier community, especially for the community's youngest generation.
On Monday, a group of agencies and entities that comprise the Spartanburg Partners in Prevention kicked off a month of awareness for the prevention of child abuse and sexual assault. April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The prevention group, which includes the United Way of the Piedmont, Safe Homes Rape Crisis Coalition, Hope Center for Children and the Children's Advocacy Center in Spartanburg, held a panel discussion at the Spartanburg County Public Library's downtown headquarters.
Suzy Cole, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center, said one of the most important ways to spread awareness and open people's eyes to these issues are to talk about them, especially with children.
“People don't want to talk about this stuff; they want to pretend it doesn't exist,” she said. “But I'm here to tell you this stuff is happening in my backyard, in your backyard, in every zip code in Spartanburg County. It's in poor families, wealthy families, middle-class families, white, black, Hispanic, you name it.”
Part of the Children's Advocacy Center's work involves therapists who listen to children's stories and help them through traumatic situations. The center also has programs that focus on parent support and child sexual abuse prevention.
Chamlee Loscuito, CEO of Hope Center for Children, said it's important to take upstream, proactive strategies when it comes to child abuse and sexual assault prevention. A significant part of the nonprofit's work is providing residential care for children in foster care.
“We don't want to be a community where we wait until a child is traumatized,” Loscuito said. “We want to try to wrap support around caregivers and families so that hopefully we have fewer children that need to come into foster care.”
Loscuito said part of the strategy involves support for parents through resources like the Positive Parenting Program, also called Triple P. The program gives parents simple and practical strategies to help them build strong relationships with their children.
“In our community there is often a stigma with parents asking for help. It's just not really something that we think about doing,” Loscuito said. “As a parent myself, I find that I have many moments where I wish I could pick up the phone and call and ask for some input. One of the things we're really trying to do that is more upstream is normalizing that asking for help.”
Dr. Jennifer Parker, director of the University of South Carolina Upstate Center for Child Advocacy Studies, said another strategy for helping to prevent child abuse and sexual assault is by creating more trauma-free environments in places like schools, churches and offices.
One upstream approach already in place is the Compassionate Schools Initiative, which creates a trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive learning environment for students through training teachers and faculty to interact and respond to student issues in positive ways. But there is more work to be done, Parker said.
“Think about these environments and how we can really reduce adverse childhood experiences in our community,” she said. “There are a lot of policy changes we can do… we have a lot of gaps.
“We shouldn't just do this once a year in April. We should be doing this as part of our daily conversation. The conversation needs to be ongoing.”
During the event Monday, Spartanburg Mayor Junie White read a proclamation in recognition of April being national Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“I'm so proud to see so many people involved in the community,” he said. “This is what makes the community strong and a great place to live.”
Treating and preventing toxic stress in children
by Staff Writer
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - When a child experiences physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, substance abuse or long-term economic hardship, it can trigger "toxic stress," a mental health disorder that can last for a lifetime.
Children's Hospital pediatrician Dr. Jamie Kondis joins us to talk about toxic stress and Voices for Children, a nonprofit city and county CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate, program.
Voices for Children is holding their annual gala, "A Chance to Dream," at the Chase Park Plaza on Friday, April 20, at 6 p.m.
For more information, visit www.Voices-STL.org .
Then, on May 5, Dr. Kondis will host 30 years of CASA at the Four Points Sheraton.
How to Connect with your Kids for Life
Most of us would die for our kids. Literally. Faced with an "It's your daughter or it's you" scenario, we'd all say, "Take me!"
by Peter Fritz
Likewise, few of us would think twice about killing anyone who attacked, abused or mortally threatened our kids. We're hardwired for that. For me, nothing produces anger, hatred or despair like the mistreatment or neglect of a child. It shouldn't happen and those who perpetrate it should not be allowed within 100 miles of a kid.
I was lucky. Despite both of my parents suffering physical and emotional abuse as children, they were loving, supportive and emotionally available to my sister and me. They set a benchmark that I aspire to each and every day. I'm not there yet but I continue to try.
Basics vs Techniques
Parenting is part science and part intuition. Some people say there's no handbook for parenting but that's nonsense. There are thousands of them. That's a blessing and a source of confusion – mainly because kids can smell inauthenticity a mile away. And techniques are hard to remember and apply consistently.
Although parenting is indeed complex and riddled with traps, the basics account for a huge percentage of it all. It's the 80/20 rule. It doesn't just apply to business or learning the piano…
I'm a lifelong learner of many things, but wherever possible, I don't learn to be clever; I learn to simplify. I try to distil complex ideas into something usable.
A head full of knowledge does nothing for my quality of life, but a few principles – applied consistently – change everything.
I have three gorgeous and thoroughly interesting children. My girls, Amy and Sarah, are 16 and 14. They're becoming woman faster than my 49-year-old brain can process. My boy, Tommy, is six, and his progress is beautiful to watch.
I love my kids so much it physically hurts sometimes. It's a mixture of adoration, protectiveness and fear for their safety and happiness. I don't know if these feelings will ever wane but it's a ‘curse' I'm resolved to bear for as long as it takes.
I love them and I know they love me, too. I've wanted kids since I was about 12 and I think that comes through. I just ‘get' kids, and like a dog who senses a dog-lover, kids can tell I haven't forgotten what it feels like to be a kid myself.
I believe this has helped me to connect with my kids in a way that maybe other parents don't. I remember what it was like to be in their shoes. I have memories going back as far as when I was two – laying in my dad's arms; the smell of Old Spice, his huge arms cradling me as he chatted with mum in our modest kitchen.
We Watch More Than we Listen
My brain holds thousands of memories of my parents' behaviour; the examples they set, how they dealt with stress and adversity, and the way they explained the world to me. They showed me how to live authentically; how people should treat each other, and how issues should be resolved.
These were important elements of my upbringing. But something else – something few parents excel at – made a huge difference. They listened. They acknowledged and respected my views. They didn't dismiss them as childish, immature or ill-informed – even though they usually were.
They were wise enough to let this young boy discover things in the time he needed to uncover his own truths. They didn't need to preach to me because the example they set was enough of a benchmark for me to work with. I already knew where the lines in the sand were. I didn't have to remember them because they were on display for all to see.
I see a lot of parents struggle to connect with their kids. They try to be cool, or they try to buy their way in. Or they try to be authoritarian. But they forget their kids are watching – always watching. They offer their kids soundbites of trite ‘wisdom' – hollow platitudes off Instagram. They act like parents instead of being parents.
They Want What You Want
All of us want the same things – our children included. We want to be heard; to be understood and to be respected. We want to matter.
My childhood is filled with beautiful moments where my mum and dad just sat with me and listened – sometimes intently, often casually as we walked our dog on the golf course.
My dad and I have driven thousands of kilometres across this country together. We've worked on projects in the shed, fettled motorbikes and cars, we've sat in front of a hundred roaring campfires and played games on the kitchen table till the wee hours of the morning.
He could have hung out with his mates at the pub or gone sailing on the weekend but he chose to spend his time with me. Likewise, my mum and I often chatted in the kitchen as she prepared dinner. We sat in the loungeroom and discussed my tastes in music, my awkwardness with girls and my dreams for the future.
My parents were there for me. Truly there. They didn't glance at their phone mid-sentence. They didn't offer canned advice. They cared.
Even when I ‘abandoned' them for a couple of my late teenage years (getting my driver's license made it hard to stay home), they never stopped being there for me. And they still haven't. They still drop everything to see me and have a long chat.
And that's how you connect with your kids. That's how you make your kids a lifelong fan – by being theirs.
DCF: 67,000 reports of child abuse and/or neglect in FY 2017
by Hays Post
TOPEKA – Governor Jeff Colyer, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel, Kansas Children Service League (KCSL) President Dona Booe, DCF Social Worker Tina Westbay and children from the Adventures in Early Learning Center participated in a “Pinwheels for Prevention” event Monday at the State Capitol Building in Topeka. The event highlighted the dedication of Kansas social workers and emphasized a community-based approach to preventing child abuse.
“Planting pinwheels with these kids here today serves as a representation that every child deserves a happy, loving home,” said Governor Colyer. “But it also reminds us that we must keep moving forward, purposefully taking action to prevent these tragedies. We recently took another step in the right direction, as I signed a bill that requires EMS workers to also become mandated reporters.”
The annual pinwheels event was brought indoors this year, due to the cold and wet weather, so children planted pinwheels in the Capitol. The pinwheel represents happy, healthy childhoods that every child deserves. This nationwide campaign was recognized in Kansas when the Governor signed a proclamation to designate April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“Child abuse is an unfortunate reality in Kansas, and it is a tragedy that is often exacerbated by drug abuse,” said Attorney General Derek Schmidt. “Together, we must address this issue head on, especially when it impacts the young children in our state. I am grateful that Governor Colyer has assembled a task force dedicated to looking at solutions to solve opioid and other drug-related issues in Kansas.”
In Kansas, DCF received more than 67,000 reports of child abuse and/or neglect in FY 2017, and 584 children were removed from their home because of physical abuse as the primary reason for removal.
“If you see something, say something,” Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel said. “Whether we are a social worker, policeman, nurse, teacher, neighbor or friend, we all have a responsibility to report suspected abuse. Together, we can make a difference in preventing horrific tragedies from occurring.”
Common indicators of child abuse include: unexplained bruises, welts, bite marks, burns or other injuries; head trauma; fractures; being frightened of a parent/caretaker; demonstrating behavioral extremes, demonstrating disorganized thinking, self-injuries; running away from home; and verbally reporting abuse.
DCF Child Protection Specialist Tina Westbay also addressed the audience about her experience with child abuse as a social worker.
“We are here to help. We have a passion to protect children. It's why we come to work every day,” said Westbay. “And until our state is free from child abuse, we will continue to do this work with diligence.”
To report suspected child abuse or neglect, contact the Kansas Protection Report Center (KPRC) at 1-800-922-5330. Every call is taken seriously and telephone lines are staffed 24 hours a day. In the event of an emergency, contact local law enforcement or call 911. To learn about other services offered to Kansas children and families, visit www.dcf.ks.gov .
Additionally, KCSL has a free, statewide, anonymous parent helpline. Trained individuals work the hotline 24-hours a day to listen, offer support, answer questions and provide advice to help caretakers deal with the stress of parenthood. If you would like to contact the helpline, call 1-800-CHILDREN.
911 caller reported Hart family's child jumped out of house window and begged for help
by Madison Park
In photos, the Hart family was all smiles, projecting an image of a diverse, modern family with two white mothers and six adopted children.
The family of eight smiled, wrapped their arms around each other and sometimes held feel-good signs like: "Love is always beautiful" and "Free hugs." A photo of one of their children, Devonte went viral in 2014 after he held such a sign.
But beneath the veneer, there were cries for help from the kids, reports from neighbors and allegations of child abuse. Neighbors described troubling encounters with the kids crying for help and asking for food, one of which prompted a report to Child Protective Services in March just before the family's SUV plunged off a cliff in Northern California.
About four months before the fatal crash, a man made a 911 call regarding the family, detailing one of the children's attempts to get help. The 911 call was released for the first time Wednesday by the Clark County Regional Emergency Services Agency in Washington.
"There's some kids that I feel is being highly abused," the man told dispatch in November.
He reported a disturbing event in which one of the kids came to his daughter's house -- who had lived next door to the Harts -- begging for help around 2 a.m.
It was one of at least four events in which the kids had appeared to have told other adults about troubles at home in a case that has raised questions about the family as well as the red flags that preceded the incident.
It's not immediately clear if authorities took any action following that November call.
On March 26, the Hart family's SUV was found upside down on a shoreline in California and five of their bodies -- the parents, Jennifer and Sarah Hart; Markis, 19, Jeremiah and Abigail, both 14, were found. Three of their siblings, Devonte, 15, Hannah, 16, and Sierra, 12, are still missing, and could have been swept away by seawater because no one was wearing seat belts.
The deadly crash came as child protection personnel in Washington state were trying to visit the family after a report of a child's complaint of mistreatment. When officials came to visit the Hart's home in Woodland, Washington, no one answered.
Authorities believe the deadly crash may have been intentional.
'They were all scared to death'
The Hart family had recently lived in Woodland, Washington. And in November, a man made a call to 911 regarding the family.
The caller was a father of a woman who lived next door to the Harts.
"They have 4 black children but that part doesn't matter," he told dispatch. "They're new here, Texas, but the other night, a little girl jumped out of the second story window on the roof and then down to the ground and then ran to my daughter and this is like 2 in the morning, begging them to help her."
He said the girl cried and begged his daughter not to let her parents know that she was there. They were notified and one of the parents came over.
"Then she [one of the parents] had all four of the kids come back later and say everything was okay, and they were all standing at attention, like they were all scared to death," the man told dispatch. "And I think there's something very serious going on there."
The girl didn't specify why she was scared, he said.
The caller said he had to report the incident after this daughter told him about it.
"The more I sit on it, I just can't live with it. Somebody has to go there and check on these kids," he said.
It was unclear what action was taken after this call.
Child asks for food from neighbor
Four months later, things escalated in Woodland.
Neighbor Bruce DeKalb said he had two disturbing encounters with the kids. The first involved one of the girls telling him they were being mistreated.
"One of the girls came to the door at 1:30 in the morning and said that she needed help and the parents were not treating her properly, and (she) wanted us to protect her," DeKalb said.
"We ended up getting her back to her parents ... and then I went over there the next morning and just checked on things, and everything seemed normal, and we let it go from there."
Then a few weeks before the deadly incident, Devonte "started coming over asking for food and saying that they were taking meals away from him due to punishment," DeKalb told HLN.
"It started out as one time a day and escalated up to three times a day, until a week went by and we decided that we needed to get professional help."
DeKalb said he called Child Protective Services on March 23, and officials arrived just after Jennifer Hart came home from work. But she didn't answer the door.
By the next morning, the family and their vehicle were gone.
Child Protective Services tried to visit the family twice more, on March 26 and 27, but couldn't make contact, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services said.
It had no prior history with the Hart family and had been trying to get in touch after the children "were identified as potential victims of alleged abuse or neglect," according to its statement.
But CPS wasn't the only ones trying to find them.
On March 26, a friend of Sarah Hart called 911 requesting a welfare check on their home. The friend told the operator that she received a text from Sarah Hart, saying that she was sick, unable to come out and may need to see a doctor. Her phone was dead and no one had since seen her or her wife, the friend told dispatch.
Five of Hart family members' bodies were found in California that day.
The six children were adopted from Texas. Family and friends told detectives that the Harts traveled together and were rarely apart.
Over the last decade, the family moved from state-to-state and homeschooled their kids.
One of the parents, Sarah Hart had pleaded guilty to domestic assault in 2011 after she told police that she had bent her 6-year-old child over the bathtub and hit her over behavior issues.
Jennifer Hart was alleged to have struck one of their kids in the arm, leaving a bruise on the arm, the child had told another adult in 2008. The parents told authorities that they didn't know how the bruise got there and said the child had fallen down eight stairs days before.
They said the child had food issues, stealing people's food at school, eating out of garbage cans or off the floor. That case was closed.
Child welfare came to Hart family home hours before deadly cliff plunge, 911 reveals
by Erik Ortiz
On the morning of March 26, child welfare authorities in Washington state tried to reach Sarah and Jennifer Hart, a married couple with six adopted children ranging from 14 to 19. It was a third attempt with no success.
A newly released 911 call reveals how a Child Protective Services investigator asked authorities to check in on the family as well: "I've been to the home Monday and Friday and knocked on the door just this morning, and I can get no response. Different cars have been moving in and out, I noticed, so I feel like someone is there."
But they were already too late.
About five hours later, a passerby off Highway 1 in Northern California would find the Hart family's GMC Yukon 70 feet upside down along the rugged shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. The bodies of five members of the family, including Sarah and Jennifer, both 38, were discovered.
As authorities in Mendocino County try to determine why the crash occurred — and locate three missing children who are presumed dead — the 911 call may help to shed light on why police believe the fatal plunge was no accident .
In the call, which was made public Monday, the dispatcher asked the investigator what the reason was for the welfare check on the family's home in Woodland, about 25 miles north of Portland, Oregon.
"Concerns that the children aren't being fed," the investigator responded.
After the crash, neighbors who spoke with NBC affiliate KGW and other media claimed that the children would come around asking for food because their mothers would withhold it as punishment.
"They were all small," Bruce DeKalb, who said he called Child Protective Services, told KGW. "The one girl, who was 12, looked like she was 7. Both of her teeth were missing, front teeth."
But the Harts "told us what we wanted to hear," DeKalb said. "Life went on for another eight months, and here we are today."
Other past child abuse allegations have surfaced from neighbors near the family's former home in Oregon. And while living in Minnesota in 2011, Sarah Hart pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor domestic assault charge in connection to one of the daughters, Abigail, court records show.
Police said they believe the Harts — known for taking random excursions — already left for their California trip on March 24. Jennifer Hart was seen on surveillance footage buying groceries at a Safeway in Fort Bragg, about 15 miles south of where the SUV was located, on March 25.
Still missing from the crash are children Hannah, 16, Devonte, 15, and Sierra, 15. Devonte, a black youth, gained national attention in 2014 in a photograph of him crying while hugging a white police officer during a Portland rally.
A search and rescue operation in the area of the crash continued this week to find the children.
Meanwhile, a body was found Saturday "in the vicinity" of the site that appears to be of a black female, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said in a statement . An autopsy is pending to determine the age and a positive identification.
Foster Parents Needed To Care For Teen Exploitation Survivors
by Reena Diamante
AUSTIN, Texas — Twenty-five-year-old Victoria Gonzales said the love of her parents allowed her to gain a sense of self-worth.
We don't need special treatment, all we need is love,” said Gonzales, who was forced into sex trafficking across Texas when she was 15 years old. It continued for almost four years. She now helps other survivors of sex trafficking as an advocate for SAFE Alliance . The nonprofit is dedicated to ending child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence.
“I would not be here without support, that's why it is so important, and I don't think anyone in this world could just make it alone, without love, without a friend, without a parent,” Gonzales said. “Each and every one of us has somebody at the end of the day and so these people need that, too.”
These people are the almost 80,000 young Texans who have been exploited, according a report by The University of Texas School of Social Work. SAFE has a new program to help some of them, called SAFE CARES . They are offering training and support to specialized foster parents who will take care of teens who have been sex trafficked.
“The connection with a safe adult who models a different way of behaving can just be earth-shattering and life-changing for youth who've come from abusive homes,” said Julia Spann, co-chief executive officers for SAFE Alliance.
The SAFE CARES also includes crisis response, individual case management and counseling services. It is made possible through a $1.6 million grant from the Criminal Justice Division of the Officer of the Governor.
SAFE's leaders believe a healthy home will help survivors heal, but in these first four months, no one has opened their doors. Advocates hope these kids will eventually get to experience what it's like to trust in others.
“They're going to love you for who you are no matter how many mistakes you've made, even if you have nothing to give.” Gonzales said. “That's a healthy relationship. That is real love.”
There is an orientation Wednesday, April 11 at 1 6 p.m. For more information visit SAFE Alliance .
Bill to Criminalize Failure of Educators to Report Suspected Child Abuse Doesn't Pass Maryland House
by Scott MacFarlane
Maryland legislators ended their 2018 session without passing a high-profile bill to protect against child sex abuse in schools.
The bill would make it a criminal offense if educators fail to report suspected child abuse, punishable by up to six months in jail.
Although the bill was approved by the Maryland Senate, it did not clear the state House of Delegates before the end of the 2018 session Monday night. The bill was derailed in part by disagreements among supporters about the language it should include and the standards it should set for prosecutors to file a case.
Administrators with the Baltimore Child Abuse Center and Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks advocated for new legislation to order criminal penalties for failure to report abuse. They cited the case of Deonte Carraway, a former Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School aide who pleaded guilty to sex offenses against students. A civil suit filed against the school system alleged the district missed warning signs Carraway was abusing children. The school district declined to comment on the suit.
Maryland is one of two states in the nation that does not provide criminal penalties for failure to report suspected abuse, said Baltimore Child Abuse Center Executive Director Adam Rosenberg. “Having a penalty for failure to report is the standard in 48 of 50 states, as well as the District and territories," he said. "What it does is put a protection in place, not just for children, but also the institution and the teacher and social workers.”
Alsobrooks appeared before a legislative committee to urge passage of new law. Days before her appearance, she told the News4 I-Team, “We want to do the most that we can do to put laws in place that give us the tools that we need to block every door that would allow someone to harm a child."
Disputes over the legislation surfaced in March, as a group of child safety advocates questioned whether the bill set a standard too high for prosecutors to successfully file a case of failure to report.
Key state legislators have publicly questioned the need for new legislation, citing rules that allow the state department of education to strip the licenses of teachers who fail to report abuse.
Parents of victims of former Cloverly Elementary School teacher John Vigna advocated for the new criminal law. Vigna was convicted in 2017 of sexually abusing students and sentenced to 48 years prison.
The mother of a victim of Vigna's told the News-4 I-Team, “It's got to be changed. Something has got to be done about it to stop other families from having to go through what we had to go through.”
Vigna taught third, fourth and fifth graders at Cloverly Elementary School.
House Bill to improve treatment for child sex abuse victims approved
by Coty Diaz
Springfield, Ill. - The Illinois House Human Services Committee approved legislation to improve access to emergency room treatment for pediatric sexual assault victims.
House Bill 5245 will ensure that sexual assault victims are able to receive timely care from health care professionals who specialize in providing treatment for this population of victims.
The legislation was sponsored by State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria)
According to Rep. Unes, access to pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners and physicians is extremely limited, particularly in downstate rural areas. The Bill seeks to address that.
Rep Unes added, “Since day one, my goal has been to ensure that this most vulnerable population of victims that has been through unthinkable trauma, may obtain the care they need from the most qualified medical professionals. This bill provides a voice to the voiceless, and confidence to their loved ones.”
The Bill was unanimously approved and now heads to the House of Representatives.
Child protection campaign due to launch this week
by Krysta Eaves
The national PANTS initiative is due to start on Friday and aims to encourage parents, carers and professionals to have conversations with children, in an age-appropriate way, about how to stay safe from sexual abuse.
It features Pantosaurus, an animated pants-wearing dinosaur who will help parents and carers talk to their children about difficult and sensitive subjects by promoting the PANTS rule:
Privates are private;
Always remember your body belongs to you;
No means no;
Talk about secrets that upset you;
Speak up – someone can help.
A helpline will also be set up to provide more localised support to members of the public or people who work with children.
Trained staff will be available 24/7 on the phone and online to speak to anyone concerned about a child's wellbeing or to offer advice and support. The helpline is free to call from Jersey and callers can remain anonymous if they wish. The year-long campaign, which is being run by the Jersey Safeguarding Board in partnership with the NSPCC, is due to be launched at a free children's event between 10 am and 2 pm on Friday at Tamba Park.
There will be further public events throughout the campaign and awareness will also be raised in schools and nurseries.
Jacky Moon, NSPCC Jersey service centre manager, said: ‘Most parents now recognise that they need to speak to their young children about the dangers they may face from sexual abuse, both in the online and real world, as they grow up.
‘However, the reality of having these conversations can be both daunting and very uncomfortable. That is why the NSPCC has created PANTS and continues to develop new ways for Pantosaurus to help young children to learn about how to stay safe from sexual abuse.'
Glenys Johnston, chairwoman of Jersey's Safeguarding Partnership Board, added: ‘We all have a role to play in protecting children and young people from child abuse and neglect. We are hoping that by promoting and supporting the NSPCC's helpline in Jersey, we will be able to help children and families earlier before problems escalate.'
Meanwhile, on 20 April, there will be a professionals' launch at the Town Hall, repeated in the morning and afternoon, where guest speakers will talk about child sexual abuse.
To attend the free talk, which is open to any professional who works with children, visit safeguarding.je/courses .
Officials stress community help in fighting child abuse, neglect
by Jeremy Chen
RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. - Officials in Riverside County are stressing to community members to speak up on child abuse as April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“People want to mind their own business but sometimes when you mind your own business, children get hurt.”
That's what Dr. Sophia Grant with the Riverside University Health System, had to say to people reporting child abuse. She has helped treat hundreds of cases of possible child abuse and says community members need to step up and speak up, by recognizing the signs of abuse.
“The most obvious signs are bruises but there are more subtle things like children who come to school inappropriately dressed or kids who appear hungry," she said.
It comes as Riverside County supervisors made a proclamation Tuesday recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
According to county health officials, over 1,300 children were treated for possible abuse just last year across the county. It's a number they say has held steady.
For prosecutors child abuse cases are some of the most difficult they take on.
“Not only are you dealing with something sensitive, emotional subject matter, the witnesses frequently involved are minor children," Brijida Rodarte, a deputy district attorney, said. "They're two factors that complicate deputy district attorneys handling that type of case."
From a law enforcement perspective, it's all about breaking the cycle of abuse when they receive a report.
“We don't want this abuse to continue," Cathedral City Police Detective Heather Olsen. "We don't want to come across other victims, so educating the public, educating these children in letting them know we want them to come forward."
Dr. Grant said ultimately, if someone sees something, say something as it could possibly save a life. Anyone seeing any form of child neglect or abuse, they are urged to call the child abuse hot line at 1-800-442-4918.
Republicans and Democrats just did something big together
by Mark Thiessen
Washington seems to be in the grip of hyperpartisan gridlock these days. Important bills are passed on party-line votes (when they are passed at all) and the investigative committees of Congress appear to be sideshows, unable to agree on basic facts. Many Americans despair that Republicans and Democrats seem incapable of coming together to do anything important.
Take heart — the two parties just did do something big together. On Wednesday, President Trump will sign into law the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, a bill designed to crack down on websites that knowingly facilitate the online sex trafficking of vulnerable persons, including underage boys and girls. And the FBI, informed by evidence collected during a nearly two-year bipartisan investigation by the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, just seized the website Backpage.com — which the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children says is responsible for 73 percent of the 10,000 child sex trafficking reports it receives each year — and arrested seven of its top executives.
You might think cracking down on child sex traffickers would be a legislative layup. You'd be wrong. The bill — authored by Republican Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), John McCain (Ariz.) and John Cornyn (Tex.) and Democrats Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) — was hard to pass. (Full disclosure: My wife works for Portman).
The act faced a wall of opposition from Silicon Valley because it amended Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gave blanket immunity to online entities that publish third-party content from civil and criminal prosecution. Big Tech wanted to preserve that blanket immunity, even if it gave legal cover to websites that were using it to sell children for sex. When child sex trafficking survivors tried to sue Backpage, and state attorneys general tried to prosecute the owners, federal courts ruled against them, specifically citing Section 230. This did not move Big Tech. Chief among the culprits was Google, which apparently forgot its old corporate motto of“Don't Be Evil” and lobbied fiercely against the bill.
How did the senators overcome Big Tech's lobbying campaign? First, Portman and McCaskill, the chairman and ranking member of the permanent subcommittee on investigations, used their subpoena power to gather corporate files, bank records and other evidence that Backpage knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and children, and then covered up that evidence. They fought Backpage all the way to the Supreme Court to enforce their subpoenas. The subcommittee then published a voluminous report detailing its findings of their 20-month investigation, including evidence that Backpage knew it was facilitating child sex trafficking and that it was not simply a passive publisher of third-party content. Instead the company was automatically editing users' child sex ads to strip them of words that might arouse suspicion (such as “lolita,” “teenage,” “rape,” “young,” “amber alert,” “little girl,” “fresh,” “innocent” and “school girl”) before publishing them and advised users on how to create “clean” postings.
Then Portman, McCaskill and their co-authors used the result of their investigation to craft a narrow legislative fix that would allow bad actors such as Backpage to be held accountable. The bill they produced allows sex trafficking victims to sue the websites that facilitated the crimes against them and allows state law enforcement officials, not just the Justice Department, to prosecute websites that violate federal sex trafficking laws. The committee also turned over all its raw documents to the Justice Department last summer, urging it to undertake a criminal review, which Justice did.
Despite all the Silicon Valley money against them, the senators never wavered. Through the sheer power of the testimony of trafficking survivors, Mary Mazzio's documentary “I Am Jane Doe,” the evidence of crimes committed by Backpage, and the support of law enforcement, anti-trafficking advocates, 50 state attorneys general, the civil rights community and faith-based groups — as well as carefully negotiated language — they wore down most of Big Tech's opposition. Last November, Facebook finally came on board. But Google shamefully never relented in its opposition. Despite this, the act overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Congress.
Thanks to this bipartisan effort, the world's largest online child sex bazaar is shuttered, many of its executives are under indictment and sex trafficking victims can finally get justice in court. These senators have given hope not just to the survivors but also to millions of Americans who had lost faith that their elected leaders could put aside partisanship and resist the power of money in politics for the good of the country.
Sex Trafficking Survivor Dances In Oval Office As Trump Signs FOSTA
by Arathi M
(Video on site)
President Donald Trump signed a bill Wednesday, which enabled state and federal prosecutors power to take action against websites that facilitate sex trafficking. Even though the bill, known as Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), was touted as controversial by many — with some claiming it paves the way for online censorship and certain sex workers claiming it makes them less safe — there were people who were ecstatic about the decision.
In a video that is going viral, a woman, who identified herself as MA, from Ferguson, Missouri, is introduced to Trump as the first person to sue Backpage.com, which is a classified ads website often used for sex trafficking and prostitution of minors
MA then says, “I am not a survivor. I am MA. It's about damn time,” before doing a dab, which is greeted by applause from the POTUS and people surrounding him. Trump then proceeds to sign the legislation during which MA does a little dance, while some other women can be seen wiping their tears.
According to the Hill, MA sued Village Voice Media, which is the owner of Backpage, in 2010. MA was kidnapped and sold via the site. It was her case that led the Justice Department to seize the website last Friday and indict its executives on a number of charges including money laundering and prostitution.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said then, “For far too long, Backpage.com existed as the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike. … But this illegality stops right now. Last Friday, the Department of Justice seized Backpage, and it can no longer be used by criminals to promote and facilitate human trafficking.”
The site was accused of allowing ads featuring underage sex-trafficking victims for prostitution.
“Our bipartisan investigation into Backpage uncovered new evidence that was handed over to the Department of Justice more than 10 months ago,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who has led the legislative effort, said in a statement. “Our bipartisan work has made a significant difference in raising awareness of these trafficking crimes and informed our efforts to craft a narrow legislative solution that is now ready to be signed into law.”
On Wednesday, Trump praised the bill and informed the victims he was signing it in “your honor.”
“You have endured what no person on earth should have to endure,” the POTUS said.
The bill, which passed easily in the House and the Senate, saw tech companies like IBM, Oracle and Facebook accept it, while some lawmakers were critical of it. They were of the opinion it would target smaller internet firms, which might end up facing frivolous lawsuits.
Responding to the criticism, Trump said, “This was a tough one. It shouldn't have been tough . … I guess people have reasons [to oppose the legislation], but I personally don't understand those reasons.”
What Methods, Strategies Will Sex Traffickers Use Following Seizure of Backpage?
by Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Now that Backpage.com is gone, law enforcement is trying to find out where sex traffickers will migrate next.
The executives of Backpage, a popular website to buy and sell sex, have been indicted over allegations that their platform was a magnet for child sex traffickers and prostitution.
Police agencies in Maryland and around the country have set up prostitution and human trafficking operations by placing fake ads on the site. One of the latest happened near a business park in Howard County last week when 11 men were arrested .
It was also one of the last after the federal government abruptly shut down the website.
“Backpage was a place where they were able to see ads for very young girls that were often posted by traffickers. Now that Backpage is gone, they will use other methods and strategies to try to find those same people,” Howard County Police spokesperson Sherry Llewellyn said.
“There's like hundreds of guys responding to the ad. They are letting all of this happen on their website,” one sex trafficking victim said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said Backpage was the subject of 73 percent of its child sex trafficking tips.
“She was raped. She was physically abused,” said Kubiiki Pride, a mother of one of the victims.
“Backpage.com, and other companies like this, must be held responsible for what they have created,” Yvonne Ambrose said.
Ambrose's daughter, Desiree Robinson, was murdered by a man who connected with her on Backpage.
“If there were stricter rules in place for postings on these websites, then my child would still be alive with me today,” Ambrose said.
A Backpage representative said it was a mere host of content created by others. Some worry predators will now go further underground.
“The important thing is that we have been able to arrest some traffickers. Then we find out they that've been trafficking very young girls, and those are the ones that we really want to get to,” Llewellyn said.
Police say they have made hundreds of arrests, including a man now serving 50 years in prison for trafficking 13- and 16-year-old girls.
Federal prosecutors say Backpage made more than $500 million from ads for sexual services.
Understand the system. For these people, reporting child abuse is mandatory
by Dianna M. Nanez
It's a moment every teacher or doctor dreads.
They hear something or see something that sets off alarm bells about a child in their care. A purple bruise. A look of fear. A confession.
Arizona requires anyone who suspects child abuse to report it. But certain professionals, including teachers, doctors and social workers, are mandated by law to report suspected abuse or neglect. If they fail to report it, they could face criminal charges.
Often these individuals are called mandated reporters because of their legal obligation to protect children.
Here's how this law meant to stop children from being abused is supposed to work.
Am I required by Arizona law to make a report?
State law spells out which people are obligated to report:
Physicians, physician's assistants, optometrists, dentists, osteopaths, chiropractors, podiatrists, behavioral-health professionals, nurses, psychologists, counselors or social workers.
Peace officers, child-welfare investigators, child-safety workers, members of the clergy, priests or Christian Science practitioners.
School personnel, domestic-violence victim advocates or sexual-assault victim advocates.
Parents, stepparents or guardians of the minor.
Any other person who is responsible for the care or treatment of a minor.
What if I don't know for sure if a child is being abused or neglected?
Under state law, a report of abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment must be made if the individual develops a “reasonable belief in the course” of work. For example, a doctor who suspects abuse while treating a child patient must report it.
Mandated reporters are not expected to prove the abuse. The report only triggers a request for an investigation by the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
How is the report made?
Mandated reporters can call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-888-767-2445 (1-888-SOS-CHILD) or a law-enforcement officer.
There's also an online DCS system to report non-emergency concerns, which are made when a child is not in immediate risk of serious harm. According to the DCS website , an emergency situation is when a child faces an immediate risk of abuse or neglect that “could result in death or serious harm.”
To use the online system, mandated reporters must register for an account at : https://extranet.azdes.gov/DCYF/CHILDS/communication/des/Register.aspx ?.
Reports not involving a person who does not have care, custody or guardianship of the child should be made to a law-enforcement officer only.
What type of information will I be asked for when making a report?
A description of the suspected abuse or neglect.
The current condition of the child.
The name, age and gender of the child and their family members.
Contact information that includes an address and phone numbers for the child's home.
The child's parents' or guardians' place of employment.
I am a mandated reporter. What happens if I don't notify authorities of suspected abuse or neglect?
An individual who fails to report could face a Class 1 misdemeanor.
If the failure to report involves a so-called "reportable offense," they could be guilty of a Class 6 felony. Arizona law states reportable offenses include: child-sex trafficking, incest, or secret videotaping, photographing, filming or digital recording of a minor in certain circumstances.
Are there exceptions?
Clergy, a Christian Science practitioner or a priest who has received “confidential communication or a confession” during the course of their church work “may withhold reporting of the communication or confession” if they determine that “it is reasonable and necessary within the concepts of the religion,” according to state law.
That exception does not apply to the personal observations of abuse or neglect by clergy, Christian Science practitioners or priests.
Is the law working?
Many professionals charged with caring for children, and considered mandated reporters, say they consider it a moral and a legal obligation to report suspected abuse.
But some mandated reporters appear to evade legal consequences despite the law.
In July 2017, Chandler police recommended Hamilton High School Principal Ken James, Athletic Director Shawn Rustad and former Hamilton football head coach Steve Belles be charged with child abuse and not complying with a duty to report, under the law, the alleged sexual abuse of five football players reportedly assaulted by fellow teammates.
School administrators knew of multiple allegations of sexual assault involving the Chandler school's football players, yet repeatedly failed to notify authorities as required under law, according to police records.
“Had these offenses been properly reported it is possible that many of the sexual assaults would not have occurred,” Amanda Janssen, the Chandler Police Department's lead investigator on the case, wrote in a report.
The case was referred to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. A group called the Black Mothers Forum called for accountability.
In February, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said his office would not file charges against the school administrators. He said that without the cooperation of witnesses with knowledge of the suspected sexual assaults, his office could not file charges.
However, Corwin Townsend, a Phoenix attorney not involved with the case, told The Arizona Republic in February that Montgomery's analysis of the state's mandatory-reporting laws is questionable.
Townsend said school administrators have a duty to report suspected child abuse or sexual abuse to the police. If Montgomery, he said, had evidence school administrators knew about suspected sexual assaults within the football program, the county attorney could still charge the administrators with failing to report them.
Rustad, Belles and James were allowed to continue working and were reassigned to the district office during the investigation.
Three teen football players were charged.
At least six families of alleged victims have filed claims against the district.
Sources: Arizona state statutes, the Arizona Department of Child Safety website and The Arizona Republic archives.
Presentation breaks down child abuse to preschool level
by Katherine Knott
Child abuse is not an easy topic for parents to discuss with children, but those conversations are important to preventing abuse, officials said.
On Wednesday, parents learned how to talk with their children about abuse during a presentation from Jillian Carden, executive director of Silverleaf Sexual Trauma Recovery Services in Elizabethtown. She spoke with a preschool-aged group at Hardin County Public Library in Elizabethtown about recognizing and preventing child abuse.
Carden's lesson focused on letting children know certain parts of their bodies are off limits but didn't delve into the human anatomy.
“There are parts of our body that are ours that nobody else should be messing with,” Carden told the children.
Carden brought along Teri the Turtle, a puppet, to help teach kids.
“Teri's private parts might be under her body, but for us people, our private parts are under our bathing suits,” Carden said.
Nan Campbell, children's librarian, said the presentation was the first time she brought in a speaker to talk about abuse to younger children.
“This is a really hard topic for parents to talk about,” she said.
While abuse is a hard topic, it's an important one.
“The statistics are staggering,” Campbell said.
Kentucky has one of the nation's highest rates of child abuse, according to a 2018 federal report. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau found that about 20 in every 1,000 children experienced child abuse in 2016 in Kentucky.
April is Child Abuse Awareness month. After Wednesday's lesson, children participated in Silverleaf Sexual Trauma Recovery Service's Chalk the Walk event by drawing on the sidewalk outside the library and other areas, such as Hardin Memorial Hospital. For Chalk the Walk, the organization encouraged businesses and individuals to write messages of support for sexual assault and child abuse victims.
Campbell said Carden's presentation helped to make the topic easier to approach as the caregivers in the room learned how to talk about it.
Carden talked with children about what to do if someone who is not supposed to touches their private parts. She advised them to say no as loudly as possible, run away as fast as they can and the go to an adult they trust, in that order.
“What if the big person doesn't believe you?” she asked them. “Tell another big person.”
One boy offered an alternative.
“Tell someone bigger than that big person,” he said.
The children each pointed to adults in the room they trusted. Carden said teachers or police officers also would be good to tell.
John and Lindsey Whitten brought their 1-year-old and 4-year-old children to the presentation. They often attend the library's preschool programs.
“It's a hard topic to talk about,” Lindsey Whitten said. “(But) as parents we can't always be there.”
John Whitten said it's a topic their kids need to learn about, and they've talked with their children about it.
“It's good to hear from other people,” he said.
They're not sure how much their 4-year-old daughter retained, but John Whitten said the lessons are like building blocks. The more she hears it, the more she'll retain.
At the end of the presentation, students received educational coloring books while adults received resources on Silverleaf and preventing child abuse.
The statewide helpline is 1-800-CHILDREN, and it can offer support or encouragement as well as information regarding resources in local communities.
Year in prison for father of Utah boy abused, starved
by the Associated Press
ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — A 41-year-old southern Utah man has been sentenced to a year in jail on a child abuse charge stemming from the year-long captivity and starvation of his 12-year-old son in Toquerville near the Arizona line.
The St. George News reports Judge Eric Ludlow sentenced the man Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to felony child abuse causing injury through negligence and recklessness.
The boy's 36-year-old mother was sentenced last August to 45 years in prison after she was convicted of locking him in a filth-covered bathroom for more than a year.
The Associated Press isn't naming the parents to avoid identifying the juvenile victim.
Prosecutors say the boy was starved and lost the use of his legs while kept in the tight space.
Authorities say he's been recovering in state care since the mother's arrest in January 2017.
Mercury Rising: International probe targets child sex predators
by Chris Doucette
Horrific online sexual abuse of children as young as 10 months old — sometimes live-streamed to predators watching around the world — prompted a massive international investigation that led to the arrests of 153 men in 10 countries, including Canada.
Efforts by the Toronto Police, the U.K.'s National Crime Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which worked together for several years on Project Mercury with help from other law enforcement agencies, also led to the rescue of 17 sexually-abused children.
In recounting the details, Toronto Police Staff-Supt. Myron Demkiw cautioned the “disturbing” details might be “difficult to hear.”
“But it very important that we talk about it,” he said. “It's important for people to understand that this is happening to children all over the world — that they are not only being sexually abused, there are also permanent recordings of this abuse being distributed by people around the globe for their sick perversion.”
Det.-Const. Janelle Blackadar explained that Toronto Police were contacted by the U.K.'s National Crime Agency after their 2014 discovery of a group of offenders who were involved in child sex abuse online, one of whom was a Toronto resident.
“The abuses were not only recorded and distributed, but often took place in live-streaming events where others could actively participate, encourage and direct the sexual abuse of these children,” she said.
Officers here began an undercover investigation that resulted in the arrest of Marc Leonard on related offences and police say the 41-year-old has since been convicted.
Blackadar said that arrest led police to others involved in the distribution of child abuse material and Project Mercury was launched as perpetrators in other Canadian provinces, across the U.S. and in Europe were identified.
Then in July 2015, she said, undercover officers in Toronto “observed the live abuse of a six-year-old child over the Internet.”
“The sexual abuse of this child occurred not only for the sexual gratification of the abuser himself, but also to satisfy the requests from those online who then actively encouraged the abuse while it was happening live,” Blackadar said. “Unfortunately, this was not the first time this had happened, but I can tell you it was the last.”
The abuser was identified in Pennsylvania and within hours, the child was rescued by U.S. authorities, she said, adding several participants were also identified in the U.S. and the U.K.
Toronto cops also uncovered the online sexual abuse of a drugged eight-year-old, which Blackadar said led to the arrest of Kenneth Bowman, 34, in Saskatoon, Sask., who has since been convicted of related offences.
She said the live-streaming of children being sexually abused is “on the rise” and putting a dent in the huge global problem is “a daunting task.”
“But all we can do is keep going because children deserve us to protect them,” Blackadar said. “They deserve us to look for them every day and that's part of the reason why we do our job is because we get to make that difference.”
As a result of Project Mercury, the National Crime Agency's Graham Ellis said U.K. authorities made 79 arrests — including four teachers, a doctor, a member of police staff, a nurse, a priest and a private music tutor.
He said 29 of the perpetrators have so far been convicted and sentenced to a combined 68 1/2 years in prison.
Melissa Ruiz, attaché for Homeland Security Investigations in Ottawa, commended everyone involved in Project Mercury, adding their efforts have led to the arrests of approximately 58 suspected predators in the U.S.
“Today's united front between Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States is a message to the world that we will not relent when it comes to protecting our children,” she said.
Here's a breakdown of where police officers made arrests:
(16 arrests in six provinces)
Toronto – 7
Ottawa – 2
Edmonton – 1
Belleville – 1
Thunder Bay – 1
Quebec – 1
Newfoundland – 1
New Brunswick – 1
Saskatchewan – 1
(58 arrests in 23 states)
(79 arrests in seven countries)
Four out of five kids who died from abuse or neglect were known to Child Safety
by Felicity Caldwell
Children known to the child protection system were five times more likely to die of non-natural causes than other Queensland children, with drowning and suicide the predominant causes.
Of the 421 children who died in 2016-17, 57 were known to the child protection system, a Queensland Family and Child Commission report revealed.
The report found:
10 of the 19 children who drowned were known to the child protection system in the year prior to their death
Nine of the 21 youth suicides were known to Child Safety
Four of the five children who died from assault or neglect were known to Child Safety
The mortality rate from non-natural causes, such as transport, drowning, fatal assault and neglect or suicide, for children known to Queensland Child Safety was 32.3 deaths per 100,000 children.
It was 6.4 deaths per 100,000 for all Queensland children.
Stressful life events were identified in 16 of the 21 total suicide deaths of young people in Queensland during 2016-17.
In eight of those cases, the stressful life event was listed as alleged harm being notified to the child safety system.
Across Queensland, the mortality rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children was 1.9 times the rate for non-Indigenous children, with 57 Indigenous children dying in 2016-17.
However, Indigenous child mortality rates had decreased over the past decade.
Deaths from diseases and morbid conditions accounted for 75 per cent of Queensland's total child deaths in 2016-17, while 17 per cent were from non-natural causes.
Suicide was the leading external cause of death for the third consecutive year, and accounted for almost half of all the deaths by external causes among young people aged 10 to 17.
Five children died as a result of suspected or confirmed assault or neglect in Queensland during 2016-17, with four alleged to have been killed by a family member.
In three of the five cases, the alleged perpetrator had a domestic violence history.
Last year, 19 children died from drowning, which was the equal highest number since 2004, and the second leading external cause of death.
That included five children who drowned in bath tubs, seven children who drowned in swimming pools, three in lakes, ponds and rural dams and two in objects containing water.
Commissioner Cheryl Vardon said young children had drowned during lapses in adult supervision.
"Too often pool gates have been propped open leading to backyard pool drownings," she said.
"It cannot be emphasised enough, a few minutes of inattention can have tragic consequences."
The deaths of 315 children and young people were the result of diseases and morbid conditions, with the majority occurring in the first days and weeks of life.
Last year, 14 children and young people died in transport-related incidents, the lowest number since reporting began in 2004.
Four deaths were in motor vehicle crashes and five children died as pedestrians - of which three died after being run over by a vehicle at low-speed.
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said the death of any child was a tragedy and any harm to a child was unacceptable.
"I offer my sincerest condolences to the families of the children who died," she said.
"The safety and wellbeing of children is always our top priority and we will continue to work hard and make any improvements we can in order to protect Queensland children from harm."
Ms Farmer said Queensland was employing an extra 292 Child Safety staff over the next two years, and caseloads for officers had reduced quarter after quarter.
She said training was rolled out to ensure Child Safety staff and services had a comprehensive understanding of the risks from domestic and family violence.
Ms Farmer said ice use had increasingly contributed to the abuse and neglect of Queensland's children in recent years, with the government implementing several strategies to combat the scourge.
Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the report made for "heartbreaking reading".
“This report exposes the crisis in our child safety system under Labor with four precious little lives lost due to fatal assaults within families that were known to child safety authorities," she said.
"...We must do better for these children. It's time for Labor to stop the excuses and start protecting our precious kids.”
If you need help, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or visit kidshelpline.com.au. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au
'Face Our Past, Reclaim Our Lives'
Survivor to Thriver Self-Help Program Is Designed for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
by Karen Cernich
(National web site: www.ASCAsupport.org)
Courage is contagious.
In other words, one person's courageousness often spurs another's.
As an adult survivor of child abuse, Barb Hellmann, Washington, has experienced that, and so the short saying has become one of her favorites.
Hellmann had to be courageous many years ago in reporting her abuser, a neighbor who sexually abused her as a girl.
She also had to be courageous in facing the adult repercussions from that abuse that she has lived with most of her life.
“I lived with a lot of issues because of it and never shared it with anyone,” said Hellmann. “I had a habit of repetitive cleaning and washing.”
Now Hellmann is taking steps to help other adult survivors of child abuse (ASCA) in facing their recovery from that abuse with a psychologically based program, Survivor to Thriver, that was created expressly to address the particular needs of adult survivors of any form of child abuse — neglect as well as physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
“I don't want people to live in fear,” said Hellmann. “I want them to know there is help out there, and they are not the bad person.
“I thought I was the bad person.”
Program Meets First, Third Mondays in Washington
Hellmann, who has completed the Survivor to Thriver program herself, began leading a program in Washington in January.
Kristen Ernst, MA, PLPC, a licensed counselor with Compassus hospice and also an adult survivor of child abuse, serves as the facilitator for those meetings. She has worked as a crisis worker and done a lot of work with suicide prevention and crisis management.
Survivor to Thriver meetings are held every first and third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Compassus office at 1381 High St. in Washington.
Meetings are very structured and follow a carefully scripted format. They typically last between one and one and a half hours. To date the turnout for meetings has been relatively small.
“There is a lot of shame involved with this topic, so we are wanting people to recognize that this is led by someone who is qualified and that this is a safe place to come,” said Hellmann.
People who attend don't have to share more than they want to, said Hellmann, noting, “They can share when they are ready.”
There is no registration. People can just show up, but the doors are locked 15 minutes after the meeting begins.
For more information, people can call Hellmann at 314-780-5777.
A Need in Franklin County
Although Campassus is a hospice provider, the company is sponsoring this because of the need.
“We know there is such a huge deficit for mental health in the Franklin County area,” said Ernst. “There has always been a prevalence of child abuse and sexual abuse, but there is so much more awareness now. And with the ‘#MeToo' movement, we just thought it was perfect timing to be a resource of help and support in the community.”
Hellmann was already in the process of bringing the Survivor to Thriver program to this area when the #MeToo movement began, and that has been helpful in bringing the taboo topic of abuse, particularly sexual abuse, into the light.
“It's such a sneaky, conniving disease that is not thought of or recognized or treated with respect,” said Hellmann. “Family members of the accused don't want to believe it can be true. They blame the survivors.”
Often survivors wrongfully blame themselves too, she noted.
“Your brain plays tricks on you — you think, ‘It's my fault, I'm dirty, I'm bad . . . ' ”
Hellmann was motived to bring Survivor to Thriver to Franklin County because her own experience showed her there were very few resources in the community. Talking with a local nurse practitioner and doctor further confirmed the need for this kind of self-help support group in Franklin County.
“People don't know where to go,” said Hellmann. “We want people to realize there is a resource here now.”
In her own recovery experience, Hellmann found that counseling was little help until she found the right counselor.
“I just lived with my OCD issues,” she said.
A number of books also have been extremely helpful in her recovery. Among them, “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life, the New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy,” “Feeling Good, the New Mood Therapy,” and “Freedom From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, a Personalized Recovery Program for Living With Uncertainty.”
And the Survivor to Thriver program has been key to her recovery. The program includes a workbook/manual that participants are given to supplement the meetings.
The first chapters help survivors evaluate their present level of safety and stability and also to understand the types of child abuse and some of the ways the consequences of that can affect their adult lives.
The rest of the chapters correspond to the three stages of the program — remembering, mourning and healing. Each stage has seven steps for a total of 21.
The statement of philosphy listed in the meeting format script notes, “We are here today to face our past and reclaim our lives as survivors of childhood abuse . . . We believe that our abuse has affected who we are as adults today. We are determined to remake our lives by taking back what was once taken from us — our innocence, our power, our right to determine who we are and how we will live in the world.”
Survivors who are new to the program can begin attending meetings at any time, said Ernst, noting the meetings are not set up to go step-by-step.
“There is not a starting point and an ending point,” she said. “There are 21 steps, but each week is different in that maybe you work on Step 1 this week and two weeks from now we have a speaker who talks more about education, and then next meeting we go back to Step 2. It's not linear.
“It's very much this place where people can come and recognize it was helpful, but if they know they need more space to work on that and they don't come back right away, it's not like they're going to miss all of this information. I think it's set up so you can take away something every time you come,” Ernst added.
In the manual, it notes “the purpose of the ASCA meetings is to allow survivors to share their abuse and recovery experiences, to receive support and affirmation for their recovery efforts, to try out new, more adaptive behaviors and, in doing so, to better understand themselves and their recovery process.”
“Someone has to be ready to share and listen, but you share only when you are ready,” said Ernst.
“There's also safety in numbers, and recognizing you're not the only one makes people realize not only is the meeting a safe place, but maybe they can talk about what they've been through.”
The importance of confidentiality is stressed at every meeting, Ernst said. She is promoting the Washington meetings in St. Louis in case survivors there would feel another layer of anonymity by meeting in a different community.
“My goal as a facilitator is for people to come in and recognize that this is confidential, safe environment that will provide a place of empathy and nurturing,” said Ernst.
“We really just want to help empower individuals to stand up for themselves.”
For more information on Survivor to Thriver and the monthly meetings, people can contact Ernst at 314-718-9052 or Hellmann at 314-780-5777.
As a criminologist studying child sexual abuse, I sometimes feel like I live in the 'upside down'.
by Dr. Michael Salter
As a criminologist studying organised child sexual abuse, I sometimes feel like I live in the ‘upside down', the shadow world parallel to our own in the TV series Stranger Things . In the TV series, the ‘upside down' looks like our own world, but darker and filled with unpredictable terror. Kids disappear into it sometimes, and occasionally something awful slips out of it to disrupt our brighter universe. For the most part, people would prefer not to admit it exists.
I've interviewed over 40 Australians who report being abused by groups or networks as children. I've met many, many more survivors from around the world. Each of them has escaped from their own ‘upside down': a dark childhood ruled by abusive adults demanding their compliance and silence. Far too often, their own parents orchestrated their abuse. We now know that parents are amongst the most prolific producers of child abuse material.
Every victim of child sexual abuse survives in his or her own way, often by pretending the abuse isn't happening. The majority of sexually abused kids never disclose at the time, but even when they do, research suggests that most children are not believed. When a child offers us a glimpse into their ‘upside down', it seems that most of us don't want to help them, or don't know how.
Trapped between two worlds – the shadow world of their abusers, and the world that turns a blind eye to it – is it any wonder that some survivors also turn away from knowledge of their abuse? One study of women with documented histories of sexual abuse found that one third did not remember the abuse seventeen years later. Of those that did remember, 16% said there were times where they did not recall the abuse. Many could not fully recall what had happened.
The traumatic dynamics of abuse and memory make investigating and prosecuting complex sexual abuse cases very difficult. Profoundly abused children are the least likely to disclose their abuse, and even where there is forensic evidence, they may grow up having forgotten or even denying the abuse took place. Some may even ally themselves with their abusers who reinforce the victim's desperate wish that the abuse didn't happen. These impulses are understandable and require a compassionate and sensitive response.
Unfortunately, there are many myths circulating in the media and community that reinforce individual and collective denial. Since the 1980s, journalists have claimed that children make up stories of sexual abuse, and are encouraged or even forced to do so by social workers, therapists and police. It has become an item of faith amongst skeptics that investigators have a perverted interest in sexual abuse cases, to the point of inventing them.
This is ridiculous. When you work in the field of sexual abuse, the very last thing you want to hear is that another child has been hurt. However, when a child discloses sexual abuse, we have to take them seriously . Children are far less suggestible than people realise, and disclosures of sexual abuse should always be listened to and reported to the correct authorities. Child protection practices and interviewing techniques with children are constantly being studied and improved to ensure that children's evidence is as robust and accurate as possible.
Nonetheless, people still don't want to believe the ‘upside down' world of sexual abuse exists. They don't want to hear about parents who abuse their kids and allow other people to do so, advertising them online, making them available for money or circulating abuse images and video of them. One way to make this awful knowledge disappear is to attack the messenger, and blame the people who support child and adult survivors and investigate their allegations. This has become a common technique of denial and it's not going away anytime soon.
There's a moment in Stranger Things where one of the young protagonists confronts a monster from the ‘upside down', and it invades him. When I'm confronted by people who deny the seriousness of sexual abuse, I wonder if that's what they are afraid of too: that they will somehow be infected by the fear and the terror that comes with severe sexual abuse. However, it's only by sharing in the knowledge that such abuse exists that we can understand what victims are trying to tell us, and hold perpetrators to account.
Through the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Australia has proven that we can bring victims and survivors of sexual abuse in from the cold. We can look into the worst aspects of human behaviour and come out the other side armed with new insights and tools to prevent abuse and support victims. As we move forward, we should stay mindful of our own instincts for denial and minimisation. There are still many kids trapped in the ‘upside down', and many perpetrators who would prefer that we didn't know it exits.
3 church sex abuse survivors to meet with Pope
by Rosa Flores
After apologizing for "grave errors" in the handling of a Chilean sex abuse scandal, Pope Francis will be welcoming three survivors to the Vatican in two weeks, according to survivor Juan Carlos Cruz.
Cruz says the Vatican reached out to him last Saturday, inviting the three Chileans to be the Pope's guests from April 26 to May 1.
The survivors will spend time with Francis as a group on April 28 and 29, Cruz said, plus hold individual meetings with the Pope. He says he wants to make the meetings not just about them but all the survivors of church sex abuse worldwide.
"It's about the thousands of survivors who have gone through horrible things who have been disrespected, discredited. That culture has to change," Cruz said. "It has to be about every survivor. I hope that this is a sign that this will not be the norm."
The Roman Catholic Church has been embroiled in a worldwide abuse scandal for more than three decades, with thousands of priests accused of sexually assaulting tens of thousands of children.
In a letter released Wednesday, Pope Francis said he made "grave errors" in handling the Chilean sex abuse scandal.
"At this very moment, I ask forgiveness to all those I have offended and I hope to personally do this as well in the next few weeks, in the meetings I will have with the representatives of the people interviewed," he wrote in the letter, which was dated Sunday.
The letter, to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, follows a report the Pope received March 20 detailing interviews with 64 people affected by the scandal.
That investigation was launched after the Pope's January trip to South America struck a controversial chord after he defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse.
At his last stop in Chile, Francis defended Bishop Juan Barros, whom he had appointed in 2015 over the objections of residents of the southern city of Osorno. Accusers have said Barros covered up for the Rev. Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican found guilty of child sex abuse in 2011.
Francis angered some survivors' groups and Chilean Catholics by telling reporters, "There is not a single proof against him, everything is slander."
During a news conference on the papal plane back to Rome, the Pope admitted he had made an error in choosing his words and apologized to victims of clerical sex abuse.
"I apologize for hurting them without realizing it. But I did not intend this," Francis said. "The word 'proof' was not the best way to approach a pained heart. I would say 'evidence.' In Barros' case, it was studied. It was restudied. And there is no evidence. And that is what I wanted to say. I don't have evidence to convict. If I convicted without evidence or without moral certainty, I would commit a crime of being a bad judge," Francis said.
After the Pope returned to Rome, a Vatican investigator was dispatched to Chile in February to listen to Barros' accusers.
Barros has denied knowing about what he called the "serious abuses" of Karadima and has said he never approved or participated in those actions.
But according to Juan Carlos Cruz, there was evidence against Barros, and the Vatican has known about it since 2015. Cruz wrote a letter that he says was hand-delivered to the Pope in Rome that year by one of his most trusted advisers, Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston. In February, Cruz shared the letter with CNN. In it, he details years of abuse -- witnessed, he says, by Barros.
Marie Collins, a former member of the Pope's Commission for the Protection of Minors, gave Cruz's letter to O'Malley. Both Collins and Cruz say O'Malley told them he gave the Pope the letter.
The results of the Vatican's investigation have not been released, including whether and how those responsible will be held accountable. But Cruz has hope the Pope will do the right thing.
"I would like those bishops to get fired. Not to be taken to a golden retreat," Cruz told CNN. "Not to be given another job, like the Vatican library. If they covered up abuse they don't deserve to be working as a bishop and running a diocese."
Cruz says he and the other two survivors plan to hold a news conference at the Vatican after they meet with the Pope. Cruz says Vatican officials assured him his words would not be censored.
"I hope by doing this that there will be hope for other survivors that there will be change and accountability," Cruz said.
The Psychological Effects and Treatment of Child Abuse
by Sharie Stines., Psy.D
Complex trauma occurs over time. Experiences of chronic child abuse and neglect result in complex post-traumatic stress disorder. It's not that one time being assaulted by your parent caused you trauma, it's that your experience as a child was filled with recurring involvements of maltreatment, resulting in symptoms that are often diagnosed as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,) depression, anxiety, and other psychological maladies. While these diagnoses may be accurate on some level, they do not address the origination of the problem.
Attachment trauma is another form of early childhood maltreatment that results in interpersonal relationship problems later in life. This occurs when a child is not properly attuned with, paid attention to, or acknowledged as an infant and in early childhood. It is often hard to identify attachment trauma, and it is particularly difficult to identify the types of dis-attunement that may have happened to an individual during infancy.
Attachment trauma is often the birthplace of personality disorders.
When someone has been chronically maltreated during any portion of his or her life, he develops an inner propensity to manifest a variety of external symptoms in response. These include, “air headedness,” anxiety, somatic symptoms, dissociation, and depression.
Fragmentation of the Psyche:
When a person experiences trauma from an early age, he must protect himself in some way in order to cope. One means of protection is to “split” off the part of oneself that is experiencing the trauma. In this case, the traumatized person ends up having a fragmented psyche. This fragmentation is really a survival or protective strategy, which serves one well during traumatic experiences, but tends to be problematic during times of normalcy.
This is not necessarily a physical fragmentation that can be seen under a microscope or in a brain scan, rather it is as if the person develops different, developmentally stunted personas that are frozen in time deep within one's unconscious memory. Each “persona” or “mode” is rigidly committed to a lack of growth and causes a level of stunted emotional development within the individual.
Keep in mind, however, that these sub-selves are developed for protective reasons, and for no other. Their primary purpose is to protect the hurt child from the resulting emotional pain. They become fixated at a certain time period in the victim's life and remain firmly in place, even after their necessity is eliminated.
Schemas are inner working models comprised of emotions and deeply ingrained beliefs about self, others, and relationships. Schemas are neurologically held as experiential or implicit memories. Schemas are experienced viscerally. For example, one type of schema could leave an internal felt message of, “I know I am not worthy of love; I just know it. I feel it in my being.”
Modes are responses to schemas and are comprised of the above mentioned personas created during traumatic or otherwise emotionally dysregulating experiences. Modes are compensatory and are created mainly as protectors. Some protectors are over-compensatory, such as in the case of narcissistic and anti-social traits. Others are in the form of avoidance, denial, being overly friendly, etc.
Modes are akin to personalities. The necessary personality shows up as needed in response to the trigger at hand. Other terms for modes are, “ego states,” “sub-selves,” “internal family personalities.”
Everyone operates in modes. Some people with minimal traumatic experiences in childhood have relatively “normal” modes, where triggers aren't as devastating as in the case of those who come from extremely emotionally depriving childhoods. When particularly strong modes of relating are present, personality disorders are developed.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is the clinical term used for a person with distinct and separate personas developed as a result of childhood trauma.
Triggers usually have a connotation of something negative. Of course, triggers can occur when you have been conditioned to experience something positive as well as negative; however, for this article, I am referring to those triggers that cause a person to maladaptively regress emotionally to an earlier time period in his or her life.
Triggers occur in the present when a person experiences something that reminds them unconsciously of a past traumatic or emotionally upsetting experience. Once a trigger occurs, a schema is what is triggered and a mode is what comes in to play to protect the underlying, unbearable emotional pain.
When threatened by a negative emotional experience, subconsciously, a schema is triggered and a mode comes to the rescue to protect the individual from the underlying emotional discomfort. Some of the threatened unbearable emotions include rage, shame, humiliation, desperation, fear, and emptiness.
For people with personality disorders, a common threat is the potential for warmth, nurturance, or closeness. Personality disordered individuals send out personas (aka modes) to stop healthy interpersonal connection from happening.
Why is this, you may ask. It is because the hope for love is threatening to a person with a personality disorder. The “protector” shows up to stop this threat from becoming a reality. You see, for a person with a personality disorder, the hope for attachment brings up the emotions of vulnerability, neediness, helplessness, powerlessness, and subjugation, among others.
If as a child a person did not experience consistent nurturance and reassurance when feeling helpless, needy, or vulnerable, but instead experienced abandonment and abuse, then dissociation and over-compensatory measures occurred. Over-compensatory measures occur in the form of another personality, such as The Entitled , The Superior One , The Rager , The Detached Observer . These modes are protective.
Think of the concept of a person having part of his personality stuck in an early developmental stage, such as age three. Now, think of the narcissist having a “rage attack.” Doesn't this rage attack in an adult person resemble a temper tantrum in a three year old?
This is an example of a trigger leading to an emotional regression. The rage attack is akin to the “protection” for the person. While it may be maladaptive, it is effective in many respects of protecting the person from feelings of vulnerability and helplessness.
One of the most helpful first steps for treating complex trauma is to identify the various modes within a person's psyche. Some people have a few very distinct personas, such as the ones mentioned above. Others include personas with attributes fitting titles like, The Rebel , The Fighter , The Victim , The Seducer, The Liar , The Party Girl , and so on. These personas are triggered by certain threats sensed in the environment which indicate that danger is eminent.
It is useful to mention that some of these personas can be termed, “ Apparently Normal Personas. ” These are the ones that are masterful at masking dysfunction. These modes are usually the ones that present to the world and can be likened to a mask. These apparently normal personas are protective in nature. It is helpful to identify one's other, inner protectors as well.
A good therapist can help a person struggling with complex trauma identify his triggers, modes, schemas, and apparently normal personas, and can help the client learn to integrate these different parts into a cohesive whole. Keep in mind that it is not the goal of therapy to eliminate a person's protectors, but to embrace them and incorporate them into the person's sense of oneness.
Integration succeeds differentiation. Once the different parts are identified, the therapist can help the client ascertain the primary underlying threatening schemas residing in the client's psyche. Once these underlying schemas are pin-pointed, then triggers make sense. Challenging the underlying maladaptive beliefs helps the victim of complex trauma begin to assess the damage caused during his childhood.
Legislature Asks For Study On Statutes Of Limitations For Child Sex Crimes
by Jason Lamb
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The state house and senate approved a bill that could potentially lead to the removal of the time limits that victims of child sex abuse have for pressing criminal charges against their alleged perpetrators.
The bill that passed the House and Senate on Thursday asks the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, or TACIR, to consider the effectiveness of statutes of limitations in criminal offenses, particularly those related to child sex abuse cases.
The study may pave the way toward an elimination of statutes of limitations in child sex abuse cases.
Currently, the statute of limitations in Tennessee for child sexual abuse is when the victim turns 43 years old – 25 years after the victim's 18th birthday.
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, bill sponsor Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) said emotional damage caused by child sexual abuse is often not seen until victims are well into adulthood.
“Hopefully, this study going to TACIR will give us a better idea of what offenses warrant having or not having a statute of limitations for prosecution,” said Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), the sponsor of the senate bill.
The identical House bill that passed this week is sponsored by Rep. Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna).
A handful of other states have already removed the statute of limitations for child sex crimes.
Click here for warning signs of sexual abuse to look for in children. If you suspect a child may be the victim of abuse, Tennessee law requires you to report it. You can call the Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline at 1-877-237-0004.
Lawmakers announce new effort to prevent child abuse, neglect
by Steve Limtiaco
Women in the Legislature have taken up the cause of Guam's thousands of abused and neglected children, and have scheduled a meeting April 17 to discuss strategies, services and efforts to prevent abuse and neglect.
A large number of Guam's children are homeless, and a shortage of shelters puts them in harm's way, according to a written statement from Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje's office, announcing the new initiative. Terlaje urged the Guam Housing Corporation, which is in the process of opening an emergency overnight homeless shelter, to give priority to children.
“Child Protective Services and partner agencies are also overwhelmed. In 2017, the Bureau of Social Services Administration reported that 2,205 of our island's children were subjects of referral to CPS for maltreatment,” the release states. “Of those cases, 609 were for physical abuse, 371 for sexual abuse and 1,048 for physical neglect, amongst other categories.”
Attorney Anita Arriola earlier this week took lawmakers to task on the issue of child abuse and crimes against children, during a public hearing on a bill that would further restrict abortions on island. Arriola testified against the bill, and said it's easy for senators to write a bill and talk about being pro-life.
“What have any of you done about the child abuse that has become a frightening epidemic on our island? What about the real live, living, children who are suffering real pain and real harm every day?” she asked during the April 10 public hearing. “Where are the signs for them? Where are the rallies and where are the protests for them?”
Arriola said there are examples of child abuse in the news every day, including three men accused of gang-raping a teen girl last September, a 12-year-old girl reportedly sexually assaulted by a man in January, and a 9-year-old girl who was reportedly sexually assaulted by a 51-year-old man, also in January.
Arriola said she has represented minors in court for nearly 30 years. “I invite all of you to come to these court hearings and to really see the children of Guam who are in pain. Because it's easy to argue for a fetus, when they're not in front of you, and you don't see their pain, and you don't have to deal with the lifelong consequences of sexual, physical and emotional abuse and trauma,” she said.
“The women senators of the 34th Guam Legislature demand that more be done to end neglect and abuse of our island's children and are taking action to address the occurrence of these cases,” the release from Terlaje's office states.
“By working together with non-profit and government agencies who are providing services to address homelessness and child welfare in the community, the senators hope to re-prioritize resources to increase protection of our children from harm.”
The women serving in the current Legislature include: Terlaje, D-Yona, Sen. Regine Biscoe Lee, D-Tamuning, Sen. Louise Muna, R-Yigo, Sen. Telena Nelson, D-Dededo, and Sen. Mary Torres, R-Santa Rita.
The roundtable is scheduled for 3 p.m. April 17 at the Guam Congress building.
ASU police issue warning about sex traffickers luring students
by Nathan J. Fish
Arizona State University police are warning students that human traffickers may be attending college parties in an effort to "recruit or coerce'' women into prostitution.
The department issued a safety bulletin Thursday say it was advised by other law enforcement agencies of the trend.
"Reports describe human sex traffickers are attending college parties and events in an effort to recruit or coerce females,'' the bulletin said. "These efforts include photographing or getting students into compromising situation. The traffickers use threats of force or exposure to the campus community to persuade victims into prostitution.''
The bulletin does not cite specific reports on any of the ASU campuses, but police linked to a webpage for the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, a School of Social Work, within the College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University for more information
"STIR office is to be a central source of research on domestic sex trafficking which will inform the decisions made by those who contact victims and perpetrators of sex trafficking including law enforcement and prosecutors, educators, medical services and social services," the office's web page says.
Anyone with information about such activity is asked to call the ASU Police Department at 480-965-3456.