National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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"News of the Week"  

May, 2018 - Week 2
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


The last child first

To address violence against women and child sexual abuse, entrenched hierarchies and the approach to justice must be overturned

by Deepti Priya Mehrotra

As people across India protest the brutal rape-and-murder of an eight-year old in Kathua, we need to ask how the crisis may be transformed into a new beginning of honest critique and wide-ranging social change. Respect for children, and women, must be the leitmotif; especially honouring those who are tribal, Dalit, minority, and/or poor. The margins must move centrestage, reorienting all our priorities. Children and women ought to come first, in every decision, plan and policy, in families, boardrooms, and development paradigms. The last child has to become our first concern. Entrenched hierarchies must be overturned.

We know that sexual violence is part of the entire structure of power. Patriarchal families — embedded within intricate webs of caste, class, communal, ethnic, sexual identity and other hierarchies — are inherently undemocratic. Unquestioning obedience is expected from youngsters, silent submission from women, unwarranted space and privilege is usurped by men. Children, routinely scolded, punished, humiliated, bullied, learn shame and fear. Individual rights, the core of democracy, are flouted daily. Sexual abuse and rape are just the next logical step.

A child required to eat less, study less, talk less, work more from the earliest age onward, is vulnerable, her self-esteem low, defences lax. We need to intervene to ensure respect for her basic rights, fulfilment of basic needs, socialisation and education that builds self-confidence and skills for self-assertion. She has an inalienable right to safety, requiring systematic inputs by schools, communities, health services, police, and law. Child rights' and women's organisations have the requisite expertise to support, and lead, this effort.

Rape and child sexual abuse (CSA), far from being the “rarest of rare” crimes, are possibly the commonest of common. Indian courts heard 64,138 child rape cases during 2016 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POSCO). A study across socio-economic groups found that 42 per cent children had been subjected to CSA, 15 per cent severely abused. A nation-wide Study on Child Abuse (Ministry of Women and Child Development, 2007) indicates that some 53 per cent children have faced CSA.

In 2012, the television programme Satyameva Jayate aired an episode on CSA; 1.49 million viewers responded — an outpouring of pain.

Survivor testimonies, published as a booklet, Chuppi Todo, revealed that the abusers were:

The victim's father (14 per cent);

uncle (33 per cent);

grandfather (3 per cent);

brother (3 per cent);

cousin (14 per cent);

teacher (10 per cent);

neighbour (14 per cent);

domestic help/caretaker (4 per cent);

religious leader (2 per cent);

acquaintance (2 per cent);

stranger (1 per cent).

For three-fourth survivors, abuse began at less than 10 years of age.

As people across India protest the brutal rape-and-murder of an eight-year old in Kathua, we need to ask how the crisis may be transformed into a new beginning of honest critique and wide-ranging social change. Respect for children, and women, must be the leitmotif; especially honouring those who are tribal, Dalit, minority, and/or poor. The margins must move centrestage, reorienting all our priorities. Children and women ought to come first, in every decision, plan and policy, in families, boardrooms, and development paradigms. The last child has to become our first concern. Entrenched hierarchies must be overturned.

We know that sexual violence is part of the entire structure of power. Patriarchal families — embedded within intricate webs of caste, class, communal, ethnic, sexual identity and other hierarchies — are inherently undemocratic. Unquestioning obedience is expected from youngsters, silent submission from women, unwarranted space and privilege is usurped by men. Children, routinely scolded, punished, humiliated, bullied, learn shame and fear. Individual rights, the core of democracy, are flouted daily. Sexual abuse and rape are just the next logical step.

A child required to eat less, study less, talk less, work more from the earliest age onward, is vulnerable, her self-esteem low, defences lax. We need to intervene to ensure respect for her basic rights, fulfilment of basic needs, socialisation and education that builds self-confidence and skills for self-assertion. She has an inalienable right to safety, requiring systematic inputs by schools, communities, health services, police, and law. Child rights' and women's organisations have the requisite expertise to support, and lead, this effort.

Rape and child sexual abuse (CSA), far from being the “rarest of rare” crimes, are possibly the commonest of common. Indian courts heard 64,138 child rape cases during 2016 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POSCO). A study across socio-economic groups found that 42 per cent children had been subjected to CSA, 15 per cent severely abused. A nation-wide Study on Child Abuse (Ministry of Women and Child Development, 2007) indicates that some 53 per cent children have faced CSA.

In 2012, the television programme Satyameva Jayate aired an episode on CSA; 1.49 million viewers responded — an outpouring of pain. Survivor testimonies, published as a booklet, Chuppi Todo, revealed that the abusers were: The victim's father (14 per cent); uncle (33 per cent); grandfather (3 per cent); brother (3 per cent); cousin (14 per cent); teacher (10 per cent); neighbour (14 per cent); domestic help/caretaker (4 per cent); religious leader (2 per cent); acquaintance (2 per cent); stranger (1 per cent). For three-fourth survivors, abuse began at less than 10 years of age.

Justice for the Kathua victim means justice for each child victim/survivor. Even as we demand justice for her, and Unnao's 16-year old survivor, allegedly raped by BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar, newspapers report cases of rape and CSA from across the country.

On May 1, the Supreme Court (SC) expressed shock at finding that 1,12,628 cases under POCSO are pending before trial courts across the country. It had earlier noted that “implementation of POCSO is in a shambles”. Despite the sheer volume as well as routine brutality of rape and CSA cases, justice remains elusive. Perpetrators enjoy impunity.

Data from the NFHS-2015-16 (National Family Health Survey) indicates that 99 per cent sexual violence cases are not reported by women survivors. Overwhelmingly, the perpetrator is her husband. Among reasons for not reporting are low conviction rates, and lack of trust in the police.

In her classic work Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape , Susan Brownmiller notes: “All rape is exercise in power, but some rapists have an edge that is more than physical. They operate within an institutionalised setting that works to their advantage and in which a victim has little chance to redress her grievance.”

The women's movement and civil liberties groups first brought rape into the public domain, determined to fight it, to end all violence against women and children. Their concerns intersect with Dalit, Adivasi, LGBTQ, and disability rights movements.

In 1978, Rameeza Bee was gang-raped by policemen in Hyderabad; Mathura, a 16-year old tribal, was gang-raped by policemen within a police station in Maharashtra. In 1992, upper-caste men raped social-worker Bhanwari Devi (Rajasthan). A slew of such cases became the focus of intense public debate, and led to improved law — the notion of “custodial rape” was introduced; previous sexual history of the victim deemed irrelevant; definition of rape broadened; a law on sexual harassment in the workplace enacted (finally, in 2013).

The culture of impunity is reinforced by laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which enable atrocities by security forces. In Manipur, 12 activists (Meira Paibis) stripped, holding a banner screaming: “Indian Army, Rape Us!” Their action, along with Irom Sharmila's long fast, shamed the government into initiating judicial trial of Thangjam's case.

The Delhi 2012 gangrape and murder sparked off spontaneous protests across the country. The Varma Committee, set up thereafter, recommended police reforms — statutory procedures for managing sexual offence cases, including Rape Crisis Cells, criminalisation of marital rape, disqualification of politicians with criminal records, repeal of laws like AFSPA, and educational reforms including education of adults, gender-free socialisation, and sexuality education.

The SC (responding to a PIL pursuing justice for CSA victims, particularly an eight-month-old raped by her 28-year old cousin Delhi, January 2018) has issued directives that police chiefs should constitute Special Task Forces to investigate POCSO cases, high courts must ensure fast-track trials by designated Special Courts, and ensure a “child-friendly atmosphere”. These directives for speedy probe and trials merely rehash what POCSO already enjoins. The Union cabinet's ordinance instituting death penalty for those convicted of raping under-12-year-olds is misconceived. It fails to understand the social foundations of rape, and undermines human rights and women's movement struggles for a violence-free world.

POCSO requires that police, doctors, judges, lawyers and prosecutors be educated to understand, and deliver justice to, child survivors. Survivors require justice and rehabilitation. Trauma may last forever. The organisation RAHI (Relief and Healing from Incest) has its hands full supporting the healing journeys of adult survivors of child abuse.

In Sakhi Kendra, Kanpur, I meet a 19-year, who, as a child, was sexually assaulted by her father. Sakhi Kendra provided her shelter and filed for justice. The nine-year old had won the case and was assigned to a government childcare institution but insisted on staying on at Sakhi Kendra's shelter home. With empathy and care, her wounds healed, she studied, and is today full of positive energy, rearing to transform society.


Abusive parenting styles can be inherited. Here are 5 ways to break the cycle

by Sarah Szczypinski

We don't really talk much about corporal punishment, but it wasn't so long ago that it was an acceptable way to discipline children. Although public opinion may have hushed the conversation, in practice, physical discipline is not uncommon. A 2013 Harris Poll found that 81 percent of parents believe that hitting is a sometimes acceptable form of discipline, and two-thirds said they had used it with their children.

As recently as the 1980s, the threat of spanking was a familiar refrain in American homes, a way to keep kids in their place. And as for the tongue-lashing that followed a lazily completed chore? Well, it was better than the belt, right? These parenting practices weren't labeled as abuse, but scientific research tells another story.

Studies have shown again and again that harsh physical and verbal punishments are ineffective and harmful, and can ignite behavioral and physical problems that follow children into adulthood. Given all of the evidence, why are people still doing it? According to a study by the University of Washington's Social Development Research Group, adults who endured physical and emotional abuse as children are more likely to repeat those patterns with their own offspring. The authors noted that poor parenting, including physical and emotional abuse, frequently was observed across three generations, suggesting that those choices can affect families for decades.

Parents who are determined to break the cycle with their own children face a difficult path, according to Susan Newman, a social psychologist and author of “Nobody's Baby Now: Reinventing Your Relationship with Your Mother and Father.”

“If you've been abused, you may become an abuser yourself,” Newman says. “It's comparable to alcoholism: If there's a lot of drinking in the house, it's likely that your children will start drinking as well.”

Difficult though it may be, change is possible. Here are some suggestions on how parents can end abusive patterns and set a different tone with their kids.

Acknowledge your own abuse. The first and perhaps most difficult hurdle in breaking the cycle of familial abuse is recognizing it. The question of how to discipline is a cultural one: The methods that are considered acceptable vary with when and where you were raised. Newman says that looking back with an objective perspective is crucial. “Being grown-up gives you the distance to separate out what you think of as harmful or hurtful patterns so you don't transfer them to your children,” she says. She also recommends resisting the urge to adopt an “it doesn't matter; I turned out fine” mind-set to bury negative emotions. “Those feelings won't evaporate,” Newman says, “and their pain will manifest in other ways.”

Recognize the risks (and ask for help). The scars of trauma are often deeper than we realize. A study conducted by UCLA researchers found that prolonged abuse causes wear and tear to the mind and to multiple body systems, and it changes the way a person's brain responds to and processes stress. Any parent who has dealt with a toddler tantrum knows that stress comes with the territory. An overreaction to that stress could lead to physical violence toward the child, or to what Newman calls “humiliation parenting” — chipping away at a child's self-esteem with negative and berating talk, often in front of others. In addition to therapy, Newman suggests talking to close friends or a spouse if you're prone to verbal snapping, because it can help you relieve tension and develop healthy coping skills.

Set boundaries with the older generation. Severing contact with a parent — even an abusive one — is difficult and rare. A University of Cambridge study of familial estrangement reported that most adult children maintain some form of contact with their parents — even those who cited emotional abuse, neglect and traumatic events. The presence of grandparents can be positive for children as long as the older generation respects the boundaries of their adult child — both personally and when it comes to their choice of parenting style. “You can coexist by saying to your parent, ‘You had your turn at parenting; this is my turn,' or ‘I know you have your grandchild's best interest at heart, but we don't agree with that way of doing things,'” Newman says. “Stand firm on that because now you are the parent and the most influential role model for your children.” And if the grandparents can't respect your parenting role? “It's time to reevaluate the relationship,” Newman says.

Celebrate success as it comes. Raising kids is challenging even in the best circumstances, and eschewing decades of poor parenting habits takes work and courage. Celebrating positive changes, even small ones, will reinforce the bond with your children and help heal your painful past. “When you have a good result in parenting, it's incremental in rebuilding your self-esteem,” Newman says. “It's important to say to yourself, ‘I have tried hard and followed my instincts and emotions and I succeeded.'” Allow yourself to feel proud for taking another path.

When you feel vulnerable, examine your motives. Mistakes are the common thread of parenting; we all make them, and not all of them will shape our kids in adulthood. Still, it's difficult to make confident choices when you're worried about how your experiences might affect your child's well-being. If you feel untethered in your words and actions, Newman suggests taking time to question your motives. Stripping away frustration and focusing on the goal can simplify your emotions. “If you ask yourself, ‘Why am I yelling at my child?' or ‘Why would I hit them?' you're going to come up short,” Newman says. “And that's where the change begins.”


New York

AG Schneiderman resigns amid assault accusations

by Danny Hakim and Vivian Wang

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has risen to prominence as an antagonist of the Trump administration and a defender of women's rights, abruptly resigned Monday night, hours after four women accused him of physically assaulting them in an article published by The New Yorker.

“It's been my great honor and privilege to serve as attorney general for the people of the State of New York,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me.

“While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office's work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”

New York State Solicitor Barbara Underwood will serve as acting New York Attorney General, according to a tweet from Amy Spitalnick, press secretary for the state attorney general's office.

Underwood was a prosecutor for the Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan district attorneys and worked as a Yale Law School professor.

She also worked in the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn.

Schneiderman's resignation represented a stunning fall for a politician who had not only turned his office into a bulwark of resistance against President Donald Trump, but also assumed a prominent role in the #MeToo movement.

Two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, who spoke on the record to the magazine, said they had been choked and hit repeatedly by Schneiderman. Both said they had sought medical treatment. Another woman, a lawyer, said she was slapped violently across the face. A fourth woman also said she had similar experiences.

All the women in the article, who had been in relationships with Schneiderman, said the violence was not consensual.

Schneiderman initially denied abusing the women, saying in a statement: “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”

But not long after the allegations were made public, many of his allies, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who like Schneiderman is a Democrat, called for him to step down.

“My personal opinion is that, given the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article, I do not believe it is possible for Eric Schneiderman to continue to serve as attorney general,” Cuomo said.

The call was echoed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who led the charge to oust Al Franken from the Senate. “The violent actions described by multiple women in this story are abhorrent,” she said in a statement. “Based on this extensive and serious reporting, I do not believe that Eric Schneiderman should continue to serve as attorney general.

Schneiderman, the chief law enforcement officer of the state who was widely seen as harboring ambitions to be governor himself one day, is up for re-election this year. No Democrats have declared an intention to challenge him in the primary; Manny Alicandro, a corporate lawyer from New York City, is running as a Republican and officially declared his candidacy Monday.

Schneiderman had been previously outspoken about women's issues, announcing, for instance, a lawsuit against the company once run by the former filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of decades of sexual misconduct. “We have never seen anything as despicable as what we've seen right here,” Schneiderman said then.

Since 2017, Schneiderman had also raised his profile nationally by taking on President Donald Trump's agenda repeatedly in the courts. He is pushing to change state law so that his office could prosecute Trump's aides even if the president pardoned them.

Manning Barish, in The New Yorker account, described being slapped by Schneiderman after they had both been drinking; she and Selvaratnam said several of the attacks occurred after alcohol had been consumed.

“It was horrendous,” she said. “It just came out of nowhere. My ear was ringing. I lost my balance and fell backward onto the bed. I sprang up, but at this point there was very little room between the bed and him. I got up to try to shove him back, or take a swing, and he pushed me back down. He then used his body weight to hold me down, and he began to choke me. The choking was very hard. It was really bad. I kicked. In every fiber, I felt I was being beaten by a man.”

Debra S. Katz, a lawyer for Manning Barish, said that it was Schneiderman's “fantasy and his fantasy alone that the behavior was welcome.”

Schneiderman, she continued, “has made a career railing against this type of abuse. Yet apparently he intends to revictimize these courageous women who have come forward by pulling out that age old sexist trope that they wanted it.”

Manning Barish and Selvaratnam have in recent days repeatedly declined to comment when reporters for The Times asked them to address the allegations.

“After I found out that other women had been abused by Attorney General Schneiderman in a similar manner many years before me, I wondered, who's next, and knew something needed to be done,” Selvaratnam said in a statement released Monday night. “So I chose to come forward both to protect women who might enter into a relationship with him in the future but also to raise awareness around the issue of intimate partner violence.”

Manning Barish also followed the article's publication with a post on Twitter:

“After the most difficult month of my life-I spoke up,” Manning Barish said in her post. “For my daughter and for all women. I could not remain silent and encourage other women to be brave for me. I could not ...”

A former wife of Schneiderman's was taken aback by the allegations being leveled against him.

“I've known Eric for nearly 35 years as a husband, father and friend,” said Jennifer Cunningham, his ex-wife and frequent political strategist. “These allegations are completely inconsistent with the man I know, who has always been someone of the highest character, outstanding values and a loving father.”

Schneiderman has long been regarded as one of the state's most progressive politicians, even before his 2013 lawsuit against Trump University and his subsequent suits against the Trump administration made him the darling of the political left. Last fall, Schneiderman's office proudly pointed to a segment on the late-night comedy show “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” in which the attorney general was described as “a hero who stood up to democracy's nemesis,” a Superman-like character known as Schneider-man.

His credentials as an advocate for women, in particular, had gone unquestioned.

In 2010, as a state senator from Manhattan, he introduced a bill to make intentional strangulation to the point of unconsciousness a violent felony. That same year, the National Organization for Women's New York branch endorsed him in his successful bid for attorney general, citing his “unmatched work” in “protecting women who are victims of domestic abuse.”

For several years, his office has published a “Know Your Rights” brochure for victims of domestic violence. “We must recognize that our work keeping New Yorkers safe from domestic violence is far from over,” Schneiderman said in the announcement for the 2016 brochure.

At the direction of Cuomo, he is reviewing the 2015 decision by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., not to prosecute Weinstein after an Italian model accused him of groping her.

But some national Republicans were gleeful at the allegations. The Republican research shop America Rising quickly packaged Schneiderman's ties to other prominent national Democrats.

And on Monday evening, Trump's son, Donald Trump, Jr., dug up an old tweet from Schneiderman in which he said “No one is above the law” and tweeted at him, “You were saying???”



Film on child abuse underlines need for awareness

by Mohana Mahesh

Mumbai: A Mahalaxmi resto-bar was venue to a teary-eyed Sunday evening, when viewers gathered to view The Little Girls We Were..... And the Women We Are , a 38-minute documentary portraying incidents of abuse faced by members of the Delhi-based women's organisation, RAHI.

The organisation collaborated with NGO Akshara Centre to organise Healing the Scars, a programme to educate adults on the seriousness of child abuse, on Sunday. The documentary, a product of RAHI's 20-year journey, was made in 2016 in response to the rise in rape cases. It provides multiple perspectives to understand the lives of the survivors of incest and child sexual abuse.

The screening was followed by an interaction between the gathering and two such survivors from Kolkata who are featured in the documentary. Riya Lobo, mother to a seven-year-old girl, said, “Children are naïve, and often get carried away by little attractions like chocolates offered by strangers. We need to come up with a system that explains such issues to kids and makes them aware.”

Ravi Sankalp, 50, a retired professor, said he was stunned by the film. “Colleges lack unbiased counsellors, and we have to change that. This is a sensitive issue and it cannot be played around by blaming anybody. Having a good counsellor will help the victim overcome their trauma.”

According to Anuja Gupta, founder, RAHI, the documentary is from the perspective of an adult survivor, because only an adult can understand what is happening to them. “Such abuses need to be made known to adults to prevent them from happening.”

Healing effect

The film has been a healing process, one of the survivors attending the event said. “During the making this film, I could understand what had happened with me. Every shoot healed parts of me,” the 41-year-old said. She is the founder of Kolkata-based NGO Talaash, which works with teen and pre-teen victims of sexual abuse in West Bengal.

The audience collectively felt sexual abuse can be prevented through counselling sessions and documentaries like this one. Kathryn Fernandes, an 18-year-old from the MIT Institute of Design, Pune, felt such events create hope among viewers to do something better and stop such crimes. “Before watching the movie, I had no clue about the seriousness of such incidents. Now, I can say we need awareness to stop such things from happening.”

Though dates are yet to be finalised, RAHI and Akshara have decided to travel across India and show the film to create awareness.



In India, boy victims of sex crimes don't get talked about

by Krishna N. Das and Aditya Kalra

MUMBAI (Reuters) - He was lured into a room near where he played cricket, a man then shut the door and window, and raped him. That's what a 14-year-old Mumbai boy told his mother from his hospital bed last July.

The boy died soon after, killed by the rat poison he consumed after the assault, according to details described to Reuters by his parents and police.

Inspector Balwant Deshmukh, the investigating officer, said police have all but given up hope of finding out who raped the boy. “We will revive the case if we get new clues, but as of now it's in cold storage,” he told Reuters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government last month introduced the death penalty for rape of girls below 12 and increased the minimum punishment for those whose victims were under 16, after the rapes of an eight-year-old girl and a young woman in two states ruled by his party led to public protests.

But the emergency order, known as an ordinance, did not mention boys, although a government survey has showed that male minors were more likely to be victims than female minors.

The ordinance lapses in six months and the government has to introduce legislation to convert it into law. At that time, the government plans to broaden the statute to make it gender-neutral, said a senior government official who declined to be named.

“Whatever applies to girls will apply to boys,” the official said.

The government's chief spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

In the meantime, the minimum punishment for raping a boy is 10 years in jail, compared with 20 years for assaults on girls under 16.

“Why this discrimination?” asked the father of the boy who was raped, sitting in his tiny first floor home in a teeming settlement near Mumbai's international airport, largely populated by migrant worker families from India's poor northern states.

Between sobs, the mother recounted her horror at her son's condition in the hospital during his dying days.

“Please get us justice,” she said as the interview came to an end.

The boy's medical reports, which were reviewed by Reuters, said their son had been “sodomized”. Rape victims and their families cannot be identified under Indian law.


Insia Dariwala, who runs a foundation that raises awareness about child sexual abuse, said police generally lack the sensitivity to deal with cases of assaults on boys.

“I have interacted with adult male survivors and social workers who have cited police hostility, ridicule and even lack of trust when it comes to believing that a boy was sexually abused,” she said. “The most common perception dished out to male survivors is that they may have enjoyed it.”

The Mumbai police investigating the boy's rape, however, said officers are regularly trained on how to handle sexual abuse of children of both genders. The federal government is also running workshops for police that cover all children, said Stuti Kacker, head of the government's National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, which advises on child-related policies.

Some activists working for the safety of children say outrage over the gruesome gang rape and subsequent death of a young woman in New Delhi in 2012 succeeded in raising awareness about sexual violence against women in India, but far less attention is paid when the victims are male.

A 2007 survey by the ministry of women and child development, which sampled 12,447 children in families, schools, at work and living on the street, found that more than half had faced sexual abuse, and 53 percent of victims were boys. For the capital Delhi, the figure was 60 percent.

The government has not done any similar survey after that, although some activists and police say many cases of sexual abuse of boys go unreported because of the stigma attached to homosexuality.

The ministry of women and child development told parliament in March that only 467 male child abuse cases were lodged with police out of more than 36,321 such reported incidents in 2016.

The government, nevertheless, last month ordered a study to be undertaken focusing on sexual assaults on boys.

“Boys who are sexually abused as children spend a lifetime of silence because of the stigma and shame attached to male survivors speaking out,” Maneka Gandhi, the minister for women and child development, said in a statement.

“It is a serious problem and needs to be addressed.”


In India's patriarchal society, girls typically have a more restricted upbringing than boys and spend less time outdoors, making it easier for predators to target boys, according to social workers and others who counsel victims of sexual abuse.

A 22-year-old man in the western city of Pune, who said he was repeatedly raped by a man for two years starting when he was five, reported his ordeal to his parents only a year ago fearing he would be judged.

“I kept going back to the park where I would get raped by this man,” said the young man, who was counseled by the child abuse awareness foundation's Dariwala and agreed to be interviewed by Reuters. “I was scared of him but did not want to stay at home and come across as lazy in front of my parents. I did not want to anger my mom.”

Reuters could not verify the details given by the man.

Some researchers say parents often shy away from reporting abuse of boys, in the hope that victims would eventually overcome the psychological trauma.

The Pune man said his parents asked him to “move on and not let this incident define you”. He declined to immediately share their contact details, saying it was a delicate matter for them.

An article published last year in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry highlighted those attitudes.

An unidentified father who was resistant to psychological care for his nine-year-old son after he had been raped, was quoted by the journal as saying: “He neither lost a hymen nor will get pregnant. He should behave like a man, not a sissy.”

Vyjayanthi K.S. Subramaniyan, a senior psychiatrist in a Bengaluru hospital who co-authored the report, said she was in touch with at least eight adult men who were sexually assaulted as boys but never reported their ordeal to police.

“Boys don't fit into the image of a victim. In a patriarchal society they are expected to take it in their stride,” she told Reuters. “They think that as he grows up, he is going to become invulnerable, without any need to work on his psyche. That's ridiculous.”

The officer in charge of the police station where the rape and suicide of the boy in Mumbai was registered said that current data under-estimates the scale of the problem as boys' parents are reluctant to come forward.

“We don't discriminate on the basis of gender, but people come to us only in extreme cases,” Senior Inspector Anil Pophale told Reuters. “This incident would not have been reported if the boy had not committed suicide.”

The father of the dead boy agrees that he would never have gone to police had his son not decided to kill himself and says he now realizes his mistake.

“It needs to change,” he said, referring to the reluctance of parents to report abuse of male children. “This (tragedy) should not happen to anyone else.”



Promotoras-a pilot program to help end child abuse

by Mary E. Garr

When a child is born, it's usually a time of celebration for the happy couple and family. But sadly and too often, some children begin their lives in abusive homes.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if every child born in this world could grow up in a happy, healthy and safe environment? Unfortunately, child abuse and neglect is happening every day and everywhere. And that's intolerable.

The statistics are alarming. In 2017, San Antonio had the third highest rate of reported child abuse cases in Texas. A total of 5,588 confirmed cases of child abuse were reported in San Antonio. And over 30 percent were on the city's West Side, in particular within the 78207 and 78228 ZIP codes, according to the Texas Department of Family Protective Services.

With those overwhelming numbers, it's every community's responsibility to sound the alarm and raise awareness of child abuse in our neighborhoods. National Child Abuse Prevention Month was in April. However, our efforts to help prevent child abuse as a community must continue every day and month of the year.

Family Service Association is committed to helping reduce the number of child abuse cases in San Antonio. One way we're doing that is through a unique pilot program called Promotoras. Spearheaded by San Antonio City Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales of District 5, the newly developed pilot will help tackle child abuse in her district, where the numbers of reported cases are staggering and which is one of the most economically distressed areas in our city.

Gonzales' concern over the rising numbers of child abuse cases on the West Side moved her to confront the problem. With the support of San Antonio City Council members, as well as the collaboration with Family Service Association, the 12-week pilot has taken shape. It will use a peer-to-peer mentor model allowing trained community members, known as Promotoras, plus parents in the same targeted ZIP codes, to provide valuable in-home health care education to at-risk families.

The goal is to increase parental and child nurturing skills to ensure the health and safety of children, and ultimately to strengthen and empower families. We also hope to help families improve their financial outcomes through job training and education. It's our commitment to every child and to the community.

In November, we reached out to the West Side community by inviting residents in the 78207 ZIP codes to attend Community Health Worker classes, held at the Westside Education Training Center.

The grant, initiated by Gonzales, allowed for 10 residents in the 78207 ZIP code to participate in the Promotoras Program. Since then, the 10 participants have completed their required certification hours.

Our organization was able to hire four of the 10 Promotoras, who will soon be working closely with targeted at-risk populations. The Promotoras have shared their eagerness to begin working with families and have expressed how the program has given them an opportunity to reach out to others in their own community.

Family Service hopes to see improved home environments within the next two years of the pilot. Program partners include the University of Texas at San Antonio to evaluate the success of the program over a two-year period and the Westside Education Training Center to train and certify the community Promotoras.

To learn more about the Promotoras Pilot Program, please call 210-431-7500.



A Milwaukee baby died after her parents were repeatedly reported for abuse and neglect. Did the child welfare system fail her?

by Ashley Luthern

Johannie Green was born on April 9, 2017.

Two days later, the Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services removed the baby from her mother's home.

By the summer, Johannie was back with her mom under a court order. Her father was free on bail after being charged with felony child abuse of one of her siblings. Yet he often watched the baby.

Child welfare officials were still involved with the family on July 15, 2017 — the day Johannie died.

At some point during that day, she was in her mother's home with her father watching her.

The state Department of Children and Families won't answer questions about Johannie's death or the family's history with the agency, citing state law.

But a summary report required to be publicly released under state law shows that in the six years leading up to the baby's death, the agency received nine calls from people concerned about her siblings' safety.

A 10th incident, in which one of Johannie's siblings was treated in a hospital for a broken leg, resulted in the felony charge against her father, Joel Green Jr.

The Journal Sentinel is not naming the mother because she has not been charged with a crime. A message left at a phone number listed to her was not returned.

A summary released by child welfare officials shows:

• In 2010, on Christmas Eve, a call alleging neglect of Johannie's oldest brother by the mother was investigated. The worker who did the preliminary evaluation determined the child was safe.

• On Jan. 23, 2013, the agency received a call alleging neglect of Johannie's three siblings by the mother. Again, the worker who did the preliminary evaluation determined the children were safe.

• In May and June of 2015, the agency received two calls alleging abuse and neglect of Johannie's brothers by their father. Both cases were closed after a worker determined the boys were safe.

• The agency received another five calls between 2013 and 2015 that were "screened out," meaning the information in the calls did not meet the "reasonable suspicion" standard to investigate further.

The agency finally got involved in September 2016 — seven months before Johannie was born — when her sister, then 7 months old, showed up at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

A sister's broken leg

A doctor diagnosed the sister with a fractured right thigh bone, broken ribs and broken bones in her left foot.

Her parents had not reported any falls or other accidents.

The injuries, the doctor concluded, were caused by child abuse.

Milwaukee police interviewed the toddler's parents.

The day before, the mother said, the 7-month-old was fine and happy in the morning. Day care workers told police the child appeared healthy and was pushing herself up and down on the changing table.

Green picked her up. At 5:41 p.m., he texted a photo to the girl's mother that showed the baby's swollen leg.

When the mother got home from work, she found the child in pain with a low fever. Throughout the night, in her mother's arms, the girl did not move her leg.

Neither parent sought medical help until the next day.

Green told police the girl's mother, who he said worked as a health aide, told him it wasn't necessary to go to the hospital. He later said they didn't go because both were tired.

A nervous Green kept repeating it was an accident and became agitated when police told him the fractures resulted from an intentional injury, according to investigators.

Within a week, prosecutors charged Green, then 24, with felony child abuse.

Child welfare workers also stepped in.

Not only was the report of abuse and neglect of Johannie's sister deemed credible, but so was a report of physical abuse to her older brother.

This time, the children were deemed unsafe and placed with relatives. Their mother was allowed regular visits.

Green was set free on bail after signing a form promising he would appear for future court dates and follow court orders.

Because of the pending felony child abuse charge against him, he was forbidden by the court to have contact with the children or their mother.

Past domestic abuse

Green previously has been convicted of abusing the mother several times and sentenced to probation, court records show.

The fact that she maintained a relationship with him afterward was not unusual.

If a victim's child care and finances depend on an abuser, she is less likely to cut off contact, said Chase Tarrier, public policy coordinator for End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.

“There's this myth that the best option is always for victims to just leave or get away from the abusers and I think this case is an example of how difficult that is,” he said.

Even though Johannie had not been born yet when her siblings were removed from their mother's home, child welfare workers took temporary custody of her at birth. At that time, her siblings were still living with a relative, but their mother was allowed regular visits.

Joe Scialfa, a spokesman for the Department of Children and Families, said that under state law, he cannot comment on specific cases. Court records in such cases are not readily accessible to the public.

In general, workers can temporarily remove a child if they fear immediate danger, Scialfa said. That action triggers a court hearing within 48 hours, where it is up to a judge to decide where the child should live.

A judge ordered Johannie to be given back to her mother, according to the summary report from the child welfare agency.

The day Johannie died

On July 15, 2017, Johannie became fussy about 3 p.m., her mother told investigators.

The mother laid down with her on a bed and fed her. She fell asleep with her daughter and woke up about 90 minutes later.

She put Johannie in a bouncer and went to the grocery store, leaving Green in charge of Johannie and her three older brothers. The mother had not regained custody of her three sons, but they were in the house at the time.

When the mother got home after about 40 minutes, the children were alone.

The oldest, a 10-year-old, said Green had moved Johannie from the bouncer to the futon, where she appeared to be sleeping. When Green got back, he said he'd tried to catch her at the grocery store to remind her to buy laundry detergent.

At one point, the mother saw Johannie's toddler sibling sitting on or very close to the baby and made sure she was moved away.

The mother took a shower, cooked dinner and prepared the children for an evening church service.

She picked out a pink dress and silver shoes for Johannie.

That's when she touched her infant daughter.

She was cold and limp.

Green dropped the baby and her mother off at St. Luke's Hospital. Then he drove away.

'Undetermined' cause of death

No one can say with certainty how Johannie died. Her autopsy report lists both cause and manner of death as undetermined.

Milwaukee police investigated it as a possible co-sleeping death. As of last week, police say the case was filed as a “sudden death” and is closed.

Child welfare workers found substantiated physical abuse of Johannie, who had old rib fractures that were still healing at the time of her death, caused by an unknown person. They also found neglect by both parents.

An agency spokesman said, in general, a finding of physical abuse would not result from a co-sleeping death.

Prosecutors filed two bail jumping charges against Green because he had been in contact with the children and their mom in violation of a court order and because he fled from police when they tried to arrest him.

As part of a plea agreement, the original child abuse charge, in connection with his older daughter's broken leg, was dismissed and Green pleaded guilty to a felony charge of child neglect causing harm.

The prosecution and the defense attorney agreed to recommend three years in prison.

Green later fired his lawyer, saying the man had “tricked” him into taking the plea.

After that, Green represented himself and asserted his innocence.

'Tragically short life'

Last month, Green was sentenced to six years in prison on the child neglect and bail jumping charges.

The prosecutor spoke about Johannie's death at sentencing, pointing out Green had driven the infant and her mother to the hospital and then left.

“In this 3-month-old child's greatest moment of need, he drives away,” Deputy District Attorney Matthew Torbenson said.

If Green had obeyed the no-contact order, he could be ruled out as a suspect, but instead he had repeated access to the baby, Torbenson said.

Green pushed back, saying: “They haven't provided any evidence of everything that he's been saying.”

Before Judge Jeffrey Kremers handed down the sentence, which included eight years of supervision after prison, he, too, spoke of Johannie.

“What exactly happened to this child in their very, very, very tragically short life is anybody's guess,” Kremers said.

“We can all have a lot of suspicions about it, but the fact that they could not find any cause of death is just as damning as if they had," he said. "Because healthy 3-month-old children don't just die usually.”



Counselor speaks on impacts, warning signs of child sexual abuse

by Will Hutchison

FORT SILL, OK (KSWO) - An investigation by the Associated Press has revealed that over the last 10 years, Fort Sill officials have investigated six cases of child-on-child sexual assault.

The report from the AP says Army Criminal Investigators opened cases at Fort Sill for those six cases, concluding five of them were true.

Fort Sill Officials released a statement Monday saying,

"Our military children are precious, and we continue to do everything we can to protect them as they grow up in our diverse communities. Sexual assault is a crime. Fort Sill personnel are trained and report abuse to Child Protective Services or to the police as appropriate. The Army addresses violence prevention programs through Army Family Team Building, Family Advocacy programs, Army Community services, and through a Child and Family Behavioral Health System which includes:

- Behavioral Health consultation for children, adolescents and families

- School-based Behavioral Health in locations with on-post schools

- Community outreach at large installations to collaborate with on-post and local community agencies that serve Army children and families

- Virtual health resources to provide regional teleconsultation support for Primary Care Managers and Behavioral Health providers

- Virtual Behavioral Healthcare for sites with limited Behavioral Health Resources. If you see something, say something. Anyone aware of sexual assault should report it to law enforcement officials immediately by calling Lawton-Fort Sill Police at 911”

7NEWS reached out to Eudella Reynolds, a counselor at the Lawton Community Health Center, who said, unfortunately, this is an issue that affects people all across the world. But, she said there are some warning signs that might allow you to put those responsible behind bars if you see it.

Reynolds said instances of sexual assault at an early age can have a huge impact on how a child develops.

"It can be very traumatizing. It can cause sleep disturbances, nightmares, it can make the child very hyper-vigilant or very fearful to be around certain individuals. It can also make them fearful to go certain places, it develops lots of trust issues,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said there's not one telltale sign for parents or guardians that something has happened, but there are some things you can be on the lookout for.

"If they all the sudden start to withdraw from family members, they become clingy or don't want to be left alone. If they have nightmares or any sleep interruptions. If they start to seem very sad, depressed, distracted or distant,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said these are just a few of the several signs that could be associated with a traumatic experience and that it's up to family members and loved ones to help the child through it.

"Make sure to let the child know that no matter what, they can trust them, they can come to them and talk to them about anything. Keeping the communication open and knowing that it's safe to do so and that the child's not going to get in trouble,” Reynolds said.

She said if something has happened to a child, it's important to address it as early as possible.

"Childhood trauma ends up carrying over to the life of an adult. With trauma in children, it can be addressed early on and they can recover from that. With adults, it's a lot more difficult but it can impair their work performance, it can impair their relationships, it can also impair their marital relationships. So, it has an impact on them all the way around,” Reynolds said.


Boy Scouts lobby in states to stem the flow of child abuse lawsuits

by Elise Viebeck

The Boy Scouts of America, which acknowledged last year that it has taken a financial hit from settlements in child abuse cases, has lobbied against proposals in multiple states that would expose the organization to more lawsuits, according to victim advocates and proponents of the legislation.

The group retained lobbyists in Georgia and New York, where lawmakers say such action helped stall proposals that included “lookback” windows allowing adults to take legal action over decades-old claims. It has hired lobbyists in Michigan, where similar proposals are being debated. The bills would give adults who were abused as children a second chance to file suit if they missed their first opportunity under state law.

The Boy Scouts' lobbying push comes as the 108-year-old group, an institution long associated with leadership training and outdoorsmanship for American boys, sees pressure on multiple fronts. In addition to declining membership, the group has faced financial uncertainty and public relations problems related to accusations of child sex abuse against former adult volunteers.

Those accusations have led to dozens of lawsuits against the Boy Scouts in recent years, some of which have resulted in expensive settlements. The group's exposure to lawsuits over sex abuse has drawn comparisons with the Catholic Church.

Opponents of the state proposals, including the Boy Scouts and Catholic archdioceses , argue that open-ended “lookback” periods violate due process and would put groups in the tough position of defending themselves in cases from the distant past.

“It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to defend cases decades old in which evidence has been lost, or witnesses are unavailable,” Effie Delimarkos, director of national communications for the Boy Scouts, wrote in an email.

Proponents called the bills crucial for holding groups such as the Boy Scouts accountable for past abuse.

“It's reprehensible that the Boy Scouts of America has hired lobbyists to kill legislation that would help the adult survivors of child sexual abuse,” New York bill sponsor Brad Hoylman, a Democratic state senator, said in an interview .

The Boy Scouts, like the Catholic church, has faced a steady stream of lawsuits alleging it knew about child abuse perpetrated by its adult leaders. With 2.3 million youth members and more than 900,000 adult volunteers, the organization has been a defendant in at least 200 federal lawsuits since 2008, many alleging abuse of young members. Some suits are still playing out in court.

Some experts said the number of lawsuits rose after 2010, when an Oregon jury ordered the Boy Scouts to pay $18.5 million in damages to a former scout who claimed he was abused during the 1980s. Two years later, the Oregon Supreme Court approved the release of more than 14,500 pages of Boy Scouts records that exposed alleged abuse dating back to 1965.

The Boy Scouts' lobbying efforts in the states have taken place against the backdrop of the group's simmering financial woes.

The Boy Scouts hiked annual membership fees from $24 to $33 late last year in what some regional councils said was an effort to bolster the insurance fund used to pay victim settlements. In his financial report for 2016, Boy Scouts Treasurer and Vice President for Finance Joseph P. Landy stated that the group's financial condition in the coming years will depend “in large part” on the outcome of victims' legal claims.

Additionally, the group is trying to reverse its decline in membership — in part by admitting girls for the first time. The group announced last week that it will drop “Boy” from its title and go by the name Scouts BSA starting in 2019.

Delimarkos stressed that the group has taken critical steps to protect children, including screening adult leaders, requiring them to undergo training and mandating that they report signs or suspicions of abuse. Additionally, she said, the group provides counseling and other resources to former scouts who say they were molested.

“If someone was abused and we had prior knowledge of the perpetrator we try to find a way to help the victim heal by whatever means is appropriate,” Delimarkos wrote in an email.

The Boy Scouts has kept its lobbying efforts low-profile. The group has strong political ties nationwide through former Scouts who have been elected to public office. More than a quarter of members of Congress have a connection to the group, a blog sponsored by the Boy Scouts reported last year.

“They typically don't operate out front because they don't really want the headline,” said Marci Hamilton, a law professor and president of the advocacy group CHILD USA who has been critical of the Scouts. “They tend to be in the background, targeting members of the state legislatures who might have some relationships to [the] Boy Scouts.”

The Boy Scouts declined to answer specific questions about lobbying tactics, including which legislatures it is working to influence and its total advocacy budget for 2017. But Delimarkos said the group opposes some bills proposing “lookback” periods and has engaged lobbyists to “help educate policy makers.”

“Our priority is protecting kids and continuing to offer [the] nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training,” she wrote in an email.

Public records shed some light on the group's efforts in Georgia, New York and Michigan.

In Georgia, the group has retained lobbyists from Dentons, a major firm, since last year. Its four current representatives include two former state lawmakers, one of whom is ex-House majority whip Edward Lindsey. The total spent is not detailed in lobbying reports.

In New York, the BSA spent $137,500 last year on two Dentons lobbyists, including a former state senator. In March, the group hired a prominent Michigan lobbying firm, Public Affairs Associates, for an unknown sum.

Delimarkos declined to make the group's lobbyists available for interviews. Those contacted by The Post referred inquiries to the group's leaders or did not respond.

The Boy Scouts appears to have approached each legislative debate slightly differently.

In Georgia, state Rep. Jason Spencer (R) said BSA lobbyists created a legislative “trap” this spring to block his bill creating a one-year “lookback” window.

Even after his measure unanimously passed the House of Representatives and the state Senate approved a weaker version supported by the BSA, Spencer said there was not enough time to reconcile the two proposals before the end of Georgia's legislative session in March.

“By the end of the session, we were in the red zone,” he said in a phone interview. “The bill got tangled up in the back and forth.”

Spencer said he confronted Lindsey in a meeting about delaying the process. Lindsey did not respond to an interview request.

“They want to protect the quote-unquote honor of the institution,” Spencer said of the Boy Scouts. “That's what they're concerned about.”

In New York, a one-year “lookback” measure known as the Child Victims Act has been debated for years without reaching a vote in the state Senate, advocates said.

This year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) tried proposing the measure as part of his fiscal 2019 budget, but it was excluded from the final bill.

The lower chamber of the state legislature overwhelmingly approved the measure in a separate vote last week, but Senate leaders gave no indication that they planned to bring the bill to the floor.

The office of Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R) did not respond to an inquiry about the likelihood of a vote.

Hoylman and other proponents of the Child Victims Act said the Boy Scouts worked hard to keep its influence in the background, though people linked to the Scouts were spotted at events and meetings related to the bill.

In Michigan, Delimarkos wrote, the Boy Scouts has supported legislative efforts to narrowly tailor “lookback” periods so they do not have “such an open-ended approach.” Delimarkos said the group supports eliminating criminal statutes of limitation for child abuse and extending time limits for civil lawsuits “on a prospective basis.”

The state legislature is considering multiple bills related to child sex abuse after Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for molesting young gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment.

Victim advocates said open-ended “lookback” provisions are necessary because many people who were abused as children do not come forward until their 30s, which in some states comes after their opportunity to sue has expired.

Additionally, lawsuits alert today's parents about alleged abusers and the institutions that shelter them, advocates say.

“The lookback windows protect children now,” said Barbara Dorris, the former executive director of SNAP, an advocacy group for people abused by Catholic priests, who has followed the legislative fights. “Let's name the predators and let the parents be warned.”



'It was his last wish': Janitor wills $175K life savings to child abuse victims

by Chris Mayhew

COVINGTON – Thrifty school janitor Alvin L. Randlett willed his life savings of $175,000 to child abuse victims.

The Covington janitor never touched a dime of his pension. He walked everywhere and never owned a car. His annual salary in 1976 was about $7,000 using a $3.70 hourly rate.

Randlett's estate on Tuesday donated $175,000, the Covington janitor's savings, to the Kentucky Child Victims' Trust Fund.

Close friend Jeff Siska shared the news of Randlett's wishes to a crowd of students inside Sixth District Elementary School on Covington's east side.

The lifelong Covington resident died in December 2015. He was 75. A bachelor, he retired in 2001.

Sixth District Elementary is where Randlett worked for 32 years saving his pennies and more than 300 sick days.

He had stayed overnight at school in the Blizzard of 1978 shoveling coal to heat school boilers. He didn't want the pipes to freeze. He scrubbed and polished floors.

Siska said people on the streets yelled out Alvin's name and ran to him for a hug whether age 40 or age 10.

"He made people smile," Siska said of his friend.

The money Randlett donated was the value of his nearby-to-school Thomas Street home and his pension, said Siska, who oversaw the estate.

"It was Alvin's last wish to help with those who can't help themselves," Siska said.

School upkeep on behalf of children was Randlett's life mission, he said.

Siska said his friend lived simply and frugally in order to save money.

The janitor caught rides with friends he made or walked to where he needed to go.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear visited the Covington Independent School District to accept the $175,000 on behalf of the trust fund.

Randlett's life is an example people need to hear about, Beshear said.

"It's the type of selflessness we don't see day in and day out," Beshear said.


Washington D.C.

Congress wants review of military child-on-child sex abuse

by Justin Pritchard and Reese Dunklin

Congress has asked its watchdog agency to investigate the Pentagon's handling of child-on-child sex assaults on U.S. military bases following reporting by The Associated Press that detailed how failures of justice leave victims with little support and offenders little consequence.

The AP's investigation, which documented nearly 700 cases worldwide over 10 years, has prompted legislation and demands for answers by members of Congress. But the recent request that the Government Accountability Office get involved means a more transparent review of an opaque system is likely.

The top Republican and a top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee asked the GAO to review the handling of child-on-child sexual assault reports at Pentagon-run schools that educate about 70,000 military kids, as well as how military investigators and lawyers seek justice for cases they cannot prosecute.

Reps. Mac Thornberry of Texas and Jackie Speier of California wrote in an April 25 letter that they worried "the investigation and adjudication" of student sex assaults at Pentagon-run schools "may not be consistent across the department."

The AP found that even though students at Pentagon schools have fewer legal protections than their public school peers, the system hasn't had a specific policy for responding to child-on-child sexual violence and hasn't accurately tracked incidents.

House committee members are considering requiring that the Pentagon's school system improve its tracking of juvenile misconduct as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which the committee is scheduled to revise Wednesday. Their Senate counterparts are drafting more expansive legislation.

The House letter also requested information about how the military handles reports of other types of child abuse. The accountability office is not required to accept requests and is still reviewing this one, but spokesman Chuck Young wrote in an email Tuesday it was "likely" GAO would take it up. Thornberry and Speier requested a preliminary briefing by Feb. 1, 2019.

With at least four potential legislative fixes being drafted, military officials who have briefed members of Congress and their staffs in recent weeks have made clear that they want to handle the issue on their own and do not desire any new legislation.

The Pentagon has not responded to repeated questions from the AP asking whether its schools, criminal investigators or lawyers have made any changes since AP's investigation published in March. On Tuesday, a spokesman at the Office of the Secretary of Defense declined comment.


United Kingdom

Finding a better way to identify children experiencing domestic violence

by Natalia Lewis

Around one in five children in the UK have been exposed to domestic violence or abuse between their parents or caregivers. When adults are involved in an abusive relationship, their children bear the consequences.

The effects of domestic violence on a child can range from emotional and behavioural problems to physical injury and death when children are caught up in the violence between adults.

Even when not directly involved, children's exposure continues through witnessing and being aware of the violence – and through its health, social and financial consequences.

Health and social care workers are often the first professionals to have contact with a child experiencing these situations. This could be when the abused parent seeks help, or when children undergo health checks. It can happen during assessments for emotional or behavioural problems, or when social services, a child's school or the police become involved.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that health professionals who see women with clinical signs of domestic violence should ask them about safety in their relationship and at home. They advise that responses to disclosure should follow what is known as the “LIVES” principles: Listen, Inquire about needs and concerns, Validate, Enhance safety, and provide Support.

But there are no equivalent recommendations for children, and there is no agreed approach regarding how best to identify and respond to children who are exposed to domestic violence. So far, there has also been only limited evidence on which to base future guidance.

Now researchers at universities in the UK (Bristol, Queen Mary and Cambridge) and Canada (McMaster and Western) have combined existing evidence on the best ways to identify and respond to children experiencing domestic violence. This synthesis, the first of its kind, integrates findings from 11 studies with 42 children, 220 parents, and 251 health care and social services professionals.

We found that study participants' opinions were strikingly consistent, and matched the LIVES principles. Children, parents (mostly mothers) and professionals agreed that identification of the problem should happen in the context of a good patient-professional relationship, and in a safe and supportive environment.

Health care professionals should enquire about the child's safety when they see clinical signs of domestic violence and abuse in children. The ideal initial response should include emotional support, discussion about domestic violence and advice on local specialist services.

We also discovered that a professional's ability to identify and respond to children's exposure to domestic violence was heavily influenced by constraints within the health and social service system. Lack of time, funding cuts and poor inter-agency collaboration all have an impact. Professionals needed more training and resources to be able to respond to these children and their families in an appropriate and safe way.

However, there was a difference of opinion when it came to engaging directly with children and managing their safety.

A direct approach?

Children and mothers wanted professionals to talk to children directly and engage them in safety planning. Professionals, on the other hand, preferred to engage with children via the parent – and did not perceive children exposed to domestic violence as patients or clients in their own right. Also, professionals were not happy with existing safety guidelines and practices for children and mothers exposed to domestic violence. These elements are certainly subjects for future research and training.

Given the scale of the problem, and the long-term emotional, behavioural and physical impacts on children, we hope that the results of this study can form the basis of new, internationally agreed guidelines.

Our research findings have already been used to inform point-of-care responses to adults and children in Canada's VEGA (Violence, Evidence, Guidance, Action) Project. That program is already developing the “Recognising and Responding Safely to Family Violence” Handbook for health and social care professionals.

And we hope our evidence will inspire development of professional training and resources elsewhere – so that front line practitioners feel better equipped to appropriately and safely respond directly to the needs of children. Too many children's lives and futures could depend upon it.



4 people arraigned in child's death investigation, charged with gross abuse of a corpse in Defiance county

by Jonathan Monk

DEFIANCE, OH (WTOL) - A body of a new born infant left un-cared for 17 months in Defiance County has resulted in four people from the same family being charged.

A Hicksville couple and the parents of the man have been charged with gross abuse of a corpse, after an investigation found that a newborn had died ten hours after being born back in 2016

Sarah Stark, 35, faced a Judge Tuesday after being indicted by a Defiance county grand jury.

She was charged with a felony of endangering children, a misdemeanor endangering children and a felony charge of gross abuse of a corpse.

The indictment claims that 35-year-old Sarah Stark gave birth to a male child inside a private residence in October 29th 2016.

Sarah's husband, Jared Stark, and Sarah, failed to obtain any medical attention for the baby, who died 10 hours later.

The Indictment also claims Sarah, Jared and Jared's parents Steven and Sheryl Stark, were all complicit in not properly caring for the remains of the newborn from October 29th 2016 until March 28 2018.

“Information came into a social services agency and brought their attention to the fact that a child's realms, the infant child's remains has not been properly tended to, and that's how the investigation got started,” said Defiance County Prosecutor Morris Murray.

That newborn's body was still exposed when investigators found it 17 months later.

Jared Stark was arraigned Tuesday as well on first-degree felony man slaughter, third-degree endangering children, and a fifth-degree felony gross abuse of a corpse.

His parents were each arraigned as well, each charged with gross abuse of a corpse.

All four individuals plead not guilty to the charges.

There is also a two-year-old child involved in this case, who prosecutors say was in danger by being exposed to this corpse.

“There is another child that was exposed to the circumstances and to the unattended to remains and creating a risk to that child's health and safety and emotional well being,” said Murray

Now that all four have been arraigned, pretrial hearings will begin for Jared Stark on June 7th, Sarah Stark on July 12th, and Steven and Sheryl Stark on June 13th.


New York

State pol seeks 'way forward' for adult victims of child sex abuse

by Kenneth Lovett

ALBANY - A top state senator is set to introduce Thursday legislation she dubbed "a way forward" to finally making it easier for victims of child sex abuse to seek justice as adults.

Gary Greenberg, a vocal child sex abuse survivor who helped negotiate the bill with Sen. Catharine Young (R-Chautauqua County), hailed the measure as "a big step forward" while other advocates panned it.

The centerpiece of the legislation is the creation of a $300 million Child Victim Reconciliation and Compensation Fund that would be run out of the state controller's office.

Rather than have individual abusers or institutions like the church, yeshivas, schools, the Boy Scouts of America, and the insurance companies pay the settlements, victims who no longer can bring lawsuits under current law would be eligible to seek restitution from the fund.

And future victims who don't meet the legal time-frame would still be able to seek restitution from the fund, Young said.

"This is a solution that I think would advance the cause," she said. "This is all about victims."

No state taxpayer money would be used. Instead, the bill would take $300 million from the more than $700 million in asset forfeiture funds controlled by Manhattan District Attorney's Office that has to go toward criminal justice initiatives.

Under the proposal, the controller would appoint a compensation fund chief administrator, who would need to be confirmed by the Senate and Assembly.

Past child sex abuse complaints would go to the administrator, who would have the power to hire hearing officers with previous experience investigating, prosecuting, or defending child sex abuse allegations. The officers would have the ability to issue subpoenas and compel testimony.

If a case is found credible, the claims administrator would determine the amount of compensation and information like the abuser's name would be made public.

Greenberg, who this year hired a Republican lobbyist to help sway the Senate GOP, hailed the measure as "a big step forward."

"The major thing is they have put a bill on the table that would compensate all victims who have been abused prior," he said.

But advocate Marci Hamilton, a co-founder of New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators, called the bill "an attempt to pay off the victims and shield the institutions, who would get to keep their secrets."

Many advocates have pushed to raise the age that a child sex abuse victim can bring a case. They also want a a one-year window to revive old cases that would allow survivors to go after their abusers and institutions personally.

But Young argues her bill would also allow those who were abused by family members and others with little money to also receive the compensation they deserve.

"If we establish the fund, they get compensation and justice, that's the most important element," she said.

The bill would also eliminate completely the statute of limitation on all child sex abuse crimes. It would keep in place the current time-frame giving victims until their 23rd birthdays to bring civil cases. But those who decide to come forward later could seek compensation from the fund.

The Assembly recently again passed a Child Victims Act that increases the statute of limitations on criminal and civil cases and includes the one-year window to revive old cases.

The GOP has never allowed the measure to the floor for a vote.

Greenberg said he hopes the different sides can get together to negotiate a compromise bill before the end of the legislative session in late June.

"I think it's a big step forward for the Republicans, who never put anything on the table and who killed the bill every year," he said. "Now they're saying they want to do something. They're making an attempt and I believe it's a sincere attempt."

Hamilton suggested the Republicans are putting out a bill because they are fearful of losing control of the majority and fear the issue could haunt them during the critical upcoming campaigns. She said if the Democrats take over, a more expansive Child Victims Act would pass.



Washington D.C.

Preventing child abuse and fatalities

by Sen. Chuck Grassley

A loving home is critical for the next generation to thrive and become productive members of society. Close-knit, supportive families serve as the building blocks for safe schools and solid communities. Strong families are an essential thread in the social fabric of America. Unfortunately, not every household fits the bill. When neglect and abuse put children at risk, society has a responsibility to intervene and protect their well-being.

National Foster Care Month has been recognized for more than 20 years as a time to celebrate the voices of foster youth and to bring awareness to the challenges that they face. During this month, organizations in Iowa and across the country work together to support and recognize youth in foster care, as well as put forward solutions to help our nation's kids. As the co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, I'm an engaged and active voice in this fight. I've led policy forums and briefings, and enacted federal reforms to improve foster care services for the better part of two decades.

Recently, the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, together with the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths (NCEAD), led a briefing on how to help prevent child fatalities resulting from child abuse or neglect. According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, there were an estimated 676,000 victims of child abuse and neglect in 2016, a 3 percent increase from 2012. More than 8,500 of these children were in my home state of Iowa. Nationally, an estimated 1,750 children died as a result of abuse and neglect. Most often, the perpetrators of abuse are parents of the victims.

In 2016, 61 percent of children who entered foster care did so due to neglect or abuse. Although the foster care system can be life-saving by providing children who are victims of abuse with a safe environment, too often foster youth are subject to more neglect and abuse at the hands of their foster parents. In 2016, there were over 1,500 victims of child abuse committed by a foster parent, and 1,498 reported victims of child abuse suffered at a group home or residential treatment facility.

In order to prevent child abuse and neglect, and especially the tragedy of child fatality from these causes, federal child welfare policy should encourage the placement of children in the best possible environment. It is clear that the best place for children to grow and thrive is in a safe, loving, and permanent home, whether that is with biological parents, adoptive parents or a relative.

For many years, promoting policies that keep children safe and make adoption from foster care a reality for kids across the country has been one of my priorities. In 2008, I introduced the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act , which provided additional federal incentives for states to move children from foster care to adoptive homes. That legislation also made it easier for foster children to be permanently cared for by their own relatives, and to stay in their home communities.

In 2011, I worked to reauthorize grants that support families who struggle with substance abuse, and that improve the well-being of children who are not in their homes or are likely to be removed because of parental substance abuse.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act , which passed late last year, preserved the Adoption Tax Credit, making it easier for families who want to adopt children in foster care to do so. Also last year, I introduced the Strong Families Act of 2017, legislation to prevent child abuse and improve maternal and child health, among other things.

Most recently, Congress passed the Family First Act, which redirects child welfare funding typically only available to states after a child has been placed in foster care to prevention services designed to keep families together. Parental drug abuse is a strong indicator of child neglect and abuse, and the Family First Act authorizes states to spend federal child welfare dollars on substance abuse treatment counseling, among other services designed to prevent children from having to be placed in foster care in the first place. If we can work to prevent child abuse and neglect from taking place, we can reduce the number of children in foster care, and reduce instances of child fatalities.

Along with my colleagues on the Senate and Congressional Caucuses on Foster Youth, and the dedicated people working on this issue, such as the NCEAD, an alliance of prosecutors, pediatricians, social workers and child and family advocates who are on the front lines in the battle to make children in Iowa and our nation safer, I will continue working to find solutions and secure better outcomes for youth in foster care or at risk of entering foster care.

Children in Iowa and throughout the country deserve an equal opportunity to pursue happiness, complete their education and live the American Dream. They shouldn't have to worry about abuse, neglect or whether they will live long enough to achieve their goals. Child fatalities should never happen, and they are preventable when state and federal legislators, child care workers, volunteers and loving citizens work together.




We must know child abuse is happening

Guest Opinion

This month, people throughout our country are being reminded of something they would rather not know happens. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and many organizations that have the specific goal of stopping child abuse are working hard to show just how prevalent this tragedy is.

We would rather not know that there are more than 3 million reports of violence and maltreatment of children each year in the United States.

We would rather not know that there are five deaths of children per day due to abuse.

We would rather not know that, as widespread as child abuse is, two-thirds of the incidents in our country go unreported.

But knowing these statistics and knowing how big a problem mistreatment of children is can be the key to getting people to file reports with the proper authorities before a child becomes the next statistic.

Grand Island residents know just how horrible child abuse can be because of a widely publicized incident of child abuse in 2003 when Little Diana Molina died at the hands of her father. Diana had been beaten close to 100 times with a belt and dropped on the floor 10 to 20 times during a 24-hour period.

Little Diana's death has become a cornerstone of the message of the Association for Child Abuse Prevention in Grand Island as it works to make sure we know that things like this happen and they happen much more often than most of us realize.

ACAP held a ceremony at Little Diana's gravesite on the northeast side of the Grand Island Cemetery, commemorating her life and drawing awareness to the many children who have been abused and neglected since Diana died. Child abuse occurs across all socioeconomic levels, ethnic and cultural lines, religions and education levels.

We don't want to know about it, but it's important that we do know about it. Stopping child abuse begins with intervention to help parents and guardians think before they act and realize the impact of emotional and physical abuse on children. But it's also important that each of us know enough about this scourge to be able to recognize the signs that a child may be suffering abuse.

One way to report suspected child abuse to a trained professional is to call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline.

The hotline serves the U.S. and Canada. It is staffed 24 hours a day with crisis counselors and interpreters for more than 170 languages. All calls are confidential.

The national hotline is available at 800-4-A-Child or 800-422-4453.



Georgia mother pleads guilty to sex trafficking her 5, 6-year-old daughters

by Larry Curtis

A mother in Georgia pleaded guilty to sex trafficking her 5 and 6-year-old daughters with two different men.

Morgan Summerlin, 25, took them to men's homes to be molested and raped for money, according to information from Fulton County's district attorney.

The abuse came to light when the two girls were living with temporary legal guardians when their mother was jailed in Florida. The girls said while they were with their mother she took them visit a man named Pop who touched them and "humped" the younger girl who bled from her vaginal area. The girls reported to their guardians that their mother took them to men's homes for rape and molesting in exchange for cash.

“It is difficult to imagine facts that are more horrific than those found in this case," said district attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. "I am hoping these two little girls can somehow survive this abuse and grow into healthy adults who can lead a productive and fulfilling life.”

The men reportedly would pay the girls and their mother would take the money from them.

The girls knew Pop because he gave their mother drugs. He was later identified as Richard Office, who was found guilty by a jury of rape, child molestation, trafficking, enticing a child and sexual battery. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 146 years.

According to information from the DA, their mother took the girls to Office's home and waited in the living room while he took them to a bedroom kissed them and touched them. The girls reported he raped the younger daughter while the 6-year-old rubbed his feet. He gave the girls $100, taken immediately by their Summerlin.

Another man, was convicted in February for raping and molesting the girls in a similar manner. Alfredo Trejo was convicted of rape, child molestation, sexual battery, enticement, trafficking for sexual servitude and aggravated child molestation. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and life on probation.

The victim's grandmother, Teresa Davidson, pleaded guilty to cruelty to children. She failed to protect them when they reported sexual abuse.

Morgan Summerlin's guilty plea was announced by a district attorney in the Atlanta area with sentencing scheduled for June 4.

She pleaded guilty to rape and trafficking a person for sexual servitude, first-degree cruelty to children and enticing a child for indecent purposes and sexual battery.

“The impact that this ongoing sexual abuse had on those children is tragic, and we are grateful that the jury held the defendant accountable for his depraved conduct,” Chief Senior Assistant District Attorney Irina Khasin said.



He Was Convicted of Molesting a 6-Year Old. Should He Have a Future in Baseball?

by Kurt Streeter

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Luke Heimlich, one of the best players in college baseball, and certainly its most controversial, strode to the mound, dusted away a patch of dirt with his cleats and lined up for his first pitch.

The home crowd of nearly 3,000, most in orange and black, the colors of Oregon State, cheered, “Luke! Luke! Luke!” They wanted a victory against Arizona State, one of their biggest rivals.

More than that, they wanted a performance that would hark back to a different time — the time before anyone had heard that Heimlich, 22, their hero, had pleaded guilty to a felony: sexually molesting his 6-year-old niece when he was 15.

Otherwise, this game in Goss Stadium seemed completely normal, as has been true all season, which has unfolded in a surprisingly ordinary way. The Beavers are again among the elite. They have a good chance of making it back to the College World Series in June. They might win the national championship.

But, given his past, the question remained, why was Heimlich even on the mound?

In a series of interviews with The New York Times this weekend, Heimlich flatly denied committing the crime he had admitted to, saying he pleaded guilty to quickly dispense with the case and for the sake of family relations.

“Nothing ever happened,” he said, when asked for specifics about what might have occurred between him and his niece.

The girl's mother, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim, said her daughter's account is the truth. “There is no way he didn't do it,” she said in an interview with The Times in which she described her daughter's descriptions of abuse as “very specific.”

Heimlich's assertion of his innocence is not likely to stop the questions that surround Oregon State and its baseball team. Questions that both Heimlich's critics and his fans have been asking for months.

Should the fact he has fulfilled his court obligations be enough, or was the nature of the crime so egregious he should never be let back on the team?

What, now, to make of his denial and the insistence of the victim's mother that it did occur?

And how does the victim's enduring anguish figure into a quest for redemption and a new beginning?

The Past Goes Public

Last June, when The Oregonian first reported Heimlich's guilty plea, it said he originally had faced two charges stemming from incidents between 2009 and 2011. The victim is the daughter of one of Heimlich's older brothers. She has not been identified by name.

According to court records, the newspaper said, she told investigators that she was in Heimlich's bedroom at his home south of Seattle when he pulled her underwear down and “touched her on both the inside and outside.” The Oregonian quoted the documents as saying, “She told him to stop, but he wouldn't.”

As part of a plea deal, reached when Heimlich was 16, one of the charges was dropped and he was placed on two years' probation, took court-ordered classes and had to register for five years as a Level 1 sex offender, a designation the state of Washington uses for someone considered of low risk to the community and unlikely to become a repeat offender.

Heimlich also had to write a letter apologizing to his niece.

Heimlich's case might never have been made public if not for the fact that, years later, while pitching for Oregon State, he failed to update his whereabouts for a state registry of sex offenders, which led to a police citation, which in turn tipped reporters to his case.

Heimlich's court records were sealed last August, two months after the first news stories broke. That month, five years after the date of his plea, he said, the records were expunged. He no longer has to register as a sex offender.

The news of the case roiled the Oregon State campus and made national headlines. Heimlich left the baseball team, saying he did not want to be a distraction. Other than a brief statement in which he said he had taken responsibility for his conduct as a teenager, he declined to comment.

Now, on Saturday, in the interviews with The Times, he spoke about what he called his “unique situation.” Asked about the critics who have demanded that Oregon State refuse to let him rejoin the team, he was succinct:

“I don't have anything to tell them,” he said. “They can have their opinions of me. Ultimately the people around me know who I am. That is what matters. Everybody else can say what they want.”

The case, he said, is “a delicate family situation,” though he declined to go into the details.

Did he abuse his niece?

Heimlich insisted he did not.

“I always denied anything ever happened,” he said. “Even after I pled guilty, which was a decision me and my parents thought was the best option to move forward as a family. And after that, even when I was going through counseling and treatment, I maintained my innocence the whole time.”

There was no interaction with his niece that he could imagine would have been misinterpreted, he said, adding, “Nothing ever happened, so there is no incident to look back on.”

Heimlich had written an apology to the victim, but he now says he did so because “there were certain requirements when going through counseling that had to be done to finish.”

He suggested the idea that his niece would face aggressive questioning in a trial factored into his decision to plead guilty.

“Trials aren't fun things and, as I said before, it is a delicate situation within a family,” he said. “We didn't want to do anything to complicate things.”

Pleading out held the promise that, “five years from the date, everything would go back to normal.”

Heimlich said he was ready to play in the major leagues. After spending much of this season trying hard to “prove people wrong” with his pitching, he said that he is feeling comfortable again, both on the mound and off.

He said that he has talked to several big-league general managers, even to owners, and that he has been contacted by most teams.

Officials with major-league baseball teams declined to speak on the record about Heimlich.

The girl's mother, divorced from Heimlich's brother since around the time the allegations surfaced, is adamant in her belief that the pitcher's dream never be fulfilled. “My opinion is that he should not be able to play,” she said, not in college nor the pros.

For her daughter, she said, the case “will only go away when Luke is out of the light. If he makes it to the big leagues, he will be in the light forever. Any accomplishment he makes will shine the light on her. It could be 50 years from now, he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame, they will bring up this story.

“I don't think he is a terrible person,” she added. “I think he did a terrible thing.”

A Coach Backs His Player

Although Heimlich has begun to talk about his troubles, the silence around him among Oregon State officials has not cracked.

Last year, after Heimlich's guilty plea had been made public, the Oregon State coach, Pat Casey, a two-time national title winner, denied knowing about Heimlich's past while he was recruiting him to come to Corvallis.

This season, Casey has said little more than that he supports his star. “He's a fine young man,” Casey told reporters last summer, “and for every second that he has been on this campus, on and off the field, he has been a first-class individual — someone his family should be proud of, our community should be proud of and his team is proud of.”

Citing confidentiality laws, university officials have refused to say what they knew about Heimlich's background. Coach Casey and Steve Clark, a university spokesman, would not grant interviews with The Times, nor would the Oregon State president, Ed Ray. (Ray was chairman of the N.C.A.A.'s executive committee in 2012 when it leveled unusually stiff penalties against Penn State over the sexual abuse of children by Jerry Sandusky, a former Nittany Lions football coach.)

Ray had issued a statement after the university reviewed the case, saying in part it would “welcome all educationally qualified students, including those rehabilitated from past crimes.”

In his interviews with The Times, Heimlich said that he had not talked about his case with Casey before his plea went public. “It is my job to report to the local law enforcement,” he said. “If that didn't get conveyed to the university then I would not know, I was not a part of that.”

When the initial report about him was published, the immediate question was whether Heimlich would stay on the team, which was advancing in the N.C.A.A. tournament.

Ray, the Oregon State president, supported Heimlich's voluntary withdrawal from the team last season. He also left the door open for a return. “If Luke wishes to do so,” he said in a written statement at the time, “I support him continuing his education at Oregon State and rejoining the baseball team.”

Heimlich would have turned professional if he could have. More than 1,200 players were chosen in last summer's major league draft, but Heimlich, who was eligible for selection, was not one of them — though he had once been projected to be a high pick.

So, with the goal still to make the majors, he returned to the Oregon State team this year.

He has dominated the mound, but not quite as overwhelmingly as before. Last year his pitches were nearly unhittable: his 0.76 earned run average was among the lowest in college baseball. This year, though he is 11-1, that number hovers around 3.00.

Cheers in Corvallis

In Corvallis, where baseball players are treated with the reverence many universities save for football players, Heimlich remains deeply respected among fans.

At Goss Stadium, as Heimlich pitched in the game against Arizona State, support was obvious. Most fans stood adamantly behind him.

Some said they had quit paying attention to the Heimlich story after February, when the university announced a policy some called the Heimlich Rule. It requires recently accepted and continuing students to reveal any felony convictions, or sex offender status. Those with criminal backgrounds will have their admissions reviewed.

Others said they had given lengthy consideration to the case and had decided juvenile crimes should be forgiven — even the most heinous — once justice, and in some instances prison time, has been served.

Still others said the news media should not have written about Heimlich's past. “He was doing everything he was supposed to do, everything the courts asked,” said Raymond Brooks, a retired Oregon State professor. “Why even dig it up?”

In the ninth inning of the game against Arizona State, Heimlich was taken off the mound after a sudden string of off-the-mark pitches. He walked toward his teammates with a grimace. The crowd gave him another ovation.

That kind of support doesn't sit well with everyone.

“Even after all the heightened attention about abuse since last year, it's a bubble in Corvallis when it comes to this case,” said Brenda Tracy, 44, one of Oregon's most prominent victims' rights activists.

A registered nurse, Tracy received national attention in 2014 when she said that she had been raped in the late 1990s by a group that included two members of the Oregon State football team. After going public with her story, she spent time as a consultant for the school on assault prevention and policy. Ray, the Oregon State president, hailed Tracy for her efforts to highlight the problem of on-campus sexual abuse.

But he and Tracy don't agree about Heimlich. Playing sports at any level is a privilege, not a right, Tracy said, and Heimlich should not be on the team. Let him stay in school, she said; let him graduate and move on. But just like the mother of Heimlich's niece, she said she does not think anyone who has pleaded guilty to molestation should be wearing a university sports uniform, or that he should be cheered.

“What kind of message does that send our kids?” she asked. “We have now normalized this behavior. The feeling at Oregon State right now is that our team is winning, so they've moved on. What does that say to the little girl in this case? What does it say to all survivors?”

Madeline Gorchels, 24, said that she is a sexual abuse survivor. She said she was molested as a child. She is also an Oregon State baseball season-ticket holder.

Last June, when she heard the news about Heimlich, she said she walked into a closet, crumpled to the floor and shook for hours.

But she has found ways to be loyal to Oregon State. When she heard Heimlich had left the team, she traveled to Omaha for the College World Series last year.

When he returned to the team this year, she said she felt nauseated. But she shows up for every game she can. She applauds for the offense, but she sits stone quiet when Heimlich pitches.

“I feel like it is important to be there to represent my point of view,” she said.

“Even if I am not actively saying something, it is good for me to be there to say that I don't think what has happened is right. Part of it is I don't want what he did affecting my behavior. But part of it is being there as a witness to the fact that this is wrong.”



For Kids' Sake: Wyatt's Law seeks to address child abuse and neglect

by Digital First Media

Wyatt Rewoldt suffered brain injuries, head trauma, a skull fracture, broken ribs, and eye injuries at the hands of his father's female companion in 2013. He was only 12 months old.

His mother, Erica Hammel, said a first responder who treated her son said he had to take a leave of absence after seeing the severity of the injuries.

After seven-weeks of riding an emotional roller coaster and the elevator to her son's floor at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, Hammel began her quest to create a child abuse registry – patterned after the sexual offender registries that exist.

“We need to wake up and do something,” said Hammel, from St. Clair Shores. “We need to treat this like a mass shooting.”

Legislation is pending that would create Wyatt's Law, a package of bills to require convicted child abusers to be listed on a searchable, public registry. A state Senate committee has passed the legislation, but the full Senate has yet to vote. A separate version of the legislation is pending in the state House.

The number of incidents of child abuse and neglect is tracked each year by the organization Kids Count, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation that annually looks at all aspects of children's health.

The Michigan partner for Kids Count is the Michigan League for Public Policy. The MLPP has taken a deeper look at the numbers in Michigan since 1992.

Staggering Numbers

“I don't know how anyone can look at this data and just walk away,” Hammel said. “It's so staggering.”

The staggering numbers she referred to in Michigan include:

• 32,504 confirmed incidents of child physical abuse or neglect in 2010,

• 39,552 confirmed incidents in 2016, an increase of 22 percent.

“One of the things that concern us in particular is the increased rate of children who have been confirmed as victims of abuse and neglect,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director. “It's gone up, close to 30 percent.”

Another way to look at child abuse and neglect is the number of out-of-home placements that are made – where the abuse or neglect is severe enough that a child is removed from a home, temporarily or permanently.

Those placements decreased in Michigan, and in southeast Michigan, since 2010. But they've begun to creep up again in Oakland and Wayne counties, and statewide:

In Oakland County, the numbers rose from 502 in 2012 to 613 in 2016.

In Wayne County, the numbers rose form 2,241 in 2012 to 2,416 in 2016.

Statewide, the numbers rose from 10,316 in 2012 to 10,512 in 2016.

But In Macomb County, the number of out-of-home placements with foster parents or relatives due to neglect or abuse dropped from 577 in 2012 to 453 in 2016.

More Reporting

CARE House of Oakland County, a child advocacy center, estimates that the number of reported cases of out-of-home placements could have risen in part because more resources are available for people to report abuse and neglect.

“More people are willing to talk about it, and more people are willing to report it,” said Chad Ozias, director of philanthropy for CARE House.

CARE House worked with roughly 8,000 children and families last year across all its programs focused on advocacy, prevention, treatment services and community outreach.

“Child abuse is an epidemic,” Blythe Spitsbergen, executive director, said during a recent tour of the CARE House facility. “We need to talk about it in order to protect kids.”

CARE House is one organization responsible for training CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers, who the court system relies on for child neglect cases.

David Bilson, deputy court administrator for the Oakland County Circuit Court, said child removal numbers rise and fall from year to year.

According to Bilson, here are the number of neglect petitions the Oakland County court has actually fallen slightly, though up and down the past four years:

• 395 in 2014,

• 374 in 2015,

• 431 in 2016, and,

• 332 in 2017.

A neglect petition is essentially a formal charge of neglect against parents.

The court's role following removal is to comply with statutes governing child placement. Michigan law requires that the court place children in the most family-like setting consistent with the needs of the child, Bilson said.

Jody Overall, manager of Oakland County's Children's Village, said the organization provides services for children and teens who come under the jurisdiction of the court system and are deemed to temporarily be in need of out-of-home care, custody and treatment.

In addition to serving as a court-ordered detention center, the organization maintains about 18 beds for children in need of shelter care.

The shelter housing, called Mandy's Place, is intended as short-term housing for kids who have been removed from their homes due to neglect, abuse or status offenses.

“The kids are usually teenagers,” Overall said, adding that while at Mandy's Place, kids are waiting to return to their families, go to foster care or move on to a different agency.

Wyatt's Law

It's been five years since life was forever altered for Wyatt and his mother.

Rachel Adams of Warren was sentenced to 33 months in prison after pleading no contest to second-degree child abuse for inflicting injuries on Wyatt, who turned 5 and is looking forward to attending kindergarten this fall.

He's still taking physical, occupational and speech therapy, and likely to be doing so for many years to come.

“Wyatt's abuser had a criminal record of child abuse before she got her hands on him,” Hammel said. “I had suspicions about her when I was going through my divorce custody proceedings, but could not pull up proof to back it up.”

Since a mother's instinct is not proof of an offense, Hammel's ex-husband was granted overnight visits, which left Wyatt in harm's way.

If passed, the proposed laws would require anyone convicted of criminal child abuse to be included on a statewide registry for five to 10 years, depending on the severity and judge's discretion in some cases.



If child abuse is so rampant, why are prosecutions so rare for those who fail to report it?

by Beau Yarbrough

If you work with children in your job, California law requires you to report suspected child abuse. But few people are ever prosecuted for failing to alert authorities about their suspicions.

From 2012 to 2017, fewer than a dozen workers in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties were charged by county prosecutors with violating the so-called mandated reporter law. And because violations are only a misdemeanor, those who are prosecuted and convicted virtually always receive light sentences instead of jail time.

The law grew out of legislation first passed in 1963 that applied only to physicians. But since the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act was adopted in 1980, the definition of child abuse and the list of those who are considered mandated reporters have been expanded multiple times.

Today, the law applies to almost everyone who works with children — dozens of occupations from teachers, coaches and physicians to social workers, day-care workers and the clergy. The mandated reporter system, experts say, is a crucial component of preventing child abuse in California.

“We depend very much on mandated reporters to be the lifeline for kids,” said Nancy Wolfe, program administrator for the San Bernardino County Child Assessment Center, which sees about 2,000 abused children a year. “We'll oftentimes see spikes in children coming to centers after they return from school breaks or vacations. Mandated reporters are an essential part of keeping kids safe in our communities.”

Mandated reporters don't need to to have proof, just reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused or neglected.

” ‘Reasonable suspicion' does not require certainty that child abuse or neglect has occurred, nor does it require a specific medical indication of child abuse or neglect; any ‘reasonable suspicion' is sufficient,” the law reads, in part.

In such cases, mandated reporters are then required to call a police agency, a probation department or county welfare office as soon as possible. And then send a written follow-up report by email or fax within 36 hours. Just telling a supervisor isn't enough.

“It's so important to trust your gut and your instinct and make a report, so that can be looked into,” said Erin Harper, executive director for the Children's Advocacy Centers of California. “Rates of false reporting and false abuse are very low.”

High-profile failures

But the system doesn't always work as intended. Among several high-profile cases in the region involving abuse of children that went unreported:

The Corona-Norco Unified School District recently settled a lawsuit for $3 million with the family of an underage special-education student who was repeatedly molested by a former teacher's aide. Steven Michael Martinez, now 27, was arrested in January 2013, convicted of sex with underage girls and sentenced to 25 years in state prison.

His predatory behavior could have been stopped, lawyers for the victim argued, had another teacher's aide reported him to authorities as required by law when she saw Martinez forcing her own daughter to perform a sex act on him.

If not for that woman's “failure to report co-worker Steven Martinez for having sexual contact with her own daughter in 2010, (the plaintiff) would not have been continuously sexual abused” for more than two years, said a trial brief from the girl's lawyer that also alleged the teacher's aide joked about her daughter's abuse in text messages for three years after she discovered it.

In a case that captured nationwide attention, Laura Whitehurst, a teacher at Citrus Valley High School in the Redlands Unified School District was arrested for having sex with a minor student on July 1, 2013, but there had been rumors about the relationship for months before police were finally contacted, according to a lawsuit the district settled for $6 million.

Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst of Redlands was arrested in 2013 after a complaint from the parents of a 17-year-old boy. Investigators said Whitehurst's baby was the result of that relationship. Courtesy photo

Sabine Robertson-Phillips, the district's assistant superintendent of human resources, had questioned a pregnant Whitehurst about her relationship with the teen on May 16 and 17 in 2013. The district also was aware of a photograph showing Whitehurst in the hospital shortly after giving birth on June 21 that year, with the boy — and secret father of the child — seated in the room behind her.

But no one contacted San Bernardino County Child Protective Services or law enforcement until after the boy's mother called the school district on July 1, 2013. It was only then that administrators contacted the Redlands Police Department.

Though no one in the school district was criminally charged for its handling of the Whitehurst case, plaintiff's attorney Vince Finaldi said: “The evidence we were able to deduce against the district of its knowledge (that) this was going on and its complicity was so voluminous, they had no choice but to settle the case. It was that bad.”

San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos, a former Redlands Unified school board member, decided not to file charges against any district employees, saying at the time that until the boy's mother called “all that existed were unsubstantiated rumors and speculation. No factual information about a sexual relationship had been reported to any teacher or school official. No one reported observing any sexual misconduct by Ms. Whitehurst or the student.”

Whitehurst pleaded guilty in July 2013 to sexual misconduct charges involving three underage students. She was sentenced to a year in jail, but released less than six months later.

Redlands Unified was sued again in 2017 in another case stemming from a teacher's inappropriate relationship with students. According to the suit, district employees didn't report suspicions of abuse by former teacher Kevin Patrick Kirkland despite many allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct with at least 16 female students over more than a dozen years. All of his victims were special-needs students or teacher assistants, according to one of the attorneys in the case.

Kirkland was arrested in 2016, a year after one plaintiff told the district that her daughter said she had a “very special relationship” with Kirkland. Additionally, a student came to administrators and reported inappropriate behavior by Kirkland, school officials said. According to the lawsuit, Redlands Unified officials didn't investigate. Instead, according to the lawsuit, administrators “intentionally and maliciously chose to leave Kirkland in his position and at school.”

Four Los Angeles County social workers were charged with felony child abuse and falsifying records for failing to protect 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale, who died from abuse allegedly at the hands of his parents in May 2013. Each faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Mandated reporter violations ostensibly weren't pursued against the social workers because more serious felony charges were filed.

Citing reports of injuries by Gabriel's teacher, who took photos, and a welfare office worker, the Los Angeles Superior Court judge handling the case said: “Red flags were everywhere, yet no referrals were ever made for a medical exam.”

Prosecutions uncommon throughout region

Despite the proliferation of child abuse cases in the four-county region, law enforcement agencies rarely seek criminal charges for violations of the mandated reporter law under California Penal Code 11166, which calls for a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

In Los Angeles County, only three people were charged by the District Attorney's Office with violating PC 11166 from Jan. 1, 2013, to April 16, 2018, according to District Attorney Jackie Lacey.

“Of those three cases, two resulted in convictions,” Lacey wrote in an April 19 letter. “The convicted defendants were sentenced to three years of summary probation and $150 restitution. Additionally, one defendant was ordered to pay a $500 fine, and the second defendant was ordered to perform 72 hours of community service.”

In Orange County, only four cases were presented to the District Attorney's Office in the past five years, according to spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden. Three of them were rejected by the office.

In the fourth case, former Tustin Unified math teacher Gail Foley was sentenced to 20 hours of community service and a year of probation for failing to tell police or child protective services that a 11-year-old student told her that she was being sexually abused at home. Instead, she told a school counselor the next day.

In Riverside County, the District Attorney's Office charged five people with violating PC 11166 from 2012 to 2017, according to spokesman John Hall.

“Out of these five defendants, three defendants pleaded guilty, one defendant was found guilty by a jury, and one defendant's case was later dismissed,” Hall wrote in an email. “All four defendants who were convicted received probation, with various terms and conditions.”

In San Bernardino County, only eight cases of failing to report suspected child abuse were presented to the District Attorney's Office over the past five years, according to spokesman Chris Lee.

Of those eight, one was turned down with a request for further investigation and five were rejected for a lack of evidence. Only two people were charged. One of those two was found not guilty at trial, and the other had the charge dismissed.

‘Difficult law to investigate'

In Long Beach, one of many large cities in the region with a city prosecutor's office that would handle misdemeanor cases such as mandated reporter violations, no one has been prosecuted for failing to report suspected child abuse in the past five years.

“While I'd like to believe the scarcity of cases is the result of perfect compliance by mandated reporters, it is also possible the nature of the law is part of the reason,” City Prosecutor Doug Haubert said in an email. “The truth is that law enforcement is not likely to know when a mandated reporter has reasonable suspicion of child abuse and fails to report it.

“Also, sometimes the facts may be unclear, so it is difficult to know if a specific mandated reporter dropped the ball. It is probably a difficult law to investigate for many reasons.”

In Burbank, which also prosecutes its own misdemeanor cases, Senior Assistant City Attorney Denny Wei said no violations of the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act have been prosecuted in the the past five years. Wei believes that's because mandated reporters tend to take their responsibilities seriously.

“I conduct training to city employees regarding their obligation to report suspected child abuse,” he said. “They don't walk out of there not taking it seriously.”

Why workers might not report abuse

Professor Thomas Lyon of the USC Gould School of Law, however, has a different theory about why police investigations and prosecutions of mandated reporter failures are so rare.

“The whole reason for mandated reporting was that so much abuse was occurring under the radar,” Lyon said. Still, he noted, it is not uncommon for mandated reporters to suspect child abuse and not act on their suspicions.

“When they do surveys of mandated reporters and they ask them if they've ever had reasonable suspicion and not reported it, many, or probably most, have said yes,” said Lyon, who oversees the USC Child Interviewing Lab and Mobile Center that works to encourage children to provide information about abuse with higher accuracy but with less trauma for the child.

The reason mandated reporters typically don't report suspected abuse, Lyon said, is the effect that doing so will have on work relationships: “The investigation is very intrusive and the relationship with the person they're reporting on is damaged as a result,” he said.

Are stiffer penalties the answer?

Would child abuse reporting increase if the penalties were more severe?

“I don't think making it a felony would help,” he said. “Prosecutors would be less willing to go after people if it was a serious crime (because) it would be harder to get a conviction.”

Wolfe of the San Bernardino County Child Assessment Center also isn't convinced that is the answer.

“I think more people might be motivated to report if there were significant consequences. But most people in our field aren't motivated by negative consequences, they're motivated by trying to do the right thing,” she said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time or more, we're great. It's sad when it doesn't work, and maybe changing consequences would make some of that different, but the good news is that, most of the time, it does work.”



Washoe County Sheriff's Office seeks public's help locating child abuse suspect

by News 4-Fox 11 Digital Team

(Picture on site)

RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help with locating a 39-year-old Incline Village man suspected of child abuse.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Nicholas Lightfoot is a suspect in an ongoing child abuse and domestic violence investigation.

Lightfoot is believed to be driving a white 2011 Porsche Panamera, Nevada license plate number: LT43263. A stock photo of a similar vehicle is attached.

Anyone with information about Lightfoot's whereabouts is asked to contact the Washoe County Sheriff's Office Dispatch at (775) 785-328-3320 or Secret Witness at (775) 322-4900. Refer to case number WC18-2052. Secret Witness is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution in this case.



Monday at Six: Protection from Child Abuse


Child abuse - How is a community to respond?

"Making sure that the guilty are held accountable," St. Louis County Sheriff's Office investigator Wade Rasch said. "But also that the children are taken care of."

It does not end with just going after the offender. Where can families go to get help?

"It's a scary time for a family, it's a time of crisis, a time of unknowing," Tracie Clanaugh, First Witness executive director told Eyewitness News.

First Witness Child Advocacy Center works as a multidisciplinary team to investigate child abuse and provide much-needed services to families. The organization's mission is to strengthen the communities' response to child abuse.

First Witness provides a safe, comfortable, child-friendly environment for victims.

The organization offers forensic services via evaluation and assessment, family services, prevention education, and training.

“It's a victim based approach of what can be best for these kids,” Rasch said.

And helping children understand personal boundaries.

“Understanding age-appropriate sexual behavior, navigating what those grooming tactics are that perpetrators might use that they should be concerned with, but also letting them know that sometimes those grooming tactics are so intentional that it's hard to understand,” First Witness advocate, Ina Newton said.

A majority of perpetrators are someone the child or the family knows.

“We often hear a lot of conversations about stranger danger which is still a valuable conversation to have, and trusting gut instinct about situations that might make a child or a family uncomfortable, but we don't have as a many conversations about what you do when those same feelings happen with somebody that the child knows,” Newton said.

Find out how First Witness educates kids and parents about body safety at schools through their ‘Safe and Strong' program.
Watch “Protection from Child Abuse,” Monday on Eyewitness News at Six.



'Stalking, isolation and vile name-calling: My mother was emotionally abusive for the 20 years I lived with her.'

by Anonymous

Mother's Day is a painful reminder, not of what I lost, but what I never had.

I know what you're thinking, but no, my mother did not pass away from a battle with crippling illness, or a shock car accident. In fact, she's alive and well still living in the family home.

My mother was emotionally abusive for the better part of the 20-something years I lived with her. She deprived me of all maternal love as a child and asserted control over me through stalking, isolation and vile name-calling.

For many, Mother's Day doesn't look as rosy and uncomplicated as it does in Kmart catalogues. But I learned that while it's scary, it's important to let go of toxic relationships, even if it goes against everything the world says is natural.

From the outside looking in, my mother was a saint. It was incredible how well she could balance her two personas. It was only natural for her to offer feasts to anyone who came over. Those who visited knew to come on an empty stomach because it was a sure bet they would get fed.

But before the latch on the door could clip closed on their way out, she would be verbally tearing my friends to shreds, telling me how my friends were “sluts” and ”bad influences”, and how they were the reason I had grown up “all wrong”.

My friends were the type to be on the debating team or passing on the latest Penguin Classic to read, by the way.

One by one, she banned those closest to me from entering our home.

Her vile tongue soon turned from my friends to me. I was now the “slut” when I wanted to go to birthday parties, or be friends with boys, or even be friends with girls, who had boyfriends.

To escape the criticism and maybe, just maybe, gain her affections for once, I plunged myself into study and sport. But not even lugging home a wheelbarrow of academic awards was an antidote to her abuse.

But she wasn't incapable of loving – she adored my eldest brother, and she had a very different set of rules and expectations for him. The two of us doing the exact same thing would elicit two different responses.

My mother's constant rejection was crippling. She made me feel worthless.

And it only worsened once I hit the age of 18. Her behaviour had become dangerous to my mental health, and led me to the precipice of depression. And as I realised that, her behaviour worsened.

My mother started stalking me.

Despite being legally allowed to drink, drive and vote, my mother would arrive at my workplaces in the middle of my shifts, just to ask my boss if I had gone to work that day lest, in her mind, I was lying to her and gone to take drugs and meet up with strange men. “We don't trust you,” she would utter in her seemingly logical and reasonable defence to why she was following me around the state.

The humiliation was overwhelming each time my manager had to explain that my mother had come, asked about me, and left, without a reason as to why she had made the trip or demanded to speak to them.

At the time, she had me convinced I had done the wrong thing. And I believed her. Why wouldn't I? She was my mother; a voice of authority, after all.

Somewhere along the way, my house stopped feeling like my home. My safe space was anywhere but there. When I was out with friends, I shook with anxiety waiting for her barrage of calls, demanding to know where I was, who I was with, why I wasn't home.

She would make a point of telling me she disliked the gifts I had bought her, despite how long I had taken to plan, purchase and wrap. I thought money would perhaps gain her affection, with each gift more expensive than the last. But she would often make me return them for store credit.

She would tell my father awful, exaggerated tales about me, to spark rows.

I stopped eating when she was around. I hid away in my bedroom. I often sobbed uncontrollably in the shower.

The first time she gave me the silent treatment, it lasted a weekend. The next time, it lasted a week. The time after that a month, then two, then six.

My mother and I didn't speak for the final two years while living under the same roof.

In truth, I probably knew that in moving out, I would be forced to accept it was the end. For now at least. I would be branded with the “estranged daughter” label, and would spend the coming decades explaining - or lying - to people about why I never had plans on Mother's Day.

I didn't even realise I had been enduring two decades of textbook emotional abuse from my mother until I was well into my 20s. Unable to sleep, or breathe properly, and getting unexplained chest pains for more than a week, I booked in with the family GP.

He leaned in and listened to my heartbeat. Then, he attached some fandangled device to my finger and let it beep away. Was I having a heart attack, I thought? He leaned back, and with arms crossed across his chest, and one eyebrow raised, said: “There's nothing physically wrong with you. You have anxiety. Is there anything which could be causing this?”

I realised then that the only way I could heal was to physically separate myself from my mother. In taking that final step, I was crippled with guilt. I desperately wanted to have what others so readily took for granted. But I accepted change. I reached out to my friends, my siblings and my partner and, with them, gained the courage to leave the family home.

Years on, I live a much happier life with my partner in our little slice of suburbia; this is my safe place. With the help of a psychologist and a clearer mind, I can see that my mother probably had her own struggles with undiagnosed emotional or mental illness.

While it doesn't change my experiences, it has helped me let go of a lot of guilt I placed on my own shoulders. Time is helping me heal, and after years of viewing myself through the eyes of my mother's disapproval, I'm learning how to love myself again.

So my children better watch out. I am going to shower them with all the love and affection my mother didn't know how to show me; even when they're too-cool-for-school teenagers mortified at the thought of their mum kissing them goodbye on their way to school each day.

I'm excited by the hope that one day Mother's Day will stop being a bitter reminder of the past, and become a day of acceptance, family, pasta photo frames and pink fluffy slippers.



ASU team helps state address the most vulnerable population of children

Morrison Institute project on neglect defines catagories to improve odds for abused kids

by Mary Beth Faller

When a child dies because of an abusive caregiver, hearts break and headlines blare. Teddy bears pile up at memorials while the public demands action and accountability.

But thousands of Arizona children go hungry or see violence or don't get their cavities filled due to neglect — by far the most common form of abuse and one that needs more attention. In fact, neglect accounts for 70 percent of all reports to the hotline run by the Arizona Department of Child Safety.

A research team at Arizona State University is trying to address that. A group from the Morrison Institute for Public Policy combed through 800 child-abuse reports to help the experts better understand neglect in the state.

The project, “Spotlight on Arizona's Kids,” was funded by a three-year, $380,000 grant from the Arizona Community Foundation and is in response to an urgent need for information, according to Erica Quintana, the policy analyst who is leading the project.

The result is a series of reports, with the first, "The Neglect of Neglect," released in 2016, and the fifth report released last week.

“Everyone focuses on the severe abuse cases, and neglect gets pushed to the side,” Quintana said.

Neglect often can get progressively worse, increasing the risk that a child will be removed.

“So the idea of this project and a lot of the conversation in Arizona right now is to prevent that from happening, to intervene when that family is drifting and to get them help before they ever get to DCS's doorstep,” she said.

Right now, the way the state reporting systems are set up, all of neglect is categorized into one large category, although children can experience difference types of neglect — supervisory, medical, educational, etc.

The stakeholders wanted to understand more about the most common types.

So the department provided PDF documents of 800 case reports from 2013–15, which included information from interviews with the child and parents, as well as details from any hotline calls. The 800 reports, each about 10 to 15 pages, were divided evenly between cases in which a child was removed and those that weren't. That 50/50 division was for data-analysis purposes; in reality, removal happens in about 10 percent of cases.

Then the team created a codebook. They reviewed the research literature and conducted interviews to come up with an industry standard to define and classify different types of neglect.

“There can be multiple neglect types happening in the same family at the same time,” Quintana said. “Abuse can happen one time. Neglect usually is a continuous experience or a pattern of behavior or interaction within a family.

“It's like a ball of yarn that's difficult to untangle.”

Training case managers at ASU

While the Morrison research project is in its second year, ASU has been working to address child abuse for decades. The Child Welfare Education Program in the School of Social Work is in its 30th year and this year will send 64 graduates to work in the Department of Child Safety (DCS). In addition, 44 people who already work in the department are part-time students in the master's of social work program in the School of Social Work.

Through a federal program, the students' tuition is paid for if they sign a contract to work as case managers for the Department of Child Safety for two years after graduating.

The ASU program, which is created through the partnership with DCS, prepares the students for the intense career, according to Tonia Stott, coordinator of the program.

“We spend a lot of time talking about critical decision making — how you make decisions about other people's lives and families, and how you take this massive responsibility the very best way you know how,” she said.

“What are the next decisions? What information do you have and what do you need? How will you get that information? When you go to Mom or the group home, how will you ask that question?”

The students practice together, do role playing and work with attorneys during a mock-trial testimony. The school brings in acting majors from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, who improvise clients based on a character profile.

“When the student and actor meet for the first time, the student is literally meeting a stranger, which is different from practicing interview skills with a peer in the classroom,” Stott said.

Afterward, the social work students get to see the profiles.

“There's a rich discussion about how the clients' experiences are so much deeper than what they uncovered in the interview and how all of our clients' lives are deeper and broader than any of us will truly understand," Stott said. “Then there's an understanding that while the clients may make a decision that we don't understand, it might have been the best decision they could make in that moment.”

Wanting to do better

Quintana said that reviewing the case files with details of abuse was difficult for the Morrison researchers, but over the four months they were able create a framework of five types of neglect, and then assign each of the cases to a category:

•  Supervisory: abandonment, exposing the child to domestic violence, allowing a child to be in an unsafe environment or allowing a child to use drugs or alcohol.

•  Physical: providing inadequate or spoiled food, no coat in cold weather, inadequate shelter or poor hygiene, such as untreated lice.

•  Medical: denying or delaying medical, dental or mental health care, such as refusing to seek treatment if a child shows self-harm behaviors, such as cutting.

•  Emotional: inadequate nurturing, such as isolating a child from family and peers, or having unrealistic developmental expectations, like expecting an infant to be toilet-trained.

•  Substance-exposed newborn.

The team found that 81 percent of calls to the agency hotline were about supervisory neglect, 19 percent were physical, 9 percent were substance-exposed newborns, 9 percent were medical neglect and 3 percent were emotional. (Some cases had multiple categories of neglect.)

Of the 400 cases in which a child was removed within 30 days, 85 percent was for supervisory neglect and 20 percent were substance-exposed newborns. The most common supervisory-neglect issues were allowing a child to be exposed to a dangerous situation, such as being in the car with a drunken driver, as well as exposure to domestic violence and incarceration.

Then the team took the information to the professionals who deal with child abuse, visiting six counties to seek feedback.

“We asked them, ‘Does this seem to be in alignment with what you're experiencing?' And we had a conversation about their perceived gaps and strengths as a community in responding to child neglect and abuse,” Quintana said.

The report that was released last week is a summary of those conversations, which found issues unique to some areas as well as a lot in common.

“In Sierra Vista there are border-related issues, and in Coconino County there are weather-related issues because they get snow,” she said. “Many face the same issues, such as dealing with affordable housing and transportation. But they all felt their community was tightly knit and cared about each other.”

The next phase of the project will be a geographical analysis of what services are provided and what is needed.

Quintana said this was the first analysis of its kind in Arizona that looks at types of neglect.

“There are only a few regions that have done this type of analysis, and it speaks to Arizona's wiliness to learn more and do better,” she said.

“People were craving this information.”

Find the "Spotlight on Arizona's Kids" reports here.


New Mexico

State coordinating classes on spotting sex trafficking victims

by Erica Zucco

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The state is planning to roll out training sessions on spotting and reporting signs of sex trafficking at schools across New Mexico after a case of child abuse was uncovered when a school nurse said she had undergone similar training, leading to the arrest of two parents for allegedly prostituting their child.

Attorney General Hector Balderas's office will be coordinating the trainings with Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller's staff, Albuquerque Police, the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office and other state agencies.

"We're going to scale it out and offer it with no budget cost," New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said. "We can't wait for the legislature or a line-item appropriation."

Teachers like Sonya Romero Smith, who is also a foster mom, were invited to the table to plan what those trainings would look like.

"We do have the voice of the teachers, specifically, because we're on the frontlines of what we see," she said. "So it is really exciting to know we have the opportunity to partner with these agencies."

Along with officials, the attorney general's office says it also hopes to eventually train anyone who is interested.



STL company hiring women rescued from sex trafficking

Dawn partners with centers across the world that provide employment for women, many who have been rescued from trafficking

by Marianne Martinez

ST. LOUIS – Dawn Manske can still remember the images clearly.

Years ago, she watched a video as a graduate student. It showed an undercover reporter looking for young girls in Cambodia for sex.

“I can see that little girl's face,” Manske said. “It was horrible. You see this video and they usher in these girls. The youngest young looked like she was seven.”

For years, it weighed on Manske's heart.

“I saw this and I thought, how is it that we have men that want this? That we have little girls who are growing up like this.”

Manske was sure she wanted to do something to help, but did not know exactly how. A few years later, she received two wedding gifts that would spark an idea. Dawn's fiancé gave her sandals, handmade by women in Uganda in order to earn money for school. Then, a good friend gave her pants made in Thailand. The idea for Dawn's company Made For Freedom was born. The company's tagline is “fight human trafficking with style”.

“This is when I was introduced to social enterprise, this concept of using business to really help people,” she said.

Dawn partners with centers across the world that provide employment for women, many who have been rescued from sex trafficking.

“This is a horrible, ugly thing that is growing and it continues to spread and it continues to get worse,” Manske said.

The women in the centers make clothes, handbags, jewelry and other accessories. Dawn sells the products on her website, in a handful of boutiques and at fairs. Many of the items come with tags that tell a story of a woman who made the item. A leather bracelet, for example, tells the story of an 11-year-old girl who was rescued from sex trafficking in China.

Manske's mission is to help promote employment for the women. So far, Made For Freedom has provided 12,000 hours of employment.

"They can come into the centers and be provided with counseling and education and they can create beautiful things and work with their hands,” Manske said.

Another goal of Manske's: educating others about sex trafficking and the small ways people can make a difference. Worldwide, it is a $99 billion industry, and it happens in the St. Louis area.

"You have a lot of things that create the perfect storm," said Lindsey Ellis, the executive director of The Covering House, a St. Louis organization that helps in the recovery of girls who have been victims of sex trafficking.

Ellis said our area is a hotspot for the sex trafficking due partly to our location and the population of the kids here.

"We have so many interstates, highways, that make it so easy to run back and forth out of St. Louis," Ellis said. "Anytime you have high dropout rates, high runaway rates, throwaway kid rates, all of those things can contribute to that."

Made For Freedom is growing. Manske just raised $25,000 through Kiva. The website is similar to GoFundMe, but instead of giving money, people loan money to companies like Dawn's. She is overwhelmed by the support, especially since running a business was never in her plans.

“They have a lot of hope in what I'm doing,” Manske said. “I have two degrees in education and one in theology. Notice the lack of business.”

And, Mankse is determined to make her business grow. It was a business born out of a desire to help others that is fueled by hope.

“To not do something, I wouldn't be able to do that,” Manske said. “I see what they've been through and I see how it's changed their lives and that keeps me going.”

For more information, click here.