National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery

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"News of the Week"  

June, 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.




Awareness critical to fighting sexual assault

by Stephanie Chang

One in nine girls and one in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse at the hands of an adult. This is inexcusable. Our children deserve change.

The Larry Nassar case served as a wake-up call for many, and I was proud to help shape the bipartisan, 28-bill package that recently passed the House aimed at increasing accountability, protecting survivors and preventing future assault. This is an important step for our state, yet there is still more to be done.

Two years ago, the students in my Girls Making Change fellowship, which trains high school girls in my district on leadership and advocacy, selected sexual assault awareness and prevention as their community action project. In their research among their peers, they found a majority of fellow students were either a survivor or knew one, and an overwhelming number felt they hadn't been educated about the issue.

Arming our young people with knowledge is a critical step in combating sexual assault. My bill, House Bill 5791, will ensure that students in grades 6-12 receive age appropriate educational material regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment — how to identify what it is, an explanation that it's not the victim's fault, and resources in their community. It also encourages schools to provide employees with training about how to respond to students who are survivors when they disclose.

We worked closely with survivors when crafting our package. Many people told the same heartbreaking story: I didn't know it was sexual assault. Or I wish I had known how to help when my daughter disclosed to me. This is why education is so critical. When a young person discloses abuse, the response of the person he or she tell sets the course for whether the victim will go on to tell an adult or law enforcement. Educating young people will help victims to recognize abuse and their peers to know how to help.

The House and Senate both demonstrated leadership and commitment to finding solutions. These bills take critical steps to make sure mandatory reporters are properly trained, ensure that universities improve responses to sexual assault, prohibit professionals from discouraging victims from reporting, and change laws governing health professionals so they can't get away with sexual abuse under the guise of medical treatment.

Also, after bipartisan collaboration, research and debate, we passed changes to criminal and civil statutes of limitations — reforms lawmakers have proposed for over twenty years. One bill acknowledges the time it takes for a child sexual abuse survivor to process what happened, disclose their abuse, and make the connection between their assault and the injury and take legal action. What we passed is the strongest solution possible in the current landscape and balances important goals — access, fairness, accuracy and justice.

We must continue to explore how we can make our mandatory reporting system more effective, handle complaints against medical professionals, and strengthen prevention programs and services for survivors.

We are living in a watershed moment — a period of cultural change. The legislation we've passed is only the beginning. No single bill will ever undo the trauma experienced by a sexual assault survivor. It is through continued conversation with survivors, practitioners and advocates that we will be able to prevent further abuse and change the culture around sexual assault. It is our responsibility and commitment as lawmakers to fight this battle.

State Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, is minority vice chair of the House Committee on Law and Justice. She represents Michigan's 6th District.



'Younique' foundation restoring hope to survivors of childhood sexual abuse

by Sandra Otney

LEHI — The numbers are staggering: 1 in 4 girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Here in Utah, The Younique Foundation is committed to addressing the issue through a new effort to help adult survivors of childhood trauma.

After decades of repressing painful memories, Clarissa Carpenter is fighting back from the abuse she suffered starting in the first grade.

"It's OK not to feel stuck anymore, and I'm worthy. I'm worthy of healing," she said. "And I'm allowed to do that for myself."

The Younique Foundation is helping in that process by hosting retreats where women like Carpenter are not pitied as victims but celebrated as survivors.

"Just the word survivor is so empowering. It's so validating to say: 'You survived something that was horrible. That is so amazing of you,'" said Shelaine Maxfield, Younique's president and chairwoman.

Maxfield and her husband, Derek, set up the foundation to fill a void in services for adult survivors of this childhood trauma.

"It affects 20 percent of our population," Maxfield said. "And there aren't a lot of resources for those who survive the abuse."

Gordon Bruin, director of clinical services for The Younique Foundation, and his staff teach women how to break free from what he calls their "frozen pasts."

"What happens in trauma, especially childhood sexual trauma, is that it does a number on the developing brain and body," he said.

Bruin said the process of breaking free helps survivors "feel the strength and courage within themselves to move forward."

Carpenter has experienced the difference.

"Once I had that educational component, that's when I was able to take a big leap forward in my healing," she said.

There is also a symbolic side to the experience at Younique's Haven Retreat, like the breaking and mending of Japanese Kintsugi bowls.

"In the end, you have this beautiful thing that reminds you that you can be strong in those broken places," Carpenter said.

Bruin is amazed at the progress made by those attending the retreats.

"I love to see the change that happens in these women," he said.

The Younique Foundation hosts the retreats for free. The women only pay their way to and from Utah. Maxfield and her husband said they have already hosted hundreds of survivors from around the world.

"It has awakened in me a purpose that I didn't know I had, and I am so thankful for this opportunity to help other people," Maxfield said.

It's also given survivors peace and a purpose in life.

"We can remove that stigma surrounding survivors of abuse and we can start those dialogues and by talking about it, hopefully, we can save children from having that same fate," Carpenter said.

If you or someone you know would like to attend one of the retreats, you can request an application at The Younique Foundation's website .



Cassie's story shows survivors of child abuse can move on with their lives

Cassie grew up in the care of a convicted paedophile and even saw one of her friends raped, but she is one of the lucky ones.

by Charis Chang

THE tattoo of a blue ribbon on Cassie's neck is one of the few reminders she has of the child abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather, now a convicted paedophile.

The 24-year-old Perth woman isn't even sure when the abuse exactly happened, but her first memory of being raped by her stepfather was when she was eight years old.

“I was asleep when it happened so I don't know whether it happened before or not, but the first time happened when I was eight that I was aware,” she told

At the time she didn't even know what sex was and her mother, who had a mental illness, was not around, so she didn't have anyone to tell.

“I didn't know if it was normal,” Cassie said.

“My mother wasn't there and I was kind of my mum for my little brother and I didn't want to be taken away from him.”

Despite being in counselling at the time, Cassie said she did not feel comfortable mentioning the abuse during the sessions.

“A lot of people were asking me questions, so I was a very shy child,” she said.

She remembers being abused another two times but the attacks stopped after Cassie pretended to be asleep while moving into a position that made it difficult for her stepfather to do anything.

Horrifically, her stepfather's attention then turned towards a young mentally disabled girl who used to come to Cassie's house to play.

Cassie once walked in on her stepfather raping her friend and another time saw him abusing her when she accompanied the family on a weekend trip to Perth.

“It happened in the same room as us when we were meant to be sleeping,” she said.

“I was really confused,” she said. At the time she was only nine years old and didn't know what to think about it.

“It's all really raw, I didn't know what was going on, I did what I was told, you are putting your trust in your guardian so at the end of the day you do what they say.”

She was eventually taken out of her stepfather's care but Cassie doesn't know what sparked this as she never told anyone what happened to her.

Her stepfather has since been convicted as a paedophile.

It took a long time for Cassie to come to terms with what happened to her. The counselling stopped around that time and she was fostered out to relatives and she was emotionally neglected.

She was also separated from her two-year-old half brother.

“It affected my own personal relationships, I found it very hard to trust males ... I always kept my distance from all males,” she said.

“I never really told an adult figure probably until I was about 19 years old.”

Growing up in a small country town Cassie said she felt embarrassed by the fact she was a DCP (Department of Child Protection) kid and she didn't want to bring any more attention on herself.

“I told one of my friends when I was in high school, I felt really bad about it.

“Being a teenager and having people judging you, I just wanted one less thing to be judged about, to make me different, or stand out more.”

But Cassie did eventually decide to tell one of her foster families and it changed her life.

“I felt relieved, scared of their (the family's) reaction but relieved that I didn't have to keep it (secret) anymore,” she said.

Telling the people close to her, also made her feel that she could finally move on with her life.

“I'm probably able to form relationships, I'm not as paranoid about people judging me or finding out. People who need to know, know, so it doesn't effect anything I guess,” she said.

Cassie has also started seeing a counsellor again and having worked with a number of them, she now realises how important it is to find the right one.

“You either click with someone or you don't,” Cassie said.

But there's no question it has helped her to deal with her past as an adult.

“It helps me understand it and realise it's not my fault and that the emotions I feel are OK as a result of it, and I'm not a damaged person, I'm a normal human being,” she said.

“I'm continuously in and out of counselling and probably will be for the rest of my life, from the rapes and the DCP, it wasn't the greatest childhood but you can't do anything about it.”

Adults Surviving Child Abuse president Dr Cathy Kezelman told that it can take a long time for survivors, even with the help of experienced practitioners, to understand the effects of the trauma and gain the tools and strategies to lead an effective life.

“Family and friends can play a good role but practitioners are crucial for many, many survivors,” she said. “Obviously it is a personal choice, it has to be a survivor's choice.”

Earlier this year ASCA released a report which found that Australia could save a minimum of $9.1 billion annually by addressing the impacts of unresolved childhood trauma and abuse in adults.

Dr Kezelman said ASCA had a database of specialist practitioners that it refers people to but unfortunately the Medicare Benefits Scheme only covered 10 sessions a year and this was not enough for many survivors.

ASCA is supporting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse's final report on redress and civil litigation , which includes suggestion counselling and psychological care should be available throughout a survivor's life and that a monetary payment be provided as recognition of the impact on the survivor.

“It is time for action, not further delays. It is time to respond to the personal stories of so many survivors and help support those who are struggling with the long-term effects of their trauma and help them on their path to recovery,” Dr Kezelman said.

Cassie is one of the lucky ones, the 24-year-old is looking forward to getting married next year and has a job childcare. She has moved on with her life.

It's one of the reasons she wanted to share her story, to let others know that abuse does not have to define you.

“Just because you have a not-so-good childhood doesn't mean it will affect the rest of your life, that you can't have something amazing for yourself, because you can, you can have all your wildest dreams.”

If you need help you can contact the Adults Surviving Child Abuse support line on 1300 657 380. ASCA's upcoming awareness day, Blue Knot Day is October 26 and focuses on how a supportive community can help in the process of recovery.


North Carolina

Child abuse: Knowing the signs

by Amanda Thames

The Department of Social Services investigated nearly 2,000 cases of child abuse or neglect in Onslow County in 2017.

Those were out of the 3,487 total reports of possible abuse or neglect that came in, according to information provided by DSS Director Heidi Baur. Less than 800 of those were made by law enforcement, meaning well over half of the cases reported came from the public.

After the body of 3-year-old Mariah Woods was found in November and people learned there were accusations of abuse surrounding her short life, many took to social media to complain about people not speaking up when they should in order to protect the life of a child.

While DSS may have a lot of cases and, luckily, many of them end up not being what they may have seemed to be originally, Baur said never ignore any red flags when it comes to a child, and allow the proper agencies the time and space to handle the case.

What does abuse look like?

Parents have differing ideas on discipline for children, and spanking tends to be a hot topic – but whether someone agrees with it or not, there's no law against it.

“The state of North Carolina doesn't have any laws with whether or not you can spank a child,” Baur said.

However, there are ways to determine if spanking, or any discipline for that matter, crosses the line.

Look at the parents, Baur said. Do they look in control of the situation, or have they lost their temper? Is it random swinging or more controlled pops? When you discipline a child, Baur continued, you don't “wail away.”

“It shouldn't leave a mark,” she said.

A red mark that will likely lessen completely within minutes or hours is not abuse, Baur said.

“If it's still there the next day, that's a bruise,” she said. “You can't leave bruises with discipline.”

And parents shouldn't reciprocate the child's behavior in disciplining, either, she said. Baur and DSS see a lot of parents with kids who bite, and as punishment the parents bite the child back. This doesn't teach the child not to bite, she said, and the parent just becomes part of the problem.

Is it really abuse?

But don't judge too quickly with kids, said Dr. Catherine Gneiting of CG Counseling and Consulting.

If you see a child with bruises, find out if the child is just active. Find out if a little boy with a goose egg on his head has an affinity for flying off the couch pretending he's Batman. Someone threatening to beat a child with a belt, even if they're holding the belt up to show the child, is not abuse, she added.

Anyone who's worried about a child can sneakily ask questions of the parent to get more information, Gneiting said. Ask about a mark, and see if the explanation fits. If the parent says the child is just clumsy, it's a red flag, she said.

“I think if you have concerns, it's time to call somebody else,” Baur said, adding that if you see something in the parking lot of a shopping center, get the license plate and report it to allow officials to look into the situation.

Some of the biggest warm-weather issues DSS runs into are leaving children in the car alone and blow-up pools, Baur said.

If the child is alone in the car and the car is off, it's likely getting way too hot for them, she said. If the car is on, there's the possibility the child could put the car in gear.

Kids being left alone while swimming end in a lot of drowning situations, Baur said, and those who leave the pool in the front yard make it accessible for other people's children and put the neighborhood at risk.

“If you see something, let law enforcement know,” Baur said.

There are rules regarding pools and safety, she added, which law enforcement can enforce.

When should you step in?

It's not always necessary – and can actually be more harmful – for someone to step in and say something to the parent at the time of the suspected abuse, Gneiting said.

“Sometimes when they step in, it makes it worse for the child when they get home,” Gneiting said. “Not that you shouldn't say something if someone is beating their child, but you need to look at the situation.”

For example, Gneiting said a 3-year-old being spanked on the bottom for stealing candy, which does not appear as if it'll leave a bruise or mark, is acceptable discipline. Hitting the child with something else could be more of an issue. Gneiting said when a parent uses something other than their hand, a belt or stick for example, it makes it more difficult to tell just how hard they're hitting.

If the child didn't leave the ground or go flying across the room, though, it's likely not abuse, she added.

It's also a question of your own safety, not just the child's, Baur said.

“I would not recommend anyone who's not skilled in the area necessarily intervene,” Baur said. “Call the police, call security of wherever you are. To walk up and try to intervene, I think you may be taking your own safety at risk.”

While Baur noted the importance of determining if the parent is in control of the situation, Gneiting said to also look at the child – especially when it comes to verbal discipline. If the child appears terrified of the parent, there could be more going on behind-the-scenes.

How can you help?

“Look at it another way, that you can help the child by alleviating the stress of the parent,” Gneiting said.

Maybe the parent is young and frustrated, or a first-time parent, or frazzled with a toddler and an infant, she continued.

Instead of looking at the parent like they're evil for yelling at their 3-year-old in public for being a toddler, ask if you can help, she said. Offer to carry something so they have less to juggle.

“This would alleviate a lot of child abuse due to frustration,” Gneiting said.

Many parents are just at the end of their rope, she explained, and it could just be for two seconds but bad things can happen in that short amount of time.

“Personally, from what I've seen in counseling, people who are abusing their children, they don't set out to say, ‘I think I'll have children so I can beat them,'” Gneiting said. “Life happens and usually they're getting frustrated.”

Supporting the parent can sometimes be enough to save the child, she added.

For any parents who feel they're nearing the breaking point, Gneiting suggested taking a step back. If your 2-year-old is crying and just wants to be held, the house work will wait. Hold your child, snuggle with them a few minutes, she said. If your child made a mess in the kitchen, that mess will still be there in 10 minutes. It seems like the end of the world at the time, but it's all going to be fine in the end.

“Just take a step back and say, ‘Okay, it's not the end of the world. We can deal with this later,'” Gneiting said.

Reporting child abuse


Victims of Sexual Abuse Face a Lifetime of Costly Problems

We spend $9 billion dollars a year on costs associated with child sexual abuse

by Elizabeth Letourneau, Ph.D.

My latest research (link is external) , published this month in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect , describes the impact of child sexual abuse from a perspective that researchers in my field don't often talk about: the economic burden of violence and abuse in the U.S.

I frequently speak about, write about, and study the impact that child sexual abuse has on victims, those who have committed offenses, families, communities, and policies. But I don't often get to argue for prevention through the lens of economics–namely the expensive burden that child sexual abuse has on victims, government , and society. My colleagues and I estimate that we spend an average $9.3 billion dollars per year in the U.S. due to victimization-related costs associated with health care, child welfare, violence and crime, and a number of other expenditures as well as productivity losses. These economic losses are wholly preventable.

Why are these costs so high? I don't think most people realize just how many children and adults are victims of child sexual abuse. Based on federal reporting data, tens of thousands of children are exposed to child sexual abuse each year.

Children who experience sexual abuse are at increased risk for problems across their lifetimes, including mental health issues like PTSD and depression ; chronic physical health problems like diabetes, heart disease and an increased risk for acquiring HIV, and social problems including involvement in crime. Girls exposed to child sexual abuse also have substantially lower lifetime earnings than girls not similarly exposed. These costs quickly add up.

For women (who composed 75 percent of the reported cases of child sexual abuse survivors we used for this study), we estimated an individual lifetime cost of approximately $283,000. Lifetime costs for men in the study were lower because the economic impact of child sexual abuse on male victims is sorely under-researched.

What can we do to address child sexual abuse more effectively and more efficiently? To start, we can stop spending money on policies targeting child sexual abuse that just don't work, like sex offender registration. Numerous studies document the failure of sex offender registration and notification policies to improve public safety. Indeed, our research suggests that subjecting children to sex offender registration is not only ineffective but also associated with greater risk for sexual victimization (link is external) –the very type of harm these policies were intended to prevent. The enormous resources currently devoted to this failed policy could be reallocated to support proven prevention and treatment policies that effectively reduce the likelihood of sexual abuse perpetration.

My colleagues and I at the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse (link is external) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health are developing and evaluating preventions to intervene with those most at risk for committing such abuse, including (but not limited to) young adolescents (who often make mistakes as they begin sexual explorations) and young people with an unwanted attraction to younger children seeking help so they don't offend.

There is, of course, no price tag to victimization and we are mindful that victims of child sexual abuse need our help. They need easy access to effective mental and physical health care and other services.

But we can do much more to prevent that abuse from occurring in the first place, thus avoiding the need for so many to struggle with the extended and extensive effects of abuse. If the idea of preventing child sexual abuse programmatically seems esoteric, perhaps an economic frame will help make the case that it's time for the U.S. to get serious about preventing child sexual abuse.




Consequences Of Childhood Trauma

by James C. Malley

T he report that large percentages of America's children experience childhood trauma is disturbing [May 30, Living, “Study Finds Half of Kids Suffer Trauma”]. Even more disturbing is that it is not news.

A 1990s study on childhood trauma by the Centers for Disease Control with the Kaiser Permanente Health Maintenance Organization gave more than 17,000 patients the so-called Adverse Childhood Experiences (or ACE) Survey that lists 10 types of childhood trauma including physical, emotional and sexual abuse, witnessing domestic violence or living with an alcoholic or drug addict. Findings revealed that 10.6 percent of respondents suffered emotional abuse, 28 percent suffered physical abuse and 20.7 percent suffered sexual abuse. One out of every four females reported sexual abuse as a child. It's no coincidence that, in the same issue of The Courant, former UConn basketball star, Breanna Stewart , courageously disclosed that she was sexually abused as a child (Sports, “Breanna Stewart Makes Off-Court Assist”].

Research in 2013 with a more racially and socially diverse population was even more troubling. The Philadelphia Urban ACE study showed that 33 percent of urban subjects experienced childhood emotional abuse and 35 percent reported physical abuse.

Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician and expert on childhood trauma, noted that unaddressed childhood maltreatment plays havoc with the body's stress response system, alters the structure and function of the brain and weakens the body's immune system. Victims of early childhood abuse are more vulnerable to chronic disease, at a higher risk for mental health problems, alcoholism, and drug addiction, and even suffer early death.

To begin to understand the root causes of the opioid crisis, school shootings and other criminal behaviors, a good place to start would be to understand the emotional and neurobiological consequences of childhood trauma.



Chicago Tribune report finds 500 cases of sexual abuse, rape in CPS schools over 10 years

by Sarah Schulte

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of Chicago Public Schools students have been sexually abused by CPS employees over the past ten years, according to a Chicago Tribune report published Friday.

In an article titled, "Betrayed," Tribune reporters detailed more than 500 reports of sexual abuse and rape at CPS schools over the last decade. The report drew from police, public and confidential records.

CPS CEO Janice Jackson sent a letter to all parents of CPS students, detailing steps that are being taken to protect students.

"I'm a parent, I'm a woman this is unacceptable to me," Jackson said.

Tribune reporters spoke to several former CPS students, who said they were abused by coaches, security guards and teachers.

In some cases, teachers and principals who heard reports of abuse failed to notify police or the Department of Child and Family Services. Such reports are required under Illinois' mandated reporter law.

"We are going to train everybody again top to bottom, every principal, teacher paraprofessional, individuals who work with students, we want to make sure everybody is crystal clear on their responsibilities as a mandated reporter," Jackson said.

Jackson said CPS will conduct random background checks on current employees as well as applicants. A former Assistant U.S. Attorney will also do a top-to-bottom analysis of CPS's sexual abuse policies and procedures.

As a precaution, all CPS employees accused of sexual assault will be removed from schools immediately rather than waiting to see if the evidence is credible.

"Parents need to have the confidence we have the structures in place to prevent this from happening," Jackson said.

Representatives from parent group Raise Your Hand said they were horrified by the report and called for schools to have more social workers and counselors.

"I know school is about academics, but we need to be really looking out for our kids in their social and emotional needs," said Jennie Biggs of Raise Your Hand.

According to Raise Your Hand, CPS cut dozens of social workers and school counselors over the last few years.


South Africa

Rise in violence against children

by Brinkwire

The incidence of violence against children in South Africa is higher than the global average.

A study conducted by NGO Save the Children revealed that one in five children in South Africa (19.8%) had experienced sexual abuse, compared with the global average of 18% for girls and 8% for boys; one in three (34.4%) had experienced physical abuse, notably higher than the global average of 23%; one in six (16.1%) reported experiencing emotional abuse, compared with the global average of 36%; one in eight (12.2%) reported being neglected, compared with the global average of 16%; and one in six (16.9%)reported witnessing violence.

The study found that in 2015, violence against children had cost the economy R238.58billion, or 5.93% of GDP.

A 2017 Child Abuse Tracking Study released by UCT revealed that only 19% of cases reported to social services were cross-referred to the police, and 8% referred back to social services by police.

Child Protection Week was launched in Langa on Monday, after the horrific deaths of two Grade 11 pupils at a hostel at Hoërskool Stella in Vryburg on Saturday shocked the nation, and while cases involving violent crimes against 3-year-old Courtney Pieters, 5-year-old Minentle Lekhatha and 4-year-old Iyapha Yamile were being heard in the Western Cape High Court.

At the launch, Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize announced that the theme for the week was,“Let us all protect children to move South Africa forward”, calling on communities to rally behind children and ensure their safety.

Two weeks ago, Xolani Lantu, 36, the jilted lover of Minentle's grandmother, pleaded guilty to raping and murdering Minentle. He was charged with kidnapping and two counts of rape and murder.

Tomorrow will mark exactly one year since Minentle's body was found dumped in 1m-deep water below a 5m-long bridge over Soet River, about 800m from her home.

Lantu confessed to the court that he had “undressed her under the bridge, told her to lay on her back and tried to penetrate her”. Pathologist Bronwyn Inglis said Minentle had sustained bruises and abrasions on the face, chest area and in her genitalia.

Judgment in the case is to be delivered on Wednesday.

Lantu cited differences with Minentle's grandmother as the reason why he attacked Minentle. Lantu and Minentle's grandmother had ended their relationship before Lantu abducted Minentle, raping and murdering her, and then dumping her body.

While Mortimer Saunders, on trial for the abduction, rape and murder of Courtney Pieters, and Courtney Pieters's mother barely saw eye to eye, the 41-year-old man was a boarder at her Salberau home in Elsies River. He confessed to the court earlier this week that he wanted to get back at the little girl's mother.

Save the Children communications manager Sibusiso Khasa said there could be no justification for violence against children.

“A breakdown in relations in a family setting, school or community does create a toxic environment for a child. While the breakdown in relations does put a child at risk, it doesn't necessarily mean that it will lead to physical or sexual abuse of the child. It's direct impact is that it affects the child's emotions negatively, which is another form of violence/abuse against children.”

The deaths of 66 children in the province last year led to civil society calling for a children's commissioner.

Such a commissioner would monitor the number of reported crimes committed against children, help society obtain a clearer picture of the kinds of violence that children experience in the province, and assist in monitoring the number of cases that result in prosecution and successful convictions.

The commissioner would be duty-bound to report to the provincial legislature annually on measures taken by the provincial government to protect and promote the interests of children in the Western Cape. The commissioner's office would also have the power, as regulated by provincial legislation, to fulfil this function.

But it will be another six months to a year before the office of the child commissioner can be set up.




Secondary victims deserve understanding

THE revelations of the recently concluded Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse are still reverberating throughout the nation. So much tragedy, so many destroyed lives.

Amidst the many faces of trauma and the Commission's reported 200 witnesses from 57 formal public hearings and 8000 personal stories are the unknown numbers of secondary victims.

These are the people suffering the collateral flow-on effects of damaged children who, in the main, grow up to become tortured and scarred adults.

These ‘secondary victims' include the parents, the family members, the current and past partners, wives and husbands; many of whom may not have known until recently the unspeakable horror their loved ones endured.

Secondary victims suffer injury and damage as a consequence of what has happened to their loved ones and family members.

It is well documented that many abuse survivors have histories of substance abuse as they struggle to manage their emotional and mental suffering, post traumatic stress disorder and other conditions.

Often the difficult behaviour and personalities of the victims as adults understandably reflects their trauma but tragically, bears little resemblance to the people they could have become or the levels they could have achieved.

The wasted potential in terms of destroyed lives and relationships, for both the abuse survivors and their families is unquantifiable.

Anne Levey and her husband became pawns to the sick and clever manipulations of practised pedophiles like Gerald Ridsdale.

Anne was unwavering in her faith and her trust in the Church and, left to parent a teenage boy on her own, did the best she could at the time.

What she didn't and couldn't have known then is the sophisticated, complex and insidious power of “grooming” and how skilled perpetrators become.

An expert paper commissioned by the Royal Commission in 2017 attempts to define the “range of behaviors that seek to build trust with and increase access to a child, and establish compliance of a child.”

Grooming and related techniques are extremely difficult to identify and define and often the parents and other family members are manipulated as well.

There is not a day that Anne doesn't feel guilty and blame herself.

That same recrimination has doubtless been echoed countless times.

The reality is that secondary victims also deserve society's understanding and compassion, and their day in court.


There's an epidemic of denial about sexual abuse in the evangelical church

by Joshua Pease

R achael Denhollander's college-aged abuser began grooming her when she was 7. Each week, as Denhollander left Sunday school at Westwood Baptist Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, he was there to walk her to her parents' Bible-study classroom on the other side of the building. He brought Denhollander gifts and asked her parents for her clothing size so he could buy her dresses. He was always a little too eager with a hug. The Denhollanders led one of the church's ministries out of their home, which meant the man would visit their house regularly, often encouraging Rachael to sit on his lap, they recalled.

The man's behavior caught the attention of a fellow congregant, who informed Sandy Burdick, a licensed counselor who led the church's sexual-abuse support group. Burdick says she warned Denhollander's parents that the man was showing classic signs of grooming behavior. They were worried, but they also feared misreading the situation and falsely accusing an innocent student, according to Camille Moxon, Denhollander's mom. So they turned to their closest friends, their Bible-study group, for support.

The overwhelming response was: You're overreacting. One family even told them that their kids could no longer play together, because they didn't want to be accused next, Moxon says. Hearing this, Denhollander's parents decided that, unless the college student committed an aggressive, sexual act, there was nothing they could do.

No one knew that, months earlier, he already had.

One night, while sitting in the family's living room, surrounded by people, the college student masturbated while Denhollander sat on his lap, she recalls. It wasn't until two years later that she was able to articulate to her parents what had happened. By that point, the student had left the church. Moxon was furious that her church community hadn't listened. But she never told anyone what had happened to Rachael. "We had already tried once and weren't believed," Moxon says. "What was the point?"

Today, Denhollander can see how her church, which has since shut down, failed to protect her. But as a child, all she knew from her parents was that her abuse had made their church mad and that she wasn't able to play with some of her friends. She blamed herself - and resolved that, if anyone else ever abused her, she wouldn't mention it.

And so when Larry Nassar used his prestige as a doctor for the USA Gymnastics program to sexually assault Denhollander, she held to her vow. She wouldn't put her family through something like that again. Her church had made it clear: No one believes victims.

Across the United States, evangelical churches are failing to protect victims of sexual abuse among their members. As the #MeToo movement has swept into communities of faith, several high-profile leaders have fallen: Paige Patterson, the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was forced into early retirement this month after reports that he'd told a rape victim to forgive her assailant rather than call the police. Illinois megachurch pastor Bill Hybels similarly retired early after several women said he'd dispensed lewd comments, unwanted kisses and invitations to hotel rooms.

So many Christian churches in the United States do so much good - nourishing the soul, comforting the sick, providing services, counseling congregants, teaching Jesus's example, and even working to fight sexual abuse and harassment. But like in any community of faith, there is also sin - often silenced, ignored and denied - and it is much more common than many want to believe. It has often led to failures by evangelicals to report sexual abuse, respond appropriately to victims and change the institutional cultures that enabled the abuse in the first place.

Without a centralized theological body, evangelical policies and cultures vary radically, and while some church leaders have worked to prevent abuse and harassment, many have not. The causes are manifold: authoritarian leadership, twisted theology, institutional protection, obliviousness about the problem and, perhaps most shocking, a diminishment of the trauma sexual abuse creates - especially surprising in a church culture that believes strongly in the sanctity of sex. "Sexual abuse is the most underreported thing - both in and outside the church - that exists," says Boz Tchividjian, a grandson of Billy Graham and a former Florida assistant state attorney.

As a prosecutor, Tchividjian saw dozens of sexual abuse victims harmed by a church's response to them. (In one case, a pastor did not report a sexual offender in his church because the man had repented. The offender was arrested only after he had abused five more children.) In 2004, Tchividjian founded the nonprofit organization Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which trains Christian institutions in how to prevent sexual abuse and performs independent investigations when churches face an abuse crisis. Tchividjian says sexual abuse in evangelicalism rivals the Catholic Church scandal of the early 2000s.

Diagnosing the scope of the problem isn't easy, because there's no hard data. The most commonly referenced study shows how difficult it is to find accurate statistics. In that 2007 report, the three largest insurers of churches and Christian nonprofits said they received about 260 claims of sexual abuse against a minor each year. Those figures, though, exclude groups covered by other insurers, victims older than 18, people whose cases weren't disclosed to insurance companies and the many who, like Denhollander, never came forward. In other words, the research doesn't include what is certainly the vast majority of sexual abuse. The sex advice columnist and LGBT rights advocate Dan Savage, tired of what he called the hypocrisy of conservatives who believe that gays molest children, compiled his own list that documents more than 100 instances of youth pastors around the country who, between 2008 and 2016, were accused of, arrested for or convicted of sexually abusing minors in a religious setting.

The problem in collecting data stems, in part, from the loose or nonexistent hierarchy in evangelicalism. Catholic Church abusers benefited from an institutional cover-up, but that same bureaucracy enabled reporters to document a systemic scandal. In contrast, most evangelical groups prize the autonomy of local congregations, with major institutions like the Southern Baptist Convention having no authority to enforce a standard operating procedure among member churches. This means researchers attempting to study this issue have to comb through publicly available documents.

That's what Wade Mullen, the director of the M.Div. program at Capital Seminary & Graduate School, did as a part of his PhD dissertation. He collected reports of evangelical pastors or ministers charged with a crime in order to understand how evangelical organizations respond to crisis. Over 2016 and 2017, Mullen found 192 instances of a leader from an influential church or evangelical institution being publicly charged with sexual crimes involving a minor, including rape, molestation, battery and child pornography. (This data did not include sexual crimes against an adult or crimes committed by someone other than a leader.)

His findings help explain a 2014 GRACE report on Bob Jones University, one of the most visible evangelical colleges in the country. The study showed that 56 percent of the 381 respondents who reported having knowledge of the school's handling of abuse (a group that included current and former students, as well as employees) believed that BJU conveyed a "blaming and disparaging" attitude toward victims. Of the 166 people who said they had been victims of sexual abuse before or during their time at BJU, half said school officials had actively discouraged them from going to the police. According to one anonymous respondent, after he finally told the police about years of sexual abuse by his grandfather, a BJU official admonished him that "[you] tore your family apart, and that's your fault," and "you love yourself more than you love God." BJU officials declined to comment for this article.

That same year, 18 volunteers, staff members and interns at the Institute in Basic Life Principles (including many underage girls) accused its founder, Bill Gothard, of sexual harassment, molestation and assault. Gothard had enormous sway over a small but tight-knit collection of evangelical home-schooling families around the country. One of those families was the Duggars, stars of a TLC reality television show. Josh Duggar, the eldest of 19 kids and former executive director of the conservative Family Research Council's political action group FRC Action, lost his job after reports that he molested four of his siblings and a babysitter as a teenager. For years Duggar's abuse stayed hidden as his parents and an Arkansas state trooper - now in prison himself on charges of child pornography - declined to disclose the crimes. (The suit against Gothard was dropped. Duggar's actions are now outside the statute of limitations. Neither responded to requests for comment.)

Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC), an influential chain of congregations, many located on the East Coast, allegedly failed to report sexual abuse claims during the '80s and '90s to the authorities and caused secondary trauma to victims through pastoral counseling, according to an extensive investigation by Washingtonian magazine. In one instance, an SGC pastor allegedly told a wife whose husband sexually abused their daughter to remain with him. When she asked how she could possibly stay married to a man attracted to children, she was told that her husband "was not attracted to his 11-year-old daughter but rather to the 'woman' she 'was becoming.' " Two years into the husband's prison sentence, SGC pastor Gary Ricucci wrote in support of his parole using church letterhead, and the church welcomed him back to the community after his release.

The wife no longer attends. Asked to comment on these episodes, SGC Executive Director Mark Prater emailed a statement: "We encourage all of our churches to immediately report any allegations or suspicions of abuse to criminal and civil authorities, regardless of state law or the passage of time." He cited a program implemented in 2014, the "MinistrySafe child safety system," that teaches member churches how to deal with reports of abuse. Ricucci - who, like other local pastors, does not answer to SGC officials - did not respond to requests for comment.

The evangelical defense of God-fearing offenders extends to the political realm. Franklin Graham, CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said President Donald Trump 's "grab them by the p---y" comments and other crude language didn't matter because "all of us are sinners." During Roy Moore 's recent Senate campaign, a poll conducted by JMC Analytics of likely Alabama voters found that 39 percent of evangelicals were more likely to vote for Moore after multiple accusations that he'd initiated sexual contact with teenagers when he was in his 30s. "It comes down to a question [of] who is more credible in the eyes of the voters - the candidate or the accuser," Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the evangelical Liberty University, said at the time. ". . . And I believe [Moore] is telling the truth."

It was the same message 7-year-old Denhollander heard: Stay silent, because the church won't believe you.

Why are so many evangelicals (who also devote resources to fighting sex trafficking or funding shelters for battered women) so dismissive of the women in their own pews? Roger Canaff, a former New York state prosecutor who specialized in child sexual abuse, tells me that many worshipers he encountered felt persecuted by the secular culture around them - and disinclined to reach out to their persecutors for help in solving problems. This is the same dynamic that drove a cover-up culture among ultra-Orthodox communities in New York, where rabbis insisted on dealing with child abusers internally, according to several analysts.

But among evangelicals, there is an added eschatological component: According to a 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center, 41 percent of Americans believe that the end times will occur before 2050. In some evangelical teachings, a severe moral decay among unbelievers precedes the rapture of the faithful. Because of this, many evangelicals see the outside world as both a place in need of God's love and a corrupt, fallen place at odds with the church. ("New Secularism is an attempt to undermine and destroy Christianity," warned a headline in Christian Today a few years ago.)

This attitude could explain the 2017 case of an assistant pastor at Agape Bible Church in Thornton, Colo., who was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison for repeatedly sexually assaulting an adolescent girl. The police investigation revealed that church leaders and the girl's father agreed not to contact the police because the "biblical counseling" received within the church was sufficient to handle the case. According to an officer who interviewed the father, "His interest was in protecting the church and its reputation more than protecting his daughter."

Partly, church leaders tend to circle the wagons out of arrogance. "I've worked with churches across the theological spectrum, from fundamentalist to progressive," Tchividjian says. "They say: 'I'm the man God's placed in charge. I have the Bible. I know how to handle this.' "

But another, less visible problem is the overall attitude toward sex. Sexual sin is talked about constantly, and extramarital sex is considered a heinous moral lapse. (A student at Patterson's seminary who told him she'd been date-raped was disciplined for being in the man's room) It stands to reason that churches don't want to air an epidemic of wickedness among their flocks.

When congregants believe that their church is the greatest good, they lack the framework to accept that something as awful as sexual abuse could occur within its walls; it is, in the words of Diane Langberg, a psychologist with 35 years of experience working with clergy members and trauma survivors, a "disruption." In moments of crisis, Christians are forced to reconcile a cognitive dissonance: How can the church - often called "the hope of the world" in evangelical circles - also be an incubator for such evil? "Christians must decide whether to give into the impulse to minimize the disruption of the abuse, or let themselves see a serious problem in their community and deal with it," Langberg says. "It's when they find out if they truly believe what they say they believe."

As an adult, Rachael Denhollander once again found herself at the center of one of these disruptions. The church she attended, Immanuel Baptist in Louisville, was actively supporting former SGC president C.J. Mahaney's return to ministry. Mahaney had been asked to step down from his role in 2011 because of "various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy." In 2012, a class-action lawsuit held that eight SGC pastors, including Mahaney, had covered up sexual abuse in the church. Mahaney and the SGC claimed vindication when a judge dismissed the lawsuit for eclipsing the statute of limitations. In 2016, Immanuel Baptist Church repeatedly invited Mahaney to preach at its weekend services.

Denhollander says she told her church's leaders this was inappropriate, as Mahaney had never acknowledged a failure to properly handle allegations of sexual abuse under his leadership. But the church ignored her, and when Denhollander went public with accusations against Larry Nassar in the Indianapolis Star, a pastor accused her of projecting her story onto Mahaney's. When she persisted, he told her she should consider finding a new church. (Maheney did not respond to requests for comment.)

"It is isolating and heartbreaking to sit in a church service where sexual abuse is being minimized," Denhollander says. "The damage done [by abuse] is so deep and so devastating, and a survivor so desperately needs refuge and security. The question an abuse survivor is asking is 'Am I safe?' and 'Do I matter?' And when those in authority mishandle this conversation, it sends a message of no to both questions."

At an untold number of Christian churches and institutions, the silence on sexual abuse is deafening. Statistically, evangelical pastors rarely mention the issue from the pulpit. According to research from the evangelical publishing company LifeWay, 64 percent of pastors said they talk about sexual violence once a year, or even less than that. Pastors drastically underestimate the number of victims in their congregations; a majority of them guessed in the survey that 10 percent or less might be victims. But in 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 4 women (women make up approximately 55 percent of evangelicals) and 1 in 9 men have been sexually abused. There is no evidence suggesting those numbers are lower inside the church.

Those who do publicly preach on sexual abuse are often stunned by the response. Kathy Christopher, a pastor to women at Christian Assembly Church in Los Angeles, first spoke on the topic while sharing the story of her own abuse. Immediately, fellow survivors opened up about their experiences, Christopher says. "Sadly, my story was not an unusual story. It was heartbreaking to see how many people needed to talk about this trauma in their past."

When a judge sentenced Nassar for molesting hundreds of young girls, Denhollander was there; she spoke at length in the courtroom, reminding Nassar that the Christian concept of forgiveness comes from "repentance, which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror, without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase" it.

It was a word of warning for a community that, writ large, has been complicit in minimizing or enabling rape, molestation and emotional abuse within its walls. Denhollander also said that one of the prices she paid for calling out Nassar was losing her church, referring to her experience at Immanuel Baptist.

When the pastors there saw Denhollander's statement, they began to understand the damage they had done. In a statement released by email this week, the board said the church had sinned in its treatment of the Denhollanders and had sought their forgiveness. (Denhollander says she accepts the apology.) Officials also said that SGC pastors will no longer be speaking at their church while accusations against them remain unanswered. "In the last few months God has increased our sensitivity to the concerns of the abused," the statement reads. "He has called us to look at our own shortcomings as pastors. He has allowed us to seek and receive forgiveness from those we have failed."

Immanuel Baptist Church faced a choice, the same one before many American churches today: Face the sin in their midst and make the church a place that follows the biblical command to care for the powerless and victimized - or avoid the disruption and churn out another generation of silenced victims who learn, like Denhollander did, that the church isn't safe.



Ohio Children's Hospitals Working To Identify Child Abuse Sooner

by Adora Namigadde

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is working with the state's hospital to expand a collaboration intended to reduce repeat incidents of child abuse in infants.

The Timely Recognition of Abusive Injuries Collaborative, a partnership with the Ohio Hospital Association, hopes to prevent repeat child abuse in babies up to six months old. The partnership also wants to increase the recognition of sentinel injuries, which are minor injuries that should tip off a medical provider that a child is being abused.

“Before we started this work, we recognized that 1.5 percent of children with a sentinel injury came back within a year with a second injury,” said Dr. Jonathon Thackeray, Chief Medical Community Health Officer at Dayton Children's Hospital. “Today we can tell you we've quadrupled that identification rate. We're now recognizing that over 6 percent of infants with sentinel injury are returning with a second injury.”

Thackeray says abuse is not increasing in Ohio, but rather than medical providers are getting better at identifying it.

“We've increased our identification of sentinel injuries from 60 per month in our baseline year to 90 per month,” Thackeray says. “That's an increase of 50 percent across the state.”

In 2016, member hospitals collaborated to create a “bundle” within hospitals that details necessary physical examination and follow-up after identifying a sentinel injury. Now, the project is spreading abuse recognition education to eight pediatric practices in Ohio.

“In so many of these cases of child abuse, when you went back and tried to recreate the history, what you found is there were indicators of child abuse that were not noticed,” DeWine says. “It has been my dream for many years to see a much closer working relationship with children's hospitals. I think this can be great benefit first of all to the children and second of all to the parents and family members."

DeWine funded the project with a $1 million grant from settlement funds to Ohio Children's Hospital Assocation in 2015.



Kentucky and Indiana both seeing big increase in child abuse cases, experts say

by Stephan Johnson

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Recent statistics show child abuse cases are growing across Kentuckiana, and experts say it's connected to the drug epidemic and people parenting under the influence.

Larissa Reese, Vice President of Development Family & Children's Place, said the increase in cases on both sides of the river is alarming.

"There has been a 55 percent increase in child abuse in the state of Kentucky and approximately a 90 percent increase in child abuse in Indiana," she said.

Reese said the increase is linked to another growing problem: the opioid epidemic. And in the last five years, the issue has gotten deadly, with 334 children having died or nearly died due to child abuse.

Family & Children's place is working to change the trend and save lives.

"We're trying to connect with moms when they are pregnant to provide supportive education," Reese said.

The Morton Center in Louisville is also in the fight, providing counseling and therapy for family members of people fighting drug addiction.

"It is a family disease," said Priscilla McIntosh, President and CEO of The Morton Center. "Being able to have a full circle of support for everyone that is involved is what the Morton Center is here to do."

If you witness or know of a case of child abuse, you are required by law to report it to authorities.

In Kentucky, 1-800-752-6200

In Indiana, 1-800-800-5556

You can also find information directory from Family & Children's Place and The Morton Center.



Tens of thousands of children in Germany victims of violence, sexual abuse, report says

by the German Press Agency

A report on violence against children in Germany has found that tens of thousands of German children are the victims of violence and sexual abuse, despite intensive police investigations and awareness-raising campaigns.

The report by the charity Kinderhilfe (Children's Aid) and the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) released on Tuesday, found that 4,247 children were seriously abused in 2017, up from 4,237 in 2016. Of the 2017 total, 1,830 were under 6 years old.

In 2017, 143 children were murdered across Germany, up from 133 the previous year.

Last year there were also 13,539 child victims of rape or violent sexual acts, while 16,317 people were arrested for the possession or distribution of child pornography.

BKA President Holger Muench and Kinderhilfe head Rainer Becker said the reported cases were just the tip of the iceberg as abuse often happened within families where victims were unwilling to accuse relatives.



Women's Resource Center offering new program for male sufferers of child sexual abuse

by Alexis Wainwright

STATE COLLEGE — The Centre County Women's Resource Center is changing directions with recent programs. There's a new program with efforts to help men.

Childhood abuse among men is more common than people think, and considering sexual allegations nationwide, the Women's Resource Center has started a special program.

"One in six men have been abused as children or sexually abused as children," Women's Resource Center executive director Anne K. Ard said.

The resource center has always offered help to men as well as women, but now, the center has made a program specifically geared toward men: a support group for male survivors of child sexual abuse.

"For a long time, people thought that women were the only victims, and what we know is that is not true," Ard said.

"After the Jerry Sandusky scandal, it became very clear to us that there were a lot of adult men who had been victims of child sexual abuse and that the services for them were really limited."

The eight-week program is customized to get each client the help he needs. Each session revolves around a theme and activities to focus on helping survivors come together to explore and process their feelings about their trauma.

"As those men grow up and become adults, they need often somebody to talk to about that, who understands,” Ard said. “So, the best people to understand are those who have been through it, and that's why a support group is can be so powerful."

On the center's website, a series of videos are posted explaining the effects child abuse can have on men. The support group provides the men with an opportunity to hear the experiences of other survivors and receive strength in knowing they're not alone.

"Sometimes, when people do disclose (child sexual abuse), they're not believed. There's a whole host of pressures., cultural and individual, against people disclosing," counselor Geoff Landers- Nolan said.

Now, the program has started a second round of support groups.

If you know anyone who might benefit from the program, you can contact the center at 1-877-234-5050 to schedule an introductory appointment with one of our counselors or to receive more information.

You can also visit the center's website directly at .



Teach signs of abuse early

by Anesta Henry

IN LIGHT of horrifying stories of young children being infected with Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) after being molested, local child care providers are being urged to use age-appropriate and culturally relevant tools to teach young children about child abuse and other child protection issues.

Delivering opening remarks at the Child Care Board's Tools for Early Learners Workshop, Dr. Aloys Kamuragiye, the Representative UNICEF Officer for the Eastern Caribbean Area, said interviews with some adult survivors conducted in the past suggested that abuse for some of them, or their siblings, started during the pre-school years.

“Additionally, we received reports from countries and we hear on the news media the shocking stories of young children with STIs; the horrifying stories of young children having been digitally penetrated. I say to you again that children are never too young to learn,” she said.

Dr Kamuragiye said as it relates to age-appropriate and culturally relevant tools being taught to children, it may not help them to defend themselves from a more powerful perpetrator, but it will help to raise their antennas; it will help them to realise something does not look right; this touch does not feel right; this secret makes me uncomfortable; this look makes me feel uncomfortable.

“It may also help to build their courage to tell someone and to continue to tell if needs be until some adult like you or I believe them and have the courage to report. I say to you again, children are never too young to learn,” the UNICEF official said.

On that note, Dr Kamuragiye congratulated the Child Care Board for organising the workshop and for following through with its commitment related to the 2012 Bridgetown Accord where, among other things, countries pledged to ensure that all persons who meet children are empowered to teach them about what they can do to protect themselves and about reporting.

“You see often we focus on sensitizing children in the primary and secondary sector and we forget early childhood sector. Let me remind you that the work does not stop after the workshop has ended. Indeed, it has only begun.

“We trust that as you get a new set of children entering your day care center each year that you make it your business to ensure that every child who come under your care does not transition to the primary level without knowing what is appropriate and inappropriate touches, about sexual grooming, bullying and the importance of reporting,” he said.


The emerging, devastating evidence that childhood trauma could affect the next generation

by Jenny Anderson

It is a well-documented and deeply sad fact that if you suffer from trauma as a child , you are more likely to suffer as an adult. People with a childhood history of trauma have a greater risk of being obese, getting cancer, suffering from heart disease and mental illness, and dying sooner. They're also more likely to engage in risky behaviors—smoking, illicit drugs, and high-risk sex—which is also predictive of bad outcomes.

Now researchers are going a step further, examining whether a parent's trauma might materialize in their children's health.

A new study, published in Pediatrics , found that for every type of “adverse childhood event” (ACE) a parent went through, their children had 19% higher odds of poorer health and 17% higher odds of having asthma. ACEs are serious traumas or stressors that happen in a child's early years, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, and domestic violence, among others. An expanded definition also includes witnessing violence, facing racial or ethnic discrimination, and living in an unsafe neighborhood.

Félice Lê-Scherban, the study's lead researcher and an assistant professor in Drexel's Dornsife School of Public Health, said that we are probably underestimating the effects of trauma by looking at only how it impacts the person who experiences it directly. “Looking intergenerationally gives us a more comprehensive picture of the long-term processes that might affect children's health,” she said.

The study used surveys taken by 350 Philadelphia parents who answered questions about their own “ACEs” as well as questions about their children's health, health behaviors—like eating fruits and vegetables and getting exercise—and health-care access. The respondents were overwhelmingly female (80%), and 45% were African-American. The results held when the authors controlled for income and education. (The survey was part of two larger surveys: the Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, and the Philadelphia ACE survey.)

The data revealed a shocking history of abuse and neglect: Overall, 85% of parents in the survey had experienced at least one ACE (with the expanded definition), and 18% had experienced more than six. The parent-child pairs were all from Philadelphia, where one-quarter of residents live in poverty.

Specifically, of the parents surveyed:

•  Nearly 42% said they'd witnessed violence, such as seeing someone shot, stabbed or beaten, as a child

•  38% said they lived with a problem drinker or someone who used drugs during their youth

•  About 37% said that they had been physically abused as children

Lê-Scherban says the study—which does not show causation, only association—shows how strong the link between trauma and long-term negative health outcomes might be. The more ACEs a parent had suffered as a child, the more likely their own children were to have poorer health status. Particularly worrying, she said in an interview, was the fact that having asthma and poor health as a child are a strong predictors of having them into adulthood, which in turn predict higher mortality rates.

Toward trauma-informed care

The authors do not know the mechanism by which trauma is passed on—that is, if it is primarily environmental, genetic, or epigenetic (involving genetic changes that are caused by environmental factors, such as smoking, diet, or stress). For example, many parents who suffered ACEs have mental illness as adults, which has been shown to impair parenting. ACEs also alter neural functioning and increase inflammation, which could affect how genes express themselves. (One study found that the trauma experienced by Holocaust survivors caused genetic changes , which could be passed down to their children.)

The study did not measure factors which could buffer ACEs: strong families and tight-knit communities, both of which can build resilience against trauma. The sample was small and skewed female. But the association warrants further research: The better we understand the effects of trauma, the better chance we have of intervening in order to help mitigate the damage.

Lê-Scherban suggests this shift is already underway. “There is this movement in health care and in social services toward trauma-informed care, which is really important,” she said.

Research shows that when kids are exposed to moderate or high levels of stress, the biology of their brains changes . They are less able to perform complex intellectual tasks and regulate their emotions, and their working memory is impaired . Paul Tough, author of Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why, explains, “Research has shown that when parents behave harshly or unpredictably — especially at moments when their children are upset — the children are less likely over time to develop the ability to manage strong emotions and more likely to respond ineffectively to stressful situations.”

And so programs that coach parents who have suffered from ACEs , and encourage the parents to form sensitive connections with their children, are crucial. Smita Malhotra, a doctor who has herself suffered from debilitating anxiety, writes in the Washington Post : “Just as chronic toxic stress can rewire a child's brain, the exposure to interventions that promote resilience (including trauma-focused therapy, proper nutrition, yoga and mindfulness) can help the brain to form new connections , a phenomenon called neuroplasticity. With the right tools, children can thrive despite having experienced trauma.”

The study authors also note that while most pediatricians understand the link between childhood adversity and future poor health, few tend to ask parents about their own histories of trauma. “This may represent a missed opportunity,” the researchers suggest. By taking an intergenerational approach to trauma, doctors may be in a position to improve the health of both parents and their kids.



Vietnam parents put on alert for child abuse

Labor ministry report says 572 Vietnamese children sexually abused in first five months of 2018.

by Staff reporters

Most of the time children are abused by someone they are familiar with.

Parents and immediate relatives have to take greater responsibility in preventing child abuse, Vietnam's labor minister says.

Dao Ngoc Dung was responding to lawmakers' comments and questions about a report that said 572 children in Vietnam were sexually abused in the first five months of this year.

The report, tabled in the ongoing National Assembly session by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, noted that the figure means that almost four children are molested each day.

Most of the molestation is perpetrated by a family member, a neighbor or a school employee, adults that the children are familiar with, the report said.

Expressing concern that around 1,500 child molestations are recorded each year in the country, Le Thi Nga, head of the legislative National Assembly's Judiciary Committee, asked the labor minister “to speak in more detail as it is a matter of public concern.”

The report said 59.9 percent of sexual abuse cases involved a neighbor or an acquaintance, 21.3 percent involved family member.

So families need to pay more attention to their children, Minister Dung said.

“Fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters need to take more responsibility in this matter,” he added.

He said Vietnam currently has a hotline for people to report sexual abuse, and the labor ministry will review the national Law on Children to specify responsibilities of departments to increase collaboration between families and schools in preventing sexual abuse.

One sexual abuse case that got public attention recently was that of Nguyen Khac Thuy , 78, who was sentenced to three years jail last November for committing "obscenities" on two girls in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.

Thuy was found guilty for his behavior with the two girls, although as many as seven families had filed formal complaints about this molestations.

Thuy, who insisted that he was not guilty during the first trial, approached the appeals court for a lighter sentence, and was given an 18-month suspended sentence. The decision sparked widespread public outrage and an online petition for it to be reviewed got more than 45,000 signatures in a very short time.

The Supreme Court overturned the appeals court's verdict last Friday and confirmed the original sentence .

More than 8,200 cases of child abuse came to light between 2011 and 2015 in Vietnam, including 5,300 cases of sexual abuse, according to official figures.

Experts have said that legal loopholes in the country have prolonged sexual abuse cases and even allowed them to be buried.



Judge won't delay report on Pa. church sex-abuse allegations

by Marc Levy

(Harrisburg) -- A judge has lifted the veil somewhat on a state grand jury investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse within six of Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic dioceses, and refused to delay the grand jury report or allow parts of it to be challenged before it is released.

Judge Norman Krumenacker, in an 11-page decision made public, wrote that people who he did not identify had argued that they have a constitutional due process right to hearings in which they can challenge parts of the grand jury report to protect their reputations before they are named in it.

Krumenacker's decision can be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Krumenacker, a Cambria County judge who is supervising the state grand jury, did not say what information those unidentified people wanted to challenge or what they may be accused of. Arguments in the case were sealed.

He wrote, however, that the attorney general's two-year investigation involved allegations of child sexual abuse, failure to report it, endangering the welfare of children and obstruction of justice by people "associated with the Roman Catholic Church, local public officials and community leaders."

In rejecting the motion, Krumenacker said that such hearings have never been allowed and would "effectively bring the grand jury process to a halt turning each investigation into a full adjudication." Krumenacker also wrote that the state has a strong interest in preventing child abuse "by identifying abusers and those individuals and institutions that enable the (abusers) to continue abusing children."

"The commonwealth's interest in protecting children from sexual predators and persons or institutions that enable them to continue their abuse is of the highest order," Krumenacker wrote.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro's office had argued that the law provides due process by letting people named in a grand jury report review critical parts of the document and provide a written response that is included with the report when it is released publicly, Krumenacker wrote. The investigation involves the Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton dioceses.

Shapiro's office has said it expects to release the report later this month, unless one of the bishops or dioceses tries to delay it or prevent it from becoming public.

The dioceses had earlier agreed not to challenge the release of the report, according to Shapiro's office and the dioceses.

The investigation followed a 2016 state grand jury report on a scandal in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese.

In his decision Tuesday, Krumenacker wrote that the grand jury had heard from dozens of witnesses, examined numerous exhibits and reviewed over half a million pages of internal documents from the archives of various dioceses.

All current bishops for the dioceses were given an opportunity to testify before the grand jury, Krumenacker wrote.

Only one did: the Erie bishop. The other five chose to submit written statements, Krumenacker wrote.



Michigan Senate panel: Coaches must report sexual abuse

by Alice Yin

LANSING, Mich. — Sports coaches are rejoining the list of people required to report child abuse under a batch of Michigan bills spurred by the Larry Nassar scandal, a Senate committee unanimously decided on Wednesday.

Lawmakers convened in a hearing to clear for a Senate vote 24 bills that would revamp how Michigan prosecutes and reports sexual assault. They also moved forward an amendment to mandate that paid coaches and assistant coaches at K-12 and college athletics programs report suspected child abuse and neglect, bucking the House's earlier decision to remove them due to concerns about clogging the child welfare system with excess reports.

The update is the latest iteration of the legislation introduced in the wake of Nassar molesting hundreds of girls and women while employed as a sports doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, a training ground for Olympians. Nassar is now imprisoned after pleading guilty to sexual assault and possessing child pornography.

State Sen. Rick Jones, a Grand Ledge Republican and chair of the Senate committee reporting the bills, said he restored the provision because Nassar victims said coaches had brushed aside warnings of the ex-doctor's abusive treatments.

"All of the citizens I talked to want the coaches back in," Jones said. "(Some coaches) don't seem to want anything bad to be known about their facility and this is a step to make sure we bring this out and we end the culture of silence."

Several top MSU officials have left or were ousted since the scandal erupted, including a former head gymnastics coach accused of dissuading a teen athlete who complained about Nassar.

The amended package awaits approval in both of Michigan's Republican-controlled chambers, which wind down their legislative sessions in the next couple weeks. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said he does not yet have a timeline for the vote. Gideon D'Assandro, spokesman for House Speaker Tom Leonard, said the lower chamber will decide its stance after the Senate's vote.

Jones said he wishes the proposal could match Senate-passed legislation that includes college employees and volunteers but "this was a compromise."

In at least 18 states , anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect must report it. Michigan law requires certain individuals including school teachers, administrators, counselors and law enforcement to report such abuse. These professionals are known as mandated reporters. The Nassar-inspired legislation would tack sports coaches as well as athletic trainers, physical therapists and physical therapist assistants onto the list.

Rep. Klint Kesto, who spearheaded the House's passage of the Nassar bills, said he is unsure if he will support the Senate version.

"The whole point of this is to protect children from abuse and neglect," the Commerce Township Republican said. "I'm not sure they listened to all of the testimony and still think this could have unintended consequences."

The House yanked coaches out of its version amid pushback from experts criticizing the mandatory reporting reforms shepherded in during the legislative reckoning of Pennsylvania State University football coach Jerry Sandusky, who sexually abused 10 boys. They say the flood of new reports diverted attention from the most serious cases.

A state analysis conducted after Pennsylvania's expanded laws found a hefty increase in child abuse reports but not much sway in the rate of substantiated reports from 2014 to 2016. Moreover, child abuse deaths rose from 30 to 46.

"This legislation doesn't do anything to improve the safety of children but has the appearance that the Legislature has done something to address this problem," Frank Vandervort, a University of Michigan law professor who researches mandatory reporting laws, said. "There are much better ways of spending our money and energy."

In Michigan, about 15 percent of total child abuse reports last year were confirmed true by a Child Protective Services investigation, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Over two-thirds of all CPS cases came from mandated reporters.

The ranking Democrat on the House committee, Rep. Stephanie Chang of Detroit, said she supports the updated bills but wants them to be paired with sufficient funding and training. The Michigan DHHS, which is neutral on the mandated reporting proposals, has requested an extra $53 million to offset costs a previous version of the Nassar package would generate.

Another bill would task the department with training mandated reporters. Others aim to necessitate a second health professional be in the room when a procedure involving vaginal or anal penetration is performed on a minor, increase penalties in some child pornography cases and more. Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign the package and has already received legislation to give child sexual abuse victims more time to sue.

"That's what happens in child sexual abuse: They do it in secrecy." Cathleen Palm, founder of the Pennsylvania-based Center for Children's Justice, said about Sandusky and Nassar. "If you're not training people but legally obligating them to make reports, then you're indirectly and unintentionally undercutting child protection."




#MeToo is not enough. California must invest in stopping sexual assault

by Sandra Henriquez and Kathy Moore

Despite our national reckoning with sexual harassment and assault through the #MeToo movement, California continues to lag in its commitment to fight gender-based violence.

The state's general fund includes a mere $45,000 for sexual assault services -- 5 cents for each of the nearly one million survivors of sexual assault in California. This stands in stark contrast to the $20.6 million for domestic violence shelters and services.

As a matter of public safety and of public health, California must have the tools to prevent sexual violence and assist survivors. State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, and Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, are working alongside advocates to lead the push for $50 million more.

Many policymakers erroneously conflate sexual harassment and abuse with domestic violence. Each require tailored approaches. It is not uncommon for someone to be abused as a child, sexually assaulted as a teen or college student, be harassed in the workplace and be abused within an intimate relationship, compounding the effects of sexual violence over a lifetime.

The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence understands how sexual violence and domestic violence are linked, yet distinct. It has partnered with the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault to support the funding proposal.

Money to address domestic violence is extremely important, and must be increased. But it's equally important to correct the funding disparity for sexual violence.

An estimated 948,000 California residents were sexually assaulted in 2012, costing the state $140 billion. Discussing the economic impact of sexual harassment and violence appears unseemly, but we only need look at social media, listen to conversations with loved ones and coworkers and read disclosures in the news and courtrooms. Statewide, every prevented rape of an adult could save $163,800 and every prevented sexual assault of a child could save $227,700.

Over the past five decades, advocates, caregivers, medical professionals and law enforcement have responded to sexual violence with crisis intervention services. But this year has been a special moment as Californians and an engaged nation have increased efforts to improve our workplaces, our campuses, our homes and our lives so no one has to be a victim of this kind of abuse.

We are moving toward a world where survivors can come forward because they expect to be believed. It's now time for the Legislature to recognize that #TimesUp and make a real investment in protecting Californians against sexual and domestic violence.


From the FBI

Justice Finally Served

Dedicated Law Enforcement Effort Leads to Capture of Indiana Fugitive in 1999 Molestation Case

Seymour, Indiana, in the 1990s was a Midwestern town with rural roots and a comfortable, small-town feel. Parents felt safe letting their children walk to Girl Scout meetings with friends and ride their bikes unchaperoned.

All that changed on January 20, 1999, when a 10-year-old girl waiting for her father after gymnastics practice was abducted and molested. The man who approached her outside a local girl's club said he had locked the keys in his car and needed someone with slender arms to reach them.

The attack shocked the community, all the more when the suspect fled before he could be apprehended. At the time, no one realized it would take nearly two decades to bring justice to the victim and her family, and a sense of closure to the community—or that an Indiana State Trooper who was born and raised in Seymour, and is now an FBI agent, would play a central role in resolving the case.

On that cold January day, Charley Hollin forced the girl into his car at knifepoint, drove away, and sexually assaulted her. Afterward, he made the girl leave the car naked, and her clothes were thrown out after her. Hollin also mistakenly threw out his own jacket, which contained his day planner.

Todd Prewitt was an Indiana State Police trooper at the time, and although he wasn't assigned to the investigation, he took a keen interest. The crime had occurred in his district, and Seymour was his hometown. “I didn't know the victim,” he said, “but I had family friends who sent their kids to that girl's club.”

The assault itself was tragic, but then justice was not served. Hollin's identity was known to authorities—and reported by the media—because they had his day planner. But the victim could not positively identify her assailant with full certainty, so authorities were forced to wait for the results of DNA testing before they could arrest Hollin and charge him with the crime. Hollin took that opportunity to flee.

To the victim and her family—and many unsettled residents of Seymour—Hollin was not just at large, he had become a bogeyman. He could have been anywhere, lurking in the shadows, waiting to victimize another innocent child and terrorize the community anew. “The fact that he had vanished caused a lot of apprehension,” Prewitt recalled, “and a lot of additional stress on the victim and her family.”

In fact, Hollin was long gone. Eleven years before the assault, he had stolen the identity of a deceased eight-year-old boy who was the victim of a drunk-driving crash. Hollin secured a Social Security card using the boy's name, Andrew David Hall. He used that new identity to obtain driver's licenses in Indiana and Minnesota, and later a passport. Hollin lived in Minnesota for several years, where he married, and then relocated to Oregon. He had apparently bragged about his ability to become someone else and disappear.

In 2001, Prewitt fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming an FBI agent and was assigned to the Pittsburgh Division. In 2009, after Hollin had been on the run for nearly a decade, Prewitt transferred to the Indianapolis Division and began working out of the Bloomington Resident Agency. One of the first things he did was take a fresh look at the Charley Hollin case and contact the victim's parents.

“After so much time had passed,” he said, “the parents and the victim had resigned themselves to Hollin not being caught. I told them I was going to do everything I could.”

AmyMarie Travis, the prosecutor for Jackson County, Indiana, which includes Seymour, noted that over the years, “there were a number of people who kept this case alive, but without Todd Prewitt, Hollin might have remained in the wind forever.”

Prewitt began looking at the case file. It contained a good digital image of Hollin taken before he fled. The image had been obtained by a diligent agent, since retired, who had also worked on the investigation. Using that image with facial recognition software, Prewitt began searching digital databases and eventually came up with a potential match to a passport photo belonging to Andrew David Hall.

FBI Special Agent Todd Prewitt was instrumental in the 2016 apprehension of fugitive child molester Charley Hollin, who had been on the run for nearly two decades. The 1999 crime occurred in Prewitt's hometown of Seymour when he was an Indiana State Police trooper.

Further investigation revealed that Hollin's Social Security wage earning records ceased in 1999, and those for Andrew David Hall were first reported in 2000. “At that point,” Prewitt said, “I knew we were close.”

After years of searching, the fugitive was located in Salem, Oregon, and taken into custody in 2016 at his place of employment. He was wearing a name tag that said, “Andrew,” but soon admitted his true identity. Hollin was returned to Jackson County in 2017, and in March 2018, a state judge sentenced the 62-year-old to a 30-year prison term for his crimes and an additional 10 years of home supervision.

Prewitt credits local law enforcement and the prosecutor's office for their help in finally apprehending Hollin. “We all worked together, and stayed on this to bring him to justice.”

Knowing that Hollin is now behind bars has made all the difference to the victim, Travis said. “She can now go on with her life; that's the most satisfying thing to me about this case. This has been such a great relief to her and her parents.”

Travis added that in many small American towns like Seymour, people have the perception that the FBI mainly focuses on the Mafia, terrorists, and larger-than-life criminals like Bernie Madoff. “The fact that the FBI stayed on this case and kept working on it, people were really touched by that.”



NSW getting tough on child sex abusers

Historic child sex abuse laws, which include measures recommended by the royal commission, have been introduced into NSW parliament.

by Dominica Sanda

A plan to increase jail time for repeated child sex abusers and new offences for failing to report child abuse have been introduced into NSW parliament.

The state government on Wednesday put forward a suite of measures recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that it hopes will make sure perpetrators are held to account.

Under the changes, persistent child sex abusers will face a maximum life sentence and new offences will apply for a failure to report or protect against child abuse.

If passed, courts will not take into account an offender's good character when sentencing for historical offences and the sentences will reflect an understanding of the lifelong trauma sexual abuse can cause.

The proposed laws will also create a new offence of grooming an adult to access a child and will strengthen the current grooming offence to include giving a child gifts or money.

The bill follows NSW's decision to opt-in to the national redress scheme to support survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman praised the courageous survivors who, in telling their stories, have helped make history.

"They are changing the way our laws respond to child sex abuse," he said in a statement.

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Canadian athletes visit Calgary to call for change to end abuse in sport

by Colleen Schmidt

Two victims of former Canadian National ski coach, Bertrand Charest, are calling for sweeping changes to end sexual abuse in sport and were in the city on Friday to share their stories with Calgarians.

Former professional skiers Genevieve Simard and Amelie-Frederique Gagnon are among several women who were sexually assaulted by Charest.

They attended a special news conference at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and are urging the government to act and create a safe environment for athletes in all sports.

Simard and Gagnon say Charest crushed their self-esteem and that they suffered from a lack of confidence, depression and felt shame and humiliation for years after they were sexually abused.

“It's affected our lives. Some dreams were never accomplished because we had this predator that came into our lives. Good thing he's in jail now, for a very long time, so that's been really gratifying,” said Simard.

The two women are advocating for a protection program that includes mandatory training for all coaches, volunteers, and everyone in the entourage of an athlete.

“The reason we wanted to come out in the public eye on Monday and give our press conference is to give the biggest impact possible to put a face on the twelve of us and what has happened and we want to create awareness to everybody in the country because we want to ensure that safe, that sports become safe for our children, for the next generation and that's why we're doing this. We want to take this horrible chapter in our lives and we want to turn it into something positive and that's making sure these kinds of abuse never happen again and we need the government in helping us achieve that,” said Simard.

They also want to see the mandatory use of a buddy system so that an adult is never left alone with a child athlete for an extended period of time and are calling for the creation of an independent officer to deal with incidents that arise.

“Coming forward can help stop the cycle of abuse,” said Dr. Sarah MacDonald, Forensic Interviewer, Sheldon Kennedy CAC. “It's important for victims to come forward for their own wellbeing. Abuse can have long-lasting effects that can differ from person to person.”

Sheldon Kennedy is the co-founder of the Respect Group and a board member of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre.

He was sexually assaulted as a teenager by his hockey coach Graham James and has become the unofficial spokesperson for abuse survivors in Canada and around the world.

Kennedy says abuse survivors can feel very alone and that he admires the courage of the women who came forward to talk about the abuse they suffered at the hands of Charest.

“I have witnessed the courage of twelve ladies that have told their story of the abuse they suffered from their coach for the last week and they're making their way across the country and we thought, you know what, we needed to honour their courage and we needed to honour the platform that they are pushing and I think that our collective goal from people that I see in the room, that work in this area, is about making sure that we keep sport as safe as we can and the best experience that we can and there has been work done and there is more work that needs to be done,” said Kennedy. “Today we realized we're not alone, there's a lot of people pulling on the rope.”

Simard says she read Kennedy's book and that it inspired her and gave her the strength to also speak out.

“All the support we've had has been amazing,” said Simard. “Meeting him, I am so thankful for what he did back then, it gave me courage to do what we did.”

J.D. Miller, the President and Co-founder of B2Ten, has accompanied the two ladies this week as they made their way across the country to tell their story.

“This has been a very difficult week. Watching the victims come forward and as Sheldon mentioned, display enormous courage in order that they can tell their stories, tell the most intimate details of what has taken place and how they have suffered so that others don't have to suffer going forward. They are an inspiration to B2Ten, they are an inspiration to myself and I think they are an inspiration to our country,” said Miller.

“I'm so touched by all the support we got this week and the messages and the love,” said Gagnon. “We will always be grateful for what you helped us to do. And just today, we looked around and it's incredible what people are doing to make changes and help kids.”

Charest, 53, was found guilty last June of 37 of the 57 sex-related charges he was facing, and was eventually given a 12-year prison term.




What is lacking in the fight against child abuse?

The recent fatal abuse of a 5-year-old girl in Tokyo once again highlights the shortcomings in the nation's system to protect children from abuse by their guardians. Laws have been updated so that more cases of child abuse come to the attention of authorities and more victims are placed under protection. Child welfare officials have been given greater powers to intervene in suspected cases of abuse. But some victims still face tragic ends as officials balk at taking action due either to resistance by the victims' guardians or to poor coordination between relevant authorities. The process that allowed the most recent tragedy should be scrutinized in order to identify what is lacking in our efforts to end child abuse.

Yua Funato died March 2 of sepsis caused by pneumonia at her home in Meguro Ward, Tokyo. She had reportedly been subjected to repeated physical abuse by her stepfather and died after being denied sufficient food or medical care — the victim weighed just 12 kg when she was found dead. The girl's 25-year-old mother and 33-year-old stepfather were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of fatal negligence of their duty as her guardians.

The family had just moved from Kagawa Prefecture in December. In Kagawa, the stepfather, Yudai Funato, was twice referred to prosecutors over suspected violence against the girl but was never charged — he had indicated contrition for hitting the girl to “discipline” her. The violence appeared to have been going on since 2016. The police, alerted by the family's neighbors, intervened and the girl was taken into protective custody by the local child welfare center — a process that was repeated a few times.

After the family moved to Tokyo last year, the girl appears to have been mostly confined to their home. An official from the child welfare center covering their neighborhood — informed by the Kagawa facility of conditions in the family — visited the house in February to check up on the girl but was denied seeing her by the mother.

The law on preventing child abuse, which took effect in 2000, makes it an obligation for people who have witnessed child abuse to alert a child welfare center. In 2004, the obligation was expanded to cover cases in which child abuse was suspected. As social awareness of the problem grew, the number of cases handled by child welfare facilities across Japan topped 100,000 in fiscal 2015 and rose 18 percent to 122,500 cases in fiscal 2016. Showing a particularly sharp increase are cases reported by police to child welfare centers, jumping 20 percent in 2017 to a record 65,431.

The child welfare center that handled the Funato family somehow did not share its information about the case with the police. In the absence of legal rules on welfare centers reporting to the police about abuse cases, such decisions are left to the discretion of the relevant local government. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has a guideline stating that its child welfare centers should share information with police on cases in which the victim has ever been placed under protective custody over physical abuse and on cases that the head of each center deems is necessary to alert the police.

After being denied a chance to meet the girl, the child welfare center did not push the matter further because it reportedly put priority on its relationship with the girl's parents. A 2016 revision to the child abuse prevention law simplified the procedure for officials of such centers to carry out on-site inspection of homes where child abuse is suspected without the parents' consent. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry says that protection of children should be prioritized and that officials should not hesitate in the face of parents' objections to take abused children under protective custody. However, it is believed that many welfare officials balk at resorting to such action out of concern that support for the family may not proceed smoothly if the action is taken over the parents' opposition.

Japan's efforts to stop child abuse are weak when compared with the systems in many Western countries. For example, in the United States, where efforts to prevent abuse of children started much earlier than in Japan, far greater numbers of child abuse cases are reported to and handled by child protection service agencies. Such agencies are staffed by far larger numbers of experts per capita than in Japan, and the police and the judiciary are more deeply involved in the effort against child abuse. What's lacking in our system to stop child abuse should be explored so that similar tragedies will not be repeated.



Mother, her boyfriend sentenced in boy's "beyond animalistic" child abuse death

by Crimesider Staff

LOS ANGELES -- A judge sentenced a California mother to life in prison Thursday and gave her boyfriend the death penalty in the "beyond animalistic" killing of the woman's 8-year-old son, who prosecutors say was punished because the couple believed he was gay. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George Lomeli told the couple that he hopes they wake up in the middle of the night and think of the injuries they inflicted on 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale.

"I can only wish ... that it tortures you," the judge said.

Gabriel was repeatedly beaten, starved, tied up, locked in a cabinet, shot with a BB gun and once had his teeth knocked out with a bat, the judge said. Court records also detailed that Gabriel had been doused with pepper spray, forced to eat his own vomit and locked in a cabinet with a sock stuffed in his mouth to muffle his screams, according to CBS Los Angeles.

"It is unimaginable the pain that this boy probably endured," Lomeli said.

The boy also had a fractured skull, broken ribs and burns across his body.

"It goes without saying that the conduct was horrendous and inhumane and nothing short of evil," Lomeli said. "It's beyond animalistic because animals know how to take care of their young."

Gabriel's mother, 34-year-old Pearl Fernandez, pleaded guilty to murder in February in the death of her son in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, reports CBS Los Angeles. A jury found her boyfriend, 37-year-old Isauro Aguirre, guilty of murder last year and found that he intentionally tortured the boy.

Fernandez called 911 on May 22, 2013, to report that her son wasn't breathing. She told responding deputies that he had fallen and hit his head on a dresser.

When paramedics arrived, they found Gabriel naked in a bedroom, not breathing, with a cracked skull, three broken ribs and BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin.

He died two days later of blunt-force trauma and neglect, the coroner's office found.

Gabriel's siblings testified that Fernandez and Aguirre would call the boy gay, punish him if he played with dolls and forced him to wear girls' clothes to school.

Gabriel's first-grade teacher, Jennifer Garcia, tearfully addressed the court ahead of Thursday's sentencing, saying she thinks of him every day and how he just wanted to be loved.

"I find comfort in believing he is now at peace," Garcia said. "And I know that unlike him, his abusers will never have peace. They will have a lifetime of suffering to endure, and I know I'm not alone in hoping they experience the same abuse in their lifetime and worse. They are evil people for what they did."

Gabriel's biological father, who is serving time for robbery, was also present at the sentencing hearing, but declined to speak. He watched the sentencing from his cell, reports CBS Los Angeles.

An expressionless Fernandez spoke briefly during the court hearing, saying she was sorry and wished Gabriel was alive. She also criticized family members who have spoken of their grief over Gabriel, saying they just want fame.

A jail chaplain who has met with Fernandez told the court that she loved her son and is a different woman today than when she walked into jail.

Several agencies investigated abuse allegations leading up to Gabriel's death. Garcia, the teacher, had called authorities to report that the boy had asked her if it was normal for a mother to hit her children with a belt, reports CBS Los Angeles.

On several occasions, investigators concluded there was no evidence of abuse.

Prosecutors have since filed charges of child abuse and falsifying records against four county social workers in Gabriel's death.


West Virginia

Who makes the call? New mandatory reporting law for child abuse, neglect is in effect

by Shauna Johnson

CHARLESTON, W.Va. The people required to report suspected or disclosed neglect and other abuse of kids should be clear under a new West Virginia law.

It's clarity that's needed, said Emily Chittenden-Laird, executive director of the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network.

During the past decade, “They (lawmakers) started to carve out special provisions for different situations and it got to where it was so confusing that mandated reporters really struggled to understand what their mandate was,” she explained.

“Whenever you're dealing with a child who is in a traumatic situation, who is disclosing issues, you need to be able to identify very quickly what to do.”

With the law, educators, child care workers, medical personnel, social workers and law enforcement officers are on the mandatory reporter list.

“Basically, it's individuals who by their profession or volunteer positions are placed into a position of trust for a child,” Chittenden-Laird said.

According to the law that took effect Tuesday, June 5, the full list of mandatory reporters includes the following:

Any medical, dental, or mental health professional, Christian Science practitioner, religious healer, school teacher or other school personnel, social service worker, child care or foster care worker, emergency medical services personnel, peace officer or law-enforcement official, humane officer, member of the clergy, circuit court judge, family court judge, employee of the Division of Juvenile Services, magistrate, youth camp administrator or counselor, employee, coach or volunteer of an entity that provides organized activities for children, or commercial film or photographic print processor who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is neglected or abused, including sexual abuse or sexual assault, or observes the child being subjected to conditions that are likely to result in abuse or neglect.

Mandatory reporters have no more than 24 hours to call the West Virginia Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, the centralized intake hotline for Child Protective Services, at 1-800-352-6513.

The previous time frame was 48 hours.

“In reality, these kids are in a very serious situation sometimes and we don't need to be waiting three or four days to make this report. We need it to happen as soon as is practically possible,” said Chittenden-Laird.

In cases where serious physical abuse, sexual abuse or sexual assault is disclosed or suspected, the mandatory reporter must also contact State Police and “any law-enforcement agency having jurisdiction to investigate the complaint.

“You can't report to your supervisor and expect your supervisor to make the report,” Chittenden-Laird noted.

“If you're the individual who has the concern about a child, who has received a disclosure, you need to call that number yourself.”

The mandated reporting legislation, SB 465 , passed during the 2018 Regular Legislative Session.

It came out of recommendations from the West Virginia Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children.



This is why summer is especially dangerous for abused children.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Texas reported more child fatalities than any other state in 2016, a sobering distinction the Lone Star State has held since 2012.

by Kris Betts

One day after news from Austin police that a 2-year-old boy was beaten to death, there's renewed concern about children's safety.

Summer has its own dangers to hundreds if not thousands of abused kids.

"Our investigators see some of the worst cases, just unimaginable things that go on,” explained Lisa Block with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Teachers, Block says, are the state's number one source for reporting abuse.

"They see them on a regular basis, they know when there's a change, a behavior change,” Block said.

Which means as soon as schools are out for summer, those trained watchful eyes are gone. So often, the abuse happens at the hands of the people who are supposed to love and protect kids the most.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Texas reported more child fatalities than any other state in 2016, a sobering distinction the Lone Star State has held since 2012.

In 2017, there were 33,559 victims of child abuse or neglect in the Central Texas region alone -- 38 for every 1,000 children here.

Most of the cases were neglectful supervision, physical abuse and sexual abuse according to state data .

So here are the signs to look for next time you're around children at the park, pool or store:

- Is the child acting unusual? Hyper emotional or sad

- Are there unexplained injuries, bruises or broken bones

- Does the child seem scared of one specific adult, family member or parent?

-- Look at clothing that seems too heavy for Texas heat. Abuse is often kept quiet, hidden beneath a shirt or pants.

Even if you think there's a chance a child is being abused, Block says don't worry about butting in.

Report it.

"You don't have to say who you are to give out details,” Block explains.

You can make an anonymous report by phone or online .

Call 1-800-252-5400 to report abuse concerns or dial 9-1-1 if the threat is immediate. You could save a child's life.


The teen suicide rate has more than doubled: Here's how you can save your child

by USA Today

Alarming new statistics show that our children are increasingly at risk of suicidal thoughts, attempts and deaths.

A new study led by Vanderbilt University, published last month in the academic journal, Pediatrics , reports a more than doubling from 2008 to 2015 of school-age children and adolescents hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Just more than half were youth between the ages of 15-17, followed by those between the ages of 12-14 (37 percent), and those ranging in ages from 5-11 (nearly 13 percent).

All told, suicide takes more lives of our youth than automobile accidents.

But there's more. The study also found two-thirds of children hospitalized for thinking about or trying to kill themselves were girls . But as we've seen with alarming frequency in national incidents of school gun violence, boys are more likely to die by suicide.

The sad truth: Suicide among our youth ages 10-24 was the second leading cause of death, behind unintentional injuries, in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The pace has quickened since 2006.

This is a crisis in which adults — parents, family members, medical professionals, school officials, clergy and others — must intervene bravely and immediately.

Why do people take their lives?

In his book, Why People Die by Suicide, Dr. Thomas E. Joiner, a psychology professor at Florida State University, attributes the desire to die by suicide to two things:

•  A disconnection from others

•  The perception of being a burden, of having more worth dead than alive

Joiner notes that desire alone is not enough. The ability to die must also be present, and a person's ability is developed over time, usually gradually.

Media consumption has an impact

A 2017 study co-authored by Joiner and published in Clinical Psychological Science investigated increased media use — social media, news on the Internet, computer and video games, etc. — and learned it is a potential contributor to the national jump in suicide rates among adolescents.

School angst

School-year angst also plays a part. The Vanderbilt study found suicidal thoughts and attempts peak in the fall and spring when many teenagers' performance pressures, college-entrance exams, AP tests, auditions and competitions are off the charts.

The rejection children feel when they are cut from a team or not selected for a school play fires a physical and painful response in the brain, Joiner reported.

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation, especially during the school year, can be a factor because it impacts a child's judgment and decision making. Substance abuse is a consideration, especially because it fuels impulsiveness, too.

You can make a difference

How to help? From the start, moms and dads must form and foster a sense of worth in their child. One simple, effective way, costs nothing and reaps myriad rewards: Tell your child you love them, every day.

Make sure they know there's nothing they could do to lose your love, and reinforce it with frequent hugs and words that build up and don't tear down. Tell your children that you are proud of them. Avoid making them feel like a burden. These simple acts can help mitigate the risks for suicide.

Be present in your child's life

•  Have a conversation with your child about suicide.

•  Spend more time with them, going on walks and even running errands for 30 minutes three times a week.

•  Give your children tasks around the home and tell them how valuable their help is.

•  Limit screen time and communicate those expectations in advance, issuing a reminder beforehand to avoid meltdowns.

•  Monitor their social media every day. You probably bought the phone. You can look at it.

•  Designate a central charging station in your home and insist your children surrender and plug-in their devices well before bedtime. (And practice what you preach to them.)

Watch for these signals

Children don't decide overnight to attempt suicide, rather, their thoughts and plans build. Watch for these signals your child may be approaching distress:

•  Noticeable changes in attitudes and behavior. Does your normally emotional child seem lethargic? Is your calm kid increasingly agitated? Is your child giving away his possessions?

•  Isolation. Does your child spend more time in their room alone and away from family and friends?

•  Physical complaints. Does your child have increased headaches, stomachaches or other pains?

•  Change in daily routine. Is your child missing school? Do they have slipping grades or a sudden disinterest in extracurricular activities? How's their appetite?

•  Overt verbal clues, or a preoccupation with death and dying. Is your child making threats or frequent mentions of death in person or on social media? Do they say they wishes they didn't exist or that the world would be a better place without them?

Take action in crisis

If your child is in crisis, face the situation head-on:

•  Talk about suicide. As parents, we often are afraid to ask, fearing it will perpetuate the thought. It won't. Ask directly “Do you want to kill yourself?” Ask what makes them want to die. Ask them to think about what they have to live for (a special pet, friend, relative).

•  Remove access to means. This includes guns, knives, ropes and belts, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication.

•  Seek professional help and evaluation. If you have private insurance, obtain a list of credentialed counselors in your area and call for an appointment.

•  It's an emergency. Know that the Crisis Response Network is available 24/7 and can immediately dispatch a mobile unit to help. If you think your child has overdosed call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency department.

More help:

•  Teen Lifeline , 602-248-8336 (TEEN) or 1-800-248-8336 (TEEN)

•  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline , 1-800-273-8255

•  Suicide Resource Center ( American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry )

•  Terros Health ,


How to Handle Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissists want power. Learn not to react to abuse, but to be strategic.

by Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT

We're all capable of abuse when we're frustrated or hurt. We may be guilty of criticizing, judging, withholding, and controlling, but some abusers, including narcissists, take abuse to a different level. Narcissistic Abuse can be physical, mental, emotional, sexual, financial, and/or spiritual . Some types of emotional abuse (link is external) are not easy to spot, including manipulation. (link is external) It can include emotional blackmail, using threats and intimidation to exercise control. Narcissists are masters of verbal abuse and manipulation. They can go so far as to make you doubt your own perceptions, called gaslighting.

The Motivation for Narcissistic Abuse
Remember that narcissistic personality disorder (link is external) (NPD) and abuse exist on a continuum, ranging from silence to violence. Rarely will a narcissist take responsibility for his or her behavior. Generally, they deny their actions, and augment the abuse by blaming the victim. Particularly, malignant narcissists aren't bothered by guilt. They can be sadistic and take pleasure in inflicting pain. They can be so competitive and unprincipled that they engage in anti-social behavior. Don't confuse narcissism with anti-social personality disorder. (link is external)

The objective of narcissistic abuse (link is external) is power. They act with the intent to diminish or even hurt other people. The most important thing to remember about intentional abuse is that it's designed to dominate you. Abusers' goals are to increase their control and authority, while creating doubt, shame (link is external) , and dependency in their victims. They want to feel superior to avoid hidden feelings of inferiority. Understanding this can empower you. Like all bullies, despite their defenses of rage, arrogance, and self-inflation, they suffer from shame . Appearing weak and humiliated is their biggest fear . Knowing this, it's essential not to take personally the words and actions of an abuser. This enables you to confront narcissistic abuse.

Mistakes in Dealing with Abuse
When you forget an abuser's motives, you may naturally react in some of these ineffective ways:

•  Appeasement . If you placate to avoid conflict and anger , it empowers the abuser, who sees it as weakness and an opportunity to exert more control.

•  Pleading. This also shows weakness, which narcissists despise in themselves and others. They may react dismissively with contempt or disgust.

•  Withdrawal. This is a good temporary tactic to collect your thoughts and emotions, but is not an effective strategy to deal with abuse.

•  Arguing and Fighting. Arguing over the facts wastes your energy. Most abusers aren't interested in the facts, but only in justifying their position and being right. Verbal arguments can quickly escalate to fights that drain and damage you. Nothing is gained. You lose and can end up feeling more victimized, hurt, and hopeless.

•  Explaining and Defending. Anything beyond a simple denial of a false accusation leaves you open to more abuse. When you address the content of what is being said and explain and defend your position, you endorse an abuser's right to judge, approve, or abuse you. Your reaction sends this message: “You have power over my self-esteem . You have the right to approve or disapprove of me. You're entitled to be my judge.”

•  Seeking Understanding. This can drive your behavior if you desperately want to be understood. It's based on the false hope that a narcissist is interested in understanding you, while a narcissist is only interested in winning a conflict and having the superior position. Depending upon the degree of narcissism, sharing your feelings may also expose you to more hurt or manipulation. It's better to share your feelings with someone safe who cares about them.

•  Criticizing and Complaining. Although they may act tough, because abusers are basically insecure, inside they're fragile. They can dish it, but can't take it. Complaining or criticizing an abuser can provoke rage and vindictiveness.

•  Threats. Making threats can lead to retaliation or backfire if you don't carry them out. Never make a threat you're not ready to enforce. Boundaries with direct consequences are more effective.

•  Denial. Don't fall into the trap of denial (link is external) by excusing, minimizing, or rationalizing abuse. And don't fantasize that it will go away or improve at some future time. The longer it goes on, the more it grows, and the weaker you can become.

•  Self-Blame. Don't blame yourself for an abuser's actions and try harder to be perfect. This is a delusion. You can't cause anyone to abuse you. You're only responsible for your own behavior. You will never be perfect enough for an abuser to stop their behavior, which stems from their insecurities not you.

1. Confronting Abuse Effectively
Allowing abuse damages your self-esteem. Thus, it's important to confront it. That doesn't mean to fight and argue. It means standing your ground and speaking up for yourself clearly and calmly and having boundaries (link is external) to protect your mind, emotions, and body. Before you set boundaries, you must:

2. Know Your Rights. You must feel entitled to be treated with respect and that you have specific rights, such as the right to your feelings, the right not to have sex if you decline, a right to privacy, a right not to be yelled at, touched, or disrespected. If you've been abused a long time (or as a child), your self-esteem likely has been diminished. You may no longer trust yourself or have confidence . Seek therapy, get support, and read 10 Steps to Self-Esteem-The Ultimate Guide to Stop Self-Criticism (link is external) and watch the webinar How to Raise Your Self-Esteem (link is external) .

3. Be Assertive. This takes learning and practice to avoid being passive or aggressive. Get How to Speak Your Mind?Become Assertive and Set Limits (link is external) and the webinar How to Be Assertive . (link is external) Try these short-term responses to dealing with verbal putdowns:

“I'll think about it.”
“I'll never be the good enough wife (husband) that you hoped for.”
“I don't like it when you criticize me. Please stop.” (Then walk away)
“That's your opinion. I disagree, (or) I don't see it that way."
“You're saying . . .” (Repeat what was said. Add, "Oh, I see.”)
“I won't to talk to you when you (describe abuse, e.g. "belittle me"). Then leave.
Agree to part that's true. “Yes, I burned the dinner.” Ignore “You're a rotten cook.”
Humor – “You're very cute when you get annoyed.”

4. Be Strategic. Know what you want specifically, what the narcissist wants, what your limits are, and where you have power in the relationship. You're dealing with someone highly defensive with a personality disorder . There are specific strategies to having an impact. Read the steps and scripts in Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People. (link is external)

5. Set Boundaries. Boundaries are rules that govern the way you want to be treated. People will treat you the way you allow them to. You must know what your boundaries are before you can communicate them. This means getting in touch with your feelings, listening to your body, knowing your rights, and learning assertiveness . They must be explicit. Don't hint or expect people to read your mind.

6. Have Consequences. After setting boundaries, if they're ignored, it's important to communicate and invoke consequences. These are not threats, but actions you take to protect yourself or meet your needs.

7. Be Educative. Research shows that narcissists have neurological deficits that affect their interpersonal reactions. You're best approach is to educate a narcissist like a child. Explain the impact of their behavior and provide incentives and encouragement for different behavior. This may involve communicating consequences. It requires planning what you're going to say without being emotional.

Get Support
To respond effectively requires support. Without it, you may languish in self-doubt and succumb to abusive disinformation and denigration. It's challenging to change your reactions, let alone those of anyone else. Expect pushback when you stand up for yourself. This is another reason why support is essential. You will need courage and consistency. Whether or not the narcissist makes changes, you'll get tools to protect yourself and raise your self-worth that will improve how you feel whether you stay or leave. CoDA meetings and psychotherapy provide guidance and support.


When you grow up as the invisible child (the impact of being raised by a narcissist)

The impact of being invisible as a child

by Sharie Stines

Were you the “invisible child” in your family growing up? Were you compliant and affable? Did you aim to please? Were you overlooked and ignored? Did your parents take your good nature for granted?

If you grew up as the invisible child in your family, you may struggle as an adult with your need to be seen. You may feel deep inside that you are worthless and fatally flawed. You may hustle for your value each day, jumping through hoops trying to prove your worth.

You may be easily triggered when someone ignores you or doesn't take your words in to account. When triggered you may have an emotional flashback of confused proportion. You may overly identify with others who also seem to be invalidated. You resonate with their sense of identity, or perhaps stated more appropriately, “lack of identity.”

The feelings of growing up invisible are existential in nature. If you grew up in a family where your needs, wants, and voice were discounted, then you most likely questioned your right to exist. This may not seem obvious at first, but after considering the implications of this concept, you will see that is exactly what is affected in “invisible” children.

If you grew up invisible, you most likely internalized a sense of not having an impact on others, and thus, the world. You don't have that sense that you matter; period. You don't matter to your parents. You don't matter to the world. You are insignificant and inconsequential.

Your identity is not fully developed when you have been raised in such a neglectful manner. With no one “mirroring” your value and specialness, you have a sense of void where your identity belongs. This is akin to a “hole in your heart,” yet more.

With this type of upbringing, your plumb line for life involves others' needs, wants, and desires, and never your own. You struggle with knowing who you are at the most basic of levels because so much of your early conditioning taught you to only see the other person.

Every one of us responds to mirroring. We mirror each other. You see me and I see you. In the case of the invisible child, no one sees her. She is not mirrored with adoring and accepting eyes. Instead, she is discounted and left feeling empty. Once this conditioning has set in, the invisible child grows up to be an invisible adult and struggles with finding her voice and her place on the planet.

How do you heal from being invisible?

You have to learn how to “claim your space” here on earth. You have to learn to own your right to exist, to breathe, to make mistakes, to have an opinion, to want, to need, to demand.

You also need to develop a sense of anger over the injustice done to you so that you can have the energy to move forward. Anger gives you power. You do not need to live in a state of bitterness and resentment, but feeling anger for the hurt caused to your vulnerable self is important for recovery.

All of these concepts are difficult to grasp. If you are a grown up invisible child, then you have had to traverse through every developmental stage of life without proper validation regarding your worth. You will need to understand your deficits and make a concerted effort to change.

Yes, it is unfair that you have to do all this work to undo the damage created by someone else; but regardless of the fairness of it all, it is the relationship with yourself that is your salvation.

Relationship traumas, such as emotional neglect and the abuse of absence are insidious at best. There are no scars or open wounds, yet the injury to the heart is profound and always underestimated.

In order to heal from this type of interpersonal trauma, you must do a few things. First, you must be willing to take on your inner world. Look within and see your hurt and unappreciated “inner child.” You must see her and know her. Let her know that there is hope for love and connection.

Once you are willing to see and acknowledge your hurt self, you must then be committed to being there for her. Turn toward your hurt self and let her be felt; by you. As you reckon with the pain from your past, by embracing all of your weaknesses and poor choices, you will begin the process of self-acceptance.

One of the problems with being the invisible child is that you believe, falsely, that you have no impact on others. This belief can be changed, but it will require cognitive behavior therapy. I suggest you teach yourself how to take your false beliefs and act in spite of them. For instance, you are most likely convinced that you don't matter. Rather than living each day as if this belief were a reality, I recommend that you use your imagination (pretend) that you do matter.

In essence, ask yourself, “How would I act if I believed I was loved?” Make your choices from the position of your “healthy self” rather than your “hurt self.” This is akin to “acting as if.”

In order to make decisions from the “healthy self” perspective, you must develop your healthy self. This is the part of you that is strong, nurturing, and protective. Visualize a strong inner self to help you make important decisions. Actually, it is probably best that your healthy self make all decisions.

One way to help yourself with this idea of developing an inner healthy self, or healthy parent, is by using imagery. Drawing can help. Put yourself in a reflective space and visualize an inner healthy adult. Drawing a picture can help. Draw your inner hurt self and then draw a picture of a healthy nurturing parent helping yourself; seeing your hurts.

Whenever you get challenged or stuck in a position of feeling “less than” others, perhaps caused by a trigger, stop and do some imagery. Be there for yourself and use imagery to “grow yourself up” in a healthy way.

Another aspect of healing from being raised as an irrelevant person is to develop “dis-confirming” relationships with others. In other words, develop relationships with others that disconfirm that you are irrelevant and invisible. Pick friendships with people who can “see” you and care about who you are and what you have to say.

You will heal from the experience of not mattering by mattering. Getting a good therapist to help you with this is highly recommended. Also, join a healthy support group. Anything you can do to put yourself in the position of developing healthy, satisfying relationships with others in order to experience yourself connecting to others will undo the damage caused in early childhood. It may not totally provide secure attachment for you, but it's the next best thing to doing so.

You will heal as you create a new life for yourself. One that is full of self-compassion, safe people, flexibility, and strength. Take your healing process one day and one step at a time.



Sexually assaulted at 94: One brave woman shares her story

by Starts At 60 Writers

A 96-year-old woman has told The Weekend Australian Magazine of a terrifying sexual assault she was subjected to at her retirement village , saying she believes she was targeted by the attacker because he thought people wouldn't believe a “very old” woman.

Her experience showed, sadly, that the attacker was almost correct – she very nearly was not believed when she attempted to report the attack. But Margaret Solis continued to tell her story and pursued her attacker to court, where he pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges.

Solis has waived her right to anonymity in order to tell her harrowing story to The Weekend Australian Magazine , but her attacker's identity has been withheld by the publication because it may hamper other legal proceedings against him. The magazine's report makes clear, however, that Solis is far from alone in being an older female victim of sexual assault.

A study found that there were almost 400 reports of unlawful sexual contact, including some involving force, against women aged 60-plus in the year to June 2014. And Di Macleod, a director of the Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence told The Weekend Australian Magazine that such cases were not at all rare, but that in the same way that society previously didn't want to believe that children could be sexually abused, there is a similar societal blindness to sexual abuse on elderly people.

You can read Solis' story in full in the magazine , but in short, with her husband Mick no longer alive and her only child, a 70-year-old son, suffering from Alzheimer's, Solis moved into a privately owned ‘independent living community' in Brisbane, Queensland. She lived there for five years before a temporary on-site manager was brought in to replace the long-time managers while they went on holiday.

This temporary manager, a 69-year-old man, forced his way into Solis' home and assaulted her. He also allegedly assaulted two other women living in the same community, one of whom has dementia. When Solis, who was 94 at the time, attempted to complain to the long-time managers, she was reportedly accused of having “a urinary tract infection that was addling her brain”. When she called the Elder Abuse Helpline, she was allegedly told that it could not assist on sexual abuse issues.

(The Elder Abuse Helpline site does offer advice on warning signs of sexual abuse being committed on older people , with the site saying that rough or inappropriate washing by a carer or forced nudity could be considered sexual abuse alongside more commonly recognised forms of abuse such as rape.)

It was not until she spoke to the manager of a senior's club that she attended weekly that she was taken seriously. The manager reported the assault to police, and when the case went to court in March, Solis' attacker pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual assault – one on Solis and one on another resident – but was given just a six-month suspended sentence with a two-year good-behaviour condition.

Solis, who is now living happily in a new aged care facility in Brisbane, told The Weekend Australian Magazine that she thought her attacker targeted her because she was an easy victim. But the British-born 96-year-old, who was a nurse for six years during World War II and, after she emigrated to Australia in 1960, spent the rest of her nursing career at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, said she was no soft touch.

“I think he picked me because I was very old,” ­Solis said. “He probably thought that at 94 I wouldn't be believed, that they'd think I'd gone gaga. Or better still, that I'd just keep my mouth shut … Now I feel I have avenged myself and avenged all those other elderly women he would have gone on to assault.”

The government's My Aged Care site offers contact details for anyone concerned about any form of elder abuse . The OPAL (Older People And SexuaLity) Institute offered support and guidance in Solis' case, and can be contacted here .

“There is a commonly held myth that sexual abuse is rare. It is more accurate to say that sexual abuse is rarely reported – and it is important to understand that older women rarely report sexual abuse because we have not created safe spaces for reporting, the institute's director, Dr Catherine Barrett, says, adding that she believes Solis is the first older woman in Australia to openly share her story of sexual abuse.



Expert warns of summer sex trafficking dangers

by KATU News

Local kids will soon be out of school for summer break, and experts say sex predators and traffickers will be hard at work.

They say children can be trafficked from the comfort of their own home through social media, on their phones and even while gaming online.

Lynne Barletta is the founder of Catch the Wave of Hope , which is a nonprofit organization that has a mission to stop human trafficking. She says during the summer, traffickers are also at beaches, in malls – anywhere children and teens could be unsupervised.

“That's where they make their approaches, and that's where they try to begin their grooming technique,” Barletta says.

While anyone can be a victim, she says 13-year-old girls and 11-year-old boys are the prime targets, and the children used to recruit them are often the same age.

“They have expert training by their traffickers, so they know how to approach a child, how to make something seem appealing, how to make them seem non-life-threatening and invite them,” says Barletta.

So how do they get close to someone?

Experts say offers of modeling or other summer dream jobs are popular techniques. Last year, Barletta says a mother came to her after her daughter received an Instagram message that seemed strange.

“This is something that might appeal to a young girl in high school,” Barletta says. “They're doing a big summer hiring push, would you be down with this? That was that last sentence.”

It was a first step in the recruiting process.

Barletta says knowing what your child is doing and who they're with could save their life.

“If the child leaves and goes to meet them, and the parents are unaware of this, it could be too late,” says Barletta.

Help your kids by communicating

Be emotionally available – predators often target kids who crave attention;

Set internet and cellphone rules – many victims are first approached on the internet;

Explain what sex trafficking is in frank terms.


Look for new friends you're not familiar with;

Or changes in dress, attitude, behavior;

And a sudden influx of money can mean they're being groomed;

And keep your eyes open when you're out and about – a vast majority of child-victim rescues begin with a phone call.

Oregon's human trafficking line is 503-251-2479.



Sex trafficking of juveniles in Indiana sees an increase

by Laura Atwood

ANDERSON — A drive from Atlanta to Nashville to Louisville to Indianapolis to Chicago to Fort Wayne can be completed in one day.

Interstate 69, the highway that passes through Madison County is a breeding ground for human trafficking.

This isn't a "Dr. Phil" episode. Masked assailants aren't jumping out of unmarked vans to capture girls on spring break in a faraway vacation spot. It happens here.

Actually, it happens so often that studies show human trafficking is a rapidly growing crime in Indiana. Phone tips reporting suspected human trafficking quadrupled from 2014, with 130 reports, to '16, with 520 reports, according to the Indiana State Report on Human Trafficking 2016.

The 2017 report has not yet been released.

A particularly vulnerable — and under-reported — segment of the crime is sex trafficking of juveniles.

The majority of sex trafficking of minors is familial; caregivers and immediate family sell their children or pimp them out in exchange for money or drugs, says Katrina Mallory, the director of TRU Harbor. Mallory has worked with sex trafficking survivors for more than five years, acting as an individual psychologist and a forensic psychologist as well as giving expert testimony on the subject in court.

"It's not just an international problem," she said. "It's happening here in Indiana. Parents, aunts, uncles, maybe only when you go to grandparents over the summer."

Mallory asked to pardon her bluntness when she made the analogy that to traffickers, children are just a commodity and their services are merely a transaction.

"You can only manufacture, distribute and use a drug one time. Then you have to go back through the process of cooking it and distributing it and packaging it," Mallory said. "With children, traffickers can sell that kid 10 times a day, year after year. That's how traffickers look at our children, as a reusable commodity."

Traffickers organize meet-ups, control transport and employ recruits. Recruiters go out and find vulnerable children, mostly girls, to become victims, she said.

"One of my girls was recruited by an older woman who was the mother of the pimp. The older woman, she was very trusting, made her a meal, spent a lot of time with her and then just handed her off to her pimp. He was her pimp for the next five years," Mallory said.

Traffickers hold the money, control the ring and send out recruiters to coerce girls, by providing a supportive role in that girls' life. Recruitment takes one to three months, leading the girl to become entirely dependent on her pimp.

Minors are no longer prosecuted for prostitution as of 2017. Mallory said that while victims shouldn't be charged for the crimes committed against them, now it is difficult to get minors into programs where they can get help.

Available programs address crime, drug addictions and behavioral issues but aren't tailored for the specific needs of a trafficking victim, which is why Youth Opportunity Center and Mallory decided to open TRU Harbor.

TRU Harbor is a residential rehabilitation program for girls ages 11 to 18. The center, located in New Castle, is the only one of its kind in Indiana. The facility will be open in late June or early July, Mallory said.

The program is typically a year-long, indepth treatment including individual, group and family — if the family is viable — therapy. TRU Harbor staffs a full-time teacher with online curriculum to help residents catch up in school. The program also holds independent living training which teaches the girls personal hygiene, how to cook, and how to become financially responsible.

Soroptomist Anderson, a volunteer organization invested in empowering women and girls through education, found out about TRU Harbor and decided they wanted to take on a new project.

Volunteering at TRU Harbor is organized into tiers in order to keep expectations in check and to protect the residents.

"We really need to make sure we keep our commitment," Soroptomist President Barb Donnell said. "Whatever level we get involved at, we need to be there. We can't just be another thing that stops showing up. We can't break their trust, because that's just what they've always experienced."

Donnell and Soroptomist member Kathy Barrett visited the facility and they were impressed, empowered to help, but saddened for its necessity.

"This just kills me, it's family selling those kids," said Barrett. "I keep calling them women, but these are girls. They're going through very adult things."

TRU Harbor is now waiting to pass final inspections and sign paperwork. They're testing fire alarms, making sure doors are secure, but otherwise, they're ready to open, Mallory said.

The facility is ready. Staff has been hired. The curriculum is in place. There are 16 beds waiting for girls who need a safe place to lay their heads, Mallory said.

"I know that every day we don't open there are girls sitting in detention facilities, missing treatment," she said. "I'm so ready. I'm ready to open our doors so we can help girls."

At a glance

Victims don't identify as victims

If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, call:

National Human Trafficking Resource Center: 1-888-373-7888

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 1-800-843-5678

Statistics for Indiana in 2016

178 minors discovered in trafficking situations

Girls: 94%

White: 60%

Age 15 or younger: 30%

Ages 12-14: 10%

Associated risk factors

• Violence against parent by an intimate partner

• Primary caregiver engaged in prostitution

• Abuse by boyfriend/girlfriend

• Sexual abuse or rape victim

• Runaway

• Involved in foster care system

• Ties to organized crime

Common behaviors include: Aggressive, angry, argumentative, defiant, substance abuse, self-harming, suicide, running away.

Source: Indiana State Report on Human Trafficking 2016

NOTE: Katrina Mallory cautions that statistics on sex trafficking of juveniles are unreliable due to the underground and under-reported nature of the crime.



Sex trafficking sting: FBI rescies 160 children, some as young as 3-years-old

by Kia Morgan-Smith

The FBI and Georgia law enforcement officials saved Atlanta 160 children and made dozens of arrests in a sex sting that stunned the city, reports WSBTV.

Named “Operation Safe Summer,” the FBI's Atlanta field office and 38 law enforcement agencies teamed up to take down human traffickers in six metro counties, assistant Special Agent in Charge Matt Alcok said.

“They are crimes of special concern to the FBI and to law enforcement generally,” Alcoke said. “Because the victims are so vulnerable as children and because the offenders could be from just about any walk of life, from a gang member all the way up to someone who is highly successful and wealthy.”

Of the 160 children who were freed, some were as young as three years old. There were nearly 150 arrests, convictions or sentences, officials said.

Alcoke said agents focused on initiating this operation in the summer months, which is high time for human trafficking since children are out and about playing and kidnappers are preying.

“It's important for those of us who are responsible for the children, the parents, the guardians, the older siblings, to not let children fall away [from] those strongly centered circles of importance,” Alcoke said.

A convicted sex offender was apprehended and arrested as well. Alcoke said Trevey Parks pimped a minor to work and trade sex for him.

“Trevey Parks is one of the worst of the worst,” Alcoke said. “He enticed a child to travel for sex with him. He was ultimately arrested in a joint effort by us and the local police.”

Department spokesman Howard Miller said most of the sexual requests were made through an online website that has now been removed.

Backpage has been taken down. A lot these pages will pop up and be available for a few days. They'll have the types of information and the people available on it, our agents will take a look at that and start their investigation and before they know it, the page is down,” Miller said.



Exposing Human Trafficking Darkness

The trap of human trafficking exist in Kootenai County and a pair of nonprofits are reaching out to all areas of the state to expose the manipulative crime.

by Brian Walker

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — The traps of human trafficking exist in Kootenai County and a pair of nonprofits are reaching out to all areas of the state to expose the manipulative crime.

"It typically starts online with a shower of grooming and attention, then you become owned and cut off from the outside world," said Jennifer Zielinski, executive director of the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition that formed a year ago and became a nonprofit four months ago to create awareness and set up "safe homes" for victims.

"The victims fall in love with the trafficker, are brainwashed and not easy to communicate with. It's a vicious circle."

The coalition teamed up with another Boise-area nonprofit, Community Outreach Behavioral Services (COBS), which provides trauma care for human trafficking victims, to present a seminar to about 125 attendees on at Lake City Church.

"When we held an event like this in Boise we had a lot of individuals from north Idaho who requested that we bring it up here, so we thought we'd honor that," Zielinski said.

She said the coalition hopes to find data that points to just how prevalent human trafficking is here, but with its proximity to Spokane, that makes it a vulnerable place for trafficking. She said Spokane is a hotspot for such activity.

Service providers, workers around homes and the community at large can do their part to bring down human trafficking, a form of "modern slavery" in which a person is forced to perform acts through force, coercion and intimidation.

Last year a 17-year-old Post Falls girl was caught in a human trafficking ring in the Seattle area before teen Jacob Stuart and his mother, Michelle, helped crack the case when they discovered the clothing the victim was wearing matched that of a girl's on an online escort ad. A male and female were subsequently arrested.

Stuart and his mom, along with former Post Falls school resource officer Troy Roberg, were honored by the police department for their efforts.

Tami Brown, of Coeur d'Alene, said she attended June 4 seminar because she wants her teens to know just how enticing people can be.

"You can be promised money and fame and, when the going gets tough, that can sound wonderful," she said. "But, before you know it, you're caught in their trap and can't get out. It's sickening to see what takes place."

Kevin Zielinski, Jennifer's husband, said the couple made the gut-wrenching decision to place their foster child in a facility, only to find out nine months later she and others were sexually abused by the house parents.

"Human trafficking hides behind religion, badges, business, courthouses, classrooms, social media and even families," he said.

He said his redemption is being a part of the coalition and educating the public about what to look for, including victims being overly tired, dressing less appropriately than before, bragging about having a lot of money and signs of physical abuse. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one in six runaways are likely sex trafficking victims.

The types of human trafficking are sex trafficking (escort services, porn, prostitution), labor trafficking (carnivals, traveling sales crews, agriculture/landscaping, nail salon, illicit massage businesses, peddling/begging) or a combination of both (arts and entertainment, strip clubs).

"It's a low-risk, high profit criminal activity," Paula Barthelmess, of COBS and guest speaker, said of the multi-billion-dollar industry. "It's hard to recognize, unless you're looking for it."

Traffickers can be older boyfriends, the nice boy next door, women, business professionals and travel agents.

"They know the digital world isn't going away, and they're waiting to start that conversation with your sweet little children when they're vulnerable," Barthelmess said. "They'll offer to buy them drugs or alcohol when no one else will. I guarantee you they're in malls."

Zielinski said the belief that human trafficking is confined to mostly young girls in metro areas isn't true, because boys, adults and those in rural areas are also targeted.

"It's happening all over the state," she said. "Our borders are what causes a lot of access for traffickers. Rural communities are easy targets because they are isolated. There are a lot of adults still owned by traffickers who happen to be their pimp, and there's a rising number of boys being sold."

In the United States alone, nearly 300,000 children are trafficked for sex every year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The problem is, most victims don't even realize it is happening.

"It's so calculated and manipulative, and you can't find your way out," Zielinski said. "Oftentimes a young man around the same age will spend months and months grooming an individual before taking her to the trafficker. College campuses are being increasingly targeted. It's scary how often it is happening."

Zielinski said it's going to take all sides working together, including legislators, law enforcement, the courts, victims, nonprofits and others, to tackle human trafficking. She said she believes steps are being made, including training for teachers.

The coalition's first mission is to have a safe house for juvenile victims of human trafficking in the Boise area, followed by one for adults. She hopes those models will then spread to other areas of the state.

"It's a horrific industry, and it's no longer underground," she said.

Federal law enforcement authorities in April seized and its affiliated websites to crack down on human trafficking.

"But there's going to be another (source) and another one . ," Barthelmess said.


United Kingdom

Gucci donates fabrics to sex trafficking victims working in dressmaking shop

by Faima Bakar

The folks at Gucci have shown their charitable side, donating 13,000 feet of leftover designer fabric to a dressmaking shop.

And those that work in the shop are victims of trafficking, namely Nigerian women who were forced into sex work in Italy.

The women have received the top-notch raw materials and have been taught how to design, sketch, and sew by Italian students.

The designs feature Gucci silks, satins, and cotton with bright African prints.

At the end of it all, the Nigerian dressmakers will then put on a fashion show in Rome, showing off their creations.

Josephine Phillips, a 35-year-old Nigerian woman who works in the New Hope workshop said she was delighted with Gucci's offerings.

‘When I saw the fabric I was amazed,' she said. ‘We weren't expecting such beautiful things — satins, materials I didn't know.'

Gucci's philanthropic donations were part of the fashion show's environmental initiative, Equilibrium, which aims to distribute leftover leather and fabrics to organisations that work with marginalised groups.

Sister Rita Giaretta started the New Hope tailoring cooperative in her home in the southern city of Caserta which mostly dealt with making bags and accessories.

The project got into dressmaking after students from the local high school got involved.

Sister Rita, who runs a home for rescued migrants, said the initiative was to equip the women with skills so they could go on to find work and not rely on handouts.

‘Giving them their dignity means putting them back on their feet and believing in themselves and not seeing themselves only as in a situation of need,' she said.

Gucci might've just helped them do that.


Dept of Jusctice


California Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Proson for Traveling to Thailand and Sexually Abusing Minor Boys

WASHINGTON – A Los Angeles resident was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for two child exploitation offenses, including engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places and traveling in foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Joseph Macias of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles.

Paul Alan Shapiro, 71, a retired auto dealership employee, pleaded guilty one day before he was set to go on trial on July 24, 2017. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Shapiro will serve 10 years in federal prison, 20 years of supervised release following his prison sentence, and will pay $20,000 total to two victims, both of whom are citizens of the Kingdom of Thailand. U.S. District Court Judge Dolly M. Gee of the Central District of California presided over today’s sentencing.

According to plea documents, Shapiro traveled from Los Angeles to Thailand on numerous occasions over the past 20 years, and engaged in sexual acts with male boys under the age of 16 on multiple occasions. On at least two occasions in September 2012, Shapiro paid minors as young as 13 years old small amounts of local currency in order to engage in various sex acts with them. According to other documents filed in the case, Shapiro photographed these encounters of himself engaging in sexually explicit conduct with the boys.

HSI conducted the investigation. Trial Attorneys Austin M. Berry and Ralph Paradiso of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

If you have questions, please use the contacts in the message or call the Office of Public Affairs at 202-514-2007.

Thom Mrozek, US Dept of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
202 / 514-2007