National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse


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EDITOR'S NOTE: Occasionally we bring you articles from local newspapers, web sites and other sources that constitute but a small percentage of the information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse and recovery from it.

We present articles such as this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
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Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.

We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.
Recent News - News from other times

April - Week 4
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.


Child abuse: a real issue in our community

by Sharinda Williams

ALBANY, GA - The lyrics of Whitney Houston's song " Greatest Love of All" state that the children are our future, but that future looks grim for many kids across the nation that every ten seconds are involved in a case of child abuse and neglect

Child Therapist Lisa Spears says, "I don't think the community realizes that Child Abuse is real and around us. An issue that is happening from day to day and we have to make sure our eyes are open."

Open Arms. Inc. wants the community to be aware of this growing problem and to erase the misconceptions that come along with it.

Spears says,"Child abuse spans over every race, culture, religion, and socio-economic situation."

Most associate child abuse through a physical aspect but the most common form is actually emotional abuse.

Spears says, "Children are the targets of insults of being ridiculed and being made to feel like they are worthless, unacceptable, and unlovable."

The program also stresses the importance of standing up and reporting any incidents of child abuse.

Dr. Angela Shumate says, "When a community invests honesty in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship."

Diane Simmons says, "No one chooses to be abused no one chooses to be neglected. "




by Adam Rodewald

Two-year-old Jovani Martinez was killed over spilled milk.

In March 2010, the 40-year-old boyfriend of the toddler's mother became enraged and punched the little boy repeatedly for shaking his bottle and sprinkling milk on his newborn sister. The blows perforated the Racine boy's intestines, broke his ribs, and lacerated his liver and pancreas. Jovani's mother waited days before taking him to the hospital, where he died.

The state later determined that county child protection workers, who had been alerted to trouble at the boy's home eight times since 2007, failed to take proper action. The agency's assessments of the family were incomplete and untimely, the state said.

Although no one can say for certain whether the county could have prevented the boy's death, similar mistakes have occurred numerous times across the state, Gannett Wisconsin Media has found.

A review of public records found county agencies failed to meet state child welfare standards in 46 of the 129 most serious cases of abuse and neglect in Wisconsin during 2010 and 2011 -- including an incident involving a Marathon County baby.

Of the 46 cases, 29 involved guardians who had been reported to authorities at least once before a child was hurt or killed.

Kimberly Day, coordinator of the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, called Gannett Wisconsin's findings "alarming."

"There's a pretty large spectrum of what can happen as a result of these types of incidents, but death is the most tragic. And that does happen," Day said.

State officials denied there's a serious problem with child protection in Wisconsin, where one out of every 270 minors -- a total of 4,839 -- was a victim of abuse or neglect in 2010 alone.

"I don't necessarily think that we have a crisis or problem, that we're missing abuse that we're not seeing," said John Elliott, deputy administrator in the Department of Children and Families Division of Safety and Permanence. "We don't think we're broken now, but we think there's room for improvement."

Standards, shortcomings

Elliott's agency oversees county child protection services and sets standards such as the amount of information case workers should gather, the speed at which they should act and the criteria upon which to base decisions.

Incident disclosure reports, as well as audits of nine counties examined by the state since 2010, found that child protection workers sometimes failed to gather enough information to determine properly whether to investigate abuse claims, took too long to complete investigations, incorrectly dismissed referrals and lost information.

In one February 2011 case the state reviewed, an abusive father from Marathon County broke his infant's ribs. The baby's parents had been referred to child protective services earlier in the month because of bruises and scratches, but the county determined abuse was not the cause and that the home was safe. The state later said the county's investigation didn't follow standards, although its report did not identify specific errors.

In a Langlade County case from October 2010, a mother ignored her 8-year-old daughter's asthma attack until the girl was so ill she ended up hospitalized in critical condition. The county's child protection workers knew the family from multiple previous reports of neglect, and at one point had removed the girl from her mother's care. However, just a month before the asthma attack, the county was unable to substantiate another incident of suspected neglect and left the girl with her mom -- even though the child also ended up in the hospital during that investigation.

The state later determined that Langlade County mishandled its investigation of the girl's case, but noted that the county now is addressing "the effectiveness of safety plans for families with substance abuse" and improving its collaboration with health care workers to spot abuse and neglect.

Supervisors of county agencies say they work diligently to ensure they're correctly interpreting and following the rules. But insufficient resources, confusing standards and the complexity of the job can get in the way.

"I hesitate to say that something as varied as human behavior can be contained in a black-and-white system," said Mary Wiatrowski, a child protection supervisor in Winnebago County. "While the effort is made by the federal and state government to give us all the guidelines under the sun, every situation can't be given to us. There is always some reliance on professional judgment."

Cases are further complicated because protective services must walk a fine line between a child's right to live in a safe home and parents' rights to raise a family as they choose.

The state found that low staffing levels hinder Brown County's ability to meet requirements. The agency has 13 employees who handle initial investigations -- about one worker for every 4,600 children in the county.

The issue was noted in a 2010 audit, which found Brown County was too slow in 75 percent of its investigations. State standards require investigations to be completed within 60 days.

"We truly can't sacrifice child safety because of staffing levels. We'll work overtime, but if your staff are stressed out 24/7, you'll have staff leave and you'll see it reflect in their work," said Kevin Brennan, Brown County's child protection supervisor.

Getting on track

Not all counties miss the state marks.

A February 2011 report issued by the Department of Children and Family's Quality Improvement Division recognized Dane and Fond du Lac counties for having good practices. Both were praised for providing child protection staff with guidebooks detailing what workers should gather during investigations.

Members of Marathon County's child protection agency regularly participate in roundtable discussions hosted by the state at which counties discuss the standards and best practices, said child protection supervisor Dawn Perez.

"Based on those roundtable discussions, I do believe we follow the standards," she said.

Susan Conwell, executive director of Kids Matter Inc., a Milwaukee-based organization that works with abused and neglected youths, thinks county agencies are trying their best, but says the state hasn't adequately explained how to apply its standards.

"If you're in a business and one-third of your staff doesn't know what they're doing, that's a huge problem," Conwell said. "Imagine if one in three tax returns was processed wrong by the IRS. That would be concerning, wouldn't it? We should be even more concerned about kids' lives."

Conwell said the state should share detailed analyses of concerns identified in the public disclosure reports with all counties so they could learn from others' mistakes.

Those details, she said, now are shared upon request, but the state has not explicitly told county agency supervisors of the availability.

"People are so afraid of publicly talking about a mistake that we're not learning from them," Conwell said.

The state is developing best practices to better define the outcomes, values, strategies and skills expected of county agencies, said Elliott, the deputy administrator. Training efforts will begin this year.

On the federal level, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in December proposed a bill known as the Protect Our Children Act, which would create a national commission to study and evaluate federal, state and private child welfare systems.

The measure came in response to a report by experts at the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths that estimated 2,500 children die each year in the U.S. from abuse or neglect. That's 50 percent more than government agencies report.

None of the bill's supporters is from Wisconsin.

Mark Lyday, director of child advocacy and protection services for the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, said improvement is an urgent matter.

"I think it is incumbent on the state of Wisconsin to become more aggressive at auditing and paying attention to these issues," Lyday said. "If we had a better, systemic way of identifying these children (being abused), it would have wide-ranging benefits for families and society."

"If you're in a business and one-third of your staff doesn't know what they're doing, that's a huge problem," Conwell said. "Imagine if one in three tax returns was processed wrong by the IRS. That would be concerning, wouldn't it? We should be even more concerned about kids' lives."

Conwell said the state should share detailed analyses of concerns identified in the public disclosure reports with all counties so they could learn from others' mistakes.

Those details, she said, now are shared upon request, but the state has not explicitly told county agency supervisors of the availability.

"People are so afraid of publicly talking about a mistake that we're not learning from them," Conwell said.

The state is developing best practices to better define the outcomes, values, strategies and skills expected of county agencies, said Elliott, the deputy administrator. Training efforts will begin this year.

On the federal level, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in December proposed a bill known as the Protect Our Children Act, which would create a national commission to study and evaluate federal, state and private child welfare systems.

The measure came in response to a report by experts at the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths that estimated 2,500 children die each year in the U.S. from abuse or neglect. That's 50 percent more than government agencies report.

None of the bill's supporters is from Wisconsin.

Mark Lyday, director of child advocacy and protection services for the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, said improvement is an urgent matter.

"I think it is incumbent on the state of Wisconsin to become more aggressive at auditing and paying attention to these issues," Lyday said. "If we had a better, systemic way of identifying these children (being abused), it would have wide-ranging benefits for families and society."

Tips on prevention, response

Discipline thoughtfully: Never discipline when you are upset. Use privileges to enforce good behavior and time-outs to help children regain control.

Examine your behavior: Abuse is not only physical. Words and actions can inflict deep, lasting wounds. Show your child that conflict can be resolved without hitting or yelling.

Educate yourself and others: Know what child abuse is. Physical and sexual abuses are easier to define, but neglect or failure to provide needed clothing, food and care also is wrong.

Support prevention programs: Intervention often only happens after abuse has been reported. More investment volunteerism is needed in prevention efforts, such as family counseling and home visitations.

Know the signs: Common signs of abuse or neglect include fear of certain adults, difficulty trusting others and making friends, sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, inappropriate sexual behaviors, poor hygiene, secrecy and hostility.

Report abuse: If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse or neglect, make a report to your county's child protective services unit or local police.

Source: Child Welfare League of America

Public disclosure law

The Wisconsin Child Welfare Public Disclosure Act was signed into law Nov. 13, 2009, and took effect Feb. 1, 2010. It requires the state to notify the public in cases of child death, serious injury and egregious incidents because of maltreatment or suspected maltreatment and if a child in foster care commits suicide. The law requires county child protection agencies to report the incidents to the state within two working days of learning of them. The state must then notify the public within the following two days. A summary report including information about the child's family, past history with child protection agencies and any mistakes made by the investigating county must be completed within 90 days and submitted to the governor and appropriate legislative committees and be made available to the public.

By the numbers

The number of children identified by child protective service agencies as victims of abuse or neglect in 2010, the most recent year for which statewide data is available, by county:

» Brown: 184
» Calumet: 35
» Fond du Lac: 121
» Manitowoc: 96
» Marathon: 165
» Outagamie: 216
» Portage: 8
» Sheboygan: 76
» Winnebago: 184
» Wood: 107
» Statewide: 4,839

Source: Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

About this report

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. To gauge how well county-operated child protection agencies in Wisconsin are adhering to state standards in handling cases, the Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team analyzed state records detailing 129 serious incidents involving abuse or neglect that happened statewide in 2010 and 2011. The records covered cases beginning in February 2010, when state law began requiring the public documentation. The newspaper team also relied on county audit reports, statistical data collected by the state and interviews during its months-long investigation. All records were obtained from the state Department of Children and Families.



Stressed system: Rise in child abuse reports sets Brown Co. officials to action

by Doug Schneider

A spike in child abuse and neglect reports this year has Brown County leaders vowing to do more to stem the tide.

The human services department is bringing in two temporary social workers and is tapping its juvenile justice division for additional manpower. United Way agencies are studying potential partnerships that would enable more resources to be committed. And lawmakers say they're moving the issue higher on their priority lists to stop what has been double-digit percentage jumps in reported abuse and neglect cases in each of the first three months of 2012.

“We need everyone to get involved,” said Patrick Evans, a supervisor who has headed the county's Human Services Committee since 2004. “Say something. Stand up. Get involved.”

The numbers

Reports of abuse and neglect in the county were up 17 percent from January 2011 to January 2012. In February, reports rose 45 percent, and March showed a 19 percent increase.

The largest jump is in reports of physical abuse, which rose to 492 for the quarter compared with 456 a year earlier. The rising numbers measure “referrals” – cases reported to police or agencies for review.

About three of every 100 Wisconsin children is reportedly abused or neglected in a year, according to the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Report for 2010, the most recent year for which the report is available.

Child abuse covers everything from physical to sexual to emotional. Neglect involves failing to adequately provide a child's basic needs, including food, clothing or medical care.

The Brown County increase comes at a time when it has more workers to deal with abuse and neglect. Though the county's human services budget was cut by more than $5 million for 2012, the department added four child-protection caseworkers by restructuring staff.

Through March, Brown County received reports of 1,086 cases of suspected child abuse, according to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. County child-protection officials reviewed those reports and determined that 29 percent required further action. Statewide, almost 12,000 reports were made with 37.5 percent judged worthy of further action.

The reporting process

Police say it's better that someone report suspicions of abuse than ignore it.

“We'd much rather investigate something and have it turn out to be unfounded than to have someone suspect something and stay silent,” Sheriff's Capt. Jeff Sanborn said.

But human services officials couldn't say whether there has been a corresponding increase in actual abuse cases. They aren't yet able to explain the reason for the increase other than to say that some may be related to the sluggish economy.

“Was I surprised by the numbers? Not necessarily. But am I frustrated? Obviously,” said Gregg Hetue, executive director of Brown County United Way. “When people feel frustrated with their living conditions, it may drive (abuse) issues.”

The United Way has been in talks with human services officials in the hopes of improving abuse-prevention efforts, he said.

Hetue said he and Human Services Director Brian Shoup are discussing ways that government and other agencies can work together to focus more resources on preventing abuse from occurring, rather than simply responding to it.

The county already contracts with agencies such as Green Bay-based Willow Tree Cornerstone Child Advocacy Center to care for victims, for example. But officials say more can be done to reduce abuse.

“We already have waiting lists in some places, and some of our program partners are having to turn some people away,” United Way spokesman Adam Hardy said.

On the government end, Shoup said his department is adding two temporary social workers to deal with the increased workload, and has been studying the increase so it can make decisions in the coming months about how to proceed. Although the department's mandate focuses on responding to reports of abuse and neglect and protecting the children involved, Shoup said, further efforts at prevention “would be a smart thing (for the county) to do.”

It's possible that the department may seek more money from the County Board this year or for 2013, though that has not yet been determined. County Board Chairman Patrick Moynihan Jr. said the board would be willing to hear a request.

“I was startled when I heard that reports were up 45 percent in February,” he said. “We have to get our arms around this, and eradicate it if we can.”


Verbal abuse of autistic student sparks calls for reform

by Jim Walsh and Phil Dunn

CHERRY HILL, N.J. – When harsh words flew in a classroom for autistic children here, the school employees who spoke them likely thought no one in authority would ever hear.

"Shut up," shouted one staffer, unaware that a digital recorder was hidden in the pocket of 10-year-old Akian Chaifetz.

"Go ahead and scream because guess what? You're going to get nothing until your mouth is shut.

"Oh Akian, you are a bastard."

But after the boy's father, Stuart Chaifetz, released excerpts of the tape in an online video last week, millions of people learned what was said at the Horace Mann Elementary School.

Now, educators and others are trying to figure out just what the incident means.

"What happened in the classroom is not excusable and should not have happened," Cherry Hill school officials said in a statement Friday. But while vowing to learn from the experience, the officials assert, "We believe this regrettable incident is an anomaly."

Others aren't so sure. They say special-education programs in many communities may lack the support and expertise needed to benefit children with disabilities.

Staffers who abuse special-education students "don't appear to have the skills they need … and clearly don't have the supervision they need," said Brenda Considine, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Coalition for Special Education Funding Reform.

"It's ironic that this stuff is garnering so much attention because we just passed one of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the country aimed at stopping kids from bullying one another," said Considine. "Here's clear-cut evidence that (school employees) are engaged in bullying."

The Cherry Hill incident wasn't the first such case in New Jersey.

In Deptford, a 15-year-old special education student made a covert video last year that appeared to show bullying by his teacher. The Gloucester County Special Services District is seeking to dismiss the teacher, who was suspended without pay in November.

And Stuart Chaifetz says he's heard from thousands of concerned parents and bullying victims, "some with special needs," since he posted a YouTube video with excerpts of the recording. The video has drawn more than 3.7 million viewers in the past week.

Chaifetz says people responding to the video include parents "who have suffered and who are in the exact same situation as I am and who are asking for advice on how to put a wire or a digital recorder on their child."

Assemblyman Dave Rible, a Republican from Monmouth who has called for improvements to special education in New Jersey, said he understands the outcry. "No one wants to see their children degraded or hurt."

Rible last week urged legislative action on a measure he's sponsored to create a task force of special-education experts.

"The whole crux of my bill is to examine special education, how we're spending money there and how we can improve it," said Rible. "If we're providing a service, we've got to provide the best possible service."

He and Considine expressed concern that special-education students could suffer as districts seek to cut costs by bringing such services into their schools, rather than paying steep tuitions to private organizations.

"I'm not against public schools," said Rible. "But we've got to make sure those teachers are provided the tools that they need."

Among other measures, Considine said, administrators should regularly pop into special-education classrooms to monitor staffers' performance. And she said detailed records should be kept for each student, so that potential problems can be addressed as early as possible.

"There has to be a school-wide culture of support," said Considine, acknowledging that would require an investment of time and money. "Educating kids with disabilities is more challenging."

That challenge can require special-ed teachers and aides to have an extra reserve of tolerance.

"If you take autistic children, for example, they can get upset over something and it may have nothing to do with the actions of the teacher," observed Jay Kuder, chair of the Language, Literacy and Special Education Department at Rowan University. "It could be something sensory like a smell in the room or even how bright the lights are."

Chaifetz said he hid the recording device in his son's pocket after the school reported uncharacteristic outbursts by the child.

Steve Wollmer, a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, said the overwhelming majority of teachers, and especially those in special education, respect their students.

"Becoming a special education teacher is not for everyone," said Wollmer. "It is challenging work, and the vast majority of special education teachers are sensitive to the needs of their students and know how to keep them safe in the classroom."

At the same time, he noted, "We live in a brave new world and the reality is people have access to technology on a massive scale. Teachers are susceptible to audio- and video-recording, and you should know that what you say can be captured and replayed."

Cherry Hill officials say all staffers heard speaking inappropriately on the video are no longer with the district, and that others in the classroom that day are on leave while an investigation continues. The district has not identified any of the employees, but an attorney for Akian's teacher, Kelly Altenburg, says she was not present when the offensive language was recorded.


Mexico's Congress Approves Bill to Combat Human Trafficking

Mexico City – Mexico's lower house unanimously passed an anti-human-trafficking bill that establishes preventative and punitive measures and provides aid to victims of that crime.

The bill includes prison sentences of up to 40 years for those convicted of sexual exploitation and abuse and creates a fund to offer care to victims, the Chamber of Deputies said Friday in a statement.

The head of the Special Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, Congresswoman Rosi Orozco of the governing National Action Party, or PAN, said the bill goes after the entire chain of exploitation, from the people who entrap victims to those who hold them against their will and exploit them and even clients of sexual services.

"Not one more victim will have to endure injustice; the entire chain of exploitation will be punished and comprehensive care will be provided to victims to ensure their social reinsertion," Orozco said.

The Senate had earlier modified the original bill, whose wording could have been interpreted as only providing protection to minors and leaving out the vast majority of the real and potential victims of human trafficking in its different forms.

According to a report on sex trafficking that Congress received last month from the federal Attorney General's Office, at least 47 sex-trafficking rings operate in Mexico and 800,000 adults and 20,000 children fall victim each year.

That study stated that human-trafficking routes predominantly run through the Mexican states of Veracruz, Chiapas, Puebla, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala, Baja California, Chihuahua, Guerrero and Quintana Roo, as well as the Central American countries.

According to the National Shelter Network, a civil society organization that runs a network of shelters for women and children threatened by domestic, gender and sexual violence, human trafficking is a business that generates $30 billion annually.

The lower-house lawmakers also approved a separate bill to provide protection and rewards to people who assist in efforts to investigate and prosecute members of organized crime gangs.

The bills will now go to President Felipe Calderón for his signature.



Support group for sexual abuse victims offered in Pasadena

by Marshall Jones | April 26, 2012

The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Inc. provides several support groups for individuals victimized by sexual abuse.

There is no cost to attend the confidential meetings, but an assessment must be completed before attending. Assessments are available from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays.

A group for adult survivors of child molestation meets from 4-5 p.m. on Saturdays.

A sexual assault support group that meets from 6-7 p.m. on Wednesdays is offered in English and Spanish.

Both groups are facilitated by a licensed therapist.

Other support groups include a peer support group from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesdays, and an advocacy group from 6-7 p.m. on Thursdays. These groups are in English and Spanish.

According to The Bridge, one in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused or assaulted, but fewer than half of them will tell an adult about it.

The Bridge is located at 3811 Allen-Genoa Road in Pasadena. For details, call 713-473-2801 or visit



Preventing Child Abuse: Youngsters Deserve to Be Safe

Resources are available for children who are neglected or abused.

by Kimberly Weisz

As we enjoy the beautiful—if soggy—spring weather, we are also reminded that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month is the time to emphasize the safety of children by working together in our communities, with schools and social service agencies, to prevent child abuse and promote education about it.

Domestic violence is never acceptable, and children of battered women are often abused. Children are vulnerable, afraid to communicate and frequently remain silent. Child abuse occurs in all types of families, and as community advocates we need to look for warning signs such as emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect.

If a child is withdrawn, fearful, anxious or intimidated, or frequently misses school, she or he may be at risk. If a child has a sudden change in eating habits, develops a new fear of people or places, or refuses to talk about a secret, she or he may be a victim of abuse.

It's important to stand up for a child in need. Call law enforcement agencies, child welfare services or 911 in an emergency if you suspect that child abuse is occurring. Be specific on what you have observed or documented.

Help stop the cycle of abuse and neglect. By intervening and reporting child abuse as early as possible, you are helping provide a voice for those desperately in need.

April also has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual assault occurs without the consent of both individuals. Sexual assault usually happens with force, under threatening circumstances and against a person's will. Rape is a form of sexual assault and can happen on a date, with a friend or acquaintance, or when you are alone.

Victims include children and adults. One in five women may experience rape during college, and many attacks go unreported. No matter where or how it happens, rape, child molestation and sexual assault are never the victim's fault.

Our community does not tolerate sexual assault. Consequently, we need to stand together to implement prevention, safety and accountability.

A person who engages in a sexual assault may be prosecuted criminally. It's essential to contact your local law enforcement agency or seek hospital emergency care immediately if you are a victim or know a victim of sexual assault.

Victims need to be aware of and observe the following advice:

  • Do not take a bath, shower, eat, chew gum or brush your teeth, as these activities may destroy evidence.

  • If possible, carry an extra set of clothes as the original clothes may be collected for testing.

  • If you believe your were drugged and don't remember what happened to you, obtaining a urine sample is critical for screening.

  • Do not wash any bedding or clothes or dispose of anything before checking with law enforcement officials. Try not to change anything at the scene of the assault.

Sexual assault survivors have the right to have a victim advocate and a support person present during interviews with law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.

We need to hold those who abuse power and control accountable. Everyone deserves to feel safe. Let's work together to increase community awareness and partner with parents to take action and break the cycles of domestic violence. Let's prevent child abuse and sexual assault!

Important Resources

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

To report child abuse or neglect in San Diego, please call, (858) 560-2191. Within the State of California, call toll free (800) 344-6000.

Calls are staffed by trained social workers who receive calls about child abuse, molestation and neglect. Child Help USA can be reached at (800) 422-4453, or click here for a list of phone numbers to report child abuse, by state.

In seeking help and confidential services of sexual assault in San Diego:

24-hour toll-free crisis line: (888) 385-4657.

Center for Community Solutions Assault Victim Advocates help survivors navigate complicated systems and make informed decisions, call (858) 272-5777.

Women's Resource Center: (760) 757-3500

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network: (800) 656-HOPE (4673)



Child abuse leads to suicidal tendencies later

Children who are exposed to physical abuse may be at greater risk for suicidal behaviours in adulthood, a new study from the University of Toronto has revealed. The study found that approximately one-third of adults who were physically abused in childhood had seriously considered taking their own life.

These rates were five times higher than adults who were not physically abused in childhood. The findings suggest that children exposed to physical abuse may be at greater risk for suicidal behaviours in adulthood.

Investigators examined gender specific differences among a sample of 6,642 adults, of whom 7.7 per cent reported that they had been physically abused before the age of 18.

They found that a strong association between childhood physical abuse and subsequent suicidal behaviours remained even after taking into account other known risk factors, such as adverse childhood conditions, health behaviours and psycho-social stressors.

"This research provides important new knowledge about the enduring effects of abuse in childhood," said lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Chair at University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Department of Family and Community Medicine.

"The findings have important clinical implications for healthcare providers, suggesting the need to screen for suicidal ideation among adults who have experienced childhood physical abuse and highlighting the importance of providing preventive treatment to childhood abuse survivors," Fuller-Thomson said.

The findings open up further areas of research. Previous studies have theorized that habituation to high levels of pain and fear through childhood abuse may contribute to adults'' ability to inflict injury or harm on themselves.

Recent research suggests suicide may have developmental origins relating to abuse - that physical or sexual abuse may lead to changes in the stress response in the brain, which increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviour.

Co-author Tobi Baker, a former graduate student at the University of Toronto, noted that "one important avenue for future research is to investigate the bio-psycho-social mechanisms through which childhood physical abuse may translate into suicidal behaviours." The study was published online this month in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour.


South Africa

What do you do when your child is raped?

by Lindsay Ord

A parent's worst nightmare occurs when they hear their child has been raped. They're traumatised at what has happened to their precious child and they may distance themselves because it is too difficult to face or believe, says Cindy Aberdein, an intern registered counsellor at the Jes Foord Foundation.

“Not everyone around them cares about the rape and families may feel alone in dealing with some of the things that happen,” she says.

Aberdein was speaking at an event at Glenwood High School aimed at informing parents about the scourge of rape that is increasingly being perpetrated on children.

Statistics from the Medical Research Council indicate that of all reported rapes, a staggering 40.8 percent were committed against children (under the age of 18) – and that is a conservative figure since child rapes are even more under-reported to authorities than adult rapes.

Sexual offences against children include incest and sexual abuse, the use of a child for sexual gratification, which includes pornography, touching or fondling, and penetrative sexual acts.

“Every rape survivor takes a different amount of time to heal emotionally after the event,” says Aberdein. “Some do so quickly and some take years. Rape survivors need their supporters to be patient and give them the time and support that they need.”

If your child is raped or suffers sexual abuse, this is what you should tell her or him:

* You believe them.

* They are not to blame for the rape.

* You still love them.

* You want to be there for them, to listen to their problems and support and protect them.

* You want them to love themselves and look after themselves and make themselves feel good.

* Rape is perpetrated by bad men and boys. Being raped does not make you bad.

* Healing takes time.

Parents should make time to listen.

* Show love and admiration with words and touches, when touching is okay for the survivor.

* Keep the normal rules of the house so that the survivor's feelings that the world has completely changed are not reinforced.

* Encourage survivors to look after themselves by washing, dressing and eating properly.

* Let survivors (unless very young) make decisions about their lives, how to cope and establish a sense of safety. This is essential for regaining control.

* Acknowledge your feelings. Remember it is alright for you, as a parent or partner, to have strong feelings, including wanting to react with violence towards the perpetrator. It is not acceptable, however, to act on these.

* Suggest that survivors use techniques such as writing down feelings and thoughts to help process them.

* Get professional help from a counsellor or psychotherapist if this is available.

Parents should not feel they are to blame for what has happened, says Aberdein.

“They need to take care of themselves and have someone to talk to. They should remind themselves that they cannot guarantee that the world will be safe and they are not bad people because of this.

“It is normal to feel some of the anxiety that survivors feel. It is not necessary to hide these feelings from survivors, but parents should not make them feel guilty for the stress they are experiencing.”

Aberdein stresses the importance of building a relationship with your children.

“Be aware of what is happening in your children's lives. Let them know they can talk to you about anything, even when it is awkward.”

Children may display the following behaviours after a rape:

* Nightmares, disturbed sleep and bed wetting.

* Changes in behaviour such as inappropriate sexualised activities.

* Frequent outbursts of anger.

* Increasingly poor self-esteem and feelings of guilt and shame.

* Repeated vaginal infections or injury.

* Changes in concentration.

* Fear around certain people.

* Becoming withdrawn or depressed.

* Afraid of relationships or having many sexual partners as teenagers.

* Depressed, suicidal or hurting themselves deliberately.

For more information, contact the Jes Food Foundation, 119 Heritage Market, Hillcrest, 031 765 4559, e-mail or see



Child abuse classified as an epidemic by victims, authorities

by Kelly Camarote

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio -- Victims and authorities spoke out about the affects of child abuse in April during Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Sheriff Fred Abdalla said each pinwheel spinning outside the Jefferson County Justice Center reminds him for the several thousand child abuse cases he's handled during his 27 years as sheriff.

"We've had children come in here that have been beaten from head to toe," said Abdalla. "I want to beat the hell out of the person who did it to them. Give them a taste of their own medicine. And I'm a big guy and here I have tears in my eyes, but it just tears you apart."

Abdalla told NEWS9's Kelly Camarote that his office can easily receive two or three reports of child abuse a week.

"I look at what's happening right here in Jefferson County, then there are 87 other counties and 49 other states," said Abdalla. "What do you think? This goes on all over this country and all around the world. That's why I ask God to reach out and touch the children of the world because I see it and I know it's going on."

Child protective service workers in Jefferson County confirmed that their case load has gone up since the economic downturn.

"If you don't have money for utilities or to put food on the table, someone's going to end up calling (CPS)," said John Rodesh, Jefferson County's program administrator for the CPS unit. "It's really mind boggling. It touches every fabric and every socioeconomic status."

Leah Lacko, now 8 years old, and her family shared their continuing story of recovery from the effects of child abuse with NEWS9's Kelly Camarote during Lacko's weekly therapy sessions at Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center in Wheeling.

Lacko was severely beaten by her mother's boyfriend when she was 16 months old.

"She had two major stokes and that in turn killed the brain. They had to remove it," said Sandy Wells, Lacko's great aunt and caregiver. "The person who did this to her got eight years and we say Leah got life because she will never be able to have her own family. She will never be self-reliant. She's always going to have to have somebody to help her with everything. Even though she's doing so well and improved so much, there is only so much that she will be able to do."

Authorities in Jefferson County cited a teamwork approach in the effort to combat child abuse. They use statewide criteria to give abuse investigations consistency and a statewide computer system to file reports that any county CPS worker can view.

"If their parents don't give a damn, someone out there has to care about these children," said Abdalla. "Someone has to be be able and grab them and hold on to them and help and get them out of the situation they're in."


North Dakota

NDDOHS offers online training for mandated abuse reporters

The North Dakota Department of Human Services' Children and Family Services Division has announced the launch of new interactive web-based training for mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect in North Dakota. The training can be found on Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota's website at

“Our relationships with mandated reporters in the community play an important part in protecting children in our state,” said Tara Muhlhauser, director of the department's Children and Family Services Division. “This training is a foundation of information for mandated reporters to provide them with a clear idea about what their roles and responsibilities are in helping keep children safe.”

The online training features interactive exercises customized for child care and medical professionals, law enforcement officials, educators, clergy, and others who are mandated by law to report suspected child abuse and neglect. Each training module gives participants an in-depth look at the importance of reporting, the various indictors of abuse and neglect, how to file a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, and the law pertaining to abuse and neglect. There is also a self-test that participants can take that enhances the learning points.

The training also includes a narrated life-like scenario called “Lisa's Story,” which puts an elementary teacher's training, courage and compassion to the test to report suspected abuse and neglect of a six-year old student.

Muhlhauser said there is no charge to access the training, and the training takes about one hour to complete.

In North Dakota, anyone may report suspected child abuse and neglect by calling their county social services office. County information is online at tions/countysocialserv/. The county social service offices serve as the department's authorized agents for child protection services.

The state Department of Human Services' Children and Family Services Division funds child abuse and neglect prevention efforts across the state and partners with Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota to provide statewide education and prevention programming.



Governor signs bill to make everyone responsible for reporting child sex abuse

by Mary Ellen Klas

After the Jerry Sandusky saga exposed the flaws in Penn State's storied legacy, it revealed to victim advocates in Florida the need to fix the state's child sex abuse reporting laws.

On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill that requires anyone to report known or suspected cases of child sex abuse. The “Protection of Vulnerable Persons” law also gives Florida the toughest mandatory reporting requirements in the nation for sex abuse violations on schools and university campuses, say victims advocates.

Under the measure, which takes effect on Oct. 1, anyone — from university coaching staff to elementary school teachers to administrators to students — who “willfully and knowingly” fails to report any suspicious sexual abuse they encounter will face fines of up to $1 million per incident and face potential criminal charges.

Current Florida law requires mandatory reporting of child sex abuse only when the suspect is a parent or other caregiver of a child.

“This law will break the culture we have learned so much about in the wake of the Penn State, Syracuse, and Citadel child abuse scandals, where institutions seemed to think the names of their institutions were more important than protecting children,'' said Tallahassee lobbyist Ron Book, who, with his daughter Lauren, proposed and pushed for the bill.

Lauren Book is a sexual abuse survivor and the founder of “Lauren's Kids,” a victims advocacy group. For the past 11 years, she and her father have sought to tighten Florida's safety net for victims of sexual abuse and to strengthen the laws against child sexual predators.

The Book said they didn't realize the state's mandatory reporting laws were so weak until learning of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. Sandusky was arrested last year on charges that he sexually abused at least eight boys over a period of 15 years. After his arrest, Penn State fired Sandusky's supervisor, the college's long-time coach Joe Paterno, who died earlier this year. The college's athletic director, Tim Curley, was also accused of perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse.

The new law requires anyone to report suspected sex abuse and provides $2 million to promote the sex abuse hotline at the Florida Department of Children and Families and adds 47 additional hotline counselors.

Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, said she initially expressed concerns that the bill was an overreaction to the Sandusky saga and worried that the initial plan to fine universities $5 million per incident went too far. But, after the bill's sponsors, Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, and Sen. Lisbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, agreed to narrow the scope and reduce the penalties, she supported the bill.

“Whenever you have a high profile case, the Legislature can have a kneejerk reaction and there can be unintended consequences,'' Rich said.

The new law also requires hotline operators to refer abuse reports to law enforcement and requires universities to turn over their abuse reports to prosecutors.

“We used to think we needed to simply create a hotline and get counseling services to people but we learned that people still don't want to tell,'' Book said.

“Ninety percent of the childhood sex abuse may be committed by someone you know but 95 percent is preventable through education and awareness,'' Book said. What's worse, he added, is according to national data “the average predator commits 123 separate offense to separate individuals before they are caught.”

In addition to imposing fines on universities, the bill increases from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony the penalties for those who knowingly fail to report child abuse. In addition, it raises the prison sentence from one year to up to 15 years and increases potential fines from a maximum of $1,000 to a maximum of $5,000.

Legislators also set aside $1.5 million, or up to $3,000 per victim, to help victims relocate.



Mom's Crusade to Rescue Daughter from Sex Traffickers Forces Trial

by Teresa Sofía Buscaglia

A decade ago, Susana Trimarco's 23-year-old daughter left her house in Tucuman, Argentina for a doctor's appointment and said: “I'll be back soon.”

She was never to be seen again.

Her daughter, María de los Angeles Verón, is believed to have been kidnapped and forced into prostitution, becoming one of the millions of human trafficking victims in the world.

That began Trimarco's remarkable and dangerous mission to find her daughter: Chasing down leads in brothels, confronting pimps and standing up to politicians she says were complicit in her daughter's disappearance.

Following a tip that her daughter was in a brothel in a northwestern province of Argentina called La Rioja, she posed as a prostitute and visited a series of dark and dangerous brothels looking for her daughter. She wanted to see how the networks operate, first hand and up close.

“I have no fear of this mafia, and I hope that Justice will make justice,” she said in court recently.

Her efforts, which have brought her international recognition –and kudos from the U.S. White House to Canada - have uncovered a network of human sex slave traffickers that reached as far away as Spain. A foundation Trimarco created in her daughter's name has helped to rescue 150 victims of human trafficking around the world.

Her her daughter is not one of them. But Trimarco has never given up hope.

This month, 10 years after her Verón's disappearance, seven men and six women accused of having been part of the network that kidnapped and forced her daughter into prostitution are finally being brought to trial

The prosecution's case is based on testimony of dozens of women rescued from the sex rings through Trimarco's efforts.

The trial, which began in March in Tucuman, where the kidnapping took place, is expected to last till July and could bring a life sentence for the 13 suspects. Though Trimarco's daughter has never been found, prosecutors have brought to the witness stand women who saw her and were imprisoned with her.

“As I don't have peace, they won't either, because I will destroy their business and they will have to go out and get real jobs,” Trimarco said about the suspects, calling them “lazy and good for nothing people.”

She said her mission to find her daughter has sometimes been downright cruel – numerous times she's chased down false clues about her daughter's whereabouts, and she has even been the target of numerous death threats.

In 2007, the Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded her with the International Women of Courage Award and trumpeted her courage, leadership and advocacy efforts.

In Argentina, her foundation has helped educate judges, prosecutors and police officers on how to deal with women trafficking. During its opening ceremony, the U.S. ambassador to Argentina at that time, Earl Anthony Wayne, cut the ribbon.

She's also been instrumental in helping pass numerous anti-trafficking laws in Argentina, including the first national law against human trafficking in 2008.

The daughter's case also opened the discussion in Argentina, where exploitation of women became a growing problem but was rarely spoken about.

Sex trafficking rings operate with a slew of helpers, with neighbors, street vendors, taking part in the scheme and taxi drivers operating as "look-outs". The criminal enterprises operate mostly in poor regions where women have little recourse and are sometimes enticed by false promises of good income.

For Trimarco, trying to improve the problem has become her personal mission.

“I have no projects of life. I live for this, to find her,” she said. “I live a miserable life.”



Human trafficking bill signed into law

SHAWNEE, Okla. — A measure to better protect youth from human trafficking was signed into law earlier this week. House Bill 2518, by Rep. Sally Kern and Sen. Josh Brecheen, strengthens Oklahoma's human trafficking laws in the hopes of deterring the industry in the state.

“Many believe that human trafficking is something that only occurs in developing countries, but the United States is fertile ground for this inhumane industry,” said Kern, R-Oklahoma City. “Oklahoma's location along the I-40 and I-35 corridor makes it a prime location for trafficking people from Mexico and Texas port cities. Hopefully, this new law will make these monsters think twice before trying to prey on our state's youth.”

Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement say that human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country. It is estimated that over 300,000 young girls in the U.S. are enslaved in human trafficking each year and that number is expected to increase in the future.

“Oklahoma's high rate of poverty, incarceration, domestic abuse, teen pregnancy and drug addiction makes it easy for traffickers to find vulnerable women and children in our state, but we need to strengthen our laws to protect these unsuspecting victims,” said Brecheen, R-Coalgate. “The 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits slavery, and we must do all we can to prevent modern day slavery in our local communities, and this bill will help with that effort.”

HB 2518 modifies the definition of “human trafficking for commercial sex” to include the recruiting, enticing, harboring, maintaining, transporting, providing, purchasing or obtaining, by any means, a minor for purposes of engaging the minor in a commercial sex act.

“These victims could be your neighbor's children or even your own children. Oklahoma citizens need to be educated and informed that human trafficking is a very real and present danger in our state,” said Kern. “With this new law, our state has taken an important step in protecting our state's youth. We want these predators to know that we will not tolerate this crime in our communities.”

Currently, under Oklahoma law if a minor consents to go along with a sex trafficking recruiter then that recruiter is provided some legal protection. Under HB 2518, consent of a minor cannot be used as a defense in court.

Another major change is currently sex traffickers can only be penalized if they recruit through fraud, deception or coercion. Under the new law, anyone found recruiting for sex trafficking, regardless of how they do it, will be penalized.

“Victims of sex trafficking come from big cities and small towns. They come from affluent, middle class and low-income families and from many ethnic backgrounds,” said Brecheen. “We need to educate ourselves, our children and our neighbors about the dangers of this growing epidemic and protect our communities.”

HB 2518 goes into effect November 1, 2012.



Child Sexual Abuse Victim and Attorney, Shari Karney, Shares Story of How to Heal & Fight Back in New Book "Prey No Longer"

A Guide for Survivors Who Want to be "Prey No Longer"

Santa Monica, CA

“Prey No Longer” is the title of the new book by Shari Karney, Esq., and the contents tell the reader how to be “prey no longer” from sexual abusers. Melissa Gilbert, currently on this season's Dancing with the Stars, played Shari Karney in the TV Movie, Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story, says, "Shari shows readers, step-by-step, how to escape from the grip of a sexual predator and how to seek justice and recovery from this devastating crime of sexual abuse.The book also provides valuable information for relatives or friends who know sexual abuse survivors and want to help."

"What I loved about Prey No Longer, is that it is so useful and well-written, it has a state-by-state easy to understand guide for survivors of sexual abuse giving victims and those who care about victims, the time period that a survivor has to file a lawsuit against their abuser, an attorney listing, and resource guide," says Seth Weiner, ESQ. Loyola Law School, Assistant Professor, Restorative Justice.

"In today's world sexual abuse is one of the great hidden crimes of our times. Innocent victims live in guilt and fear with no idea of how to cope or seek justice. It affects one-in-three girls and one-in-five boys," says transpersonal hypnotherapist and trauma specialist, Leonard Ludovico.

However there is hope, and that's why Shari Karney, a sexual abuse survivor herself and noted California lawyer helped change the laws to protect the innocent victims and punish the guilty who have committed sexual crimes in California.

Shari Karney's own experience as a sexual abuse survivor, her recovery, and how she overcame adversity to become a successful lawyer and legal champion who helped change the laws so that sexual abuse survivors have rights, has been documented as an NBC Television movie, featured on Lifetime and on the Biography Channel and an interview on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Her book is based on her personal life experience and gives the full power and knowledge of the law to anyone is who is a sexual survivor or wants to help someone who is. She writes from experience and knowledge. And for the sexual abuse survivor knowledge is power. There is a solution and this book provides real world answers to those who need them most, the innocent survivors of rape, incest, and other sexual crimes.

This easy to read book combines practical legal and personal steps to help people live a guilt-free full life by clearly explaining how to get the legal system working for the sexual abuse survivor. This book will help sexual abuse survivors escape the endless cycle of guilt and self-hatred that sexual abuse brings to the innocent victims of these terrible crimes which are largely inflicted in secret on children.

The book is launching April 24, 2012 and is available as an EBook through Apple iBooks, Kindleor Barnes and Noble. Paperback editions are available through

This book will help sexual abuse survivors escape the endless cycle of guilt and emotional suffering that sexual abuse brings to the innocent victims of these terrible crimes which are largely inflicted in secret on men, women and children.

Here is what's being said about "Prey No Longer":

"This book changed my life and helped me to find the courage and the will to overcome my childhood sexual abuse and take action. I'm prey no more!" - Mary Stewart, Sexual Abuse Survivor, Paris, France.

"This book gives any sexual abuse survivor a way out in a clear and concise manner. Anyone who needs help dealing with childhood sexual abuse, no matter how many years later, will be fortunate to find this book." - Roger Flynn Chief Prosecutor Sex Crimes Unit, Los Angeles

"This book saved my life. I was trying to escape from my brother who was a sexual predator and I didn't know what to do or where to turn. This book had so many resources. I was able to find an attorney and a male survivors support group. Thank you Prey No Longer!” Name Withheld, Los Angeles, California.

For more information or to contact the author Shari Karney, visit:

Shari Karney is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and attorney who changed the law in California and seeded change across the nation so survivors now have rights. She's the subject of a TV Movie, Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story. Shari has been on Oprah, ABC Primetime, and subject on Biography Channel, Twisted Fate.



Abuse survivors tell of long road back from shame

by Jim Phillips

An audience in Ohio University's Scripps Hall was given a few gut-twisting moments Tuesday evening, as male survivors of child sexual abuse shared their stories during a panel discussion on he topic.

And if a 1990 survey published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect is to be believed, these men aren't exceptional cases; the survey estimated that in the United States, a staggering one in six men has suffered sexual abuse. High-profile survivors who have told their stories publicly include film producer Tyler Perry and New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey.

Though the stories the men told at OU Tuesday were different, they had common themes.

All spoke of the pain, anger, self-loathing and shame that boys carry into manhood after being sexually molested.

They told about repression of horrible childhood memories, and emotional deadness. They described their inability as grown men to trust, or become lovingly intimate with, another person. And finally, they held out the prospect of healing that can come when a survivor admits the truth, speaks it in public, and talks about it with other survivors.

"The overwhelming shame… just almost kept me like a mute and catatonic person," recalled Grant, an adult sexual abuse survivor who took part in a panel discussion at OU's Scripps Hall. Sexually abused by his mother, Grant said he grew up so dissociated from his own body and feelings, his existence was "like sitting on a couch watching a real-time movie of my life."

Panelist Dan likewise recalled his compulsive need to "shield myself from everybody, to make sure they couldn't hurt me."

Grant, Dan and Lou were the three adult survivors who took part in the panel; their last names will not be used in this story.

The event, sponsored by WOUB Public Media, OU's Scripps College of Communication, and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, showcased a screening of a documentary on male sexual abuse, "Boys and Men Healing."

The hour-long film, produced by Big Voice Pictures, is built around the stories of three adult sex-abuse survivors who have begun to come to grips with what was done to them as kids.

Also joining in the discussion after the film were Simon Weinberg, co-producer of the movie, and psychologist Howard Fradkin, co-founder of the support group Male Survivor.

Lou called the film "definitely a very real depiction of dealing with the pain, and the hurt; the embarrassment." Dan called it "very realistic."

As the men on the panel shared their stories, members of the 100 or so people packed into a small auditorium in Scripps joined in the discussion.

Some were professionals in the helping fields, asking for advice on how to address the male sexual abuse problem. Some were budding journalists, interested in how to cover the issue accurately and sensitively. And a couple of them identified themselves as survivors. (Counselors and private talking space were made available, as events like these sometimes prompt spontaneous admissions from audience members that they've been abused.)

The audience members seemed almost to collectively gasp as one young OU student announced that when he was 8 years old, he was gang-raped by three teen males. But, the student added, one big reason for his speaking up was to help get the word out about his efforts to form a survivor group at OU.

The panelists applauded his efforts, all suggesting that group support is crucial for survivors who want to come back to life.

Finding a support group, Lou said, "was absolutely a lifeline, because you have to speak it. Literally, the words have to come out of your mouth."

Grant said his finding a group was "like a miracle, almost."

One man whose story was featured in the movie, and who is now a therapist helping other survivors, reported that at the first meeting of a support group, "routinely, you see men starting to weep," just from seeing a roomful of other men who have suffered what they have.

Those wishing to help stop sexual abuse, Fradkin said, should be on the alert for its signs, and constantly make clear to children that they don't have to keep shameful secrets.

"If you're in any kind of responsible role with children… always keep telling those kids that you want to know any time they're feeling uncomfortable," he said.

He also argued passionately that it's long past time to confront the institutional responsibility for sexual abuse, whether that's in the Catholic Church or at Penn State University.

"Think about what happened at Penn State," he said. "It's hard to hear that shit… They knew about it, and they did nothing."

He urged journalists who deal with the issue to go beyond the scandal and try to report the impacts in human terms.

"Be bold – tell the story of survivors," he said.

Weinberg said making the movie with his wife was a labor of love. He noted that after Oprah Winfrey did a show featuring 200 male sexual abuse survivors, Big Voice Pictures saw a massive increase in online interest, and that he's now getting inquiries from all over the planet.

"I'm pretty much getting emails from every country in the world right now," he reported. He added that he's even been hired for consulting work by the U.S. Department of Defense.

"They are totally, totally open to this subject, big-time," he said. He recalled standing in a room with camo-fatigued top military officers, some of whom admitted for the first time to having been sexually abused.

Fradkin urged those in attendance to keep the issue in the forefront at OU.

"My hope would be that this is one of many events that happen on campus," he said.

Resources and more information are available at and



2-pronged attack on child abuse

Chaucie's Place shows kids the dangers, briefs adults on warning signs

Chaucie's Place is boosting its prevention and education program.

With April being Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Month, we asked the nonprofit's executive director, Toby Stark, to talk about the expanded focus of the child advocacy center in Carmel.

Question: What's the changed focus at Chaucie's Place?

Answer: While forensic interviews and the multidisciplinary team approach are critical for children who have been abused, ultimately we'd like to keep children from ever having to walk through our doors. So we are increasing the scope of our prevention programs.

Q: How is the Body Safety prevention and education program a major part of your expanded focus?

A: The program teaches elementary school children about inappropriate touches, that it is OK to say "no" to any unwanted touches, that abuse is never their fault, and to tell a trusted adult when they feel uncomfortable about any touches they receive.

Children are taught the proper names and locations of their body parts through the use of anatomical dolls, as well as when it is OK and not OK for private body parts to be touched.

Additionally, fourth-graders are given the opportunity to talk with us about any touches they've received they are uncomfortable with.

Q. How many children do you reach with the program?

A : We reach nearly 9,000 children each school year. Chaucie's Place has trained nearly 30,000 elementary and preschool children on keeping their bodies safe since we opened in 2001.

Q: What is the Stewards of Children program?

A : Stewards of Children teaches parents and adults who work with children how to prevent child sexual abuse, how to recognize the warning signs, and how to respond appropriately to a disclosure of abuse. We have seen firsthand how people can be paralyzed into not acting when a child's well-being is at stake. Stewards of Children empowers adults to overcome denial, fear and secrecy about this epidemic and allows them to create awareness and personal power.

Q: How many adults have been trained as stewards?

A: We're already trained more than 400 adults, including the swim coaches affiliated with Indiana Swimming, Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation, the Jewish Community Center's after- school and early childhood staff and many more parents. The program is designed for parents and adults who work with children.

Q: How do you learn how your program has helped in the schools?

A: Counselors are given a survey to complete after our visit with their school. They provide us the number of students taught from each grade, how many students opted out, how many fourth-graders requested to talk, and how many Department of Child Services reports were made. We track this information per school year. Teachers are also given a survey to evaluate each presenter. The program and our volunteer instructors consistently rate a 4.9 on a 5-point scale.

Q: Why teach the adults who work with children?

A: We believe that it is unrealistic to place all the responsibility on the child, especially when almost 90 percent of abusers are family members or acquaintances of the victim. We believe that adults must be better educated so they can support and protect our children.

Q. What should stewards come away knowing?

A: After participating in Stewards of Children, adults should have an increased awareness of the prevalence, consequences and circumstances of child sexual abuse and new skills to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. Additionally, we hope they will take this knowledge back to their organizations to make positive changes to policies and procedures.

Q: Is the program local, regional or national?

A: Stewards of Children was developed in 2004 by Darkness to Light, a nationally recognized child sexual abuse prevention organization. Chaucie's Place staff became trained as authorized facilitators in 2010.

Q: Do you have a need for Boyd Safety volunteers?

A: We always need new volunteers.




More still can be done to help stop child abuse

The pinwheels, 821 of them at the entrance to Yoctangee Park, spin briskly in the ever-changing winds of spring.

This year, the pinwheels were planted to represent each situation in which services were provided in child-abuse cases, according to data from Ross County Children Services.

In actuality, the number of child-abuse calls in the county in 2011 was 929, but some cases are not pursued for a variety of reasons. Those families still receive some guidance from Children Services, though.

Across the country, the National Children's Alliance says about 695,000 children were victims of abuse in 2011, with 17 percent of them physically abused.

The good news is that the Ross County numbers are down from those posted in 2010, but the severity of the cases is increasing and the number of calls regarding abuse or neglect is rising.

While an increase in the number of calls about abuse might seem like a negative statistic, the silver lining is that increased awareness of child abuse appears to be leading people to speak out when they see problems.

That said, there still is more than can be done -- by all of us -- to help lessen the effect of abuse and neglect on the lives of children in our community.

Whether you are a relative, neighbor, baby sitter, teacher, friend or parent, it's important to notice unexplained injuries, anxiousness or sexual behavior, changes in sleeping or eating, a lack of personal care, digressing behavior or a sudden lack of concentration at school.

Those are among the signs of child abuse that should signal the need for further monitoring and, if necessary, reporting to the proper authorities for follow-up.

Let's make one thing perfectly clear: If you report an incident of true neglect or abuse, you are protecting someone who needs help. It's the correct thing to do.

The effects of abuse often continue for a lifetime and can make a person more vulnerable to a host of other problems -- ones that might not manifest themselves until later. The shared responsibility of reporting suspected abuse and neglect is one that should be taken seriously.

But while catching offenders is important, it's not the only objective. Our community needs to be known as one that truly cares about families and children, and that means trying to prevent child abuse as well.

Sometimes, the responsibility is giving a parent a "timeout" by bringing their children over for a play date or dinner -- or offering to baby-sit -- while the parent or parents relax or get some rest.

The work of the local agencies -- the Child Protection Center, Children Services, counselors and law enforcement -- is important, but nothing is more important than all of us working together to keep children safe.

Child Abuse Prevention Month is almost over. The pinwheels will come down soon. The work to slow the numbers of reported cases, however, goes on. With of us working together, we can help stop abuse before it starts.



Hall County Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Initiative shares strategy

by Steve Collins

GAINESVILLE – "Penn State University has opened the door to that conversation," Steve Collins told a group of thirty educational, civic, and government leaders at the Hall County Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Initiative luncheon held Wednesday at the Edmondson-Telford Center for Children in Gainesville.

"We are about nothing less than cultural change. We live at such a unique period of time, when the issue of child sexual abuse is as open as it has ever been," Collins added, referring to the recent disclosures of abuse at Penn State.

Collins is the Director of "Adults Protecting Children". His organization has teamed with local groups "Rape Response", "The Children's Center for Hope and Healing", and Brenau University's College of Health and Science to create the Hall County Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Initiative.

"We are focused on prevention. It is adult focused; it's our philosophy that it's the adults in a child's life that bear the responsibility of protecting that child," Collins said.

"We hope to put those of you involved in child sexual abuse-treatment and prosecution out of business," Collins said with vigor.

Northeast Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh listened closely. He and his staff have been through the training program being offered by the Initiative. Known as "Stewards of Children", Darragh feels that the 2 ½-hour training program is invaluable.

"It's extremely important for all adults who…deal with children to be able to recognize what the signs are of child sexual abuse," Darragh said. "The goal is, too, to prevent there being victims in the first place."

"The immediate and tangible costs of child sexual abuse for Hall County are $1.6 million," Collins explained. "That's on an annual basis."

The Initiative's immediate goal is to train 5-percent of Hall County's adults, or about 7000 individuals. Efforts are already underway in the school systems where Collins said the Justice Department estimates 40-60% of those children who report sexual abuse initiate their disclosures.

"We started an initiative in Lumpkin County in 2009," Collins said. "In February of 2011…they became the first school system in the state…and the second in the country…to train 100 % of their staff: every teacher, every administrator, every cafeteria worker, every bus driver, and every janitor."

Collins urged all the various leaders present to attend training and to make it available to those they lead.

Rebecca Davis, PhD, is Executive Director of the Children's Center for Hope and Healing, a member group of the Initiative. She invites all interested in the training to contact her for information about upcoming sessions she will be facilitating in Gainesville during the first week of May.

Davis said, "We want everyone who is interested to come." Davis can be reached at (770) 532-6530 or (706) 429-8683 or via email at:

A link to the Hall County Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Initiative website is below.

Link: Prevention Initiative website


New York

Onondaga County law enforcement leaders to release report on child abuse

by Jim O'Hara

Syracuse, NY - Onondaga County law enforcement officials and crime victim advocates are scheduled to release a report this morning detailing the extent of child abuse and neglect locally and across New York state.

The news conference is slated for 11 a.m. at the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center at 601 E. Genesee St.

The report reveals that more than 77,000 children in New York, including 1,781 in Onondaga County, suffered abuse or neglect in 2010. At least 114 children across the state died as a result of that abuse or neglect.

Those details were first aired last month when seven District Attorneys from across the state - including Onondaga County DA William Fitzpatrick - signed a guest editorial in the New York Daily News urging state lawmakers to continue funding the Nurse-Family Partnership Program that pairs registered nurses with pregnant mothers on a voluntary basis to provide coaching in parenting skills and child health and development issues.

The prosecutors noted that program significantly reduced child abuse and neglect, reduced emergency room visits and hospitalizations during early childhood and cut later juvenile crime and the need for more prisons.

The same pitch is being made at today's news conference where officials plan to release an open letter to policy makers signed by more than 1,560 law enforcement leaders nationwide, including more than 200 from New York, in support of services to prevent child abuse.

Participating in today's news conference are Fitzpatrick; Janice Grieshaber Geddes, whose daughter, Jenna, was murdered in 1997; Baldwinsville Police Chief Michael Lefancheck, who also is chairman of the Onondaga Police Chiefs Association; Alyssa Richmond, a participant in the Nurse Family Partnership Program; and Arielle Bernstein, deputy state director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.


New Jersey

Parents wire kids to prove teachers' verbal abuse

by Geoff Mulvihill

CHERRY HILL, N.J. - Teachers hurled insults like "bastard," "tard," "damn dumb" and "a hippo in a ballerina suit." A bus driver threatened to slap one child, while a bus monitor told another, "Shut up, you little dog."

They were all special needs students, and their parents all learned about the verbal abuse the same way - by planting audio recorders on them before sending them off to school.

In cases around the country, suspicious parents have been taking advantage of convenient, inexpensive technology to tell them what children, because of their disabilities, are not able to express on their own. It's a practice that can help expose abuses, but it comes with some dangers.

This week, a father in Cherry Hill, N.J., posted on YouTube clips of secretly recorded audio that caught one adult calling his autistic 10-year-old son "a bastard." In less than three days, the video got 1.2 million views, raising the prominence of the small movement. There have been at least nine similar cases across the U.S. since 2003.

"If a parent has any reason at all to suggest a child is being abused or mistreated, I strongly recommend that they do the same thing," said Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association.

But George Giuliani, executive director of the National Association of Special Education Teachers and director of special education at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., says that while the documented mistreatment of children has been disturbing, secret recordings are a bad idea. They could, he said, violate the privacy rights of other children.

"We have to be careful that we're not sending our children in wired without knowing the legal issues," Giuliani said.

Stuart Chaifetz, the Cherry Hill father, said he began getting reports earlier in the school year that his 10-year-old son, Akian, was being violent.

Hitting teachers and throwing chairs were out of character for the boy, who is in a class with four other autistic children and speaks but has serious difficulty expressing himself. Chaifetz said he talked to school officials and had his son meet with a behaviorist. There was no explanation for the way Akian was acting.

"I just knew I had to find out what was happening there," he said. "My only option was to put a recorder there. I needed to hear what a normal day was like in there."

On the recording, he heard his son being insulted - and crying at one point.

He shared the audio with school district officials. The superintendent said in a statement that "the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children no longer work in the district."

Since taking the story public, Chaifetz, who has run unsuccessfully for the school board in Cherry Hill and once went on a hunger strike to protest special-education funding cuts, said he has received thousands of emails.

At least a few dozen of those he has had a chance to read have been from parents asking for advice about investigating alleged mistreatment of their children.

It's easy, he tells them.

"It was a simple $30 digital audio recorder. I just put it in the kid's pocket," he said. "Unless they're looking for it, they're not going to find it."

With more parents taking such action, he said, fewer educators may get out of line with the way they treat students who cannot speak up for themselves.

"For the tiny percentage of teachers that do it, I hope that they live in fear every day that a kid's going to walk in with a recorder," he said.

He gives just one caveat: "Make sure it's legal in your state."

Laws on audio recordings vary by state, but in most of the U.S., including New Jersey, recordings can generally be made legally if one party gives consent. Over the past decade, courts in New York and Wisconsin have ruled that recordings made secretly on school buses were legal, finding that there is a diminished expectation of privacy for drivers on the bus.

The recordings have led to firings in several states, criminal convictions of bus employees in Wisconsin and New York, and legal settlements worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in Ohio and Missouri.

Even if it is found to be legal, the recording could have a chilling effect on classrooms, says Giuliani, of the special-education teachers' group. Teachers could worry that every one of their words could be monitored. And a recording could be edited to distort the teachers' meaning.

He said that the rise of the secret recordings suggests it's time to discuss a way to make sure the most vulnerable children are not being mistreated in a more formal way.

"In classrooms where children are nonverbal, unable to communicate, defenseless," he said, "we should start to have a discussion of whether cameras in the classroom are necessary."

That's a move that the National Autism Association's Fournier also says is needed.


Bullying, Child Abuse Hasten Aging in Kids

by Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer

April 24, 2012

Children exposed to multiple instances of violence age faster on a cellular level than children without violent experiences, a new study finds.

Although childhood stress has long been linked with later disease risk and health problems, the study is the first to show accelerated biological aging in childhood as a result of stress.

"Those kids are 'older' than they are supposed to be," said study leader Idan Shalev, a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University. If the cellular aging isn't reversed, Shalev told LiveScience, the children would likely be at risk for premature death.

Violence and stress

To gauge biological aging, Shalev and his colleagues examined a portion of DNA called telomeres. These sequences cap the ends of our chromosomes (packets of DNA), but they get shorter with every cell division, acting as a sort of molecular "clock" that signals wear-and-tear on DNA.

Several studies have found that adults who experienced violence as children tend to have shorter telomeres than those with peaceful childhoods. But those studies couldn't determine whether the telomeres had been shortened because of childhood stress or because of later adult health problems stemming from that stress, Shalev said.

To find out which was the case, he and his colleagues began a study that looked not backward, but ahead. Using a sample of 236 children from a British sample born between 1994 and 1995, the researchers took DNA samples by swabbing the children's cheeks and then measured the length of each child's telomeres at age 5 and age 10.

By the 10-year-old time point, 17 percent of the children had experienced domestic violence in their households, 24.2 percent had been frequently bullied and 26.7 percent had been physically abused by an adult, according to interviews with the children's mothers. (Some kids were already in protective custody as a result of this abuse.) Because some children experienced more than one type of violence, the researchers split them into groups: kids who hadn't experienced violence (54.2 percent), kids who had experienced one type of violence (29.2 percent), and kids who had experienced two or more types of violence (16.5 percent).

Wear and tear

The results of the DNA analysis showed that children in the final group, those who had experienced two or more types of violence, had significantly faster telomere shortening between ages 5 and 10 on average than the other children. The findings held true after controlling for health, body weight, gender and socioeconomic status. [10 Scientific Tips for Raising Happy Kids]

The violence does not necessarily have to affect the child physically, the researchers report today (April 24) in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. Instead, it seems the telomere shortening is a result of cumulative stress. It's not yet clear how stress translates to shorter telomeres, Shalev said, but inflammation, an immune response to stress, may be to blame.

"We know that violence is associated with higher inflammation levels," he said. "Higher inflammation levels are associated with shorter telomere length."

There is some hope that telomere shortening can be halted, Shalev said. A healthy diet, physical activity and even meditation are associated with longer telomeres, he said. The researchers plan to follow up with their study participants, who are now 18.

But the study also highlights the long-term damage that childhood trauma can create, said Elissa Epel, a health psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies stress and cell aging, who wasn't involved in the current study.

"Now we have some evidence that indeed children's immune-system aging can be adversely affected by severe stress early in childhood, a scar that could last possibly decades later," Epel told LiveScience. "This study underscores the vital importance of reducing violent exposures for children — both serious bullying and abuse in the family."


Black Women, Sexual Assault and the Art of Resistance

by Brooke Axtell

According to an ongoing study conducted by Black Women's Blueprint, sixty percent of Black girls have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18. More than 300 Black women nationwide participated in the research project. A similar study conducted by The Black Women's Health Imperative seven years ago found the rate of sexual assault was approximately 40%.

The pervasive nature of this trauma could translate into an increased risk for Black women and girls to experience depression, PTSD and addiction, common symptoms experienced by many survivors of rape.

The Department of Justice estimates that for every white woman that reports her rape, at least 5 white women do not report theirs; and yet, for every African-American woman that reports her rape, at least 15 African-American women do not report theirs.

There are many reasons why Black women may choose not to report incidences of sexual assault. Survivors of all races often fear that they will not be believed or will be blamed for their attack, but Black women face unique challenges.

Historically, law enforcement has been used to control African-American communities through brutality and racial profiling. It may be difficult for a Black woman to seek help if she feels it could be at the expense of African-American men or her community. The history of racial injustice (particularly the stereotype of the Black male as a sexual predator) and the need to protect her community from further attack might persuade a survivor to remain silent.

We need more research to fully understand the scope of violence against Black women and the barriers they face to receiving support services. This requires both the political will and funding to make their lives a priority. Unfortunately, due to a long history of systemic racism and classism in the United States, the violation of Black women's bodies is often rendered invisible.

“No race, ethnic group, or economic class is spared from sexual violence or the myths and misinformation that complicate the healing process for survivors. But in addition to our higher victimization rate, African Americans are less likely to get the help we need to heal,” says Lori S. Robinson, author of I Will Survive: The African-American Guide to Healing From Sexual Assault and Abuse.

Robinson points out that in studies of Black women's sexuality conducted by psychologist Dr. Gail Elizabeth Wyatt, half of the women who had experienced childhood sexual abuse never told anyone and less than 5 percent ever got counseling. “African-American women are raped at a higher rate than White women, and are less likely to report it. We have suffered in silence far too long,” she says.

The movement to end sexual violence in the lives of Black women in the U.S. is inextricably connected to the Civil Rights movement. We cannot effectively discuss the issue of sexual assault in Black communities without acknowledging the direct war that was waged against Black women through rape during slavery and the Jim Crow era.

We must also honor the legacy of anti-rape activism.

Although Rosa Parks is remembered as the NAACP organizer who sparked the 1955 bus boycott and helped give birth to the Civil Rights Movement, she was an anti-rape activist long before the boycott. “Decades before radical feminists in the Women's Movement urged rape survivors to ‘speak out,' African American women's public protests galvanized local, national and even international outrage and sparked larger campaigns for racial justice and human dignity,” says Dr. Danielle L. McGuire, author of At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance (A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power).

Continuing this legacy of creative resistance, filmmaker and activist, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, speaks out on the issue of sexual violence. Her ground-breaking film, NO! The Rape Documentary was a part of her own healing process as a survivor of sexual assault.

When I ask her about the relationship between activism and inner healing she says, “It's mandatory. NO! saved my life. I have my own stories of child sexual abuse and rape. NO! was my cultural activism. In NO! the women's stories were different, and yet similar to my own. Getting involved in this movement has healed me.”

In addition to her anti-rape activism, Simmons recommends the tools she used on her healing journey, which include therapy with a licensed clinical psychologist (or a licensed social worker), Vipassana meditation and the Buddhist practice of loving-kindness “so you don't become the very entity that you are trying to fight.” She also emphasizes the importance of community, “Find community that will not re-victimize you. Connect online to survivors who are doing this work. Faith communities are important, but they are not a substitution for therapy.”

Simmons acknowledges that African-American women face barriers to finding the healing resources they need. “Because of the history of racism and sexism in America, in many instances, you are already presumed guilty. It is assumed that we are always wanting, willing, and able. Sometimes women call the police and the police decide a rape didn't occur because of their race. You wonder if you will you be treated with respect. If your community is held hostage by the police, how can you trust the police? Where do you go?”

Through the filmmaking process, she discovered that racism played a significant role in survivors' reactions to rape. “There was a level of trust with perpetrators because (as in the majority of all rape cases, regardless of race/ethnicity), the women I interviewed were raped by acquaintances. They would ask, ‘How do I come forward?' because they were advocating against racism in their communities and didn't want to send another Black man to jail. We are trained as women not to betray the Black race.”

“This country has a virulent history of racist violence perpetuated against Black Women, yet we have tried to protect Black men from racism. Like Black men, Black women have been horribly impacted by white supremacy. Yet, there is often not the same outcry in our communities when a Black woman is raped,” Simmons explains.

Dr. Charlotte Pierce-Baker, a featured interviewee in NO! and the author of Surviving the Silence: Black Women's Stories of Rape , says in both her book and in the film that “We are taught that we are first Black, then women. Our families have taught us this, and society in its harsh racial lessons reinforces it. Black women have survived by keeping quiet not solely out of shame, but out of a need to preserve the race and its image. In our attempts to preserve racial pride, we Black women have sacrificed our own souls.”

When I ask Simmons about the unique challenges of Black LGBT individuals, she points out that if a queer-identified survivor shares their story they are often told, “Oh that's why you're gay! Rather than provide healing to victim-survivors, that question pathologizes our sexuality. We can look at the global statistics of violence against women and know that if rape made women gay, most women would be gay! Also, if you are sexually assaulted in a same gender relationship, people have to confront stereotypes about who is a perpetrator. It's a silencing mechanism and that becomes a deterrent to ending sexual violence.”

This is why Simmons is passionately devoted to eradicating sexual violence by addressing the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in her work. Subtitled in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, NO! also examines how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia. We cannot effectively help survivors to heal or implement transformative violence prevention campaigns if we do not illuminate a whole spectrum discrimination issues, including racism, economic inequality, gender bias and heterosexist assumptions.

Through her powerful film, writing and activism, Aishah Shahidah Simmons reminds us that Black women's bodies deserve to be honored and the work to end violence must begin with the most marginalized among us.

NO! The Rape Documentary


Wisconsin Sensationalist media takes away from childhood abuse

by Guest Columnist

In an address to Penn State University's graduating class of 1973, Joe Paterno shared these words: “Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good.” More than three decades later and in light of child sexual abuse charges against Paterno's colleague Jerry Sandusky, the gravity of the legendary coach's words cannot be overstated.

The dishonorable way Paterno handled staff reports of Sandusky's inappropriate conduct with youth from his mentorship program left an entire community of college football fans with a bad taste in their mouths. The Sandusky case also shed light on public misconceptions concerning the frequency of child sexual abuse, the nature of perpetrators and the role of those burdened with the knowledge of abuse. These misconceptions bear mentioning now more than ever, as the University of Wisconsin's Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment dedicates this April's recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month to busting rape myths and stereotypes.

Last fall, the majority of news media publicized a nation's shock and disappointment when we learned of Paterno's complacency in Sandusky's criminal behavior. Few news outlets took the opportunity to highlight our society's underlying misconceptions about child abuse and the heightened need for education on self-efficacy and bystander intervention. While news media spent most of last fall raising scruples over dueling representations of Paterno (the shamed coach versus the scapegoat), few were concerned with insuring that youth be protected from victimization by adult authority figures.

Underlying the debate is the most dangerous myth about child sexual abuse: It does not happen often. Perhaps media reports would be less concerned with tarnished reputations and more focused on victim advocacy if public understanding of assault more accurately represented the truth. An informational document compiled by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault confirms, “[Nationally], roughly 15 percent of males and 30 percent of females have been victims of childhood sexual abuse,” and this only includes reported cases within a given year. The staggering reality is also that 45 percent of child sex abuse cases go unnoticed, a problem that has been compounded by misrepresentations of the perpetrators, further minimizing the severity of the issue.

News outlets frequently report on child sexual assaults as isolated incidents perpetrated by strangers deemed deranged criminals. Sandusky had been characterized by some news sources as a sexual deviant with little knowledge of the wrongness of his own actions. As WCASA's report states, “Children are most commonly sexually abused by someone they know and trust [and] most likely the abuse will continue over a period of time, often for years.” Media detracts from the critical facts when sexual assault stories are sensationalized and abusers are falsely characterized.

In light of the media's mystification of child sexual abuse, it is important to distinguish the truth and use that knowledge efficaciously. WCASA's informational sheet series not only provides the public with potential physical and behavioral indicators of child sexual abuse, but also reliably sourced, statistically-backed abuser profiles and victim support resources. Armed with real knowledge, we can all begin reading between the lines of stories that falsely represent child sexual abuse cases as few and far between. The real champions in these publicized tragedies are the survivors that rise out of unfortunate circumstances, and the stories they choose to share are the ones that deserve our attention.

Anjali Misra ( ) is a special student majoring in gender and women's studies and English.

PAVE is a student organization dedicated to ending sexual assault, dating violence and stalking on the campus through education and activism. This month the group will be leading UW in its recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. For more information on PAVE and its observance of SAAM, visit or email



Sacramento child abuse investigator target of state foster-care probe

by Brad Branan

In 2007, the state Department of Social Services revoked the foster care license of a Vallejo woman whom the agency accused of locking children in her garage "for hours without food or water" and taunting one foster boy with the words "faggot" and "queer."

The state forbade Blancho Brumfield from ever working in a facility licensed by the department – except when it came to her job as a child abuse investigator for Sacramento County.

In fact, Sacramento County's Child Protective Services hired Brumfield four months after the Department of Social Services launched its investigation into abuse allegations at Brumfield's foster home in May 2004, records show.

Call The Bee's Brad Branan, (916) 321-1065.

Until Feb. 2, when she was placed on paid administrative leave from her $75,000-a-year job, Brumfield had been working in the emergency response unit at CPS, which is responsible for investigating the most pressing claims of abuse and neglect.

Laura McCasland, a CPS spokeswoman, said Brumfield was placed on leave a day after a county ombudsman received a complaint about her. McCasland would not disclose the nature of the complaint, but said the county is examining Brumfield's background, including the cases she handled at CPS.

McCasland said the state notified "a low-level" CPS employee about the investigation into abuse allegations at Brumfield's foster home. But it never informed the local agency about the outcome, she said.

Michael Weston, a spokesman for the state Department of Social Services, said his agency notified CPS on Sept. 27, 2004, about the investigation. That was three days after she started work for the county. He said his agency has no record of contacting CPS about the outcome of the investigation.

However, county officials should have been aware of the complaints because of a related 2006 lawsuit that was filed by the mother of a foster child allegedly abused in Brumfield's home. Besides Brumfield, the lawsuit named CPS and the Department of Social Services among the defendants.

The probe into Brumfield's background is the latest in a string of disclosures about Sacramento County's child welfare agency. In recent months, it has come to light that CPS failed to keep track of a baby boy who now has been missing for a year and that the agency did not properly document its reasons for returning a baby girl to the home of her parents, where she later died of medical neglect.

Bill Grimm, senior counsel at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, sees a troubling pattern.

"The agency needs to be put back under the microscope," he said. "People need to ask why these things are happening again."

In the Brumfield case, the social worker and her husband, Gary, were licensed to have up to six foster children in their home from 1999 to 2007. The state Department of Social Services filed a complaint in 2006 leveling several accusations about the couple. Among them:

• The Brumfields verbally abused foster children, including calling one child "faggot" and "queer."

• The Brumfields encouraged foster children to fight one another, and allowed a child who visited the home to physically and verbally abuse foster children.

• Blancho Brumfield locked foster children in her garage, which did not have air conditioning or heating.

The material provided by the state did not say who made the original allegations of abuse or how many children allegedly were involved. Before the Department of Social Services made its formal findings in the investigation, the agency reached a settlement with the couple that stripped them of their foster care license and prevents either of them from working in a facility licensed by the department.

However, the department made an exception for Blancho Brumfield to allow her to work with people in state-licensed facilities "in the course of her employment with and under the supervision of the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services Child Protective Services agency," according to a copy of the agreement.

Weston said the provision was included in the interest of settling the case and making sure that "foster children would no longer be in her home."

Brumfield declined to talk to a Bee reporter about the case and did not return subsequent voice mail messages.

Kristin McAllister has a son who she alleges was abused during the years he lived in Brumfield's foster home. CPS did the investigation that resulted in McAllister's son being removed from her care, following allegations of abuse that she said were untrue. In 2006, McAllister filed a lawsuit on her son's behalf against Brumfield, CPS and others. The suit was settled in 2010 for an undisclosed amount.

McAllister said she was "sickened and infuriated" to learn that Brumfield was still employed at CPS earlier this year, when an acquaintance told her about a case that was handled by the social worker.

CPS changed its procedures for conducting background checks on job applicants following a 2009 Bee investigation that revealed at least 68 people at the agency had criminal records in Sacramento County. But it's not clear whether those changes would have made a difference in Brumfield's case.

The state didn't finish its investigation until after Brumfield had been hired by the county, and criminal charges were never filed against her. While the state notified Vallejo police of the allegations against Brumfield, the Police Department did not investigate because the state found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, Sgt. Jeff Bassett said.

Grimm of the National Center for Youth Law said Vallejo police should have examined the case more. "I'm just astounded these people were not convicted of violating child abuse laws," he said. "It appears they only got a slap on the wrist."



Trial underway for ex-Cake drummer accused of molesting child at Laurel Canyon party

by Matthew Heller

LOS ANGELES - A Massachusetts woman testified Monday that her 3- year-old daughter gave her a graphic demonstration of how she was molested by a musician at a Laurel Canyon home where they had celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends.

The trial is being held in Dept. 107 of the state's Criminal Court in downtown Los Angeles.

The woman said Peter Ivan McNeal, the former drummer for the band Cake, played a ball game with her daughter and several other children during a Thanksgiving party on Nov. 26, 2009. McNeal was a friend of her cousin, who was hosting the party.

After they left the party, the woman said her daughter suddenly blurted out, "Why did that man want to put his penis in my mouth?"

The woman, whose name was withheld to protect her undeage daughter's identity, said she asked her child, "What man?"

"She said, `The man who was playing ball with us,"' the witness testified.

Later that evening, she got in the bath with her daughter and asked her to demonstrate what had happened, the woman testified. She said her daughter took a metal Thermos bottle, held it to her crotch and "pushed it in my mouth" while moving her hips.

McNeal, 46, is charged with one felony count of oral copulation and sexual penetration of a child under the age of 10. He was arrested in January, after the girl's parents reported the alleged molestation to police in Massachusetts.

The girl, now 5, testified immediately before her mother. At a preliminary hearing, she was unable to identify McNeal as her alleged molester but she had previously recognized him from a photograph her mother showed her.

"That's him, except he had a hat on," the mother said she recalled her daughter saying.

Explaining the two-year delay in reporting the alleged molestation, the woman told a Los Angeles Superior Court jury that she and her husband wanted to be "100 percent certain" before making such a serious accusation.

Last November, she said, the girl brought the alleged incident up again.

"(She) had been exhibiting a lot of odd behavior," the mother said.

The witness also recalled that McNeal acted "energetically friendly" toward her and her husband before they left the party, asking for their phone numbers. "I was taken aback," she said.

Under cross-examination by the defense, she admitted telling police that her daughter was "giggling" when she demonstrated the alleged molestation and "thought it was a game."

"She had no emotional value to it yet," the woman said. "It was just something that happened."

Prosecutor Elena Camaras also alleges that McNeal attempted to molest a 6-year-old girl on Dec. 11, 2009 -- about two weeks after the alleged Laurel Canyon incident -- while volunteering at a school in Los Angeles.

McNeal was not charged in that case, but under California law, "propensity" evidence is admissible in cases involving sexual assault and child molestation.

The musician, a father of two, played with Cake from 2001 to 2004 and has worked as a drummer, percussionist and vocalist with artists including Norah Jones and Mike Doughty.


New human trafficking coordinator at DOJ

by The Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday he was designating a coordinator to oversee the Justice Department's efforts to combat human trafficking, describing it as modern-day slavery that has reached “crisis” proportions on a global scale.

Holder announced the new post while speaking in Little Rock as part of a distinguished lecture series co-sponsored by former President Bill Clinton's foundation. Holden did not say who would be named to the new post, which he said would coordinate efforts within the department and with other agencies on combatting human trafficking.

“This step will allow the department to continue to break new ground, and to more quickly develop and implement the most effective possible approaches for meeting our shared public safety goals and moral obligation — of preventing human trafficking, protecting victims across the country, punishing perpetrators, and empowering victims to move forward as survivors,” Holder told the crowd at the Clinton Presidential Library.

Much of the department's work in human trafficking is led by its civil rights division and a human trafficking prosecution unit, Holder said. The department launched an initiative last year that included a pilot program with the Labor and Homeland Security departments to coordinate human trafficking prosecutions and investigations in six cities.

Holder said the Justice Department has charged nearly 120 defendants in human trafficking cases over the past year, which he called a record number. Holder said the department has had a 30 percent increase in the number of forced labor and adult sex trafficking prosecutions.

Holder said human trafficking is becoming an increasingly common part of gang activity, with traffickers viewing people as commodities. He said the department is training law enforcement officials who deal with other crimes to also look for signs of human trafficking.

“These crimes are seen as low risk and high reward,” he said. “They bring in more profits - and often result in less prison time - than dealing drugs.”

Authorities worldwide have been raising concerns about human trafficking. The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said Monday that as many as 2.4 million people may be victims of human trafficking at any given time.

Holder said pressure should also be put on private businesses and websites that have helped traffickers to operate.

“We must question not only why advertisements for the services of young women can be readily found on so many publications and Web pages, but also why some publishers and Internet service providers are still making excuses and providing justifications for business practices that are immoral and support trafficking,” Holder said.

Citing examples ranging from migrant workers deprived of identification and health care to young girls shuttled to truck stops along the interstate, Holder said human trafficking was an increasing problem for American authorities.

“Make no mistake — human trafficking is not just a global problem,” Holder said. “It is a national crisis, one that every parent, every teacher, every policymaker and every law enforcement official must work to understand and must help to address.”

The University of Arkansas Clinton School for Public Service announced earlier this month that Holder's speech would focus on the department's efforts to fight human trafficking and help victims. U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat, last week called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to improve efforts to combat human trafficking and called it “an abundant and profitable form of international criminal activity.”

During a question-and-answer session with the audience after his speech, Holder also said he hoped that Republicans and Democrats could find a way to work together on immigration reform after the November election.

“It is an indictment of the situation in Washington, D.C., that we've been unable to do that,” Holder said.

Holder spoke as part of the Frank and Kula Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series. The series is sponsored by the Clinton Foundation, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and AT&T.


The Ugly American — Sex Trafficking and Our National Humiliation

The sexual revolution of the last several decades has transformed any public conversation about sex and sexuality. The revolutionaries directed their attention to the dismantling of an entire edifice of sexual morality that had been basically intact for well over 2,000 years.

At one point in the sexual revolution, efforts were made to legalize prostitution as a "victimless crime," a term that anyone could recognize as an oxymoron. Most of these efforts went nowhere in the United States and most of Europe, though "progressive" law enforcement officials often looked the other way and did little to curb the market for illicit sex.

Then something truly interesting started to happen. Influential forces in society began to notice the scale and magnitude of the market for sex. Law enforcement officials started to acknowledge the fact that women, along with under-age girls and boys, were being "trafficked" through international networks of gangsters. By the end of the last decade, American officials were aware that sex trafficking was taking place in cities large and small. Women, along with boys and girls, were being kidnapped in far parts of the world and on the streets of American cities, to be sold into what could only be considered as sexual slavery.

Over time, the shadow of international sex trafficking became evident in criminal networks that span the globe. Women and girls answering advertisements for models, maids, and child minders found themselves sold into slavery and transported around the world.

Wealthy Americans booked vacations to destinations where their sexual appetite of choice, including children, could be easily purchased. As recently as the 2012 Super Bowl, American officials warned that several hundred under-age sex workers might be brought into the host city. These developments make the international sex trafficking networks impossible to deny.

Then came the news that at least eleven Secret Service agents had been involved in a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia in advance of a visit there by President Barack Obama. It is believed that several members of the United States military were also involved. Even as that scandal began to break, the international media reported that cities like Cartagena have become magnets for the sex trade, with much of their business provided by lustful Americans.

Critics of the Secret Service suggested that a good many of its agents adopted a motto of "wheels up, rings off," indicating plans to visit prostitutes in their destination city. They planned their involvement with prostitutes well in advance of their arrival to "advance" the President's trip, it is alleged.

As if Americans were not sufficiently shocked, USA Today reported that the Secret Service scandal was "no aberration." Kirsten Powers reported: "Men working abroad on behalf of our government engage in this kind of behavior so frequently that the Pentagon was forced in 2004 to draft an anti-prostitution rule aimed at preventing the U.S. military from being complicit in fueling sex trafficking."

It appears that the rule did not restrain those involved in the Cartagena scandal, nor many others. Powers also reported that the American government has been aware for some time that much of the energy in the international sex trafficking underworld comes from American government personnel, both in uniform and out.

Powers cited Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), who declared that "women and girls are being forced into prostitution for a clientele consisting largely of military services members, government contractors and international peacekeepers."

One report indicates that young girls have been kidnapped in Eastern Europe "specifically to be sold to the American contractors to use for sex." Those contractors were there under the auspices of our government to establish peace and security in the aftermath of the Bosnian crisis.

As Kirsten Powers observed, "Representatives of the U.S. government should be setting the standard for the world, not feeding the problem of sex trafficking. The chances that the women or girls the Secret Service agents procured for their pleasure were there by free will is very low. Most likely, they were sex slaves."

Thankfully, there is much less talk these days about prostitution and sex trafficking as a "victimless crime." Few crimes offer such a dismal view of the human moral reality. There is a ready market for every form of lust, and criminal syndicates stand ready to sell anyone and anything for a price.

Bringing the story even closer to home, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times reported the story of a sex worker in New York City. "If you think sex trafficking only happens in faraway places like Nepal or Thailand, then you should listen to an expert on American sex trafficking I interviewed the other day," he wrote. "But, first, wish her happy birthday. She turns 16 years old on Thursday."

Kristof told of "Brianna," who had been effectively kidnapped and sold into the sex trade after she ran away from home for only one night at age 12. He also described the prominence of major Internet sex trafficking sites, one of which "accounts for about 70 percent of America's prostitution ads." Brianna reported that she had been offered on such a site, estimating that half of the business into which she was sold came through the site. Chillingly, Kristof also reported that major Wall Street financial firms were profiting by the business.

Kirsten Powers got it just right when she wrote, "We have a global epidemic of sex trafficking." I can only wonder how many Americans understand that the "we" in that statement means us - the American people. When a congressman can admit for us all that women and girls are being forced into the sex trade for a clientele "consisting largely" of American government officials and contractors along with the U.S. military, that problem becomes the responsibility of every American.

American Christians, who understand the incomprehensible scandal and moral horror of sex trafficking must recognize that this is an issue of high moral priority.

We must demand the enforcement of laws meant to protect human beings from being sold into sexual slavery and the vigorous prosecution of those who are engaged in sex trafficking. We must demand that any American involved in such activities be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and that every effort be made to release women and young people from sexual slavery.

No American can rest with an easy conscience while this nation is known around the world for sending out officials, business associates, government contractors, and military personnel whose motto is "wheels up, rings off."

This scandal has revealed that the concept of the Ugly American has taken on a humiliating new dimension.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.



Human Trafficking Forum Alerts Community to Warning Signs

CLEVELAND — It's called “modern day slavery” and community leaders say it is a growing problem in northeast Ohio. A community forum was held on Tuesday evening in an effort to expose the problem and stop it.

“At first I wasn't going that route, I thought that she was kidnapped off the street for other reasons, but now I truly believe that it was for human trafficking,” said Felix DeJesus, whose 14-year-old daughter, Gina, disappeared from West 105th and Lorain eight years ago.

“I said it from the beginning that she was sold to the highest bidder,” said the girl's mother, Nancy Ruiz.

DeJesus and his wife, Ruiz, shared their story with residents who attended a community forum about human trafficking at the Applewood Centers on Cleveland's west side.

“Where she went missing is so active with people, so much traffic and nobody seen nothing, and now it's been eight years, nobody, no nothing… so that actually tells me she's still alive, she's still out there,” Ruiz said.

“You're on the streets all day long, you're the ones who live next door to these people. if you can understand what to look for, maybe we can get that information, and we can resolve something and maybe save someone's life,” said second district Cleveland Police Commander Keith Sulzer.

Police and other community leaders briefed the public on signs to look for, for example, a house with lots of car and foot traffic, or drastic behavioral changes in children. They say trafficking victims can be girls or boys, teens or adults. They say the trafficker can be a man or woman, young or old.

“There is an issue in the City of Cleveland. However, this is to be more proactive instead of reactive to a growing phenomenon in our community,” said Blaine Griffin, executive director of Cleveland's Community Relations Board.

“Within 72 hours of a teen being out on the street, they will be solicited for sex,” explained Karen McHenry.

McHenry manages a program for homeless youth at the Bellefaire Center in Shaker Heights. She said children can become victims on the street or on the Internet or through social media. McHenry said it's a problem in the inner city and the suburbs.

“These pimps are looking for kids between the ages of 12 to 14 and they know that those are impressionable young ages and so that they can possibly be more manipulative,” she said.

Statistics show that human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world…second to drug dealing.

Tuesday night's meeting is the first of a series of human trafficking forums to be held citywide.


Child Abuse Frequency Linked to Worse Outcomes

by Yael Waknine

April 23, 2012 — Maltreatment frequency is a strong predictor of future negative health and behavioral outcomes among low-income children, according to a longitudinal study published online April 23 in Pediatrics .

Investigators led by Melissa Jonson-Reid, PhD, and colleagues at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, found a linear dose-response relationship between number of abuse incidents and likelihood of adverse outcomes during childhood, including head injuries, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), mental health conditions, juvenile court petitions for violent offense or use of alcohol or illicit drugs, and suicide attempts before age 18 years.

Moreover, the frequency of maltreatment during childhood was linked to the likelihood of perpetrating child abuse in adulthood. It was also linked to an increased risk for mental health issues and problematic substance abuse.

"Our findings suggest that although any report of maltreatment is undesirable, chronic maltreatment predicts worse outcomes across a number of domains. Early detection and increased service provision to prevent recurrence seem warranted," the authors write. They further note the importance of assuring child safety as well as addressing behavioral and developmental needs among abused children.

Child Abuse Frequency Linked to Mental Health Issues, Drug Abuse

For the study, investigators obtained data from a longitudinal project that included 5994 low-income children from St. Louis aged 4.5 to 11 years who had received Aid to Families with Dependent Children; a nonmaltreated comparison group was selected by age and area of residence in a large midwestern county. The children were followed for 16 years, from 1993 to 2009.

Maltreatment information was obtained from various sources, including electronic birth and death records, emergency department and hospital records, juvenile corrections and court records, and special education eligibility records.

Forty-one percent of the low-income sample had no reported maltreatment; 19% had 1 report, 12.7% had 2, 7.9% had 3, and 19.1% had 4 to 22 reports.

Analysis revealed a linear relationship between maltreatment chronicity and negative childhood outcomes, including head injury, STD, suicide attempts, mental health conditions, and substance abuse with alcohol or illicit drugs.

These adverse outcomes occurred in 29.7% of nonmaltreated children, 39.5% of those with 1 report of abuse, 67.17% of those with 4 reports, 79.4% of children with 7 reports, and 91.9% of those with 12 or more reports of abuse (point bilateral correlation, 0.33; P < .0001).

Abuse Perpetuated in Adulthood as the Cycle Continues

In a Cox regression model that did not include controls for adverse childhood outcomes, a dose-response pattern was found between the number of maltreatment reports and reports of alleged child abuse, mental health treatment, and problematic substance abuse after age 18.

When the researchers controlled for childhood outcomes, the association with substance abuse disappeared and the association with mental health treatment was significantly attenuated.

However, adult perpetration of abuse remained strongly associated with childhood maltreatment; those having 3 or more reports of child abuse were twice as likely to abuse their children as were those having 2 or fewer reports.

"Although primary and secondary prevention remain important approaches, this study suggests that enhanced tertiary prevention may pay high dividends across a range of medical and behavioral domains," the authors conclude.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.



For Your Family: Child Sexual Abuse

by Judy Hsu

(Video on site)

April 23, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- In this "For Your Family," ABC7 covers a very serious and important topic: the warning signs of one of the most under-reported crimes in the country, sexual abuse. The victims are children who suffer in silence.

Visiting Monday was the Executive Director Char Rivette of Chicago Children's Advocacy Center, a non-profit involved in child abuse investigations in Chicago.

April is child abuse prevention month, and there is a public campaign happening next week called "Voices for 3000" in Chicago, asking local residents to be the voice.

Some numbers compiled from various national studies:

-60 percent of child sexual abuse cases go unreported.
- 90 percent of sexually abused children know their abusers.
- 25 percent of adults who at some point suspected a child was being abused never spoke up.

We saw this with the high-profile Penn State University case, which is still going through the courts.

Part of the public campaign is to get everyone paying attention to warning signs. It could be a neighbor, it could be your own child, or your child's friend. What are the warning signs that people should pay attention to?

Rivette says:

- unusual relaltionship with another adult
- sudden behavior changes in the child
- sudden fear of being around a particular person
- sudden change in not wanting to go to school, participate in physical activities
- fear of showering
- signs of anxiety like bedwetting

On the other hand, we don't want people to jump to a quick conclusion. If you suspect something might be wrong, you want to keep the communication line open with that child and let them know somebody cares.

If you'd like more information about child sexual abuse warning signs, visit


North Carolina

Free training to prevent child sexual abuse planned April 28

On any given day, there may be as many as 215 children in the Cleveland County Department of Social Services' protective custody. Dozens of county families are in crisis.

Children's Homes of Cleveland County serves these children and families in a variety of ways, including residential care, supervised visitation, parenting classes, adoption services and outpatient therapeutic services.

In honor of Prevent Child Abuse Month, which is observed in April, Children's Homes of Cleveland County will provide free Stewards of Children training from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at its office at 425-C Cherryville Road, Shelby.

This evidence-based training is designed to help people know how to develop a plan to protect children from sexual abuse. Seating is limited; those who wish to attend are encouraged to call 704-484-2558 to reserve a seat.



Preventing Child Abuse: Everyone Deserves to Feel Safe

Resources are available for children that are neglected or abused.

by Kimberly Weisz

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month is the time to emphasize the safety of children by working together in our communities, with schools and social service agencies, to prevent child abuse and promote education about it.

Domestic violence is never acceptable, and children of battered women are often abused. Children are vulnerable, afraid to communicate and frequently remain silent. Child abuse occurs in all types of families, and as community advocates we need to look for warning signs such as emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect.

If a child is withdrawn, fearful, anxious or intimidated, or frequently misses school, she or he may be at risk. If a child has a sudden change in eating habits, develops a new fear of people or places, or refuses to talk about a secret, she or he may be a victim of child abuse.

It is important to stand up for a child in need. Call law enforcement agencies, child welfare services or 911 in an emergency if you suspect that child abuse is occurring. Be specific on what you have observed or documented. Help stop the cycle of abuse and neglect. By intervening and reporting child abuse as early as possible, you are helping to provide a voice for those so desperately in need.

April has also been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual assault occurs without the consent of both individuals. Sexual assault usually happens with force, under threatening circumstances and against a person's will. Rape is a form of sexual assault and can happen on a date, with a friend or acquaintance, or when you are alone.

Victims include children and adults. One in five women may experience rape during college, and many attacks go unreported. No matter where or how it happens, rape, child molestation and sexual assault are never the victim's fault.

Our community does not tolerate sexual assault. Consequently, we need to stand together to implement prevention, safety and accountability.

A person who engages in a sexual assault may be prosecuted criminally. It's essential to contact your local law enforcement agency or seek hospital emergency care immediately if you are a victim or know a victim of sexual assault.

Victims need to be aware of and observe the following advice: Do not take a bath, shower, eat, chew gum or brush your teeth, as these activities may destroy evidence. If possible, carry an extra set of clothes as the original clothes may be collected for testing.

If you believe your were drugged and don't remember what happened to you, obtaining a urine sample is critical for screening. Do not wash any bedding or clothes or dispose of anything before checking with law enforcement officials. Try not to change anything at the scene of the assault.

Sexual assault survivors have the right to have a victim advocate and a support person present during interviews with law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.

We need to hold those who abuse power and control accountable. Everyone deserves to feel safe. Let's work together to increase community awareness and partner with parents to take action and break the cycles of domestic violence. Let's prevent child abuse and sexual assault!

Important Resources

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

To report child abuse or neglect in San Diego, please call, (858) 560-2191. Within the State of California, call toll free (800) 344-6000. Calls are staffed by trained social workers who receive calls about child abuse, molestation and neglect. Child Help USA can be reached at (800) 422-4453, or click here for a list of child abuse reporting phone numbers by state.

In seeking help and confidential services of sexual assault in San Diego:

24-hour toll-free crisis line: (888) 385-4657.

Center for Community Solutions Assault Victim Advocates help survivors navigate complicated systems and make informed decisions, call (858) 272-5777.

Women's Resource Center: (760) 757-3500

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network: (800) 656-HOPE (4673)


North Dakota

Child Abuse Prevention

by Jessica Roose

(Video on site)

Every year there are about 600 confirmed cases of child abuse in North Dakota. That number appears to be holding steady but obviously, child advocates would like to see those numbers go down.

"Abused and neglected children need a caring adult to help them," plays a video that airs on the Stop Child Abuse website. This video is just one of the many components of the new training program aimed to help those who suspect child abuse.

"We wanted to offer some information to the public about how and why and where to make reports," said Marlys Baker, an administrator for CPS.

The training program explains the signs of abuse, which can include injuries that a child may not be able to explain. Anyone can log on and take the hour long training but Baker says it will be a useful tool for those that are required to report abuse.

"Traditionally that training was offered by the county social service employees who are really finding that the work is increased to the point where they just don`t have the time to go out to those local agencies and offer that training any longer," Baker said.

Among those mandated to report abuse or neglect are clergy, educators, medical professionals and law enforcement. Major Les Witkowski says it will be a helpful tool in Burleigh County because deputies can fit it into their busy schedules.

"We work shifts and some days it`s non-stop, and other times if they have a moment, they can come in and they can take the training," said Witkowski.

He says unfortunately, deputies respond to child abuse or neglect cases far too often.

"We deal with so many different situations, and a lot of those situations involve children. And they may not be directly abused but they witness domestic violence, they witness other things that affect them," Witkowski said.

He says he plans to recommend that this type of training count towards law enforcement training hours.

Anyone can report suspected abuse or neglect by calling their county social service office or by calling 9-1-1 if the child is in immediate danger. To learn more or take the training, visit


South Carolina

D2L: child abuse rates appear down, but there's still work to do

by Joe O'Neill

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)-- April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month and local organizations are joining together to help spread the word on how to prevent child sexual abuse.

According to the State Department of Social Services, 17,500 cases of child abuse or neglect were reported last year. But, advocates say it's difficult to know just how widespread the problem is because so many instances are not reported.

"Statistics and numbers that we have will actually tell us that the rates of child abuse are actually declining which is a good thing," said Cindy McElhinney, Director of Programs for Darkness to Light. "But we still have a lot of work to do and one of the ways we can do that is by talking about it."

McElhinney says talking about the difficult subject of abuse helps those suffering from an abusive past come forward.

"We know that the issue, especially the issue of child sexual abuse is shrouded in secrecy. Most of the time the victim feels as if they're at fault for the abuse or they feel shamed, they feel angry and they keep it inside," said McElhinney. "The media reports can really help victims come forward and share their stories and really understand that they're not alone."

Darkness to Light isn't alone in their fight either. They're joining forces with the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center for a training session for adults in the community. The session is free to the public and will be held on Saturday, April 28 from 8:30 a.m until 12:30 p.m. Anyone interested in attending can register on the Dee Norton website.

D2L is also lighting up the night this Friday with a Glow Ride through downtown Charleston. Bicyclists can deck out their rides with glow sticks and meet at the fountain in Marion Square at 9 p.m.

These events are just one of the many ways D2L hopes awareness becomes widespread.

"One of the ways that we can prevent child sexual abuse from happening is by talking to our children. Keeping an open dialogue, making sure they know the proper names for their body parts, making sure that they understand that if anybody's inappropriate with them that they can tell someone and that it's not their fault and to be believed," said McElhinney. "These are really moments that we can use as teaching moments for our children."

McElhinney also hopes organizations that serve our community's youth take a look at their policies and make sure that they are doing everything they can to protect kids. If that protection fails, however, she says there is help out there.

"It is always advisable to seek professional help," said McElhinney. "Because there are professionals out there that can help somebody that's been through this find peace and happiness."

Parents can find information on how to talk to their children about sexual abuse on the Darkness to Light website.


Michigan Child abuse numbers rise, public can help address the problem (Viewpoint)


The number of Children's Protective Services (CPS) complaints received by the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) increased from 117,316 in 2009 to 121,405 in 2010. Locally, complaints to the Kalamazoo CPS office went from 4,662 in 2009 to 4,770 in 2011, an increase of 108 calls concerning the safety of children. This is a serious problem in our community.

April is national Child Abuse Awareness Month. The Kalamazoo County Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Council (KCAN) has worked for 35 years to prevent abuse to our local children. We do this through advocacy and education. This month, we tied 4,770 blue ribbons, one for each call to CPS, on two trees located on the downtown Kalamazoo Mall to bring attention to the issue. The decorated trees will be displayed for the entire month and present a visually striking reminder of the dangerous world in which some children live. We also supported the Children's Trust Fund in its Pinwheels for Prevention garden.

KCAN publishes and distributes at no cost a Family Help Book which allows families in distress to find resources. We make available at local fairs bookmarks, brochures, and bumper stickers containing educational information. We employ Community Educators to present in schools our “Kids are Special” program. We provide Mandated Reporter Training upon request in order that those required by law to report suspected abuse (teachers, physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, law enforcement, clergy, regulated child care providers, and many others) are aware of their legal obligations and the proper way to report.

Community members who are not required to report may still make an anonymous complaint to CPS at the toll free number of 855-444-3911. Calls to CPS may save a child's life. During our Life Saver Campaign, KCAN volunteers will be visible at local businesses asking for donations to continue the important prevention work we perform. Our website at provides a plethora of information about our initiatives.

Our nonprofit organization is primarily run by volunteers. We recognize that the valuable contributions of students, community members, professionals, and businesses are critical to achieving our goal of preventing abuse. This year, we presented awards to outstanding volunteers: Professional Excellence Award to Cecily Culp, DHS; Child Advocacy Award to Misty Blake, Symmetry Salon; and Community Volunteer Award to Samantha Roberts, WMU.

We were pleased to support Western Michigan University's film screening of “Boys and Men Healing.” This powerful documentary explains the lifelong effects sexual abuse has on children. We invite the Kalamazoo community to continue to partner with us in our prevention efforts through donations of time or money. Please contact us through our website or Facebook at KalamazooCan. Next year, we hope to tie ribbons on only one tree!

Brandan Mitchell and Karen M. Hayter are on the board of directors for the Kalamazoo County Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Council.



State expands who must report signs of child abuse

Legislation could increase reports, workload for Department of Human Services

by Ashley Fielding

If you work with children, it's likely state law will soon obligate you to report signs of child abuse.

In a bill that follows on the heels of a child molestation scandal involving a football coach at Penn State University, Georgia lawmakers have broadened the scope of the state's list of people who are mandated by law to report signs of child abuse.

Once the bill is signed by the governor, as of July 1 employees or volunteers at nearly any child service agency, members of the clergy and volunteers at centers for reproductive health will all be required to report suspected abuse.

The new law makes Georgia the 27th state in the country to mandate that members of the clergy report suspected abuse, said Melissa Carter, director of the Barton Child Law & Policy Center at Emory University School of Law.

Carter was part of a team that helped research and draft portions of the bill.

While the law does make an exception for child abuse reported as a form of confidential confession, Carter said that portion of the law is a direct response to the scandal at Penn State.

It had also been a plan of Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, for years.

“I think it took the public will and political will that came with a national scandal like Penn State to make it happen,” Carter said. “There was a lot of resistance to it previously.”

But the bill also makes more specific the rules for personnel at child service organizations, stating that the employees could work or volunteer for public or private, nonprofit or for-profit agencies that provide “care, treatment, education, training, supervision, coaching, counseling, recreational programs or shelter to children.

“I think it is hard to imagine someone who works with children who is not now included,” in the law's requirements, Carter said.

Before, Carter said, no one quite knew who fell in the category of “child service organization personnel.”

“It felt very all-encompassing, and at the same time, very nonspecific,” Carter said. “You either felt like that was a catch-all or a way to escape the mandate, so to speak.”

Already, staff at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County, who work with more than 500 children in the county each day, have started training for the new law, said Chuck Graham, a unit director at one of the organization's facilities.

“We just want to be proactive ... about looking out for child abuse,” said Graham.

Neal Curry, Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County physical education program coordinator, has already attended two of the training sessions.

In the sessions, he said he learned how to tell the difference between a sports injury and a bruise that came from a personal blow.

“They're really showing you how you can tell if a kid is going through a situation like this,” Curry said.

But the new law doesn't require the training nor does it provide the funding for it.

Carter believes the new law, once in effect, will result in an increased number of child abuse reports.

She said 2010 data showed that about 30 percent of child abuse reports came from people who weren't required to report. The rest came from people who were.

“I think reasonably so you can expect the reports to increase, because there's a heightened awareness to the mandated reporter statute. People are actively considering whether they fall within its mandates,” she said.

Carter said it's a good thing, noting that between a quarter and a third of all child abuse is reported.

“We probably do need more detection of child abuse,” she said.

She believes lawmakers avoided one question, however: the cost.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services says the agency is still evaluating the legislation's possible impacts on the agency's work.

“We anticipate that this may result in an increase in the reports of child abuse and neglect made to the agency,” spokeswoman Lisa Shekell said in an email. “The department will investigate any report of child abuse or neglect as it currently does.”

Gov. Nathan Deal said his office is working with Department of Human Services Commissioner Clyde Reece to ensure current resources are being used efficiently. But he couldn't say how funding for the agency might change if the workload increased dramatically because of the law.

“That's a delicate balance when you try to deal with the responsibilities that the law places on individuals to report activities — obviously, reports have to be investigated,” Deal said. “So if by adding additional people to the mandatory reporting list — if that does increase the number of reports — then, obviously, there would be some correlation to an increased workload.”

And because there's no plan for that, Carter questions how the state will make sure people are aware that they are required to report child abuse under the new law and how they will have the skills to detect it.

“That training piece is really where resource allocation would come, and I think as a political matter that was not something that really became a part of the discussion,” Carter said. “Because I think when you talk about resources, then you talk about money, and that tends to chill anyone's interest in any changes to public policy.”

Graham said he thinks the law will change little about club staff's day-to-day responsibilities. In his time at the club, Graham said he hasn't experienced a situation of child abuse.

But he said he's glad to know he's got the training to deal with it if it ever does come.

“It's a touchy situation, but we've been around children so much that at some point, you can tell when something's not right,” said Graham.


New York Times' Op-ed Confirms US Has Teen Sex Slave Epidemic

by Conchita Sarnoff

Finally, the New York Times ' Nicholas Kristof reports on U.S. teenagers being sold for sex -- sex trafficking in America.

In today's New York Times op-ed (Thursday, April 19, 2012), Kristof reveals "Not Quite a Teen, Yet Sold for Sex" that the child sex trade or child sex slavery (as the "abolitionists" refer to it), is alive and kicking in the United States. More importantly, it is in happening to hundreds of thousands of runaway American kids everywhere in the States including New York City.

After years reporting about sex trade in the Huffington Post, this extraordinary and unusually closeted crime has finally made the Op-Ed of the New York Times . According to several media reports including the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP report), the U.S. is the number one destination country in the world for child sex trafficking and New York City is the #1 city in the U.S. for child sex trafficking which implies that at the advent of the twenty-first century, New York City is the #1 city in the world for child sex trafficking.

How can this be? And why is this not being reported openly and discussed between our three branches of government more transparently?

For one reason, we don't have hard numbers and so the budgets and resources afforded law enforcement agents and agencies in order to prevent, protect (also identify) and prosecute sex traffickers are scarce. Secondly, our first line of defense i.e., every police department in the nation, is hard pressed to a) identify the underage victims of sex trafficking b) charge the sex traffickers under sex trafficking legislation (there is none for domestic sex traffickers). Thirdly, it is very challenging for prosecutors (DAs), to obtain a conviction for all the obvious reasons: lack of witnesses, lack of resources, lack of training, credibility of victims since the onus today falls on the victims and not sex traffickers to prove beyond reasonable doubt this offense.

Kristof goes on to mention Backpage, a social network site, as I wrote about the other day "Backpage Not Complying With Requests to Help Stop Sex Trafficking," similar to Craigslist advertising the selling of sex by teenagers in its personal ad space.

I am very grateful to Kristof for bringing this issue to light; especially in mainstream media, since the Huffington Post, for some strange reason, is not considered mainstream.

According to Kristof's column, the victim a 16-year-old New York City poet, "Brianna" and runaway wanted "to teach her mother a lesson." As fate would have it, the lesson was on her. One evening, when Brianna was 12 years old she had a fight with her mother and ran away to join her friends. That night she decided to stay at a friend's older brother's home. The next morning, he wouldn't allow her to leave. The young man told her he was a pimp and that "Brianna" was now "his property." He locked her inside his house and physically abused her. He did so repeatedly yet throughout her ordeal he also did the one thing that all pimps do to their vulnerable victims in order to keep them "hooked" -- he showed her affection.

In the meantime, the pimp advertised her services on, today's leading U.S. website for sex trafficking. Brianna told Kristof that her pimp believed "Backpage made him the most money" and according to her pimp, "half of his business came through Backpage."
"Brianna" is one of the lucky few. She managed to escape after years of fighting her fear and ran away to a treatment center outside of New York City called Gateways. Gateways, has only 13 beds according to Kristof- another important topic when trying to solve the housing dilemma for runaway domestic victims of the sex slave trade.

Reporting on Backpage, Kristof quoted the AIM figures I reported on in my last Huff Post blog which confirms Backpage prostitution ads account for roughly between 70-85% of America's online prostitution ads. Pretty hefty figure if you ask me.

In the meantime, Brianna is one of one hundred thousand American girls see Huffington Post "Congress Confirms Over 100,000 Americans Girls Being Exploited Through Commercial Sex," that according to Congress are trafficked for sex every year.

As much as Kristof, myself, and other leading voices working in this field, can raise awareness of this twenty-first century plague, it is not enough. We need entire communities-across the country -- to rise up and speak against this new form of sex slavery so that it becomes politicized like AIDS. If it manages to get on the national agenda or become a politician's platform then and only then will our three branches of government feel the fire to commit the resources towards those organizations in the U.S. working to prevent, protect and rehabilitate the victims of sex slavery and prosecute domestic child sex traffickers.



Reagan's son to promote Amarillo foster care work


The adopted son of former President Ronald Reagan is scheduled to visit Amarillo next month to share his story of being a victim of child sexual abuse before joining the former president's family.

An Evening with Michael Reagan is planned for 7 p.m. May 10 at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $35.

Reagan was sexually abused in an after-school program as a child.

He is now a public speaker and founder of the Reagan Legacy Foundation, which works to advance causes that were important to Ronald Reagan and memorialize the accomplishments of his presidency, according to the organization's website.

Arrow Child and Family Ministries in Amarillo is hosting the event to alert the community to the foster care services the organization provides, as well as the needs of children in foster care, said Keith Howard, state director of the organization.

The event is also a fundraiser for the organization to renovate the property at 4655 S. Farm-to-Market Road 1258 that it purchased from Panhandle Assessment Center about a year and a half ago, Howard said.

He said the organization recently began working on a three-year, $2.5-million capital campaign for renovations and new shelters.

About $1.5 million is planned for new shelters that could each accommodate 20 children, one for boys and one for girls, he said.

He said the current shelter can hold as many as 32 children. On average, about 21 children stay in the shelters, he said.

Reagan will speak alongside national Arrow Child and Family Ministries CEO Mark Tennant, who also was a victim of sexual abuse as a child.

Howard said Reagan's story relates to the services that Arrow Child and Family Ministries provides.

“We've had a long-standing relationship, and we thought this would be a time to bring him to town,” Howard said.

“He will share his story, our CEO will share his story and just really make the community aware of what is going on.”

The organization serves as a place where children who are removed from their home by Child Protective Services can stay for about 90 days before officials are able to either return them to their home or provide them a spot in a foster home, Howard said.

Reagan's story also shows child sexual abuse can happen anywhere, said Lizzie Mason, public relations director for Amarillo National Bank and a member of the organization's Panhandle Leadership Council.

“This particular kind of situation, there's no boundaries for it no matter what ZIP code you live in or what your economic situation might be,” she said.

The event also is geared to help people understand how the foster care system works, said Smith Ellis, president and CEO of FirstBank Southwest and a member of the leadership council.

“To me, these are the invisible kids that none of us know about,” Ellis said.

There are about 360 children in Potter and Randall counties living in foster care, Howard said.

The organization also will honor Amarillo Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children during the event with the 2012 Ambassador of Purpose award for its service to children, Ellis said.

CASA represents children to maintain their rights in court proceedings, he said.

Howard said he hopes the event with Reagan helps people understand the lives of foster children and possibly change people's perceptions of them.

“It's just taking the stigma away from what is known as foster kids, and just exposing the community to these children and saying these are just kids,” he said.

“They just need loving adults to wrap their arms around them, support them, walk them through the trauma they've experienced and provide a safe place for them.”

If you go

An Evening with Michael Reagan

When: 7 p.m. May 10; VIP reception at 6:15 p.m.

Where: Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, 400 S. Buchanan St.

Tickets: $35



New York

Eliminate legal layer of abuse


Victims of sexual abuse are sometimes victimized more than once — not just by their abusers, but unfortunately by the legal system that is supposed to protect them.

There is no doubt that sexual crimes are some of the most difficult to investigate and to prosecute.

The secretive nature of the crime and the shame and stigma borne by victims present unique and difficult challenges to navigate.

Police, prosecutors and court officers do admirable work taking on this vile and despicable crime. And yet, there are some aspects of the legal process which we could improve.

Some victims fear that if they go to authorities, the world will know about the terrible things that happened to them. The feelings of shame associated with that public scrutiny can be petrifying.

On the other hand, hindered by this reluctance, many victims of abuse wait until it is too late to report to authorities and the statute of limitations expires. For some, that means they never get the justice they seek.

Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey, only recently disclosed he had been the victim of repeated sexual abuse as a child. His shame and guilt prevented him from speaking out all these years.

Our laws should be structured to protect the victim above all else — both their privacy and their right to come forward when they are ready.

We must do more to insulate the victims of sexual abuse both from the public and from their abusers. For example, many courts already use closed circuit videotape of children for testimony, keeping them from having to appear in court.

Although we are sensitive to the constitutional concerns involved, it is time to codify protections such as these in law. Great societies know when to make exceptions to their own rules, and it is both moral and responsible to err on the side of privacy when it comes to such victims.

By the same token, New York and other states are considering legislation to extend the statute of limitations for reporting sexual abuse, as many victims do not disclose their history of childhood sexual abuse until they are adults or in midlife.

The statute of limitations is a valuable part of a functioning legal society for many reasons. Evidence and witnesses get less reliable over time. New crimes continue to occur that require more immediate focus.

But there are some crimes that are so heinous, our society agrees that they should always be prosecuted and the offenders punished — no matter how much time elapses.

Murder is the prime example. Killing someone is a permanent act that cannot be undone, and those who would do it are among the gravest threats to our society. Therefore, we place no restriction on using our resources to always pursue and stop such a crime.

It is time that child sexual abuse receive similar treatment under the law. The scars that sexual abuse can leave on a person are equally as permanent.

Just as there is no statue of limitations on the killing of the body, so too there should be no statute on the killing of the soul.

Such a law going forward sends a clear and powerful message of support to victims and an equally powerful message to offenders that the passage of time is not on your side as it is now.

Some may say these two changes — more privacy for victims and unlimited time to prosecute — could lead to an undue outpouring of potentially false allegations or false memory recollections.

When it comes to sexual abuse, however, it is far better to have a system that encourages reporting rather than one that discourages it.

We are confident our public safety officials can determine truthful allegations from false ones. Already, far too many cases go unreported, and we must do everything in our power to change that.

Our legal system is meant to protect victims and punish the guilty, not the other way around. This substantive change will go a long way to protect victims of sexual abuse both in body and soul.

David Mandel is chief executive officer of OHEL Children's Home and Family Services in New York.


New York

Cases of child abuse rise in Dutchess

Economy, increase in domestic violence said to be causes

by Shantal Parris Riley

Child-advocacy professionals say the down economy, increased reporting and connection to domestic violence are some causes of the uptick in incidents of child abuse in Dutchess County.

“In 2010, we served a record 605 children,” Kathleen Murphy, executive director of the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse, told the Journal. “In 2011, it rose to 698 and we broke the record again. If we keep heading in this direction, we'll break that record again in 2012.”

The center is home to the Child Advocacy Center, a nonprofit contracted by the county Department of Social Services that handles the most serious child abuse cases, including all cases of child sexual abuse in the county. The agency reports that child abuse has been on the rise in the county for three years in a row.

A very serious case of abuse made headlines in March when 4-week-old infant twins were brought to the Vassar Brothers Medical Center emergency room with multiple breaks in their arms and legs. Their father, 29-year-old Wappingers Falls resident Andrew Kovalsky, was charged with assault, a felony, sent to jail and ordered to stay away from the mother and infants.

Police report the twins are expected to make full recoveries.

The community is left wondering if the alleged abuse could have been prevented.

“I can't speak on this particular case,” Murphy said, “but I will say that some parents are more equipped than others to raise their children in a nurturing and loving environment.”

For every case of child abuse that comes to light, there are two to three that are never disclosed, Murphy said. “Children most often won't want to disclose the identity of an abuser,” she said, adding that in 93 percent of cases, the child knows the abuser.

Across the country, the National Children's Alliance states an estimated 763,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect in 2009. Neglect was the most common form of abuse. An estimated 1,770 children died.

Causes are many

Though the root causes of child abuse are convoluted, prevention advocates say the local trend involves several factors.

“Part of it is the economy,” Murphy said. “When people become frustrated, they tend to take out their frustration on those least able to defend themselves.”

It's also likely the numbers have increased due to more awareness of the problem, Murphy said. “Children are learning to say something when they see something going on,” she said. “More people are reporting abuse. More county organizations and schools are requesting child abuse recognition and reporting training.”

Among the hundreds of cases handled by the Child Advocacy Center in 2011, 209 were related to alleged cases of sexual abuse. With this in mind, staff performed an educational puppet show for students at Glenham Elementary School recently as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“You're not supposed to put your hands on the private parts of my body,” center program educator Barbara O'Dea said as she deftly maneuvered a raven-haired girl puppet speaking to a would-be abuser.

The role-play session was offered through the center's Personal Safety Program, which provides sexual-abuse prevention workshops to elementary schools throughout the county. “It's important that parents have this discussion with children,” said Georgia Schwartz, center program director of education services. “We can't put our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn't happen.”

Another possible cause for the uptick in cases may be their connection to domestic abuse, which is also on the rise in the county. “It's easy for children to get caught up in the fray,” said David Crenshaw, child trauma specialist and clinical director of the Children's Home in Poughkeepsie. “If there's violence in the home, it's not always contained between the parents.”

Neglect is top of list

Neglect is, however, by far the most common form of child abuse, accounting for approximately 75 percent of cases, he said. It's a form of abuse Crenshaw said was more damaging than physical abuse.

“A child can tolerate being beaten easier than feeling that they don't exist,” he said. “ ‘If I don't matter enough for you, my parent, to notice me, I must not matter at all,' is often how children internalize neglect.”

At the highest risk for physical abuse, Crenshaw said, are children with special needs. “Hyperactive kids are probably at the top of that list,” he said. “They can wear parents down when they're stressed.”

Anything that greatly increases stress on parents, specifically those without social support or who are isolated, can pose an increased risk for abuse. Mental illness and substance abuse are also risk factors for abuse occurring in the home, Crenshaw said, and having a history of physical violence is the single largest risk factor for someone becoming an abuser of children.

Crenshaw said it is well understood that abusive behavior can be passed down from generation to generation. But, he stressed, it is not a given that someone who experiences child abuse will become an abuser themselves. “In fact, when adults are studied, two-thirds of those abused as children do not carry forward the pattern of abuse,” he said. “It's not predetermined that a person who had that experience is doomed to repeat it.”

LaGrange resident Elizabeth Cohen swore she would never abuse her children the way she had been as a child. “My very first memory was getting beaten by my father,” said Cohen, 58. “I remember playing outside. I was about 5 years old. I was late coming home. My mom put me in the tub. When he got home, he literally pulled me out of the tub and beat me with a belt while I was still naked and soaking wet.”

As she and her brothers grew older, the beatings became worse, Cohen said. “He started using his fists,” she said.

The abuse took its toll. Scared to come home at night, she began to sleep in the street at age 13. She tried to commit suicide by swallowing a bottle of barbiturates at 16. She made another suicide attempt when her heart was broken at 20.

When a child grows up in a violent home, the risk for substance abuse, depression and attempting or committing suicide as an adult is higher, Crenshaw said. With sexual abuse, the sense of betrayal often felt can later cause difficulties in intimate relationships, he said, “because it's such an intimate violation, often at the hands of someone that was trusted initially.”

This doesn't mean the effects of abuse can't be overcome, he said.

Cohen highlighted the point.

“When I wanted to rip someone's hair out, I would physically get up and go into my room and lock my bedroom door. … I would sit and pray, ‘Do not let me go out there and hurt them,' ” she said. “I knew I had the capacity to hurt. But I refused to put my babies through what I went through.”

Remedies available

Taking yourself out of a situation before it escalates is what parents should do if they feel they may hurt their child, Crenshaw said. “The key thing is to remove yourself, if possible,” he said. “Take some space and time away. Take a break and hand the kids over to the other parent or another caretaker. If you can't leave, call someone or have them come over.”

Crenshaw said it is important for victims of child abuse to receive counseling in order to break the cycle of abuse.

“To break the cycle, the most important thing is to help the person come to terms with the wounds of their own abuse and develop the capacity for empathy,” he said. “If they don't ever face their own pain, then it will be much harder to show that empathy for the pain they may inflict on others.”


Eric Justin Toth FBI Most Wanted: Stop child pornography to end child sexual abuse

DALLAS, April 22, 2012 – Since March 14, 1950 the FBI's most wanted list has displayed the faces that instill fear in our hearts and exposed the evil glare of America's most despised criminals. The FBI selects individuals for this list only after careful consideration by FBI officials and in concert with the many field offices throughout the country.

After US troops killed the man behind the attack on the World Trade Center, convicted terrorist Osama bin Laden, the most wanted list had a vacancy.

Last week, the FBI filled the spot that had once held the name of the most hated man in America with Child Pornographer Eric Justin Toth.

Toth used his position as a private schoolteacher to produce pornographic images of children to satiate his twisted appetite for stripping away the most precious form of innocence.

A Maryland court indicted Toth in 2008 for the production of child pornography after images were found on his camera. Since then, Toth has been on the run. FBI officials placed him in Bin Laden's position on the most wanted list after a survey of all of their field offices for candidates promoted him there.

Child pornography has become rampant on the Internet, growing at unprecedented rates as Pedophiles become more sophisticated in their methods to mask their vile obsession. Since 2002, sixty-five million images of child pornography have been sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for comparison with their lists of missing children, and that number is growing exponentially.

As a victim of child pornography, the dark abyss of pain and suffering I have endured leads me to despise those who perpetrate this crime. The havoc these individuals wreak on a child's life, for me, places them in league with the same evil thriving in the veins of any terrorist. Child pornographers cloak themselves in cowardice with avatars and fabricated screen names as they lurk in the dark corners of the Internet and the sickness in their souls dines on the desecration of innocent children.

The war these “terrorists” wage against a child's innocence is fought every day around the globe. The brave men and women of law enforcement struggle to bring an end to child pornography by their work in joint task forces to stem the rising tide that swells with the sickness that infects these individuals.

In March of this year fifty year old Peter K. Lindsley was sentenced to 114 months in prison in Texas for distribution of Child Pornography. An examination of his computer yielded 68,000 explicit images, the majority of which included infants.

One of the images showed an infant who was tied up being penetrated by an adult male.

In Pennsylvania, professor Gary Doby and his former student Kimberly Crain are facing child pornography charges. Crain allegedly shared explicit pictures of young girls in her elementary school class in Oklahoma with Doby. Know as “Uncle G” Doby allegedly used the video conferencing service, Skype, to view young girls in Crain's elementary school class.

They both face twenty-three felonies for child pornography. Doby was extradited to Oklahoma where state charges result in more severe penalties than federal charges. The pair face life imprisonment if convicted of crimes against fourteen victims.

Law enforcement officials undergo constant training in their efforts to keep up with the level of sophistication child pornographers ascribe to, but the spread is hard to contain. If you ripped open a feather pillow at the top of the Empire State Building until its contents were consumed by the wind and then tracked down each feather, you would face a similar task to what law enforcement faces in stopping the proliferation of these images.

The United States Department of Justice Child Obscenity and Exploitation Section (CEOS) fights the war against child pornography in conjunction with the FBI and States Attorney's Offices around the country. They are aided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and other organizations that tirelessly try to stop this plague from consuming another child's innocence.

Microsoft has committed its talents to the fight most recently with PhotoDNA software that creates a distinct “fingerprint” for each digital image and then can be used to find other copies online. Microsoft, along with Facebook, has used a version of the same software to track images of child pornography that enter any of their services for many years now.

Simply blocking these horrendous images has been a futile attempt at stemming the proliferation with the sophistication of these individuals that just find a way around the barrier. Deleting the images has thus far proven the most effective method for dealing with the images as blocking does not allow the effective tracking of these individuals as they access them.

Sometimes it just takes an alert parent or concerned adult or even a child with a sense that something is just not right.

In Fort Worth, thirty-nine year old Michael Sean Starowicz was sentenced to twenty-one years in prison for secretly videotaping children taking showers. The police were called after a ten-year-old girl living next door to Starowicz noticed a camera on a pole outside of the window as she showered, and told her parents.

He was also found to have taped his best friends thirteen-year-old daughter taking showers at his house using a camera activated by a motion sensor hidden in a clock radio in the bathroom. The father, Starowicz's former best friend of fifteen years, celebrated outside the courtroom after the verdict was passed down. The prosecutor in the case commented on the verdict: "It removes him from society, He's where he belongs."

In the fight against child pornography the efforts of law enforcement have been hindered by the rise of “sexting” among teenagers. Using their cell phones, girls as young as twelve send naked images of themselves or of girlfriends to male acquaintances who in turn send these pictures to their friends, creating a chain with no end.

These young girls find themselves in the unique position of being both the victim and the perpetrator of a crime. In discussions after the fact, the girls explain the underlying reason for this lapse in judgment as that they “trust” these individuals they are sending the images to. In the past, authorities have targeted the males involved in “sexting” charging them with distribution of child pornography. Now the naive minds of these young girls are being given a rude awakening as they also face the same charge.

The law is trying to adapt to the changing world we live in but progress is sometimes slow and we are sacrificing precious time in the fight to keep up with child pornographers.

Recently politicians have been called to action in the wake of Jerry Sandusky and the Penn State Scandal and the tide has shifted in the direction of change. Mandatory reporting laws and the extension of the Statute of Limitations for prosecuting child sex abuse have found a groundswell of support in recent months. Bills such as the one supported by San Diego Assemblywoman Toni Atkins that would make it mandatory for Computer Technicians to report child pornography found on computers they repair.

Commercial film and video processors are already required to do so and this bill would widen the net for catching child pornographers.

Victims of child pornography face many challenges as they battle the effects of their victimization. Last year, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal regarding whether child pornographers can be forced to pay their victims restitution. The current law known as Section 2259 orders those convicted to pay restitution in the “full amount of the victims losses.”

Courts have handed down conflicting verdicts, even saying that the victim must prove injury as a direct result of the defendant's actions. Courts have also ruled pornographers do not have to surrender their passwords to an encrypted hard drive due to the Fifth Amendment. The law has been at odds with victims of child pornography on several fronts. Rulings against child pornography laws that are seen as being too expansive in their scope have left the door open for more victims from this despicable crime.

What are we risking by not forcing the eradication of Child Pornography? The question is often raised whether there is a link between Child Pornography and Pedophilia. According to Ryan C. W. Hall, MD, and Richard C. W. Hall, MD in their 2007 article “A Profile of Pedophilia:"

“Studies and case reports indicate that 30% to 80% of individuals who viewed child pornography and 76% of individuals who were arrested for Internet child pornography had molested a child.”

A 2008 study conducted at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C. asked 155 male inmates in a treatment program convicted of Child Pornography if they had ever molested a child.

At the start of the program twenty-six percent of the men admitted molesting a child, but as the program ended that number changed to eighty-five percent.

Child pornography appears to be merely an appetizer for the pedophile, and putting methods in place to train every responsible adult to recognize and act appropriately to the signs of child abuse and pornography is critical for the future of our children. The objectification of a child is complete in the pedophiles mind, and although violent behavior may occur in cases of child abuse, most victims are typically coerced into becoming victims.

The most vulnerable are those children starved for affection in households where parents are not engaged in raising their children or are an overwhelmed single parent. That leaves society with the obligation to protect these children in light of the inept nature of their parents. It is the only way to eradicate the predators by eliminating their “hunting grounds.”

In my own experience, the link between child pornography and child sexual abuse is clear because I am also a victim of both crimes. I was abandoned by irresponsible and abusive parents, left to fend for myself, stripped of the tools that every child needs to function in the world, and saved from a darker ending only by the unconditional love of one family member.

I have struggled my entire life with the effects of the innocence that was stripped away from me as a child through child pornography. Overcoming its effects has been my greatest triumph and only became possible through the love and caring of those who held compassion in the highest regard, and dedicated themselves to the rescue of those standing at the edge of the abyss.

My sincerest hope is that I can save one child from suffering from the hell I endured and I will leave this life with a sense of accomplishment. I hope you will all join me in the fight for an end to child pornography before the next child is stripped of their innocence.
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