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Recognizing the warning signs of abuse can save children’s lives

Posted by Sandra On December - 14 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

Just days before 9-month-old Karlie Mellick was fatally battered at her Fairdale home, her mother, Kara Mellick, four day-care workers and a physician all noticed the infant’s bruises.

Yet no one reported the marks, even on her face and ear, which experts say are a key warning sign of abuse.

On June 11, Karlie died. She had suffered a severe head injury, a broken arm and leg and fractured ribs.

Her mother’s boyfriend, Matthew Vaughn, who was babysitting, told police that he shook the baby and slammed her repeatedly on the floor, according to court records. Vaughn, 21, who is charged with murder, has pleaded not guilty.

Karlie’s violent death might have been prevented if just one person had recognized the bruises as warning signs and reported them to child-protection authorities, said Dr. Melissa Currie, a University of Louisville forensic pediatric expert.

“It’s a perfect example of what we’re talking about,” said Currie, director of a UofL unit created to evaluate children for possible abuse.

Karlie’s bruises before her death were “red flag” signs of abuse — especially those on the ear, which is mostly cartilage and rarely bruises unless it has been subjected to a forceful blow, Currie and other child-abuse experts said.

“Medical studies have shown that a child with a bruise on the ear is at higher risk of becoming a fatality,” said Debbie Acker, a nurse with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services who trains workers to recognize medical evidence of child abuse and neglect. “The force that it takes to cause a bruise to the ear also can cause damage to a child’s brain.”

State officials and child abuse experts believe many deaths could be averted if people who come in contact with young children understood that bruises — especially to the face, ear and trunk —should be reported as signs of possible abuse.

Currie, who evaluated Karlie’s case for police, outlined those concerns in a letter in Vaughn’s court file.

“It is unfortunate that her previous bruising did not result in a CPS (state Child Protective Service) report and a complete medical evaluation for abuse,” Currie wrote in the letter, also signed by Kathy Recktenwald, a forensic nurse specialist at UofL. “To be clear, it is not normal for infants to have bruises.”

Matthew Vaughn, 21, is charged with murder in the death of Katie Mellick, who was 9 months old when she was killed. He has pleaded not guilty.

Matthew Vaughn, 21, is charged with murder in the death of Katie Mellick, who was 9 months old when she was killed. He has pleaded not guilty.

A 2007 study of 20 Kentucky children under age 3 — 10 who died and another 10 who suffered life-threatening injuries from abuse — found 90 percent had bruising that in many cases had been documented by a doctor or an official, such as a social worker. But in those cases no one had followed up on or questioned the cause of the bruising.

Dr. Mary Clyde Pierce, the former UofL professor who led the study, said bruising should be taken seriously, especially in very young children.

“It is the most common sign of abuse and the most likely to be overlooked,” said Pierce, who is now an associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University in Chicago, specializing in child-abuse research.

While more aggressive reporting might result in some unnecessary investigations, Currie said she believes many more instances of abuse would be substantiated. A report also would allow a social worker to make inquiries and investigate further if a parent or other caregiver’s explanation didn’t make sense.

A report to authorities also might help identify abuse that a parent isn’t aware of, Currie said. Sometimes, inquiries reveal that someone else — a baby sitter or relative, for example — is harming a child when the parent isn’t around and is unaware of the abuse, she said.

Currie said she once treated an infant with an abusive head injury who arrived at the Kosair Children’s Hospital emergency room still wearing a cast for a previously broken leg, an injury that should have been questioned at the time and reported as possible abuse. Broken legs, especially in children too young to walk, are always suspicious, she said.

In Karlie’s case, her mother told police that she first noticed some bruising on her daughter’s left ear on May 24, when she took her to a doctor for an ear infection. The doctor said it might be a “circulation issue” and prescribed an antibiotic for the infection, Kara Mellick told police. During the next two weeks, four workers at Karlie’s day-care center noticed, and pointed out to her mother, bruises on the infant’s face, ear and hip, the workers said in police interviews.

One of them later told police she began documenting the bruises, starting June 1, because “the bruises had continued and were becoming worse,” the police report said. “She felt the bruises were no longer ordinary, especially the bruising on the victim’s ear.”

Kara Mellick told the day-care workers she was planning to take Karlie to the doctor to find out why she was getting so many bruises, they told police. Mellick told police she had noticed bruises on her daughter’s ear, jaw, arms, side and hip in the days before her death and had wondered whether the baby might be getting injured at the day-care center.

On Sunday, June 7, the day Karlie suffered the injuries that would prove fatal, Kara Mellick left for her job at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom about 8:30 a.m., leaving her sleeping infant with her boyfriend, she told police.

Later that day, according to court records, Vaughn e-mailed Mellick: “The baby is making me crazy b/c every time I walk out of the room she starts crying just because she don’t see me.”

Mellick e-mailed him back: “I am sorry just be patient with her.”

Around 3:30 p.m. Vaughn called Mellick and told her to come home immediately because Karlie was unconscious, the police report said. Mellick arrived just in time to ride in the ambulance with her daughter to Kosair.

Karlie died four days later.

SOURCE: http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20091213/NEWS01/912130305/Recognizing+the+warning+signs+of+abuse+can+save+some+children+s+lives

Child sexual abuse is a nation concern

Posted by Sandra On December - 14 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

Child sexual abuse is a nation concern
by Ngoni Dzimiri
13.12.2009 7:05:01 PM

It is not easy to talk about child sexual abuse. It is even more difficult to acknowledge that sexual abuse of children and infants happens daily in our country. As a nation we turn a deaf ear to such situations and pretend that they do not occur in our world.

Child sexual abuse, especially amongst girls, should be recognized as a widespread and growing problem in Botswana that needs to be dealt with, with the utmost urgency. It is estimated that 1 in 4 girls are victims of child sexual abuse. This should be a cause for concern.

This form of abuse may include fondling a child’s genitals, masturbation, oral genital contact, digital penetration and vaginal and anal intercourse. Child sexual abuse is not solely restricted to physical contact. Such abuse may not be contractual, but might include exposure to voyeurism and child pornography.

Research has it that approximately 30% of the perpetrators are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles and cousins. Around 60% are other acquaintances such as friends of the family.

The current political, social and economic situation in the country has rendered the girl child more vulnerable to sexual abuse. The primary cause of sexual abuse faced by girls resides within the parent. Some parents rely on their youngest children to take care of them. These difficult circumstances have forced the little girls to be commercial sex workers so as to meet the demands of the family.

In some cases, the presence of the step parent can make a child more vulnerable. Friends or relatives may not perceive molesting the adopted daughter of a friend or relative as taboo. This perception emanates from the belief that a step parent does not have any emotional investment in the child.

The behavior that is displayed by children can alert us that the child is being sexually abused. In most cases a child who is or was sexually abused will display knowledge or interest in sexual acts. At times a child might avoid the perpetrator or display unusual behavior, either being aggressive or very passive. Older children might resort to destructive behavior such as alcohol, drug abuse and self-mutilation or suicide attempts.

Childline Programs Officer, Olabile Machete, highlighted that many children are sexually abused. He added that the impact of child sexual abuse can at times be very severe. Children who are sexually abused usually exhibit abnormal behavior, including anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder.

Child sexual abuse is very humiliating, such that the shame of the experience most often forces the victim to be reserved, keeping their abhorring experiences to themselves. Children fear that they may be laughed at if they disclose that they are sexually harassed.

What is even more frightening is that the perpetrators of sexual abuse are usually parents, trusted relatives, child care providers or family friends. Consequently, it is often difficult for the children to report them, and they are often not taken seriously even if they did.

Childline makes an appeal to everyone to participate in the fight against child sexual abuse. Parents should know that any child, whether rich or poor, can be at risk of child sexual victimization. Children are everyone’s concern and we should not turn a blind eye to incidents of child abuse.

Government should intervene to help combat this problem, especially as there are few support institutions at which abused children can seek psychotherapy.

There should be more public awareness campaigns, at which people can be informed about child sexual abuse.

Parents or members of the community who know of children who are sexually abused can contact ChildLine on the toll free number 0 800 300 900.This is a helpline where anyone can call and report such cases. Children should know that their identity will not be disclosed. Child line is there for them.

The Shadow Of Female Child Sex Abusers

Posted by Sandra On December - 8 - 2009 1 COMMENT

The tragic Little Ted’s nursery case has forced us to face an unfortunate truth: that women use children for sex too.

Susannah Faithfull has been haunted by her mother’s image for all of her adult life. She sees her every time she looks in the mirror, for she has inherited her mother’s startling blue eyes. But every time Susannah is reminded of her mother, she is reminded of a childhood full of trauma. She was systematically sexually abused by her mother; repeatedly hurt by the woman she looked to first for her security, care and support.

“I used to hide in the cupboard under the stairs,” she tells me, explaining that was the only place that she felt safe at home. “My nana had a chenille-type table cloth there and I used to hide underneath it. When my mum came back from work she’d be shouting for me.”

Susannah now runs the Aurora Health Foundation, a treatment centre for victims — or survivors, as some like to be known — of child sex abuse. Her testimony is part of my Radio 4 documentary, Female Sexual Abuse: Breaking the Silence available here:-


Her abuse began when Susannah was very small and her father had left the household. It continued until she herself left home at 16, and throughout all that time her mother forced her to share a bedroom with her, and a double bed. When she told her father about the abuse during a visit, he didn’t believe her.

“The more I cried, the worse it would be. We used to have this rose wallpaper and I used to just look at the roses and wish that I was dead. How can the mother that gave birth to you do those things to you?”

Last week when two women, both of them mothers, pleaded guilty to charges of serious sexual abuse in a Bristol court room, it forced us to confront the reality that Susannah has known for most of her 54 years: that women can and sometimes do sexually abuse the children in their care.

It’s a reality that has always been thought to be very rare. There are a very small number of convictions (2 per cent of all sexual crimes, according to the Ministry of Justice). But when the cases occur they upset us greatly because they challenge every comforting and accepted image we have of women and of mothers in particular.

So just how rare an occurrence is it? The statistics are hard to pin down and some think they may not tell the whole story. We do know that there are now about 50 women held in custody for sexual offences against children, a tiny fraction of the total. We also know that there are some women on the sex offenders register, although we don’t know how many because the Home Office doesn’t keep details of gender.

We also know that those working in the field believe it is an underreported crime because the stigma associated with it prevents victims coming forward.

Detective Superintendent Graham Hill works at CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency. He heads the Behavioural Therapy Unit and interviews female sex offenders. He believes that as many as one in five of all cases of sexual abuse may involve female perpetrators. “I don’t think there’s a police force in the country that isn’t currently dealing with a female child sex offender,” he tells me, adding that this was just the “tip of the iceberg”.

According to Hill, ten or fifteen years ago most crimes involving accusations of child sexual abuse that the police dealt with were always examined on the premise that the man was the guilty party.

“It was always the case that the female in the family was treated as a potential witness,” he says. “One of our messages to law enforcement officers now is that, when you investigate a serious sexual offence against a child, you should always look at how complicit the female is in that kind of offending.”

And not always just complicity. Hill believes that the public’s perception that female sex offenders usually operate alongside a controlling and manipulative man is often false. He dismisses that stereotypical image as a societal cliché born out of a reluctance to believe that a woman could act so heinously alone and for her own sexual gratification.

“The public’s perception is coloured by the high-profile crimes, the sort of duos in the press. And the thought is that a bad man and a bad woman equal a perfect storm. But what I’m looking at at this centre are women who do have a sexual interest in children in their own right. We even have some examples where women have brought men into their lives just to facilitate sex with their children.”

Bill Jenkins doesn’t know whether his foster mother deliberately took him into care so that she could abuse him. But that was the tragic result and he, like other victims of female child abusers, says that, while he spoke about the abuse at the time, no one investigated it or believed him.

He now runs a company devising and selling software to protect children who are online from harm. He is clearly driven by the memory that no one was there to help and protect him as a child. His abuse consisted of inappropriate touching when his foster mother forced him to bath her. He told me he remembered that the door handles in the bathroom seemed to be quite high. “I suppose that was because I was so small. She was a harsh-looking woman — great big eyes, right in my face. I was always frightened of her.”

That his abuser was a woman makes it more difficult to deal with: “I don’t think any man would feel particularly comfortable admitting that they had been sexually abused by a woman. It is almost like a dark world that has yet to be revealed.”

Dr Michele Elliott knows all about challenging accepted beliefs and trying to expose what Bill calls that “dark world”: she runs Kidscape, a charity set up to support the victims of childhood abuse. In the 1980s, when the issue of sexual abuse by men had only just begun to receive mainstream acknowledgement, Elliott was one of the first in this country to raise the possibility that women could sexually harm children. She was pilloried for it.

“I vividly remember talking at an RAF base about the sexual abuse of children,” she tells me. “I never said anything about women abusing; I didn’t even think that was possible. Afterwards a man came up in his uniform standing very straight and he said, ‘You know, it isn’t only men who do it. My mother did it to me.’ Then he walked out and I was left so shaken that I started to think maybe I should ask questions.” Elliott began to talk about the issue on radio and TV and the response was immediate: “It was like a floodgate had opened.”

Among those who contacted her was a woman who had spent 40 years locked in an asylum after reporting that she had been sexually abused at school by a nun. More than 800 victims have now been in touch with her because of female sexual abuse. But Elliott says that she often feels like a lone voice.

“No one really wants to talk about it. But the professionals are the ones who really annoy me. I’d say that 75 per cent of them are in denial — a mental block. I think there are professionals working in the field who have staked a career on a certainty that it is men who do the abusing. They are very threatened by the idea that that might not be true.”

There is also, among professionals, a very real concern that focusing on the abusive behaviour of a very small minority of women causes unnecessary panic in a society that is already stressed about child safety.

But most of those working in this field welcome a chance to break the silence. They believe that the issue has been underresearched and ignored for too long.

Diana Cant is a psychologist who counsels those who have suffered female sexual abuse. While there are still some who do not believe that female sexual abuse is even possible, given that “women don’t have the necessary physical equipment”, Cant has found that there are many forms of abusive behaviour. These can range from watching inappropriate videos and TV programmes to inappropriate exposure, masturbation, stimulation and penetration.

The harm it does is terrible: “If you think about the experience that we have as children, we expect a degree of safety and security and primary care from our mothers. If that expectation is confounded, something at a very primitive level is broken and gets destroyed. The child grows up immediately with a sense of fear and threat. That can lead to an underlying degree of anger, resentment and fury that colours adult life.”

Tragically the children that women most often abuse are the ones closest to them. Women are less likely to be predatory in their criminal behaviour, according to Hill, although the CEOP does come across occasional exceptions.

“Predominantly the female sex offenders we know about offend against children they know,” says Hill. “They offend in a controlled environment. They tend to stay close to home.”

And they often also tend to stay close to the internet. It appears that, while sexual offending most certainly predates the development of the internet and digital photography, the emergence of both have made offending easier. “These people have always had a sexual interest in children,” says Hill. “But the internet validates and fuels those existing beliefs. And it puts them in touch with like-minded people.”

That the internet is affecting the pattern of offending is clear to everyone involved in this area of criminal behaviour.

Sherry Ashfield, from the child protection charity, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, is one of the few people in this country who has spent time talking to convicted female offenders. She has seen an increase in the number of women who use chatrooms to meet like-minded adults and then go on to use the web to share obscene and illegal material.

So what do we know about the women who offend and what motivates them? Through her work at Lucy Faithfull, Ashfield has been able to build up a profile of sorts. Although she stresses that these women do come from a wide range of backgrounds, vary in age and personal histories, “they all have very complex personal histories, often with complex issues and experience of abuse,” she says. “They tend to be women with low selfesteem; women who are socially isolated, and who find dealing with emotion extremely difficult. They tend to have a history of depression.”

Their motivation varies too. Ashfield’s research suggests that while some women will abuse to please or keep a partner, others will abuse to meet their own sexual needs. Some may also abuse for money: “We have had women who have had debts who have met someone on the internet who has suggested that if they would take part in making abusive films or pictures of children they would pay them significant sums,” she says.

There is no simple answer as to why women do it. No clear trigger either — although most difficult of all for me to hear was that for some women caring for a tiny, helpless newborn can trigger abusive behaviour. It’s an awful thought; one of many I’ve had to contend with while investigating this difficult subject.

While making this programme my aunt asked me why, when there is so much beauty in the world, must I explore something so ugly? And here is my answer: everyone I interviewed while making the documentary told me how important it was that we examine this crime and force it into the open.

“It’s an issue that has been locked away for too long and we need to get everyone talking about this problem openly and honestly,” says Hill. “That in itself will be a major step forward in our battle against child sex abuse.”

Hill, like the victims and all those I spoke to during this investigation, agreed to talk because they felt that breaking the silence surrounding the issue of female sexual abuse will better help the victims and better protect our children.


Cyber-Bullying Is Not Ok!

Posted by Angela On November - 29 - 2009 8 COMMENTS


Recent stories may stick in your head of cyber-bullying. Such as the mom on Myspace who bullied a young girl into killing herself. But in reality you have probably seen it a million times and never reported it.

Lately in the mom blogging community there has been one particular instance that has blown up forums, twitter, facebook and blogs around the nation. In recent weeks a “Mom Blogger” had posted a few photos on her site and not only started off the bashing, but encouraged others to join it. These photos were of random people in an airport, 2 happen to be teenagers. The one with the most comments was a 15 year old, who was called fat, & overweight. (The specified post has now been removed)

Although there is a freedom of speech act, there are many boundaries this went past. One would be the defamation of character, and Second, i am sure would be distributing photos of a minor (since they were used in a wrong way.) Some of you may ask why this is such a big deal. Consider this your child. Would you want someone posting pictures of your daughter on their site to be made fun of ? This is a prime example of Cyber -Bullying. Read the rest of this entry »

Expert: Child traffickers target runaways, ‘throwaways’

Posted by Sandra On November - 19 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

Police say Shaniya Davis, 5, was sold into prostitution by her mother.

Police say Shaniya Davis, 5, was sold into prostitution by her mother.


  • Mother accused of selling daughter highlights domestic human-trafficking trade
  • Expert: Selling children rare in U.S.; traffickers usually exploit vulnerable, homeless children
  • Recent FBI operations have yielded about 2,300 arrests, recovery of 170 children
  • Examples include couple accused of kidnapping teen, forcing her to turn tricks

Who killed 5-year-old Shaniya Davis? Her mother is charged with human trafficking, and many questions remain about what happened. Watch “Nancy Grace” as she digs deeper, tonight at 8 on HLN.

(CNN) — It sounds like the plot of a crime drama or the scourge of a developing country, but human trafficking is a serious problem in the U.S. and America’s children are frequent pawns, experts say.

The case of Antoinette Nicole Davis, a North Carolina mother accused of selling her 5-year-old daughter, Shaniya, into prostitution, highlights one of the most heinous — albeit rare — forms of trafficking within the U.S.

Davis faces numerous charges, including human trafficking, felony child abuse and prostitution. Mario Andrette McNeill has been charged with kidnapping in the case after police said a surveillance camera captured images of him and Shaniya at a hotel in Sanford.

Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that studies human trafficking, has more frequently seen cases in which children were sold by family members “out of desperation in developing countries” such as Cambodia or sub-Saharan African nations, said executive director and CEO Mark Lagon.

“But it happens sometimes here,” he said.

More common in the United States are traffickers who exploit abused runaways or so-called “throwaways” — children abandoned by their parents and living on the streets, Lagon said.

“The trafficker plays the role of a father or loverboy who is offering care to the child, who is vulnerable,” he said, explaining that what begins as flattery and attention often turns to suggestions of prostitution.

Video: Shaniya’s brother speaks

The child, typically homeless and in need of food and shelter, can be manipulated into “survival sex,” Lagon said. In other instances, the trafficker or pimp will get the child hooked on drugs and use their addiction as leverage.

Watch Shaniya’s brother reminisce about his sister

Named for the North Star that guided slaves along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project works to stamp out the global trade in humans.

Lagon, formerly the State Department’s director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, said it’s a tough fight because there is a dearth of “good statistics” on human trafficking and it’s not a crime in which victims readily come forward.

But the news is replete with reports on major rings being busted. The FBI did not return messages to discuss human trafficking, but news releases from the agency’s Innocence Lost initiative show that in the past 18 months, four stings — dubbed Operations Cross Country I, II, III and IV — have yielded about 2,300 arrests and the recovery of about 170 children.

“We may not be able to return their innocence, but we can remove them from this cycle of abuse and violence,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said in a statement after a February bust.

Specific examples also abound. In August, two bar owners and a manager in Long Island, New York, were charged with sex trafficking and alien harboring with victims as young as 17. A few days later, a husband and wife in Orange County, Florida, were charged with kidnapping a 15-year-old at gunpoint and forcing her to turn tricks.

In September, a U.S. Army private and three other men were indicted on charges of running a sex-trafficking businesses from a Millersville, Maryland, apartment. One of the prostitutes was 16.

No pleas have been entered in the Florida or Maryland cases. The three defendants in Long Island have pleaded not guilty.

While prostitution is a common impetus for trafficking children, Lagon said there are numerous examples of young men and women being forced into domestic servitude. Many times, he said, those victims are sexually abused as well.

This is something that deserves decades in prison.
–Mark Lagon, Polaris Project executive director and CEO

Though statistics on the depth of domestic trafficking are difficult to ascertain, the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study in 2001 showing that between 244,000 and 325,000 American children were at risk of sexual exploitation, including child pornography, juvenile prostitution and trafficking children for sexual purposes.

The average age of a female victim’s first involvement in prostitution, according to the study, was between 12 and 14.

“That, shockingly, means a number get in when they’re incredibly young, and that’s all the more horrifying,” Lagon said.

Lagon said he was impressed with federal initiatives and believes “it’s great the FBI has more and more focused on trying to save prostituted children as sex trafficking victims.”

The only caveat to his praise, he said, is a concern that adults swept up in raids are sometimes charged as prostitutes when they, too, may have been subjected to coercion or pulled into the trade as minors.

The onus is on society and government to stop the trafficking of American children, he said. Citizens should pay attention to signals that something is amiss with a child and be careful not to “sneer or stigmatize” when they see a prostituted teen.

Government, meanwhile, should toughen its punishments for child trafficking and more actively target the “johns” and pimps who make the trade possible, according to Lagon.

“That person has to be punished like they’ve committed a crime akin to slavery. This is something that deserves decades in prison,” he said.

SOURCE:  http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/11/18/domestic.child.trafficking/index.html?eref=rss_crime

We all have an important role in helping prevent child abuse

Posted by Sandra On November - 8 - 2009 1 COMMENT

You suspect a child is being battered or otherwise mistreated. What do you do?

Some argue we remove children from the home too quickly while others contend we don’t act quickly enough.

Whether you agree authorities step in too soon or not soon enough, the fact remains child abuse is a growing problem not just nationally and statewide, but here on the South Plains as well. This is especially the case when the economy is struggling and jobs are limited. Unfortunately, some lash out at those most unable to defend themselves – the children.

Last year there were 70,589 confirmed cases of child abuse in Texas and, considering its population, a disproportionate percentage of those reports were from the South Plains, reported Enrique Rangel, A-J Austin Bureau chief.

The South Plains region holds the second-highest per capita rate of child abuse in the state. Lubbock led all Texas counties with 1,540 of the 70,589 child abuse cases statewide last year, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

There are many complicated factors that lead to child abuse, according to the non-profit resource center, Helpguide.org. Risk factors for child abuse include:

n History of child abuse. Unfortunately, the patterns we learn in childhood are often what we use as parents. Without treatment and insight, sadly, the cycle of child abuse often continues.

n Stress and lack of support. Parenting can be a very time intensive, difficult job. Parents caring for children without support from family, friends or the community can be under a lot of stress. Teen parents often struggle with the maturity and patience needed to be a parent. Caring for a child with a disability, special needs or difficult behaviors is also a challenge. Caregivers who are under financial or relationship stress are at risk as well.

n Alcohol or drug abuse. Alcohol and drug abuse lead to serious lapses in judgment. They can interfere with impulse control making emotional and physical abuse more likely. Due to impairment caused by being intoxicated, alcohol and drug abuse frequently lead to child neglect

n Domestic violence. Witnessing domestic violence in the home, as well as the chaos and instability that is the result, is emotional abuse to a child. Frequently domestic violence will escalate to physical violence against the child as well.

The number of child abuse cases could be worse here without CPS and organizations like the one she leads, said Lynnette Wilson, executive director of the Family Guidance and Outreach Center. Her non-profit organization works with CPS to educate parents.

Holiday season is quickly approaching and is always an economic stressor. Even more so now in these challenging financial times. Those child abuse report numbers will climb and the smiling face of a child you see today may be one of horror tomorrow.

We must be vigilant and proactive for all children at all times. If you suspect a child is being mistreated, don’t ignore it. Report it. Child abuse isn’t just the abuser’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem.

Losing Track of Sex Offenders

Posted by Sandra On November - 7 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

As Laws Limit Where Sex Offenders Can Live, Many Congregate in Isolated Areas

  • Play CBS Video Video Tracking Sex OffendersRestrictions placed on sex offenders will be tightened next year when all states will be required to closely track sex offenders and inform the public about the most violent. Bill Whitaker reports.
    • This photo provided by the family show Somer Thompson, 7, who was abducted in Orange Park, Fla. And found in a Georgia landfill.This photo provided by the family show Somer Thompson, 7, who was abducted in Orange Park, Fla. And found in a Georgia landfill. (AP)
    • Phillip Garrido, left, is charged with the kidnap and rape of Jaycee Lee Dugard.Phillip Garrido, left, is charged with the kidnap and rape of Jaycee Lee Dugard. (AP)

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It’s been almost three weeks since 7-year-old Somer Thompson was abducted in Orange Park, Fla., her body found in a Georgia landfill. Authorities now are questioning sex offenders in the community. There are 159 registered offenders in a 5-mile radius of Somer’s hometown.

“That’s your biggest fear, that your child is going to be missing or they’re going to die,” said Carol Jones, a resident.

That number of sex offenders in one Florida town is not unusual. There are almost 700,000 registered sex offenders in the United States: more than 51,000 in Florida; 57,000 in Texas; more than 117,000 in California, reports CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker.

In Antioch, California where kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard was held in a backyard for 18 years, allegedly by convicted rapist Phillip Garrido, there are 92 registered sex offenders just in Garrido’s zip code.

Those numbers have prompted states and cities across the country to pass laws restricting where sex offenders can live. Jessica’s Law here in California prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a park or a school – places children congregate.

Similar restrictions in other states are forcing sex offenders to cluster in isolated areas – like this encampment under a Miami freeway. Parole officer Mauricio Lopez monitors 20 high-risk sex offenders in one Pasadena, California neighborhood. Neighbors are fearful.

“We have neighbors who do not allow their children to ride their bikes or get out of the house at all,” said one resident.

Authorities have lost track of some 100,000 sex offenders. Critics say better tracking, not isolation, is the answer.

“The most dangerous sex offenders are highly mobile, so they will travel, they’ll move from community to community, they will seek out opportunities,” said Ernie Allen with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Next year all states will be required by federal law to closely track all sex offenders and to inform the public who are the most violent.

Child Pornography: Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?

Posted by Sandra On October - 31 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

In Nevada, looking at child pornography is a Class B Felony, punishable by one to six years in prison and a five thousand dollar fine. Many experts say a child pornographer will never see a day behind bars, just a mere probation sentence. After that, they’re off “free and clear,” usually with no lifetime supervision.

Child pornography is a three billion dollar industry, that’s according to the Internet Filter Review. Some experts are saying that the sentencing for people who look at child pornography is much too lax.

Child pornography is much more pervasive than people might think. And it’s often seen as a victimless crime. But one detective says that couldn’t be further from the truth…it can involve children as young as three years old being raped. And often, he says, those who look at child pornography move on to actually touching children.

We met with a man who has seen how child pornography and molesting a child overlap.
Ted says his world was shattered three years ago when Richard Raymer took his son’s innocence.

“I wanted to kill him I had so much anger.”

Washoe County Sheriffs Detective Dennis Carry handled Raymer’s case.

Carry says, “Richard Raymer was a two time sex offender he had convictions in Oklahoma and Florida. He moved to this area in 2005.”

That’s when detectives found out that Raymer’s addiction went beyond child pornography.
He’s now serving a life sentence. But Detective Carry says if Raymer had received a stronger punishment initially, he may have not had the chance to molest a 10-year-old boy.

“A large percentage of people that get arrested on child pornography cases are receiving probation when its a first offense child pornography charge,” according to Carry.

Probation–instead of jail time. Hard for Ted to understand. “I’m really worried because I don’t ever want this to happen again.”

Former D.A. Dave Clifton says it’s difficult for child sex offenders to change. “These type of criminal offenders are not likely to be rehabilitated, they’re not likely to be safe back in society.”

Many child pornographers say their affinity toward child porn is an addiction, an uncontrollable urge.

Raymer was in a sex offender treatment program in prison…yet while he was there he still fantasized about young boys. In his prison diary, he wrote about a young boy that was “ten luscious years old” and how once he gets out, he wants to hook up with a boy named “Ricky.”

“Some have said they want to get rid of it they want to stop and just couldn’t they would delete it and then go back for more,” says Carry.

Detective Carry says nearly all of those he has arrested first looked at pictures and video.
“We’re talking children 5 years old, 6 years old, 7 years old being raped.”

And then, like a drug, they need that next fix.

“They want something harder and harder. Research shows the next fix at some point down the road is touching a child.”

He says studies show that more than 85 percent of those who look at child porn move on to molest a child.

In Nevada, looking at child pornography is a Class B Felony, punishable by one to six years in prison and a five thousand dollar fine. Many experts say a child pornographer will never see a day behind bars, just a mere probation sentence. After that, they’re off “free and clear,” usually with no lifetime supervision.

Clifton says the likelihood of a child pornographer re-offending or moving on to molest a child hasn’t been enough to change the law. “So do we want them running around in our streets? No. But because constitution doesn’t allow us to put them in prison for the rest of their life for a crime they may commit…”

Detective Dennis Carry handled the investigation of William McCaffrey, who had one million pornographic images of children on his computer. When detectives asked him if he would ever touch a child he responded–“I really can’t predict the future.”

We may not be able to predict a person’s future behavior, but maybe the future is closer than we think. According to the Butner study, two psychologists studied 155 child pornographers. When these offenders faced the court, they admitted to molesting a total of 75 victims. But after sentencing, these men were treated for their addiction and took polygraph tests, and the number of victims went from 75 to an astounding 1,777 victims (The Butner Study Redux).

And that disparity is why experts like Detective Carry say stronger sentencing is imperative. The current court system has offenders take a psycho-analysis test to determine whether they’re a high risk to society. An exam both Clifton and Carry say is not reliable

“The psychosexual exam, I have to admit, most people pass because they’re only considered a moderate risk, and the expert would say this person’s eligible for probation,” asserts Clifton.

Although, they must register as sex offenders.

“That allows government to monitor people and where they’re living for the rest of their life.”

However, since most child pornographers are considered low risk by the courts, Tier 0 or 1, they won’t be listed on sex offender location web sites. Only Tier 2 and Tier 3 sex offenders are listed.

And even Clifton says programs like lifetime supervision and sex offender registration aren’t fool proof. Phillip Garrido was a registered sex offender and on lifetime supervision when he allegedly abducted Jaycee Dugard.

So if all signs point to the fact that child pornographers are likely to re-offend, should state law change to give these offenders stronger sentences?

Clifton: “It may be the legislature increases sentences for these crimes some day, we’ll see…I don’t know if the public outcry is going to be enough to make that happen.”

If that day comes, it will come too late for Ted and his family.

Ted remembers the fear in his son’s eyes when he was molested. “He come out crying to me and said ‘dad, I’m scared.’ I said what are you scared about?

He said, ‘I’m scared he might get me.’”

What, if anything, would you think should be done when it comes to child pornographers?

You can post your comments below.

5 US Children Die From Child Abuse Each Day

Posted by Sandra On October - 21 - 2009 2 COMMENTS

US Has Highest Rate Of Child Death By Abuse Worldwide By Far

POSTED: 3:07 am EDT October 21, 2009

A new report shows that child abuse and neglect kill more children in the United States than in any other industrialized nation — five every day.

Every Child Matters Education Fund President Michael Petit wrote that the report should be a wake-up call.”This is a report sure to sadden — and perhaps to anger. How could it be otherwise when we look at the innocent faces of children whose lives were cut short by abuse or neglect?” wrote Petit.The report, We Can Do Better: Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths in America, was released by the Every Child Matters Education Fund. It found that at least 10,440 American children died from abuse or neglect between 2001 and 2007. The report noted that the number of children killed could top 15,660, but poor record keeping could have missed many deaths.The report was the first survey of its kind to examine the issue state-by-state and noted the states with the highest rate of deaths due to abuse and neglect.In 2007, Kentucky took the grim No. 1 spot with 41 deaths, a rate of just over 4 in 100,000 children. Other states near the top were South Dakota, Florida, Nebraska and Missouri.States with the lowest rate of child death in 2007 — the latest year for which data is available — were Delaware, Rhode Island, Idaho, Maine and Montana.Of the 721, 646 children confirmed abused and neglected nationwide in 2007:

  • 60 percent did not receive proper food, clothing, shelter, hygiene, education, medical care or protection.
  • 13 percent suffered from multiple maltreatments.
  • 11 percent were physically abused.
  • 8 percent were sexually abused.
  • 4 percent suffered from emotional abuse.
  • 1 percent suffered from medical neglect.
  • 4 percent suffered from other mistreatment such as abandonment, threats, and congenital drug addiction.
  • 50 percent or more of child abuse and neglect cases are associated with alcohol or drug abuse by parents.
  • Every Child Matters Education Fund

    Compared with other rich countries, the United States child death rate is off the scale. The U.S. rate is three times higher than Canada’s and 11 times higher than Italy’s. The closest to the U.S. rate is France with 1.4 children out of 100,000 dying due to abuse or neglect — 2.4 out of 100,000 die in America.Petit said states with high rates of child death should take note and take action.”Much can be done to reduce these child abuse and neglect deaths. There exists a vast body of knowledge about healthy child growth and development, including how to prevent abuse in the first place,” wrote Petit. His preface to the report went on to say that “…despite the best efforts of the many who work daily to address this problem, we continue to fall far short in applying our knowledge.”The report said that there are many, many reasons the United States has such a high rate of child deaths compared to the rest of the world including overworked child protection workers and a lack of public awareness.The Every Child Maters Education Fund called on lawmakers to strengthen federal standards, increase funding and create more public awareness across the board.

    FREE Child Abuse Handbook Download

    Posted by Sandra On October - 13 - 2009 3 COMMENTS
    Our Child Abuse Handbook is now FREE to the public!
    This FREE E-book is available for immediate download by clicking HERE
    An educational child abuse handbook:
    The Child Abuse Handbook is an educational self-help tutorial with information pertaining to all aspects of child abuse & neglect. It will teach you child abuse signs/symptoms, facts/ statistics, effects, intervention, reporting, prevention, and provide resources to help victims & survivors locate the help they need to obtain a full recovery. This handbook also provides state & local hotline numbers and contact agencies.


    Posted by Sandra On October - 13 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS


    923231_10151360096077407_954179871_nPlease visit our Online Calendar for upcoming events and our Facebook Photo Albums to view past events.

    It was about 150 marchers that took to the streets of downtown Port Huron (Michigan) Monday afternoon in a demonstration against child abuse.  The event was part of a larger one yesterday, across the country, according to local organizer Sierra Kearns. After the march there was a large public event held with…

    Don’t be alarmed when you see the throng of marchers in downtown Port Huron on Monday. The marchers are concerned people taking part in the Port Huron Million March Against Child Abuse.

    A few hundred anti-abuse supporters marched from Pine Grove Park to the St Clair County Court House Monday as part of the Million March Against Child Abuse.
    Monday was a beautiful day for a walk in Port Huron.
    Please join us next year on Saturday, April 26, 2014 for our 2nd Annual MACA March!!


    We Are Booking Spots Now!

    Posted by Sandra On October - 13 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS


    Stop Child Abuse

    Posted by Sandra On October - 12 - 2009 1 COMMENT

    If you’re not OUTRAGED, you’re not paying ATTENTION!lp1

    Peck author targets child abuse ‘epidemic’

    Posted by Sandra On October - 12 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

    Sandra Potter displays two of her books on domestic violence and child abuse. An epidemic is killing our children and it is more deadly and more prevalent than polio, whooping cough or swine flu combined. It is child abuse. And one Peck resident has made finding its cure her life’s work. “Education and knowledge are the keys to prevention,” said Sandra Potter, CEO and founder of Dreamcatchers for Abused Children, a worldwide nonprofit organization based in Michigan.

    “If people are properly educated on the signs and symptoms, it may put an end to this bitter and deadly disease.” Potter has co-authored a series of books about domestic violence and child abuse. Two of the books will all be available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Walmart, Target and other independent bookstores this month; another will be out by Christmas, Potter said. In Sanilac County, they will be available at Walmart in Sandusky, she said.

    Potter founded her organization after her own daughter was traumatized by child sexual abuse. “If I had known back then what I know now, I think I would have spotted the signs and symptoms,” she said. “I wanted to do something to help families going through what I went through.”

    Dreamcatchers is a legal, nonprofit 501-C3 organization with 12 different websites and almost 30,000 active members worldwide, dedicated to promoting awareness by educating the public on the signs/symptoms of child abuse, statistics, intervention, reporting, prevention, and assistance to survivors.

    Consider these statistics:

    *One in every three girls will be sexually molested before the age of 18.

    * One in every six boys will be sexually molested before the age of 18.

    * Every 10 seconds a child is abused, raped or killed in the United States.

    * Today up to five children will die from abuse or neglect.

    * In 10 seconds, another child will be abused in the United States. There were 2.9 million child abuse reports made in 1992. Only 28 percent of the children identified as harmed by abuse are investigated.

    * Since 1980, physical abuse has increased 84 percent; sexual abuse 350 percent; emotional abuse 333 percent; and neglect 320 percent.

    *85 percent of the 1.2-1.5 million runaways are fleeing abuse at home.

    *Child abuse victims are 2.5 times more likely to become involved in crime, drug and alcohol abuse.

    *Abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across all ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all educational levels

    *It is estimated that 3-6 percent of the clergy population has abused a child.

    *The typical child sex offender molests an average of 117 children, most of whom do not report the offense.

    *One-third of abuse and neglect victims will go on to abuse or neglect their own children.

    *Statistics indicate that abuse is symptomatic of an overall breakdown of the nuclear family. Abuse cases are significantly higher in broken, blended or cohabitating families.

    Potter gathered these statistics after hours of research, using many online sources including www.childhelp.org and www.childabuse.org. But statistics aren’t what spurred her into action – it was the release of her daughter’s abuser after more than 14 years in prison. “I don’t feel that child sex offenders can be rehabilitated. It’s a very uneasy feeling to know he’s out and about,” Potter said. “He could move next door to me, if he wanted to. To me, that’s very offensive. I wanted to vent those feelings into something positive.”

    Potter works indirectly with Peck Police Chief Paul Rich to review the National Sex Offender Registry to ensure child abusers do not move into the area. “There actually was a case where a man from out of state, who’d just been released from prison, moved into Peck. He was living with his brother and their three children. Between us, we got him to move out of our area,” she said. Rich remembers the case.

    “They were actually in violation of the provisions set forth in the Michigan statute for convicted sex offenders, having to live an excess of one thousand feet from a school zone,” Rich said. “When we brought that to their attention, they moved out of state. That was due to (Potter’s) efforts.” Rich said Potter has contacted him at other times, too. “And that’s good. It’s nice to have somebody who will alert you to them,” Rich said. “Any time someone gets out and into the area, she’s right on top of that.”

    Along with being vigilant, Potter believes the best way to break the abuse cycle is to educate parents, caregivers and the public and, most important, to arm the victims themselves with information. First of all there are many different types of abuse: Physical, sexual, emotional and neglect. “You want to look for any type of unexplained bruising and continuous injuries – bruising, bite marks, bald spots, burns, welts, as well as obvious fractures,” she said. Emotionally, abused children may be nervous or aggressive. Sexual abuse signs include difficulty walking, elimination problems, bacterial infections, itching, precocious knowledge of sexual activity, blood in underwear, and regressions such as sucking the thumb and bedwetting. Other emotional signs include depression or fear of a specific person.

    Education is what Potter’s books attempt to do:

    The first book in the series, “One Step Ahead of Fate,” covers domestic violence, the story of a woman’s experience. The first half is the actual story. “In the back is the self-help section for whoever wants it,” Potter said. The book was published by the national publishing firm Publish America and will be out around Christmastime.

    “The Child Abuse Survivor Project” is a collection of abuse stories from around the world. “It happens more than we know. I think more of these cases are being heard today,” Potter said.

    “Unnecessary Roughness…Til Death Do Us Part,” is the fictional account of a woman who marries her sweetheart – a professional football player – who kills her in the end. While the book is fiction, it’s based on many factual statistics. “I think it will hit home with a lot of battered women,” Potter said.

    The latter two books are self-published and are available now.

    Many more statistics detailing the methods, signs, symptoms and affects of child abuse may be found at Potter’s websites. While it is legally mandatory for all U.S. citizens to report suspected cases of child abuse, the fact that more than 60 percent go uninvestigated can be daunting.

    “My mission is to try and make difference,” she said. She would like to become a public speaker, doing informative seminars with children, parents, teachers and caregivers. “You would be surprised how many parents don’t know how to use the National Sex Offender Registry and the Family Watchdog. It will show any sex offenders living in your area and what they were convicted of,” she said. Parents also might want to access www.mipsor.state.mi.us, the Michigan version of the national registry, she said.

    Written By Margaret Whitmer — Reporter


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    DREAMCATCHERS FOR ABUSED CHILDREN, INC. is an official non-profit 501(c)3 child abuse & neglect organization. Our mission is to educate the public on all aspects of child abuse such as symptoms, intervention, prevention, statistics, reporting, and helping victims locate the proper resources necessary to achieve a full recovery. We also cover areas such as bullying, teen suicide & prevention, children\'s rights, child trafficking, missing & exploited children, online safety, and pedophiles/sex offenders.

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