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Commentary:Justice isnt always done for child sexual abuse I know firsthand by Tennessee Watson

Tennessee Watson is a reporter.  She was also sexually molested by her gymnastics coach when she was a child.  The link below will lead you to her story which was published through revealnews.org on August 11, 2016.

I wish I could say that this was an unusual story.  I wish I could tell you that what occurred to Tennessee was a fluke in our judicial system.  However, that would be inaccurate.  Every year, every month, every week this same type of systemic failure occurs across our nation to very real children.  They are physically and emotionally violated, and then their trust and hopes are further violated as our system continues to fail them.

Often, the adults in these cases (intentionally?, neglectfully?) place the child, their needs, and their trust at the bottom of their list of priorities when making decisions about prosecution.  A common excuse is that they do not want to traumatize the child by putting them through a trial.  I ask you to consider the trauma incurred when a child’s rights and needs are not met.  I ask you to consider the traumatic effect on a child when through this lack of action they are shown that what happened to them was not bad, that what happened to them was not important.

The result is that the child loses their sense of value, they lose their trust, and they become confused about whether or not the violation that occurred to them was right or wrong.  Because the state where the violation of Tennessee occurred does not have a statute of limitations she had the opportunity as an adult to stop the person who violated her from offending against other children.  Yet, once again, the system failed her.  She should have had the choice to move forward with the trial.  It is possible that if the trial had taken place then others would have felt safe enough to come forward with their truths.   We may never know; I hold out hope.  Until we change the way our American system handles outcries of sexual abuse and stop our failure to prosecute we will continue to be complicit in the silencing of sexually abused children. JDP

Please read Tennessee’s article here:

Justice isn’t always done for child sexual abuse i know firsthand

Commentary: The #1 Reason Children Recant Abuse Allegations by Ginger Kadlec

Commentary:  I do not have much to say about or add to this article other than; read it and understand the importance of believing the child and being supportive.   It is important to remember that we are human. If your initial reaction to a child’s revelation of abuse especially sexual abuse causes you regret or shame it is not too late.  Whether, your understanding is in that moment or later make the choice to let the child know that you are ready to listen to them and ready to believe them.   Also, remember that a child does not always disclose to a parent or a guardian for numerous reasons. 

Here is an excerpt from Ginger Kedlec’s article.  A link to the full article follows the excerpt. JDP

The #1 Reason Children Recant Abuse Allegations by Ginger Kadlec

In approximately 23% of child abuse cases, children recant (take-back) allegations of abuse. Research has been conducted to better understand why children do this:The #1 reason children recant abuse allegations is their primary, non-offending caregiver (which in the vast majority of cases is the mother) DOES NOT believe them.

46% of the children recant[ed] their prior disclosure when mothers merely suggested that they should.

In a study published by the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology entitled, “Children’s recantation of adult wrongdoing: An experimental investigation“, it states (see report for research scenario and testing information):

“46% of the children recant[ed] their prior disclosure when mothers merely suggested that they should.  In contrast, no children in the supportive condition recanted, implying that children are unlikely to make spontaneous recantations following supportive caregiver reactions – at least when it comes to minor acts of wrongdoing committed by adults.”

The #1 Reason Children Recant Abuse Allegations

 

Commentary on: Kiah Collier’s article Multiple Lawsuits Could Spell Budget Doomsday for State

Our children are everyone’s responsibility, whether they are ours, our neighbors, or an unknown face in the community.  Their future and their very lives are a direct result of the priority we place on their well-being.  Do our children deserve a chance at a life safe from abuse whether in their home or in the home of someone else?  Are they worth taking the time to advocate for Legislation on their behalf?  Are they worth following up to ascertain approval of necessary funding?  

It seems that efforts to assist our children tend to get bogged down or cut due to budgetary concerns.   Currently two of three lawsuits against the state facing the Texas Supreme Court involve our children.  Education is important; however, our children cannot reach their potential to learn when their primary focus is on learning techniques and tactics to survive.  Whether in their own home or in someone else’s our children have the right to a safe environment.

More importantly, why is it that two of the three issues struggling for attention and funding involve our children?  If anyone has the time they might consider taking on some research to determine which major budget issues were approved without this type of struggle.  Who benefitted?    

Kiah Collier’s article presents some facts about these two issues and how others tie could affect the state’s budget.  If either of these items concerns you it might be a good idea to keep an eye on the lawsuits and the following legislation sessions.  Here are the opening paragraphs from Colliers article and a link to the full article. JDP

Multiple Lawsuits Could Spell Budget Doomsday for State by Kiah Collier

Last week, lawyers for the state of Texas got the latest in a string of bad legal news.

A lawsuit challenging the state’s foster care system as inhumane appeared to gain steam when an appeals court rejected the state’s request to stop the appointment of two “special masters” to recommend reforms.

The overhauls that have been discussed so far would be pricey to implement — as much as $100 million per year, according to rough estimates from the state comptroller’s office. But they actually are on the lower end of all the extraordinary legal expenses the state is facing at a time when stubbornly low oil prices are simultaneously threatening to blunt its coffers.

http://www.texastribune.org/2016/03/31/lawsuits-oil-prices-could-spell-budget-doomsday/

Collier, Kiah. “Multiple Lawsuits Could Spell Budget Doomsday for State.” Texastribune.org. N.p., 31 Mar. 2016. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

In The News: Virginia-Child abuse bill would add hearsay exception by Katie Caler

In The News:  Virginia-Child abuse bill would add hearsay exception by Katie Caler

The purpose of this General assembly bill is to assist young victims so they only have to tell their story once.   One of the most difficult events for young victims is that they must revisit the trauma of their abuse several times as they have to retell their story.  This is also a factor that keeps perpetrators from being charged and thus a failure to convict.  Why?  One reason is that our system wants to protect the child from having to “relive” the abuse.  Additionally, they want to protect the young victims from having to face their abuser in court.  A byproduct of this protection is that charges are often not brought against the abusers. 

Our laws, as they stand, are meant to protect the accused with the right to face their accuser.  Unfortunately, this means a child who has suffered terror and violation at the hands of an adult must endure the emotional stress of preparing for a court process; something that is stressful for most adults. 

While not ideal this Bill is a beginning in protecting the child and not the adult.  We the people are in control of eradicating the freedom with which predators are allowed to prolifically abuse our children.  To that end, it always helps to acknowledge those working toward that cause.   JDP

David B. Albo introduced HB 227-Hearsay exceptions; admissibility of statements by children in certain cases.

In-session address: 

General Assembly Building, Room 529

Capitol Square Richmond, Virginia 23219

Phone: (804) 698-1042

Email: DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov

Mailing address:

6367 Rolling Mill Place

Suite 102

Springfield, Virginia 22152

Phone: (703) 451-3555

Here is a link to the news story and videos:

http://www.whsv.com/content/news/Child-abuse-bill-would-add-hearsay-exception–370976151.html

Here is a link to the Legislation:

http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+sum+HB227S

Source:  By Katie Caler | Posted: Thu 5:11 PM, Mar 03, 2016  | Updated: Thu 6:34 PM, Mar 03, 2016

Commentary on Baby Doe: A political history of tragedy by Jill Lepore

The article Baby Doe: A political history of tragedy by Jill Lepore provides a fact based overview of the problematic history of Department of Children and Families (Names of Child Protective Services vary among states) in the northeast part of the United States.  She cites several cases, with graphic details, to support her stance.  Her creative writing approach holds the reader’s attention during this short-short story length article.  The back and forth style she employs intertwines a focus on individual stories while switching from the present to the past as she weaves in colorful historical points.  

Lepore makes valid statements including how the current status may be different for both abused children and their families if Protective Services had taken the path of, “anti-poverty instead of anti-abuse” (Lepore).  She includes basic information about the program, Minding the Baby which seeks to provide services and education to first time mothers between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five.

My stance on child abuse of any kind remains the same; it crosses boundaries of race, gender, culture and financial status.  However, I believe Lepore’s article to be important due to her provision of a potential solution to this particular aspect of poverty and abuse.  Even though a mother may have the heart to be a great parent and she may know the kind of parent she does not want to be–she may not have a model for how to be an effective and nurturing parent. The ideal of this program provides that model and that support system.

Author Jill Lepore is a contributing staff writer for The New Yorker, a Yale graduate, a Harvard Professor and author of several books.   I provide a link to Lepore’s article, to Minding the Baby, and to a Bigraphy on Jill Lepore.   JDP

Baby Doe: A political history of tragedy by Jill Lepore

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/02/01/baby-doe

Minding the Baby® Home Visiting for First-Time Mothers

http://mtb.yale.edu/

Biography/Jill Lepore

http://scholar.harvard.edu/jlepore/biocv

Lepore, Jill, Ph.d. “Why Can’t We Stop Child Abuse?” The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 01 Feb. 2016. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.

 

Foster care children at risk for sex trafficking predators By: Elizabeth Saab

Sex Trafficking is a large and very real issue in our country and in our region. The safety of our children in Foster Care is also a continuing concern. The following article by Elizabeth Saab addresses both issues as they intersect in the real lives of already at risk children and youth; Child Sex Trafficking. In Saab’s coverage of this issue there is a focus on the shift in attitude toward child/youth prostitutes. That shift where we acknowledge that these children/youth are not criminals but are victims is long overdue. We are fortunate that this issue has become a part of the ongoing conversations in our Nation, especially in Texas. You will find the link to Saab’s original article, televised story, and infographics at the end of this post. Please read the following article, go view Saab’s news story, then investigate the links I have provided for a better understanding of this ongoing and growing concern for our children. JDP

Foster care children at risk for sex trafficking predators By: Elizabeth Saab  Jan 20 2016

January is Human Trafficking and Awareness and Prevention Month across the country. And in Austin on Wednesday, state and local agencies joined forces to learn how to better identify the signs. The Center for Missing and Exploited Children says the number of kids reported to them as missing in 2015 were also likely to be sex trafficking victims. And out of those victims, 74% were in foster care.

“We now look at them not as child prostitutes but as victims,” says Dr. Vivian Dorsett. She is the founder of Foster Caring Action Network. She says many of the victims have aged out of foster care, and are now prime targets for sex traffickers. “A lot of them have been abused while in care or prior to care and they tend to fall into those steps.” Dorsett spent sixteen years in foster care. She is one of several experts who have come to the Austin Children’s Shelter to help child workers learn how to spot the signs.

“Many victims don’t consider themselves victims, they don’t recognize that they are victims and that’s part of why we are here today. We want to raise awareness,” says Andrea Sparks. She is the Executive Director of the Texas Regional Office of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “The reality is,” Sparks says, “sex trafficking is a problem because people are making money trafficking children.” And she says there is an alarming trend growing with predators going after at-risk teens online. “What we are really trying to do in Texas, with our Texas regional office is prevent this and get our kids, their parents, our care givers for kids in care, our teachers, everyone aware that we need to to be monitoring the internet and what kids are doing on apps.”

It’s that awareness everyone hopes will protect the most vulnerable.

“You can change all the laws you want,” says Dorsett, “It’s just a law so there needs to be one on one mentoring and advocacy and training to workers that are actually in the grind with these young adults when they are going through foster care.”

If you think you might be a victim of exploitation or you know someone who is, call 911 or The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children’S 24-hour hotline, 1-800-The-Lost, or online at cybertipline.com…

Source: http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/77894803-story

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has data, information, resources on Child Sexual Exploitation. “Child sexual exploitation is a significant problem requiring a multifaceted response. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® works with federal, state and local law enforcement in their efforts to investigate and prosecute these cases and identify and rescue child victims.” http://www.missingkids.com/Exploitation

Children at Risk A Texas nonprofit organization will soon launch the first of two comprehensive databases that it hopes will aid in the fight against child sex trafficking. One is for those working in the industry. The second is for Texas citizens who want more information on the commercial sex trade and how to help organizations devoted to battling it. http://www.govtech.com/Child-Sexhttp://www.govtech.com/Child-Sex-Trafficking-Data-Pooled-in-Texas.html

The United States Department of Justice: Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). “CEOS´s mission has been to protect the welfare of America´s children and communities by enforcing federal criminal statutes relating to the exploitation of children and obscenity.” They have a section titled Citizen’s Guide To U.S. Federal Child Exploitation And Obscenity Laws. http://www.justice.gov/criminal-ceos

 

Holiday Message

I want to wish everyone a safe and healthy Holiday Season, and a Merry Christmas.

A Child’s Tears looks forward to our joint effort as we reach out to educate and nurture more people in 2016.

In the coming year we will relaunch our website. This will allow for easier access to our information and an expanded format. As you know we list contact information for; reporting, potential sources for help, how to contact your elected officials, and more. It would be great to have a volunteer to optimize our search engine and assist with building the new site.

At A Child’s Tears we are always open to your suggestions for articles, guest blogs, and other types of submissions for inclusion in our posts. We want to help provide information for all aspects related to sexual crimes against children. When the new site is up, on a limited basis, we will also be able to share selected artistic works created by you that are an expression of your journey to healing. Details about that and the required accompanying story will be forthcoming.

As we head into Christmas and New Year’s Eve remember that you are valuable, you are worthy of love, and you are never alone when you love yourself! JDP

Remember to visit us on Facebook!

 

“We Need Tech Heroes to Defend Our Children”- Quote from Ashton Kutcher’s Thorn Site

Digital Defenders

The definition of thorn as found in Webster’s Dictionary is, “anything that keeps troubling, vexing, or irritating one, like a constantly pricking thorn: usually in the phrase thorn in one’s side.” Ashton Kutcher has created a Thorn that will pierce the heart of a very particular enemy.  That Thorn is an organization that focuses on technology as its major weapon in fighting “child sexual exploitation”.

Here is how Thorn describes themselves: “We are digital defenders of children (formerly the Demi & Ashton Foundation). We aim to disrupt and deflate the predatory behavior of those who abuse and traffic children, solicit sex with children, or create and share child pornography. Thorn partners with nonprofits and academic institutions to gather new insights into the role technology plays in child sex trafficking, the creation and proliferation of child pornography, and the normalization of child sexual exploitation. We create and support tech initiatives that disrupt predatory behavior and work to make the internet a more hostile environment for those who seek to exploit children, recruiting the brightest minds in technology to solve specific problems.”

Since Thorns creation, some of the biggest technology companies have joined Kutcher on the battlefield of the web.  In the past most of Thorns technology needs were outsourced. However, recently, Thorn went public with details about its expansion and the creation of their own tech lab.  With the opening of this new lab Thorn now employs its own experts in technology. Now they will be able to increase their ability to accelerate their multi-platform efforts to fight this epidemic. 

The following is Thorn’s official announcement taken from their website: “The core mission of our work at Thorn revolves around using innovative technology to end the sexual exploitation of children. That’s why today we’re very proud to announce the launch of the Innovation Lab — a new think tank in San Francisco that will gather a team of engineers and data scientists to develop partnerships and create proactive tools to stop the sexual abuse of children.  The journey of the Innovation Lab started in October 2014, when we announced the Innovation Lab Fellowships to offer one-year fellowships for talented, passionate individuals with technical expertise. The launch of the Innovation Lab think tank is a natural next step in our commitment to make the internet a more hostile environment for child predators.”

Why Is The Lab at Thorn Important?

The “dark web” is a part of the internet where entities operate in an almost untraceable manner. Unfortunately, this anonymity allows persons and organizations, like those who prey upon children, to function without discovering their identities or locations.  Having an entity solely dedicated to fighting those who sexually harm children on their own turf is mind-blowing!  If Thorn can stand true to its mission without impedance of vested interest by any of its supporters then this can be a game changer.  Let’s look at this from a couple of different perspectives.  If you are a gamer then think about sitting down to an opponent and all of his skills, strategies, and backdoors are laid out in front of you.  If you are a researcher then think of this as looking under the microscope and instead of a mere specimen you see the coding of the specimen’s origins and potential antigens written out for you.  As the situation now stands there are not enough funds or personnel to fight the massive, profitable electronic epidemic that facilitates the sexual exploitation of our children.  In addition, those limited funds and personnel can be further restricted when their sole source of funding relies on Government and special interest.  Thorn appears to operate with multiple partnerships.  Therefore, it is my hope that Kutcher and his people will keep a close eye on their project, sources, and resources to ensure Thorn’s vision remains true to its origin as they continue to hone the cutting edge in this particular form of crime fighting.

JDP

Announcement: https://www.wearethorn.org/announcing-thorns-san-francisco-innovation-lab/

Site: https://www.wearethorn.org/

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