Thursday, December 22, 2011

2012's Perfect Storm

As we bid 2011 farewell, a perfect storm is brewing to confront child abuse in 2012.

It started with the Penn State scandal grabbing national headlines when a revered football coach failed to call police after hearing an eye witness' account of sexual assault on a child. The accused (another coach) admitted to "showering and horsing around" with kids but denies any wrongdoing.

The public outcry from the Penn State story resulted in a Senate hearing on whether there should be a federal child abuse reporting law (see our December 13, 2011 post Senate Hearing Advises Training).

The next day, a first-of-its-kind government study came out finding sexual violence "widespread" in the U.S. and the majority of rape victims are children. Experts called its findings a "staggering" national problem and concluded that "We need to focus on children."

At the Senate hearing, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said "it is critical that we train and empower adults to know the signs of abuse and to know what to do when they see it or suspect it."

In these tough economic times, efforts to pass funding for child abuse educational programs will surely face challenges. Stay tuned for storm updates.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Senate Hearing Advises Training

Today, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families held a hearing on the need for a federal law requiring the reporting of child abuse and neglect.

During the hearing, child advocacy experts testified that training adults is the single most important step in detecting and preventing child mistreatment. For example:
  • Dr. Robert Block, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, emphasized the importance of educating adults about what is and is not abuse. He also recommended educating kids about inappropriate adult behavior.
  • Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of the National Children's Alliance, recommended that adult training be tied to certification and licensing of professionals working with children.
  • Erin Sutton, the Assistant Commissioner for Minnesota Children & Family Services, noted that education about mistreatment reduces the number of false reports and enhances the value of child protective services' scarce resources.
If you're looking for training, we can help. Shield the Vulnerable offers interactive online training courses in all 50 states (as well as the ten Canadian provinces) on how to recognize and report child abuse and neglect.

Each state-specific course identifies who are legally mandated reporters, explains the "what-when-and-how" of making an official report, and includes a Quick Reference Guide with the state's rules and contact information. Plus, we also offer several online child safety training courses containing age-appropriate content.

Monday, December 12, 2011

'Tis the Season for Financial Abuse

Elder financial abuse spikes during the holidays.

The 2011 MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse found that nearly one-third of elder abuse reported in news articles from November 2010 through January 2011 involved financial exploitation. And losses suffered by elders at the hands of family, friends, and neighbors were higher than any other category during this time of year.

To help seniors protect themselves, Consumer Reports publicized new national telephone hotlines that went live in November.

Financial Abuse Questions: 888.303.3297
Ask Adult Protective Services professionals questions about elder financial exploitation and how to prevent or stop it.

Medical Questions: 888.303.0430
Health care professionals can help callers spot the warning signs of vulnerability to financial abuse.

General Finance Questions: 888.227.1776
Experts from the Financial Planning Association can help elders or their adult children help prevent elder investment fraud and financial exploitation.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Overzealous Prosecutor

A Wisconsin District Attorney has charged a six-year-old boy with felony first-degree sexual assault on a five-year-old girl.

The girl's mom found her daughter in the boy's yard "with her skirt and underpants around her ankles" and the boy touching her while playing "butt doctor." If convicted, the six-year-old will be listed as a sexual predator when he turns 18.

When challenged on the wisdom of prosecuting the little boy, Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker said, "The legislature could have put an age restriction in the statute if it wanted to. The legislature did no such thing."

His parents have sued the district attorney for violating the boy's constitutional rights. The complaint alleges that the girl's brother was also playing "doctor" with them, but he was not charged.

The parents' attorney told WISC-TV that, according to experts, "a 6-year-old child is unable to intellectually and emotionally associate sexual gratification with the act that D has been accused of committing."

So far, the case has not been thrown out of court. In fact, the district attorney has been granted a gag order to prevent the boy's parents from talking publicly about the case. And, the six-year-old has been served with a summons, ordering him to appear in court or go to jail.