Thursday, December 20, 2012
Another expert, David Finkelhor with the University of New Hampshire, expressed frustration over the lack of analysis of the trends, saying "it does appear remarkable that overall child maltreatment has declined given that unemployment has been so high, the housing and mortgage crisis has continued, and state and local budgets for family and child services have been cut."
And other child-protection advocates contend that the drop in reports simply reflects a tendency by CPS to investigate fewer cases because of tight budgets.
George Sheldon, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families summed it up this way: "We have made excellent progress over the past five years. But what this report tells me is that we still have 681,000 children out there who need our help.”
Thursday, December 6, 2012
XY sued Facebook for harassment, breach of privacy, and breach of human rights, claiming that, "By publishing this material about me, the defendants are providing a vehicle for others who may have criminal intent to gain information about where I live and to stir up hatred against me."
Facebook's attorney argued that Facebook was "walking a fine line" between the rights of its users and the privacy of others. He asked, "Will it give the plaintiff any benefit to shut down this site and deprive 4,000 users of their freedom of expression, the vast amount of which is legitimate debate on sex offenders?"
While the U.K.'s High Court acknowledged that the man's name, physical appearance, criminal record, and whereabouts were already public information, the ruling "simply requires certain modest steps to be taken by the operator of a social networking site to ensure that, pending the substantive trial of this action, the plaintiff is not exposed to further conduct which I consider, to a high level of arguability, to be unlawful."
Within hours after Facebook complied with the order, a page with a similar name appeared.
In the U.S., state laws banning sex offenders from using social networking sites are getting mixed reviews. The federal court in Nebraska struck down a state law that made it a crime for certain registered sex offenders to use social networking sites or chat rooms, and allowed monitoring of their computers and Internet usage.
But an Indiana federal court upheld a state ban on convicted sex offenders accessing social networking sites used by children because the law was narrowly drawn so that certain sex offenders are "only precluded from using web sites where online predators have easy access to a nearly limitless pool of potential victims."
One thing is clear: we have not heard the last from the courts on balancing rights of privacy against free speech, especially when dealing with the emotionally-charged issue of child abuse.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
study by the U.K.-based Anti-Bullying Alliance found that:
- More than 90 percent of British children have been bullied or saw others being bullied because they are gifted and talented.
- More than a quarter of the 11-16-year-olds surveyed said they quit an activity for fear of being bullied, and half downplayed a talent for the same reason.
- One in ten children hid their science ability, and one in five girls (and one in ten boys) deliberately underachieved in math to avoid being bullied.
Now, the good news for talented youth. First Lady Michelle Obama presented Oakland's Youth Radio with the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the highest honor for after-school arts and humanities programs. Among the awarded programs were a New York debate league, an African culture group, and a mariachi apprentice program honoring the Mexican-American experience in Los Angeles.
At the White House awards ceremony, the First Lady said, "In spite of all the challenges and obstacles our young people face, in spite of all their fears and doubts, you teach them art anyway. You teach them that no matter what life throws their way, if they draw back on their own talent, creativity and courage; if they're persistent and tenacious and bold, then they can truly make something extraordinary out of their lives."
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
The jury forewoman said Vijayendran "dropped the ball." Another juror said the principal "stuck her head in the sand rather than pull the alarm. I think she didn't want this ugly thing to be true."
The eight-year-old girl's mother told Vijayendran that second-grade teacher Craig Chandler had acted "strangely" with her daughter, and showed the principal a suspicious stain on her daughter's jacket. Vijayendran then interviewed the girl who provided vivid details of her strange encounter with Mr. Chandler.
Vijayendran testified that Mr. Chandler "appeared forthright" when he told her that blindfolding a second-grade girl, telling her to lie on the floor, and putting a salty liquid in her mouth while they were alone in the classroom was part of a lesson plan about Helen Keller.
Vijayendran's decision to conduct her own investigation, instead of reporting the incident to authorities as the law requires of mandatory reporters, resulted in her criminal conviction and allowed Mr. Chandler to molest another student a few months later.
Under California law, school districts are required to train their educators how to recognize and report suspected child abuse. While the law provides an exception a school district may simply write a letter explaining why training was not provided jurors said the Evergreen School District shared some responsibility in this case.
"I think there were comments made that over a 20-year period, that people from the teachers all the way up to the principals all the way up to HR that they've received no training on mandatory reporting," said juror Kathy Ericksen. Juror Susan LaGassa agreed, "Educators need to know that this is unacceptable."
"The bigger picture," said prosecutor Alison Filo, "is we want mandated reporters to understand to always err on the side of caution and report, never investigate."
Thursday, November 1, 2012
The BBC's reputation is on the line," says Chris Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust. Police are describing disc jockey and BBC television host Jimmy Savile (who died last year at age 84) as "one of the worst sex offenders in recent history." Given recent history, that's a pretty big claim.
This latest BBC scandal began when a television documentary aired in October in which several women claimed that they were sexually abused by Savile when they were in their early teens. Hundreds of potential victims have since come forward with similar claims.
In connection with the Savile investigation, police arrested musician and convicted sex offender Gary Glitter (known for his shiny jumpsuits and whose real name is Paul Gadd). Glitter served a U.K. prison term in 1999 for possession of child pornography. After moving to Vietnam, he was convicted of child abuse in 2006 and deported back to Britain in 2008. Glitter is best known for the crowd-pleasing hit "Rock & Roll (Part 2)" which, in 2006, the National Football League advised teams not to use at games.
Questions are now being raised about whether the BBC was involved in a cover-up, and whether Savile was at the center of a broader pedophile ring. All of this leaves some of us wondering, who can you trust?
"As a society, we've just got to somehow get over this notion that some men, some women, some institutions, are 100 percent pristine and trustworthy," said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "We've got to look at actual behavior, not reputation."
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
According to police, Dr. Morse used waterboarding – a simulated drowning technique typically considered to be torture – to punish his 11-year-old daughter four times over the last two years while the girl's mother looked on and did not try to stop it.
Dr. Morse's excessive discipline came to light when the girl ran to a neighbor's house after her father dragged her by the ankles over a gravel driveway because she wouldn't get out of the car for reasons unknown. When a concerned citizen called police, the girl was questioned by authorities and told them that her father had also used waterboarding to discipline her.
Dr. Morse heads the Institute for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, and has appeared on "Oprah," "Good Morning America," and "Larry King Live." He has written about his research on near-death experiences, particularly those involving children.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Another case file describes how four-year-old Nathaniel Knox arrived at the hospital with a skull fracture, bruises all over his body, and an adult-sized bite mark on his arm. Nathaniel's mother told doctors that he had fallen off a low deck and hit his head. But his mother's story did not square with Nathaniel's injuries. One doctor said that it would have taken "tremendous force" to crack the toddler's skull, and lesions on his retinas indicated previous beatings. Nathaniel died on August 1, 2009.
- children age 4 and younger accounted for 37 of the 41 deaths
- toddler boys are killed more often than girls
- men are more likely to be the perpetrators
- at least one adult was a high-school dropout in homes where a child died from abuse or neglect
Monday, July 16, 2012
McFetridge investigated the case and said, "In my opinion, it's just as serious as if he had beaten her within an inch of her life … By the time we intervened, she was down to living on peanut butter and rice cakes. She was really a prisoner in her own home."
- Stay socially active and engaged
- Do not let anyone rush or pressure you into signing a document, purchasing something, or giving away your money or property
- Build relationships with the professionals who advise you or handle your money
- Avoid joint accounts
- Powers of attorney are useful and important tools, but can be misused
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
One student's words were especially cruel saying, "You don't have a family because they all killed themselves because they don't want to be near you." Klein's oldest son committed suicide ten years ago.
Once the video went viral, the public outcry fueled a fund raiser to raise $5,000 for Klein to take a nice vacation – the result was an astonishing $667,000.
When asked about the bullies' punishment, Klein said the best part was "that they have to do community service for senior citizens." And, because the video went viral, "it's putting people into action, making them talk to their children, making them teach them what they should not do."
Friday, June 22, 2012
Meanwhile, in a kindergarten class near San Antonio, Texas, the teacher lined up the classmates and instructed them to hit six-year-old Aiden to "teach him why bullying is bad." Some students didn't want to hit Aiden but were afraid to disobey their teacher. Then one student hit Aiden hard in his upper back and the teacher intervened. Apparently, Aiden's teacher was following the advice of a more experienced colleague and both are now on paid administrative leave. Aiden's mother has filed a police report against the teachers for bullying her son.
No one from either school contacted the children's parents first to try and resolve these issues before crossing the line from teachable moment to criminal and civil liability.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Its growth also attracted $22 million in financing from one of Silicon Valley's leading venture capital firms which cited Skout's safety and security protocols as a major reason for the investment. For example, the GPS location feature is an opt-in and approximates a user's location within half a mile. Skout also monitors the app for illicit and violent behavior, nude photos, inappropriate sexual messages, profanity, spamming, and copyright infringement.
After learning that children were using its adult app, the company started a separate service with parental controls for 13- to 17-year-olds.
However, the minors’ app and "creepinator" technology were not enough to keep out child predators who have been accused of sex crimes against children they met using Skout: a 15-year-old Ohio girl, a 12-year-old California girl, and a 13-year-old Wisconsin boy were sexually assaulted by adult men posing as teenagers on Skout.
Skout's founder calls these cases "a five-alarm fire" and says, "The entire company is re-evaluating everything it's doing."
Monday, May 14, 2012
Ford's supporters say she was unfairly punished, while a national support group for abuse victims called it "a powerful statement that protecting children is not something to be taken lightly."
In our previous post, we wrote about the Connecticut Supreme Court case that denied a school principal the right to sue after being fired for reporting child abuse. When confronted with conflicting laws, policies, and people's reactions to child abuse, these cases remind us to keep focused on the children: as a spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services said, "When you're talking about the well-being – and survival, in some cases – of a child, it's better to err on the side of caution."
Friday, April 27, 2012
So, when principal Carmen Perez-Dickson was demoted and later suspended after reporting two incidents of suspected child abuse, she sued the school board for retaliation. After a trial, the jury awarded her over $2 million.
Unfortunately for the former principal, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned her verdict. Although Perez-Dickson was correct in principle that she could not legally be fired for reporting abuse, she erred by assuming that she could sue to vindicate her rights. Instead, the Court ruled that only the Connecticut Attorney General was legally authorized to prosecute employers who retaliate against employees for reporting child abuse. [Perez-Dickson v. Bridgeport (CT 2012)]
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
With April 15th looming, the con artist tells seniors they are entitled to a tax refund or stimulus payment but - as many scams go - in order to get the money they need to pay an upfront fee. Of course, the tax refund or stimulus payment never arrives and the upfront payment is never seen again.
This is a new spin on a list of scams that still work so they bear repeating. One scam that has stood the test of time involves the trickster who claims to be a "grandson" (or "granddaughter"), and who calls grandpa (or grandma) frantically explaining that they've been in an accident, arrested, and need money sent quickly to get out of jail. The phone is handed to the kid's "lawyer," who directs the grandparent to send thousands of dollars via Western Union.
This scam only works when worried elders are so rattled that they suppress their legitimate doubts. Don't fall for it!
Here is a list of the Federal Trade Commission's 10 tips to avoid fraud:
- Remember, once you wire money, you can't get it back.
- Don't send money to anyone you don't know.
- Don't respond to any message - phone call, text or otherwise - that asks for personal of financial information.
- Don't play foreign lotteries.
- Don't deposit checks from someone you don't know and then wire money back, no matter how convincing the story.
- Read monthly bills and statements carefully.
- After a crisis or disaster, give to established charities.
- Talk to your doctor before buying health products or signing up for treatments.
- Know where an offer comes from and who you're dealing with.
Monday, March 26, 2012
In today's world of smart phones, smart grids, and smart cars, companies are collecting, storing, and sharing more and more information about you. In fact, as illustrated by a new video from the Federal Trade Commission, you might not realize just how often companies do so.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
A case in point involves Mr. Dowdall, a 70-year-old man who suffers from an advanced form of dementia and was not supposed to be driving. However, when he was left at home alone one day, he drove his older model car down to the dealership and traded it in on a brand new convertible. Described as a "frugal man" before the onset of dementia, Dowdall signed a purchase contract for $62,130, including $10,000 of dealer add-ons, without negotiating.
The dealership helped him finance the purchase, obligating Mr. Dowdall to make $923 monthly payments that his wife said he could not afford. So, she hired an attorney to determine if her husband was the victim of elder abuse.
The salesman "acknowledged that something had seemed amiss with the man," but said there was nothing he could do once the sale was completed.
Later, the dealership agreed to take back the car after being "inundated with angry phone calls and emails" in response to media reports of this incident.
Monday, March 12, 2012
So, when deciding if you've got "reasonable suspicion," ask yourself:
"Would someone with average judgment, who saw or heard what I did, also be suspicious?"If so, it's reasonable. And while you may not always be right, when you are, a child may be saved from harm.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
In our previous post, we told you about Christopher Carlson who was on trial for child abuse charges because he kicked and yelled at his three young grandsons to keep them going while hiking the Grand Canyon in triple-digit August heat.
After deliberating for two days, the jury found Carlson guilty on the three of the six charges.
Carlson was 15 years old when the boys' mother was born, and is now 45 years old facing life in prison.
His sentencing is scheduled for June 1.
Friday, February 17, 2012
According to the prosecutor, the Grand Canyon was "a weapon in child abuse" because "these hikes became a life or death situation for these children...." Carlson is on trial for felony child abuse and faces life in prison.
One of the hikes took place on August 28th when the temperature in the Grand Canyon reached as high as 108 degrees. Rangers gave the boys food and water after one showed symptoms of heat stroke, and the other two showed signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration.
During a 19-mile hike, Carlson's oldest grandson testified that his vision and hearing became altered and he fell down several times because of cramping. "I started crying and walking faster and he kicked me in the butt and said, 'Run,'" the boy said, explaining that Carlson was in a hurry to get to the top so they could watch the sunset.
The middle child's blisters were so bad that they turned into ulcers and he couldn't wear shoes for weeks. He also told jurors that Carlson made him eat broccoli that he had tried to flush down the toilet.
On the other hand, the youngest grandson testified about the "awesome" trips Carlson took them on to Hoover Dam, the Stratosphere Hotel and Criss Angel magic show in Las Vegas, Disneyland, Mexico, Belize, and Honduras. He also said Carlson allowed the boys to drink water and snack on celery, carrots, tofu, and low-carb hummus during the hikes.
"I suppose to an 8, 9 or 10-year-old that might seem like child abuse if you like cheeseburgers, French fries and pizza," Carlson's attorney told the jury, but Carlson "wanted to get them from behind the TV, the games and fast food."
Friday, February 10, 2012
Instead, it's due to the economic burden of dealing with the long-term consequences of child abuse that makes a strong case for devoting public resources to the prevention of child maltreatment.
A study published in Child Abuse & Neglect (2012) calculated the public financial cost of child abuse at about $124 billion each year. When broken down, the "productivity loss" plus the expense to the country's criminal justice, education, health care, and welfare systems adds up to a lifetime cost of $210,012 per victim.
The annual price tag of child abuse is comparable to health problems like stroke and type 2 diabetes, leading researchers to conclude that "Child Maltreatment is a serious and prevalent public health problem in the United States, responsible for substantial morbidity and mortality."
So, if the human cost wasn't enough to make child abuse prevention and treatment services a priority, now we also know that we cannot afford the financial costs of failing to fund these critical services.