Friday, February 17, 2012

Blisters and Broccoli

Christopher Alan Carlson's attorney described him as a "health nut," who wanted to get his three grandsons (ages 8, 9 and 12 years old) in shape by hiking the Grand Canyon.

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

The Cost of Abuse

There's pressure to make the prevention of child maltreatment a priority in the US – but it's not because of the government report about the estimated 695,000 victims of child mistreatment in 2010.

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.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Assault In Words

On February 2, 2012, the Judiciary Committee will consider Senate Bill 1925, reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, to continue (at a reduced level of funding) safety and support services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. These services include education for child protective service workers, legal assistance, supervised visitation programs, housing protections, and court responses to these violent crimes.

A critical addition to this bill addresses campus sexual violence, including provisions for prevention education for all incoming students and training for campus law enforcement. Between 20 and 25 percent of women are sexually assaulted on college campuses.

Voted one of 30 "Must-See Tumblr Blogs" by Time Magazine, "project unbreakable" was created by Grace Brown who uses photography to help victims of sexual abuse heal. Ms. Brown posts her photographs of victims holding posters on which they write quotes from their attackers. Time calls it "a shocking and sad look at sexual assault and how it affects their victims."