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National Symposium on Child Abuse: Penn State’s tragedy could happen anywhere

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National Child Protection Training Center Executive Director and Stop Abuse Campaign board member, Victor Vieth, leads a 90-minute workshop, “Lessons from Penn State: Mandated Reporting” discussed in detail the child abuse case that came to light on Nov. 5, 2011. That’s when Sandusky was arrested and charged with 40 counts of sex crimes against at least eight young boys.  To Vieth’s point, this could happen anywhere. Anywhere, where abuse is witnessed and ignored, covered up and never properly investigated creates a Penn State. We are all responsible and capable of helping to stop the devastating cycle of abuse where we live, work and socialize. As the Stop Abuse Campaign, we are here, in part, to help educate and ignite conversations and offer solutions on stopping abuse not matter what type of abuse it is.

Get involved today. Make a difference. Become an AbuseStopper by taking The Pledge. More important, become a member of the Stop Abuse Campaign.  It’s quick, easy and it’s the right thing to do.  Support the only organization in America with a mission and plan to stop ALL of abuse.  Get involved and learn how.  Make an effort to make a difference, because sooner or later, abuse touches us all.

National Symposium on Child Abuse: Penn State’s tragedy could happen anywhere

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 10:17 PM By Chris Welch, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — In November, people were horrified when Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of 40 counts of sex crimes against young boys from 1994 through 2009. To make matters worse, legendary head coach Joe Paterno and other Penn State officials were notified of the accusations and failed to take appropriate action.

National Child Protection Training Center Executive Director Victor Vieth presents a seminar: Lessons from Penn State: Mandated Reporting during the 28th National Symposium on Child Abuse presented by the National Children’s Advocacy Center at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama Tuesday, March 20, 2012. The symposium runs through Thursday. (The Huntsville Times/Robin Conn)

Because of that tragedy, many people will never look at Penn State University the same way. But the Executive Director of the National Child Protection Training Center says don’t focus on Penn State for not reporting the child abuse problems.

Focus on ourselves and the country.

“There’s no reason to focus on Penn State during a national conference in Huntsville,” Victor Vieth said Tuesday during the start of the 24th annual National Symposium on Child Abuse at the Von Braun Center’s East Hall. The symposium goes through Thursday. “This could happen at any university in any city.

“A lot of peoples’ ire is directed at Penn State, but it should be directed at ourselves and our country and doing something about it.”

Vieth’s 90-minute workshop, “Lessons from Penn State: Mandated Reporting” discussed in detail the child abuse case that came to light on Nov. 5, 2011. That’s when Sandusky was arrested and charged with 40 counts of sex crimes against at least eight young boys.

So what went wrong at Penn State? Vieth emphasized three main points — failure to report the abuse; an inadequate investigation; and failure to take action.

Vieth said 19 adults failed to report the child abuse at Penn State and three adults witnessed incidents. He says it comes as no shock to him because studies for over 30 years have indicated people don’t report child abuse. He said a 2001 survey among 197 teachers showed 26 wouldn’t report child abuse in a family and 11 percent wouldn’t report a a fellow teacher for child abuse.

Vieth drove that point home with an ABC report on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which believe in polygamy, in Colorado City, Ariz. ABC hired actors to portray a FLDS family in which the father wanted to marry the 15-year-old daughter. The point was to see how many people would try to rescue the daughter as she begged not to marry the father in a local restaurant.

How many did? Just four out of 100 people in the restaurant tried to help the girl that night, Vieth said, again reaffirming the nationwide reporting problem.

So why don’t people report child abuse? Vieth cited several reasons, including not enough evidence; a lack of certainty; a belief reporting would cause additional harm; the need for doctors and other professional to maintain good relationships with patients; the ambiguity in the laws; ignorance of the laws and fear their names will be revealed.

Vieth said in the past social workers haven’t been trained to deal with the various aspects of child abuse, but it’s getting better because of institutions like the National Child Protection Training Center in Winona, Minn. In all, 27 colleges are now utilizing Child Abuse Services Team (CAST) to help prepare students for dealing with issues like finding babies in crack houses and other child abuse atrocities.

“It’s the most important program in the history of child protection,” said Vieth, whose dream is to see four CAST regional training centers across the U.S.

“We must be the change we seek,” he said.

 


Law Would Eliminate the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse of Minors

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Regrettably, most states have a statute of limitations on child sexual abuse, a time limit on how long a victim of child abuse can legally accuse and seek justice from their abuser.  For many victims of child sexual abuse that time limit has long since passed before they even remember the abuse happening. It’s a legal system that protects the abuser and punishes the abused. FYI – there is no such limitation on a parking ticket. Don’t pay a parking ticket and it will follow you for life, sexually abuse a child and you may never have to answer for it. We can do better. Below is an article in the Boston Globe as one victim seeks to overturn Massachusetts’ statute of limitations on child sexual abuse.                                    Breaking the cycle of abuse requires a system that is better funded, better equipped, and focused on stopping abuse and not stopping  victims – all victims from getting the help and the justice they need. Where do you come down on the issue?

Get involved today. Make a difference. Become an AbuseStopper by taking The Pledge. More important, become a member of the Stop Abuse Campaign.  It’s quick, easy and it’s the right thing to do.  Support the only organization in America with a mission and plan to stop ALL of abuse.  Get involved and learn how.  Make an effort to make a difference, because sooner or later, abuse touches us all.

 

 

Let’s give sexual abuse justice time

By Kevin Cullen  Globe Columnist – March 20, 2012

If timing is everything, Kathy Picard’s was lousy.

She was 32 years old when she accused a relative of sexually abusing her when she was a girl. Police in Western Massachusetts told her the 15-year statute of limitations that kicked in when she turned 16 had expired the year before.

Picard threw herself into the campaign to remove the statute of limitations. In 2006, after prosecutors complained that they couldn’t make cases against Catholic priests who had abused minors years before, the Massachusetts Legislature voted to extend the statute of limitations to 27 years after a victim turns 16. It was a compromise, but an improvement.

When the new law kicked in, Picard was 44, again one year too late to seek charges.

“It’s arbitrary and wrong,’’ she says. “When it comes to abusing kids, there shouldn’t be any statute of limitations.’’

More than 100 of 160 House members have already endorsed House Bill 469, which would eliminate the statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of minors and make it impossible for predators to escape prosecution and accountability by hiding behind the calendar.

Whether they get a chance to vote on this is another question. On Beacon Hill, pure power often trumps pure democracy. The House chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Representative Eugene O’Flaherty, says he opposes the bill but insists that’s not why it won’t be reported out this week on time. There’s just a backlog, he says.

While acknowledging that 41 states have eliminated the criminal statute of limitations on the sexual abuse of children, O’Flaherty told me he is not convinced it’s the right thing to do.

“I’m not saying those other states have pandered’’ to public opinion, O’Flaherty said. “I’m just saying it’s very difficult to oppose bills like this.’’

It should be. There is a general consensus that there should be no statute of limitations for murder, and the law reflects that. There is a growing consensus that there should be no arbitrary hiding place for those who murder children’s souls by sexually abusing them. That consensus does not include Gene O’Flaherty.

“Statutes of limitations have a purpose,’’ said O’Flaherty.

He said they ensure that evidence and memories are fresh. But they do nothing to ensure justice when the evidence is that many kids who are abused suffer in silence for years.

Lifting the statute of limitations on the civil side is even more contentious. The Massachusetts Catholic Conference opposes the bill, saying the current law is fair to both accusers and the accused. Representative Garrett Bradley calls that opposition outrageous.

“Opposition to this is about avoiding more lawsuits, not doing the morally responsible thing,’’ said Bradley. “As a lawyer, I understand the importance of statutes of limitation. But for a lot of victims, this is the only route to closure.’’

The reality is the vast majority of abuse doesn’t involve priests. It involves predators inside or close to a family. It’s that insularity that protects predators and silences victims with stigma. But as that stigma melts away, so will laws that protect predators.

John Lawn, a freshman rep from Watertown, is supporting a constituent from Waltham, Rosanne Sliney, 48, who has been barred from seeking justice against a relative who she says abused her from age 5 to 14.

“She has a letter from this guy, admitting the abuse,’’ Lawn said. “But she can’t do anything because it’s beyond the statute. That guy is walking around like nothing happened, and that’s not right.’’

Lawn believes that if the bill gets to the floor, it will pass. “We’re just starting to understand these crimes,’’ he said. “I think it’s like murder, what it does to kids. . . . It shouldn’t be treated like other crimes.’’

And it should get to the floor for a vote.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/03/19/let-give-sexual-abuse-justice-time/E9cerOuSBwQGhPTPnoKThL/story.html


Dems Demand Violence Against Women Act

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Politicians are once again at loggerheads over funding. This time the funding is for the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation would extend grant programs to law enforcement and shelters for battered women, expanding free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence. It would also allow more abused illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas, and would extend programs to same-sex couples, two aspects that Republicans object to.  Those in congress and the people that elected them, want us to believe that funding is at issue. Tax dollars spent on programs that would allow gay men and women, and illegal immigrants access to services and care they will need as victims of abuse.  However, what seems to be more at play is a political ideology that seeks to divide us rather than unite us.

Breaking the cycle of abuse requires a system that is better funded, better equipped, and focused on stopping abuse and not stopping  victims – all victims from getting the help they need. Where do you come down on the issue before congress?

Women Figure Anew in Senate’s Latest Battle

By Published: March 14, 2012

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times“We’re mad, and we’re tired of it,” said Senator Maria Cantwell.

WASHINGTON — With emotions still raw from the fight over President Obama’s contraception mandate, Senate Democrats are beginning a push to renew the Violence Against Women Act, the once broadly bipartisan 1994 legislation that now faces fierce opposition from conservatives.

The fight over the law, which would expand financing for and broaden the reach of domestic violence programs, will be joined Thursday when Senate Democratic women plan to march to the Senate floor to demand quick action on its extension. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has suggested he will push for a vote by the end of March.

Democrats, confident they have the political upper hand with women, insist that Republican opposition falls into a larger picture of insensitivity toward women that has progressed from abortion fights to contraception to preventive health care coverage — and now to domestic violence.

“I am furious,” said Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington. “We’re mad, and we’re tired of it.”

Republicans are bracing for a battle where substantive arguments could be swamped by political optics and the intensity of the clash over women’s issues. At a closed-door Senate Republican lunch on Tuesday, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska sternly warned her colleagues that the party was at risk of being successfully painted as antiwoman — with potentially grievous political consequences in the fall, several Republican senators said Wednesday.

Some conservatives are feeling trapped.

“I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years, but there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who opposed the latest version last month in the Judiciary Committee. “You think that’s possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn’t support that maybe then they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women?”

The legislation would continue existing grant programs to local law enforcement and battered women shelters, but would expand efforts to reach Indian tribes and rural areas. It would increase the availability of free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, extend the definition of violence against women to include stalking, and provide training for civil and criminal court personnel to deal with families with a history of violence. It would also allow more battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas, and would include same-sex couples in programs for domestic violence.

Republicans say the measure, under the cloak of battered women, unnecessarily expands immigration avenues by creating new definitions for immigrant victims to claim battery. More important, they say, it fails to put in safeguards to ensure that domestic violence grants are being well spent. It also dilutes the focus on domestic violence by expanding protections to new groups, like same-sex couples, they say.

Critics of the legislation acknowledged that the name alone presents a challenge if they intend to oppose it over some of its specific provisions.

“Obviously, you want to be for the title,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Republican leadership, said of the Violence Against Women Act. “If Republicans can’t be for it, we need to have a very convincing alternative.”

Read Entire Story Here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/15/us/politics/violence-against-women-act-divides-senate.html?_r=1


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