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Archive for November, 2009

Cyber-Bullying Is Not Ok!

Posted by Angela On November - 29 - 2009 8 COMMENTS

cyberbullying

Recent stories may stick in your head of cyber-bullying. Such as the mom on Myspace who bullied a young girl into killing herself. But in reality you have probably seen it a million times and never reported it.

Lately in the mom blogging community there has been one particular instance that has blown up forums, twitter, facebook and blogs around the nation. In recent weeks a “Mom Blogger” had posted a few photos on her site and not only started off the bashing, but encouraged others to join it. These photos were of random people in an airport, 2 happen to be teenagers. The one with the most comments was a 15 year old, who was called fat, & overweight. (The specified post has now been removed)

Although there is a freedom of speech act, there are many boundaries this went past. One would be the defamation of character, and Second, i am sure would be distributing photos of a minor (since they were used in a wrong way.) Some of you may ask why this is such a big deal. Consider this your child. Would you want someone posting pictures of your daughter on their site to be made fun of ? This is a prime example of Cyber -Bullying. Read the rest of this entry »

Expert: Child traffickers target runaways, ‘throwaways’

Posted by Sandra On November - 19 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

Police say Shaniya Davis, 5, was sold into prostitution by her mother.

Police say Shaniya Davis, 5, was sold into prostitution by her mother.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mother accused of selling daughter highlights domestic human-trafficking trade
  • Expert: Selling children rare in U.S.; traffickers usually exploit vulnerable, homeless children
  • Recent FBI operations have yielded about 2,300 arrests, recovery of 170 children
  • Examples include couple accused of kidnapping teen, forcing her to turn tricks

Who killed 5-year-old Shaniya Davis? Her mother is charged with human trafficking, and many questions remain about what happened. Watch “Nancy Grace” as she digs deeper, tonight at 8 on HLN.

(CNN) — It sounds like the plot of a crime drama or the scourge of a developing country, but human trafficking is a serious problem in the U.S. and America’s children are frequent pawns, experts say.

The case of Antoinette Nicole Davis, a North Carolina mother accused of selling her 5-year-old daughter, Shaniya, into prostitution, highlights one of the most heinous — albeit rare — forms of trafficking within the U.S.

Davis faces numerous charges, including human trafficking, felony child abuse and prostitution. Mario Andrette McNeill has been charged with kidnapping in the case after police said a surveillance camera captured images of him and Shaniya at a hotel in Sanford.

Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that studies human trafficking, has more frequently seen cases in which children were sold by family members “out of desperation in developing countries” such as Cambodia or sub-Saharan African nations, said executive director and CEO Mark Lagon.

“But it happens sometimes here,” he said.

More common in the United States are traffickers who exploit abused runaways or so-called “throwaways” — children abandoned by their parents and living on the streets, Lagon said.

“The trafficker plays the role of a father or loverboy who is offering care to the child, who is vulnerable,” he said, explaining that what begins as flattery and attention often turns to suggestions of prostitution.

Video: Shaniya’s brother speaks

The child, typically homeless and in need of food and shelter, can be manipulated into “survival sex,” Lagon said. In other instances, the trafficker or pimp will get the child hooked on drugs and use their addiction as leverage.

Watch Shaniya’s brother reminisce about his sister

Named for the North Star that guided slaves along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project works to stamp out the global trade in humans.

Lagon, formerly the State Department’s director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, said it’s a tough fight because there is a dearth of “good statistics” on human trafficking and it’s not a crime in which victims readily come forward.

But the news is replete with reports on major rings being busted. The FBI did not return messages to discuss human trafficking, but news releases from the agency’s Innocence Lost initiative show that in the past 18 months, four stings — dubbed Operations Cross Country I, II, III and IV — have yielded about 2,300 arrests and the recovery of about 170 children.

“We may not be able to return their innocence, but we can remove them from this cycle of abuse and violence,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said in a statement after a February bust.

Specific examples also abound. In August, two bar owners and a manager in Long Island, New York, were charged with sex trafficking and alien harboring with victims as young as 17. A few days later, a husband and wife in Orange County, Florida, were charged with kidnapping a 15-year-old at gunpoint and forcing her to turn tricks.

In September, a U.S. Army private and three other men were indicted on charges of running a sex-trafficking businesses from a Millersville, Maryland, apartment. One of the prostitutes was 16.

No pleas have been entered in the Florida or Maryland cases. The three defendants in Long Island have pleaded not guilty.

While prostitution is a common impetus for trafficking children, Lagon said there are numerous examples of young men and women being forced into domestic servitude. Many times, he said, those victims are sexually abused as well.

This is something that deserves decades in prison.
–Mark Lagon, Polaris Project executive director and CEO

Though statistics on the depth of domestic trafficking are difficult to ascertain, the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study in 2001 showing that between 244,000 and 325,000 American children were at risk of sexual exploitation, including child pornography, juvenile prostitution and trafficking children for sexual purposes.

The average age of a female victim’s first involvement in prostitution, according to the study, was between 12 and 14.

“That, shockingly, means a number get in when they’re incredibly young, and that’s all the more horrifying,” Lagon said.

Lagon said he was impressed with federal initiatives and believes “it’s great the FBI has more and more focused on trying to save prostituted children as sex trafficking victims.”

The only caveat to his praise, he said, is a concern that adults swept up in raids are sometimes charged as prostitutes when they, too, may have been subjected to coercion or pulled into the trade as minors.

The onus is on society and government to stop the trafficking of American children, he said. Citizens should pay attention to signals that something is amiss with a child and be careful not to “sneer or stigmatize” when they see a prostituted teen.

Government, meanwhile, should toughen its punishments for child trafficking and more actively target the “johns” and pimps who make the trade possible, according to Lagon.

“That person has to be punished like they’ve committed a crime akin to slavery. This is something that deserves decades in prison,” he said.

SOURCE:  http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/11/18/domestic.child.trafficking/index.html?eref=rss_crime

We all have an important role in helping prevent child abuse

Posted by Sandra On November - 8 - 2009 1 COMMENT

You suspect a child is being battered or otherwise mistreated. What do you do?

Some argue we remove children from the home too quickly while others contend we don’t act quickly enough.

Whether you agree authorities step in too soon or not soon enough, the fact remains child abuse is a growing problem not just nationally and statewide, but here on the South Plains as well. This is especially the case when the economy is struggling and jobs are limited. Unfortunately, some lash out at those most unable to defend themselves – the children.

Last year there were 70,589 confirmed cases of child abuse in Texas and, considering its population, a disproportionate percentage of those reports were from the South Plains, reported Enrique Rangel, A-J Austin Bureau chief.

The South Plains region holds the second-highest per capita rate of child abuse in the state. Lubbock led all Texas counties with 1,540 of the 70,589 child abuse cases statewide last year, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

There are many complicated factors that lead to child abuse, according to the non-profit resource center, Helpguide.org. Risk factors for child abuse include:

n History of child abuse. Unfortunately, the patterns we learn in childhood are often what we use as parents. Without treatment and insight, sadly, the cycle of child abuse often continues.

n Stress and lack of support. Parenting can be a very time intensive, difficult job. Parents caring for children without support from family, friends or the community can be under a lot of stress. Teen parents often struggle with the maturity and patience needed to be a parent. Caring for a child with a disability, special needs or difficult behaviors is also a challenge. Caregivers who are under financial or relationship stress are at risk as well.

n Alcohol or drug abuse. Alcohol and drug abuse lead to serious lapses in judgment. They can interfere with impulse control making emotional and physical abuse more likely. Due to impairment caused by being intoxicated, alcohol and drug abuse frequently lead to child neglect

n Domestic violence. Witnessing domestic violence in the home, as well as the chaos and instability that is the result, is emotional abuse to a child. Frequently domestic violence will escalate to physical violence against the child as well.

The number of child abuse cases could be worse here without CPS and organizations like the one she leads, said Lynnette Wilson, executive director of the Family Guidance and Outreach Center. Her non-profit organization works with CPS to educate parents.

Holiday season is quickly approaching and is always an economic stressor. Even more so now in these challenging financial times. Those child abuse report numbers will climb and the smiling face of a child you see today may be one of horror tomorrow.

We must be vigilant and proactive for all children at all times. If you suspect a child is being mistreated, don’t ignore it. Report it. Child abuse isn’t just the abuser’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem.

Losing Track of Sex Offenders

Posted by Sandra On November - 7 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

As Laws Limit Where Sex Offenders Can Live, Many Congregate in Isolated Areas

  • Play CBS Video Video Tracking Sex OffendersRestrictions placed on sex offenders will be tightened next year when all states will be required to closely track sex offenders and inform the public about the most violent. Bill Whitaker reports.
    • This photo provided by the family show Somer Thompson, 7, who was abducted in Orange Park, Fla. And found in a Georgia landfill.This photo provided by the family show Somer Thompson, 7, who was abducted in Orange Park, Fla. And found in a Georgia landfill. (AP)
    • Phillip Garrido, left, is charged with the kidnap and rape of Jaycee Lee Dugard.Phillip Garrido, left, is charged with the kidnap and rape of Jaycee Lee Dugard. (AP)

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(CBS)

It’s been almost three weeks since 7-year-old Somer Thompson was abducted in Orange Park, Fla., her body found in a Georgia landfill. Authorities now are questioning sex offenders in the community. There are 159 registered offenders in a 5-mile radius of Somer’s hometown.

“That’s your biggest fear, that your child is going to be missing or they’re going to die,” said Carol Jones, a resident.

That number of sex offenders in one Florida town is not unusual. There are almost 700,000 registered sex offenders in the United States: more than 51,000 in Florida; 57,000 in Texas; more than 117,000 in California, reports CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker.

In Antioch, California where kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard was held in a backyard for 18 years, allegedly by convicted rapist Phillip Garrido, there are 92 registered sex offenders just in Garrido’s zip code.

Those numbers have prompted states and cities across the country to pass laws restricting where sex offenders can live. Jessica’s Law here in California prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a park or a school – places children congregate.

Similar restrictions in other states are forcing sex offenders to cluster in isolated areas – like this encampment under a Miami freeway. Parole officer Mauricio Lopez monitors 20 high-risk sex offenders in one Pasadena, California neighborhood. Neighbors are fearful.

“We have neighbors who do not allow their children to ride their bikes or get out of the house at all,” said one resident.

Authorities have lost track of some 100,000 sex offenders. Critics say better tracking, not isolation, is the answer.

“The most dangerous sex offenders are highly mobile, so they will travel, they’ll move from community to community, they will seek out opportunities,” said Ernie Allen with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Next year all states will be required by federal law to closely track all sex offenders and to inform the public who are the most violent.

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OUR MISSION: To educate the public on child abuse signs & symptoms, statistics, intervention, reporting, prevention & assist victims & survivors in locating the proper resources necessary to enable & achieve a full recovery.

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