June , 2017

Dreamcatchers For Abused Children Store

Archive for January, 2010

Female sexual abusers not as rare as widely believed

Posted by Sandra On January - 30 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

WINDSOR, Ont. — She gave him life and was the only parent he ever knew. In the way she snapped photos of him sleeping and playing happily, she was like any other adoring mother. But she also committed unspeakable acts to his little body, turning him into a human sex toy in her pornographic broadcasts.

The set of facts involving the Windsor-area mother who sexually abused her two-year-old son horrified both those involved in the case and those who’d only heard about it.

“Society expects the mother of a toddler would do everything in her power to make sure her child is protected from harm,” said the judge who Friday handed the 24-year-old woman a 3 1/2-year prison sentence.

He called her crimes “appalling” and “abhorrent.”

While female sexual abusers are rare in the court system, those who deal with child sexual abuse know the woman is not unique. She may be the first Ontario woman to be jailed for making child pornography featuring her own offspring, but she’s not the first mother to sexually abuse a child.

A national study released in 2005 shows that biological mothers were the perpetrators of sexual abuse in five per cent of the substantiated cases investigated by child welfare authorities.

The instance is probably higher, since researchers are certain that many cases of child sexual abuse never come to light. “A lot of people have difficulty believing women are capable of sexually abusing children,” said social worker Angela Hovey, whose doctoral thesis deals with a topic related to this theme.

Even victims of such abuse, looking back at it as adults, have a hard time talking about it.

In her past employment in federal prisons, she would ask inmates about any sexual abuse in their past. “Many men had been abused by women.” The problem, she said, was “they often had more difficulty identifying it as abuse.”

A U.S. report, entitled Child Sexual Abuse — The Predators, explains it this way. “Mothers generally have more intimate contact with their children, and the lines between maternal love and care and sexual abuse are not as clear-cut as they are for fathers.”

Therefore, the report says, “Sexual abuse by mothers may remain undetected because it occurs at home and is either denied or never reported.”

Hovey says it’s hard to get accurate data on the prevalence of female sex offenders, much less women who abuse their own children. The best information, she believes, may come from victims themselves.

A 2003 U.S. study questioned a random sample of adults to determine the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse. It found that of the 32 per cent of females and 14 per cent of males who identified themselves as victims, nine per cent of women and 39 per cent of men said they had been abused by at least one female.

While figures are usually inflated, studies of male sex offenders show 45 to 50 per cent were themselves victims of sexual abuse. Hovey is researching counselling practices for women survivors of sexual abuse to see if they should be asked if they’ve ever in turn abused anyone. She saw it in her private practice — women sexually abusing children.

“Do I think it happens a lot more than we hear about? Absolutely,” said Bill Bevan, executive director of the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society — which sees two or three such cases each year.

Most don’t end up in prosecutions because the young victims aren’t capable of testifying. “It could be a teacher. It could be a sister. It could be a babysitter. It could be a mother with her child.”

Society kids that teenage boys abused by women are somehow “lucky” and females, by nature, are too nurturing to commit such an offence. In any case of child sexual abuse, there’s “kind of gender bias” that automatically excludes women from suspicion, Bevan said.

“It’s not the first place you look. It’s the father figure you look at first.”

Canadians think of female sex offenders, and their minds automatically turn to Karla Homolka who, with her then husband, Paul Bernardo, abducted, sexually abused, tortured and murdered female victims, Bevan said.

“On the other end of the scale is where the female in the caring role takes in a partner who is abusing the child. . . . Some mothers might be kind of looking the other way.”

Justice Kathryn Feldman, in a Jan. 18 Ontario Court of Appeal case, said the Internet is providing greater opportunity to produce and distribute images of child abuse.

“The victims are innocent children who become props in a perverted show, played out for an ever-wider audience not only of voyeurs but of perpetrators,” Feldman said of a case involving a father who sexually abused his daughter and distributed the images over the Internet.

“The predominant offender in Internet child exploitation is males,” said Windsor police Det. Jason Belanger. “They’re out there, but if you do get a female offender, you’re surprised.”

Canwest News Service

Toll of child emotional abuse little understood

Posted by Sandra On January - 30 - 2010 3 COMMENTS

I don’t know what it’s like to be 10 years old and abducted by a supposedly loving mother. I don’t know what it’s like to be manipulated into telling lies about how your father sexually abused you and your younger brother, sometimes in ways that challenge reality.

And I don’t know what it’s like to need therapy at such a young age.

But there’s a St. Paul girl — a former classmate of my son’s whom I won’t identify here — who knows. Last week, she bravely took the witness stand and told a judge and jury that she lied about the sexual abuse because she did not want to disappoint or lose her mother’s love.

“She’s a tough cookie,” a relative of the girl told me this week.

Unfortunately, hers is not an isolated case. We know what physical and sexual abuse looks like. But the scars of emotional abuse and neglect, particularly at the handsof a parent, are often ignored and pretty much invisible to all but those closest to the child. And that’s what this child and countless others experience.

“Emotional abuse is very hard to substantiate and takes lots of forms,” said Connie Skillingstad, a former child-protection worker and executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, a St. Paul-based child advocacy group.

“In the extreme, (emotional abuse or neglect) can seriously interfere with a child’s cognitive, emotional, psychological and social development,” Skillingstad said.

“The effects of emotional abuse may include insecurity, poor self-esteem,


destructive behavior, withdrawal, poor development of basic skills, alcohol or drug abuse, suicide, difficulty forming or maintaining relationships, and unstable job histories.”From migraines to early death, researchers and public-health officials are assembling a growing body of credible evidence about the long-term, devastating effects of child abuse in all forms. A University of Toledo study published this month in a medical journal found that patients physically or emotionally abused as children have a higher prevalence of chronic migraines than people without such a history.

In fact, 38 percent of the 1,348 migraine patients who took part in the study reported being emotionally abused or neglected as children, the highest percentage among all other child-abuse types.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are about 12 years into perhaps the most ambitious and unprecedented childhood-abuse study of its kind. The study is tracking the link between adverse childhood experiences of 17,337 test subjects and health-related problems in later life. The experiences range from abuse to living in a dysfunctional household that includes substance abuse and incarcerated parents as well as divorce or separation.

The study so far has found that two-thirds of the study participants reported at least one such adverse experience and more than one in five reported three experiences or more. Nearly 11 percent reported emotional abuse.

Researchers so far have found that as the number of these forms of childhood stresses increase, so does the risk of alcohol abuse, depression, fetal death, heart disease, suicide attempts, domestic violence and a host of other health problems.

“The goal is to study and act on how adverse childhood experiences affect the things that society cares about — mental health, quality of life, longevity, substance abuse,” said Dr. Robert Anda, the study’s chief researcher and designer. “The list is long.”

Anda said society still has a perception of child abusers as alien, monstrous beings who do horrible things to children.

“In fact, it’s (largely homegrown) and an unfortunately common occurrence,” Anda said. Breaking the familial cycle of abuse as well as creating more effective programs or public policy addressing child abuse are other major goals of the ongoing study, he said.

Anda is scheduled to travel here next month to speak to Minnesota state legislators about the national survey results.


As a longtime guardian ad litem, businessman Mike Tikkanen applauds the research. He has seen firsthand the emotional and physical scars of child-abuse victims.

He has handled cases in which family court judges have ordered “Ritalin, Zoloft, Prozac and other psychotropic medications of 5-, 6-, 7-year-olds who the courts have decided might kill themselves without the meds.”

“My first suicide attempt by a 4-year-old was a girl who was sexually abused and who watched her sister being abused,” said Tikkanen, founder of Kids At Risk Action Group, a nonprofit devoted to protecting and advocating for the rights of abused children.

Tikkanen said he believes we are doing too little to prevent child abuse or protecting children after it happens.

“The U.S. system, institutions and people that work in them are trained to ignore or minimize the absolute horrors that follow these children for the rest of their lives because childhood traumas are not considered important,” he said. “Only when children have been subjected to extended exposure to violence and deprivation are they placed in protective custody.”

Though plenty of folks in the child-protection system may take issue with that statement, the case of the St. Paul girl has a frustrating if unjust element to it.

First off, a family court judge who granted the father physical custody of the child and the younger brother ruled more than two years ago that the sexual abuse allegations were repeatedly investigated and found to be untrue or lacking in evidence. The judge also found that the child’s mother was impairing the daughter’s development.

Yet the sexual abuse allegations were introduced in the woman’s defense at her trial last week on charges she abducted the two children and hid from the law for four months. Officials located them at a shelter in Fargo, N.D.

Little if any testimony was presented about where these kids were taken or what they experienced during an international manhunt to find them. The children spent more than six weeks in group- and foster-home settings before North Dakota officials, satisfied the sex-abuse claims were unsubstantiated, reunited them with their father.

So it’s not surprising that the father and his wife believe they were the ones placed on trial and less so the mother who abducted them in violation of a court order.


Though the mother was convicted of two felony counts of parental deprivation, a spokesman for the Ramsey County attorney’s office said it is unlikely the mother will face jail time.

Prosecutors reportedly told family members that the woman, who had no criminal history, would have to commit the same offense numerous times before jail or prison time is mandated.

The conviction also doesn’t bar the woman from asking a family court judge to grant her visitation rights. Family members I spoke with are not opposed to that as long as the visits are tightly restricted and supervised.

Why? There’s an acknowledgement that in spite of what these two kids went through, they still love their mother. That’s the bottom line, and that’s what makes these kinds of cases so sad and so damned frustrating.

Rubén Rosario can be reached at 651-228-5454 or rrosario@ pioneerpress.com.


To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, go to pcamn.org.

To learn more about the Kids At Risk Action Group, go to invisiblechildren.org.

To learn more about the adverse childhood experiences study, go to cdc.gov.

Molestation, Rape, Sexual Assault Myths

Posted by Sandra On January - 28 - 2010 1 COMMENT
Sociology of Rape
University of Minnesota Duluth

Rape myths are beliefs about sexual assault that wrought with problems. Some myths are just completely and blatantly untrue. What often happens is that beliefs surrounding circumstances, situations, and characteristics of individuals connected to rape are applied to all cases and situations uncritically. Myths exist for many historic reasons which include inherited structural conditions, gender role expectations, and the fundamental exercise of power in a patriarchal society. The best way to approach rape myths are to confront them honestly and frankly. Don’t deny their existence and don’t dismiss one ungrounded statement with another.

Confronting rape myths sociologically means looking at the data and reevaluating knowledge in the face of social facts. What follows are a list of rape myths and the facts that bring those rape conceptions into question. They are not always conclusive but provide the ground work for continued research.
Myth: Rape is sex.

Fact: Rape is experienced by the victims as an act of violence. It is a life-threatening experience. One out of every eight adult women has been a victim of forcible rape. (National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992) While sexual attraction may be influential, power, control and anger are the primary motives. Most rapists have access to a sexual partner. Gratification comes from gaining power and control and discharging anger. This gratification is only temporary, so the rapist seeks another victim.

Myth: Women incite men to rape.

Fact: Research has found that the vast majority of rapes are planned. Rape is the responsibility of the rapist alone. Women, children and men of every age, physical type and demeanor are raped. Opportunity is the most important factor determining when a given rapist will rape.

Myth: There is a “right way” to respond to a rape situation.

Fact:Since rape is life-threatening and each rapist has his own pattern, the best thing a victim can do is follow her instincts and observe any cues from the rapist. If the victim escapes alive she has done the right thing.

Myth:A victim should be discouraged from dwelling on the rape. She should “forget it”.

Fact: This advice generally comes from people who are more concerned with their own feelings than the victim’s. All victims should be offered the opportunity to talk about the assault with those personally close to them and knowledgeable professionals. Victims who are not allowed to talk about the rape have a much more difficult time recovering form it.

Myth:Support from family members is essential to the victim’s recovery.

Fact: A Victim Services study found that emotional and practical support offered by family and friends does not necessarily speed the recovery of rape victims. However, when the people that a victim relies on behave in un supportive or negative ways, the victim faces a longer, more difficult recovery process. These negative behaviors include worrying more about oneself that the victim, blaming the victim, withdrawing from the victim or behaving in a hostile manner, and attaching a stigma to the rape and demanding secrecy from the victim.

Myth:Rape trauma syndrome is a transient problem. Most healthy people will return to a normal state of functioning within a year.

Fact: Surviving a rape can lead a woman to a better understanding of her own strength, but rape is a life changing experience. Rape has a devastating effect on the mental health of victims, with nearly one-third (31%) of all rape victims developing Rape-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD) some time in their lifetimes. More than one in ten rape victims currently suffer from RR-PTSD. (National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center)

Myth: Rapists are non-white. Rapists are lower class. Rapists are “Criminal types”.

Fact: Rapists that fit the myth are more likely to be prosecuted but a rapist can be anyone: doctor, policeman, clergyman, social worker or corporate president.

Myth: Men can’t be raped.

Fact: There were approximately 20,000 sexual assaults of males ages 12 and over in the United States in 1991. (Bureau of Justice statistics, 1992)

Myth: Incest is rare.

Fact: Incest is common and happens in every community. An estimated 77% of reported sexual abusers are parents (57% of the total being natural parents), 16% are other relatives, and 6% are non-related. In addition, males are reported to be the abusers in 60 to 95% of cases. (Thoringer, School Psychology Review, 17 (4):614-636)

Myth: Sexual assaults are rare deviations and affect few people. After all, no one I know has been raped.

Fact: Sexual assaults are very common. Most likely, someone close to you has been profoundly affected by sexual assault. Not only are victims reluctant to discuss their assaults but many succeed in totally blocking the assault from conscious memory. However, the trauma remains and may come to the surface at another crisis or when the opportunity to discuss it with a sympathetic person arises. An estimated 155,000 women were raped each year between 1973 and 1987. (U.S. Department of Justice, 1991)

Myth: Women often make false reports of rape.

Fact: According to FBI crime statistics, during the 1990s around 8 percent. The “unfounded” rate, or percentage of complaints determined through investigation to be false, is higher for forcible rape than for any other Index crime. Eight percent of forcible rape complaints in 1996 were “unfounded,” while the average for all Index crimes was 2 percent.

Myth: You can tell a rapist by the way he looks.

Fact: Rapists are not physically identifiable. They may appear friendly, normal, and non-threatening. Many are young, married and have children. Rapist types and traits however can be categorized.

Myth: Women fantasize about being raped.

Fact: No woman fantasizes about being raped. Fantasies about aggressive sex may be controlled and turned off if they become threatening. In rape, the victim is unable to control the violence and stop it.

Myth: A man can’t rape his wife.

Fact: Many states now have laws against rape in marriage. The idea that a man can’t rape his wife suggests married women do not have the same right to safety as do unmarried women. Most battered women have experienced some form of sexual abuse within their marriage. It is also known that estranged or ex-spouses sometimes use rape as a form of retaliation.

Myth: Only “bad” women get raped.

Fact: No other crime victim is looked upon with the degree of suspicion and doubt as a victim of rape. Although there are numerous reasons why society has cast blame on the victims of rape, a major reason found in studies is that of a feeling of self protection. If one believes that the victim was responsible because she put herself in an unsafe position, such as being out late at night, drinking alcohol, dressing in a certain way, or “leading on” the rapist, then we are able to feel safer because “we wouldn’t do those things.” But, the basic fact remains that without consent, no means no, no matter what the situation or circumstances.

Myth: Rape is just unwanted sex and isn’t really a violent crime.

Fact: Rape is a lot more than an unwanted sex act, it is a violent crime. Many rapists carry a weapon and threaten the victim with violence or death.

Myth: Rape only occurs outside and at night.

Fact: Rape can and does occur anytime and anyplace. Many rapes occur during the day and in the victims’ homes.

Myth: Sexual assault is an impulsive, spontaneous act.

Fact: Most rapes are carefully planned by the rapist. A rapist will rape again and again, usually in the same area of town and in the same way.

Myth: Sexual assault usually occurs between strangers.

Fact: By some estimates, over 70% of rape victims know their attackers. The rapist may be a relative, friend, co-worker, date or other acquaintance.

Myth: Rape only happens to young attractive women.

Fact: Rape can and does strike anyone at anytime. Age, social class, ethnic group and has no bearing on the person a rapist chooses to attack. Research data clearly proves that a way a woman dresses and / or acts does not influence the rapists choice of victims. His decision to rape is based on how easily he perceives his target can be intimidated. Rapists are looking for available and vulnerable targets.

Statistics were obtained from various sources including the study Rape in America, 1992, National Victim Center, The Federal Bureau of Investigations and the National Crime Survey.
Myth: Rape is a crime of passion.

Fact: Rape is an act of VIOLENCE, not passion. it is an attempt to hurt and humiliate, using sex as the weapon.

Myth: Most rapes occur as a “spur of the moment” act in a dark alley by a stranger.

Fact: Rape often occurs in one’s home – be it apartment, house or dormitory. Very often the rapist is known by the victim in some way and the rape is carefully planned.

Myth:Most rapists only rape one time.

FACT Most rapists rape again, and again, and again – until caught.

Myth: Only certain kinds of people get raped. It cannot happen to me.

FACT Rapists act without considering their victim’s physical appearance, dress, age, race, gender, or social status. Assailants seek out victims who they perceive to be vulnerable. The Orange County Rape Crisis Center has worked with victims from infancy to ninety-two years of age and from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Myth: Only women and gay men get raped.

FACT The vast majority of male rape victims, as well as their rapists, are heterosexual.Male rape victims now represent 8% of the primary victims served by the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Rapists are motivated by the desire to have power and control over another person, not by sexual attraction. Male rape is not homosexual rape. Many male victims do not report the assault because they fear further humiliation.

Myth: Rape is an impulsive, uncontrollable act of sexual gratification. Most rape are spontaneous acts of passion where the assailant cannot control him/herself.

FACT Rape is a premeditated act of violence, not a spontaneous act of passion. 71% of rapes are planned in advance. 60% of convicted rapists were married or had regular sexual partners at the time of the assault. Men can control their sexual impulses. The vast majority of rapists are motivated by power, anger, and control, not sexual gratification.

Myth: No woman or man can be raped against her or his will. Any person could prevent rape if he or she really wanted to.

FACT In 1991, 14% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center involved the use of a weapon. 74% involved physical force and/or threats of force. Women are often physically weaker than men and are not taught to defend themselves or to be physically aggressive. Furthermore, some women are not willing to hurt another person, especially if the offender is someone they know.

Myth: Most rapes occur when people are out alone at night. If people stay at home, then they will be safer.

FACT 44% of rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991 occurred in the victim’s home.

Myth: Rapists are strangers. If people avoid strangers, then they will not be raped.

FACT In 60% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991, the rapist was known to the victim. 7% of the assailants were family members of the victim. These statistics reflect only reported rapes. Assaults by assailants the victim knows are often not reported so the statistics do not reflect the actual numbers of acquaintance rapes.

Myth: If the assailant, victim, or both are drunk, the assailant cannot be charged with rape.

FACT Forcing sex on someone who is too drunk to give consent is second degree rape in North Carolina. [It carries a prison sentence of up to 17 years.] Rape is a crime. People who commit crimes while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not considered free from guilt.

Myth: Most rapes involve black men and white women.

FACT 77% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991 involved persons of the same race.

Myth: Rapists are abnormal perverts; only sick or insane men are rapists.

FACT In a study of 1300 convicted offenders, few were diagnosed as mentally or emotionally ill. Most were well-adjusted but had a greater tendency to express their anger through violence and rage.

Myth: Rape is a minor crime affecting only a few women.

FACT It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will be raped in her lifetime. Because of low reporting rates, it is not known how many adult men are assaulted. It is also estimated that 1 out of every 4 girls, and 1 out of every 8 boys are sexually assaulted in some way before they reach adulthood. Rape is the most frequently committed violent crime in this country.

Myth: Women frequently cry rape; false reporting of rape is common.

FACT The FBI reports that only 2% of rapes reports are given falsely. This is the same report rate for other felonies.

Myth: Most rapes occur on the street, by strangers, or by a few crazy men.

FACT Over 50% of reported rapes occur in the home. 80% of sexual assaults reported by college age women and adult women were perpetrated by close friends or family members. There is no common profile of a rapist. Rapes are committed by people from all economic levels, all races, all occupations. A rapist can be your doctor, your boss, your clergyman, your superintendent, your partner, your lover, your friend or your date.

Myth: You cannot be assaulted against your will.

FACT Assailants overpower their victims with the threat of violence or with actual violence. Especially in cases of acquaintance rape or incest, an assailant often uses the victim’s trust in him to isolate her.

Myth: Women secretly enjoy being raped.

FACT No woman/ man/ child enjoys being raped. It is a brutal intrusion on the mind, body and spirit that can have lasting trauma.

Myth: It is impossible for a husband to sexually assault his wife.

FACT Regardless of marital or social relationship, if a woman does not consent to sexual activity, she is being sexually assaulted. In fact, 14% of women are victims of rape committed by their husband.

Myth: If a person doesn’t “fight back” she/he wasn’t really raped.

FACT Rape is potentially life-threatening. Whatever a person does to survive the assault is the appropriate action.

Myth: A person who has really been assaulted will be hysterical.
FACT: Survivors exhibit a spectrum of emotional responses to assault: calm,      hysteria, laughter, anger, apathy, shock. Each survivor copes with the trauma of the assault in a different way.

Women “ask for it” by their dress or actions.

FACT Rapists look for victims they perceive as vulnerable, not women who dress in a particular way. Assuming that women provoke attacks by where they are or the way they dress is victim-blaming. No person, whatever their behaviour, “deserves” to be raped.

Myth: Women “cry” rape.

FACT Only two percent of reported rape and related sex offences are false (which is approximately the same rate of false reports for other crimes). Although many cases are dropped because of insufficient evidence for conviction, this should not be confused with false reporting.

Myth: Gang rape is rare.
FACT: In 43% of all reported cases, more than one assailant was involved.
Myth: Women who are drunk are willing to engage in any kind of sexual activity.

FACT The fact that a woman has been drinking does not imply consent. Alcohol and drugs can render a woman incapable of consent.

Myth: Only young, pretty women are assaulted.

FACT Survivors range in age from infancy to old age, and their appearance is seldom a consideration. Assailants often choose victims who seem most vulnerable to attack: old persons, children, physically or emotionally disabled persons, substance abusers and street persons. Men are also attacked.

Myth: It is impossible to sexually assault a man.

FACT Men fall victim for the same reasons as women: they are overwhelmed by threats or acts of physical and emotional violence. Also, most sexual assaults that involve a male victim are gang assaults.

Myth: As long as children remember to stay away from strangers, they are in no danger of being assaulted.

FACT Sadly, children are usually assaulted by acquaintances; a family member or other caretaking adult. Children are usually coerced into sexual activity by their assailant, and are manipulated into silence by the assailant’s threats and/or promises, as well as their own feelings of guilt.

Myth: Most rapes involve black men raping white women.

FACT The majority of rapes are same race; womewhere around 3 to 4% are not same race.

Picture of Bulldog

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
Copyright: © 2001, John Hamlin
Last Modified: Thursday, 03-Mar-2005 14:12:13 CST
Page URL: http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/jhamlin/3925/myths.html
Page Coordinator:John Hamlin

When STEP-PARENTS abuse the children

Posted by Sandra On January - 27 - 2010 2 COMMENTS

abuse.jpg abuse image by iluvmiley123

Tell any group of people that stepparents are about one hundred times more likely to fatally abuse their children than are “true” parents and you can’t expect an easy audience — especially if you suggest that the key factor could just be the lack of a genetic relationship. So the questions rained down thick and fast on Canadian psychologists Martin Daly and Margo Wilson when they floated these conclusions (gleaned from their twenty years of research) at a Darwin Seminar at the London School of Economics. The questions were as varied as the audience of scientists, historians, undergraduates, and interested passersby that these provocative seminars invariably attract.

“How can you know such a thing?” people asked. “What makes you think that genetic relationships play a part, as opposed to a hundred other possible confounding variables, such as the poverty of the parents and the duration of contact between parent and child?” “What about adopted children?” “What use is such information, anyway?” “Aren’t you just stirring things up for no good reason?”

Daly and Wilson, from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, did not arrive at their conclusions casually. In the 1970s, about ten years after the “battered child syndrome” had been officially recognized, they set out to see if children were more likely to be abused by stepparents than by biological parents. In addition, they wanted to explore a specific Darwinian hypothesis. There had been new developments in Charles Darwin’s idea that human behavior, as well as our physical appearance, has been shaped to a significant extent by natural selection. In particular, in the 1960s, William D. Hamilton, now professor of zoology at Oxford University, had put a new construction on the phenomenon of altruism — the process by which individuals apparently sacrifice their own self-interest, and even their lives, to benefit others.

Hamilton showed that natural selection could and would favor genes that promoted altruistic behavior, provided that the individuals who benefited from the altruism had a high chance of containing the same genes. In fact, such altruistic behavior is not altruistic at all, in the sense that moral philosophers use the term, but is entirely selfish. The gene that promotes the apparent self-sacrifice is simply promoting its own replication, by enhancing the survival of copies of itself — albeit copies contained in other individuals. Thus, said Hamilton, we might expect individuals to compromise themselves if doing so benefited their own kin, who would indeed contain copies of the gene that promoted the self-sacrificial behavior. The final mist is that parental care, and the self-sacrifice that goes with it, are merely special examples of the altruism that any organism might be expected to show toward its own kin.

Although stepparents in some societies are related to the children, Daly and Wilson reasoned that stepparents are not generally kin to their stepchildren, at least not in most Western societies. Therefore, we might expect that they would show no predilection to sacrifice themselves (in large or even small ways) on a stepchild’s behalf. They sought to find out if this hypothesis, based on Hamilton’s extension of Darwin’s ideas, was true.

Wilson says, “We were astonished to find that it was not easy even to begin to explore this hypothesis. Official statistics from the United States didn’t reveal whether parents who abused children were step or biological. It just didn’t occur to criminologists that the nature of the relationship was important, so they generally didn’t bother to record it.” She and Daly had to took beyond the official statistics, to the raw data of case histories. By 1980 they had demonstrated that children under three years of age are at least seven times more likely to be abused by stepparents than by biological parents.

Daly and Wilson believed, however, that statistics for child abuse in general might be biased by underreporting or incomplete reporting. After all, parents don’t want to admit that they have beaten their children; there are plenty of ways to conceal abuse or to explain away injuries. To gain a truer picture, the researchers decided to focus specifically on a form of abuse that is exceedingly difficult to cover up: homicide. Once again — even more astonishingly — most official statistics, including the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports, the U.S. national archive, did not differentiate between killings by stepparents or by biological parents. But Statistics Canada from 1974 to 1990 did contain relevant data.

Its figures showed that children under the age of two were at least one hundred times more likely to be killed by stepparents — particularly stepfathers — than by biological parents.

“Of course,” Daly stresses, “most stepparents take to the task extremely well, and generally make loving substitute parents. The incidence of abuse is low.” Nonetheless, for stepparents the homicide rate comes out at about 600 per million parent-child groups living together, compared with just a handful for biological parents. Further examination of records in the United States and Britain revealed an increased risk for children with stepparents. Moreover, a closer look at the case histories reveals that while biological parents who kill their children are often severely depressed and, Daly and Wilson reported, “may even construe murder-suicide as a humane act of rescue,” stepparents who are homicidal “are rarely suicidal and typically manifest their antipathy to their victims in the relative brutality of their lethal acts.”

That there is a difference in incidence of fatal abuse between stepparents and genetic parents seems undeniable, but what are the reasons for it? Daly and Wilson have explored all the obvious, possibly confounding variables of the kind that their Darwin Seminar audience seized upon. Is poverty the real cause? Certainly, it is a risk factor in child abuse. And the breakup of previous marriages that often lies behind stepparentage obviously can be costly, reducing economic status. But, according to Daly and Wilson, the case histories show that child homicide is vastly greater among stepparents than biological parents at an levels of wealth. Poverty emerged as an independent, additional factor, but a relatively weak one.

Well, is remarriage itself then a factor, suggesting some fickleness of personality that might predispose a person to abuse? Apparently not. The case histories show that people who remarry typically continue to treat their own children well even when they abuse their stepchildren. Or does the difference lie in early opportunities for bonding? Are biological parents conditioned to respond well to their children because they are exposed to them from birth? “There isn’t much evidence on this,” says Wilson, “because not many stepparents see their stepchildren at a very early age, so it is hard to make a direct comparison. The few cases there are — although not statistically significant — suggest that stepfathers are at least as likely to abuse their stepchildren even when they are present at the actual birth.”

Don’t adopted children provide a cogent comparison since, as with stepchildren, they are generally unrelated to their substitute parents? In fact, their risk is roughly the same as with natural parents. Surely this negates the notion that the added risk of stepparentage has genetic origins? “It might seem to,” Daly acknowledges, “but there are two big, additional factors in adoption. First, adopting parents are obviously highly motivated and extremely closely monitored before they take on a child. Second, they tend to return children to adoption agencies far more often than is generally appreciated.” This would weed out “unbonded” adoptive parents. So, although the data from families with adopted children appear to contradict the Darwinian idea that lack of genetic relationship reduces the likelihood of care, confounding variables make direct comparison impossible.

To test the genetic hypothesis to the full, Daly and Wilson asked their own question in reverse. Why is it that the overwhelming majority of stepparents treat their stepchildren well? After all, parenthood is a huge investment, an enormous burden to shoulder for the genetic offspring of somebody else. In Darwinian terms, at least, parenting means one thing only: perpetuating yourself by reproduction. But Daly says, “We know that when some other male animals take over a new family they will kill any existing offspring of previous matings — as male lions will do. It’s easy to see why: it is in their own genetic interests to impregnate the females themselves, and existing cubs simply get in the way. Not all male animals behave this way. Incoming male baboons, for example, treat existing children well. This seems to be part of the mating effort; the females will not accept males that do not demonstrate parenting skills. This model seems to fit the human case as well. But, although stepparents do take on the task, Darwinians would predict that the full expression of parental feeling is liable to be buffered. Sometimes it’s buffered too much.”

Daly and Wilson reiterate that the overall rate of homicide by all parents of their children is low, and that most stepparents treat their new families well. Nevertheless, stepparentage emerges not only as a key risk factor in parental child abuse and homicide, but as the biggest factor. The Darwinian hypothesis — that the explanation may lie in the lack of familial relationship, and not primarily in economic or social factors — has stood up so far to the more obvious criticisms.

Finally we can ask — as the Darwin Seminar audience did — “Of what use is such knowledge? After all, most stepparents are good parents, so what good does it do to target them?” Margo Wilson answers, “In general we feel that it is better to know than not to know. It must be bad in principle to shy away from discovery just because the knowledge gained may seem uncomfortable. In fact, we can envisage good, practical reasons for this kind of knowledge. For one thing, social workers worldwide are invariably overworked. Anything that might help them to focus their efforts more accurately has to be worthwhile. And it can’t be good that everyone has been overlooking the biggest risk factor for so long.

“We might also suggest that a mother who is thinking of remarrying should bear in mind that she cannot take her new partner for granted; she cannot expect that he will automatically treat her children as if they were his own. Actually women know this already of course — but perhaps the point needs more emphasis.”

In short, if Wilson and Daly’s ideas are applied sensibly and humanely (and are not used to make stepparents feel bad), then, in principle, they could save much human misery and perhaps human life. If this proves to be so, then those who object to this kind of insight should acknowledge that by objecting, they are allowing human suffering to take place unnecessarily — and they should take moral responsibility for so doing.

As for the Darwin Seminars, they provide one of the best forums yet devised for academics in Darwinian studies to take their ideas beyond their own scientific discipline and expose them to experts from other fields — and, vitally, to the public at large. The Seminars, established at the London School of Economics two and a half years ago by Helena Cronin, are open to everyone and are already acknowledged on both sides of the Atlantic as intellectual and social salons of key importance. Cronin is herself a scholar of the new “evolutionary psychology” and author of The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today, a reappraisal of Darwin’s idea of sexual selection. She says, “Darwin always wanted his ideas ‘to throw light on man,’ and we aim to help realize his dream. We don’t yet know how much light Darwinian hypotheses win spread, but there’s already good reason to think they will be very illuminating indeed. Daly and, Wilson’s studies are among those showing that the ideas win be useful too. They can save lives.”

Colin Tudge is a science writer and research fellow in the Centre for Philosophy at the London School of Economics. His latest book on human evolution is The Day Before Yesterday (Simon and Schuster).

Colin Tudge “Relative danger“. Natural History. FindArticles.com. 27 Jan, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1134/is_n8_v106/ai_20147994/

COPYRIGHT 1997 Natural History Magazine, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

Sexual Abuse Survivors Wait Too Long To Report

Posted by Sandra On January - 26 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

If you were a victim of sexual abuse as a child, did you ever tell anyone? If you did, how long did you wait until you reported the abuse?

A recent study from Quebec finds that half of sexually abuse individuals wait up to five years and one quarter never reveal they were sexually abused as children.

Sexual abuse survivors often find it very difficult to tell anyone they have been violated, and the longer they wait, the more lasting and severe will be the impact on their lives. To evaluate this phenomenon, researchers from three institutions—the University of Montreal, the University of Quebec in Montreal, and the University of Sherbrooke—collaborated and reported on their interrelated studies.

In one study, the investigators surveyed 800 men and women and found that 22 percent of women and 10 percent of men were survivors of sexual abuse. Of this group, one-quarter had never told anyone they had been sexually abused as children. Abused males were more likely to remain silent than women: 16 percent of women and 34 percent of men never shared their story.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, up to 80,000 cases of child sexual abuse are reported each year, but the number of actual cases is higher because children are afraid to tell anyone. Children who are sexually abused are more likely to report they have been abused if their abuser is a stranger. Unfortunately, serious cases of abuse (e.g., rape) are usually committed by someone the victim knows, including a family member or friend. In fact, 85 percent of female victims and 89 percent of male victims know their abuser.

Children who have been sexually abused can develop a wide variety of psychological problems and physical problems and behaviors related to the abuse. When the abuser is someone the child knows and cares for, the young person becomes torn between affection for the person and the sense that the sexual activities are wrong. Sexually abused children often develop low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, a distorted view of sex, sleep problems or nightmares, conduct disorders, depression, or suicidal behaviors or thoughts. Some become child abusers themselves or prostitutes.

A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine looked at the long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) retrospective study evaluated data from 17,337 adults in San Diego, California, who completed a survey about abuse or household dysfunction during childhood. The researchers noted that men and women sexual abuse survivors were at a 40 percent increased risk of marrying an alcoholic, a 40 to 50 percent increased risk of reporting marital problems, and more than twice as likely to attempt suicide.

In the second study, Professor Isabelle Daigneault of the University of Montreal Department of Psychology investigated the likelihood that young victims of sexual abuse would become adult victims of sexual or physical abuse. She examined 9,170 women and 7,823 men throughout Canada and found that female survivors of childhood sexual abuse are three to four times more likely than male survivors to be victims of physical or sexual abuse as adults.

This was the first study that combined data on childhood sexual abuse with relationship problems in adulthood, according to Daigneault. Although male survivors of sexual abuse are three times more likely to be victimized as adults, the number of men who reported sexual abuse as adults was too small to establish a statistically significant correlation.

Overall, the number of sexual abuse survivors who wait many years to report their abuse or who never do so is great, according to Mireille Cyr, a co-author of the first study and a psychology professor at the University of Montreal. “This is regrettable,” she notes, “because the longer they wait to reveal the abuse, the harder and more enduring the consequences will be.”

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Daigneault I et al. Child Abuse & Neglect 2009; 33(9): 638
Dube SR et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2005 Jun; 28(5): 430-38
Hebert M et al. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 2009; 54(9): 631-36


Mental Health “Expert” Claims That Child Sexual Abuse is Rarely Painful or Terrifying

Posted by Sandra On January - 25 - 2010 2 COMMENTS

Mental Health “Expert” Claims That Child Sexual Abuse is Rarely Painful or Terrifying

Susan Clancy

Psychologist and associate at Harvard University, Susan A. Clancy, proposes in her new book that it is not the sexual abuse itself that causes trauma, but “the narrative that is later imposed on the abuse experience.” She writes in a letter to the Boston Globe, “For children, sexual abuse is rarely painful or terrifying at the time it occurs.”

Pedophiles and child sexual abusers have often tried to assert that children are not traumatized and harmed by the sexual abuse. Perpetrators say the child develops problems because of society’s view of sexual abuse. Clancy appears to share this belief and says that most victims do not report fear or panic.  I have to question where she gets her interview subjects because, out of the hundreds of survivors of child sexual abuse that I have corresponded with, virtually every one of them has expressed feeling some kind of fear, panic, terror, or they dissociated from the abuse because their mind could not handle the trauma.

Clancey alleges that the child usually only experiences confusion because the child does not understand the sexual encounter, and she says that because the child usually sexually accommodates the perpetrator, the child will feel intense shame when they become an adult and are told by professionals and society that the abuse was wrong.

Clancy has titled her book, The Trauma Myth. This was her first mistake. She is already saying with her title, “It is a myth that children are traumatized by child sexual abuse.” She is essentially saying that the rape,  sodomy, and sexual violation of a child’s body does not harm the child, is not painful for the child, and does not create fear or terror.

Ms. Clancy has obviously never been raped by a full grown man when she was a child, or vaginally penetrated with a foreign object by her father or step-father. She has obviously never endured being straddled by a man four times her size while she sleeps, only to be awakened by one of his hands over her mouth, and the other groping her vagina. Susan Clancy has never been forced by her older brother to perform oral sex on her own sister. These kind of cases are not rare –any mental health expert knows that. For this psychologist to say that it is a “myth” that child sexual abuse is not traumatizing, is not only ignorant but it places children in danger. This belief system places countless children in harm’s way because pedophiles and child sexual abusers will embrace this “myth” theory and use it to sexually violate children.

Ms. Clancy, I can attest to the fact that many children do feel pleasure mixed with confusion over being sexually assaulted by an adult. I was a victim of incest and rape by my father, and I have felt the inner turmoil and feeling through my body like melted butter when my father touched me sexually -and later in my childhood- when his rapes turned into sexual intimacy with my own dad, it felt good. However, contrary to your ignorant opinion, and contrary to the endless amounts of evidence –rape, sodomy, and a toddler having a man’s penis shoved down its throat is NOT rare, NOR a myth. If you are saying that forced fellatio is not traumatizing for the child, then someone ought to revoke your license. Contrary to your absolutely irresponsible belief system, when my father first placed his penis in my mouth at age three, I was traumatized, choked, and terrified. When he raped me on a cold bathroom floor at age seven, and I thought I was dying because I did not know what was happening to me, I experienced terror beyond description.

Ms. Clancy, if trauma experienced by a victim of child sexual abuse  is a myth then how do you explain the millions of survivors of child sexual abuse who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so severely, that it affects their entire lives with abnormal fears, flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares, nervous system disorders, ringing in the ears, chest pain, insomnia, bladder problems, heart trouble, exaggerated startle response and hypervigilance? These survivors developed their trauma-based symptoms because their vagina or rectum was ripped open by a man’s penis, or from having a penis shoved down their tiny mouth, or by having their chest nearly crushed by a man’s body when he climbed into bed with them and lay his heavy body on top of them. Some of them were traumatized by sexually degenerate women who violently abused their bodies, like Greg Milligan, whose mother beat his genitals when she could not have an orgasm with him.

You are correct Ms. Clancy, I liked the pleasure, affection and attention that I received from some of the abuse that I endured by my father, but I also experienced deep confusion and guilt, not because of what society taught me about child sexual abuse, and not because of anyone in my family telling me it was wrong –but  because, as a child, I instinctually knew that what was happening between my father and me was wrong. I knew as a child that it was unnatural. More importantly, I experienced a tremendous amount of pain and fear during those years –enough to induce decades of PTSD symptoms that eventually stopped my life and sent me to countless medical doctors and mental health experts.

Please also see: Harvard Psychologist Says Children Are Willingly Abused

I urge all survivors of severe child sexual abuse, all victims of adult rape, and all parents to write Susan Clancy and tell her what you feel about this book and its title. You can reach her by writing:

Susan A. Clancy

Associate of Psychology

William James Hall

33 Kirkland Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

In the letter to the editor reprinted below, The Leadership Council’s advisory board member Dr. Philip Kinsler responded to a Boston Globe Letter to the editor by Dr. Susan Clancy, in which she stated, “For children, sexual abuse is rarely painful or terrifying at the time it occurs.”

Children are Harmed by Sexual Abuse

The Boston Globe
Letters to the Editor
Children are Harmed by Sexual Abuse
February 27, 2005

AS A PROFESSIONAL who has devoted many years to trying to aid in the healing of child sexual abuse survivors, I was surprised by the peremptory tone and deficient scholarship in Susan Clancy’s Feb. 20 letter regarding child sexual abuse (”The concept of repression”).

The notion that child sexual abuse is usually not harmful is ignorant at best and provides pernicious support to pedophiles at worst. This pseudoscience was thoroughly debunked in the controversy over the infamous Rind study in 1998 alleging similar notions to Clancy’s. Clancy states she does ”not believe that repression exists.”

Personal belief does not belong in scientific discussions.

There are more than 85 studies in the literature, conducted using multiple research paradigms, that verify the phenomenon of fragmentary or total traumatic amnesia. No study that has asked survivors the question has failed to find a robust number of persons reporting the phenomenon.

The difficulty of creating this phenomenon in laboratories using word lists with college sophomores is a problem of research design and paradigm; not a lack of effect of trauma on memory. And Dr. Jennifer Freyd has shown that word-list experiments carefully done do find traumatic memory effects.

As a therapist, I have worked with survivors of priest abuse and seen first hand their shattered faith in themselves, in the priesthood, in the church, in God. The notion that most victims of sexual abuse are gently groomed for an experience they do not find distasteful is shocking in its ignorance. Studies of the natural history of abusive families indicate that in familial abuse there is typically a mixture of family violence, parental alcoholism, and child sexual abuse.

Tell me that my clients who have been raped at gunpoint by drunken relatives firing guns near their heads to obtain compliance have not been harmed. Clancy’s letter is a biased document whose errors of logic and scholarship do not reflect the state of the science and serves to support the dangerous notion that children can give consent to and are not harmed by sexual abuse.


Lyme , N.H.

http://www.psyfil.net/(Dr. Kinsler is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at  Dartmouth Medical School, where he supervises psychiatry  residents’ diagnostic and therapy work.  Dr. Kinsler is an experienced expert witness and testifies  broadly on criminal, civil, and family court matters.  Dr. Kinsler is extensively published in the fields of  psychological trauma, suggestibility in interviews of children  and adults, relational psychotherapy of trauma survivors, and ethical forensic practice.)


Posted by Sandra On January - 20 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The Connection Between Poverty and Child Abuse, Neglect

Posted by Sandra On January - 20 - 2010 2 COMMENTS

The Connection Between Poverty and Child Abuse, Neglect

Submitted by Denise Reynolds RD on Jan 12th, 2010

In Michigan, the “Kids Count” data report for 2009 was released this week, which examines trends in child well-being in 83 counties. Overall, childhood poverty increased by 6% between 2005 and 2007. In some areas of the state, particularly rural counties, more than one in three children live in poverty and confirmed cases of neglect and abuse are rising – up 16% between 2000 and 2008.

Kids Count in Michigan is a collaborative effort between the Michigan League for Human Services and Michigan’s Children, with funding in part from local United Way agencies.

Diane Dykstra, President of the local Wexford-Missaukee Child Protection Council, where the number of families investigated has risen from 894 in 2000 to 1,146 in 2008, was not surprised by the report. The mission of her program is to reduce child abuse and neglect through community education. She states that she has also seen an increase in the number of children removed from homes related to parent substance abuse.

According to the report “Primary Prevention of Child Abuse”, about 3 million cases of abuse are reported in the United States each year, with the majority being classified as neglect, which includes physical, emotional, and educational neglect. High poverty rate is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect – children who live in families with an annual income less than $15,000 are 22 times more likely to be abused or neglected. Stressors such as unemployment, single parenthood, limited access to health care, housing instability, and exposure to environmental hazards contribute to neglect. Substance abuse is another known risk factor, with an estimated 40% of confirmed cases of child abuse being related to parental substance abuse.

Poor economic times do not only result in struggling families. Continued budget cuts to social service programs may further exacerbate the problem. Jane Zehnder-Merrell, study director and researcher at the Michigan League for Human Services says, “Going forward, this is not going to be good news when…you’re slashing all of those programs that give these kids a fighting chance.” The positive outcomes of the Kids Count report, including a drop in teen birth rate, is credited to public awareness programs, better health care and after-school activities that keep children off the streets.

Author and activist Pearl S. Buck said, “If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.”
Children who are subject to abuse are up to 6 times more likely to drop out of school and be delinquent or criminal as adults.

The first provision for children should be basic human needs, such as shelter, nutrition, education, and safety. Primary prevention programs also focus on strengthening family and community connections and support. Respect for the integrity of the family is vital, as parents should be encouraged to contribute to their child’s growth and development. Parents need to be given the opportunity to participate in community programs that empower them and provide training for skills that may be lacking in parenting practices.

For more information about the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, visit www.childabuse.org. For more information about the Child Welfare Information Gateway, see www.childwelfare.org.

child abuse
physical child abuse
child abuse prevention
child neglect

SOURCE:  http://www.emaxhealth.com/1506/50/35091/connection-between-poverty-and-child-abuse-neglect.html

Child Protection Agencies Rely on Trained ‘Mandated Reporters’ to Identify Abuse

Posted by Sandra On January - 20 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Child Protection Agencies Rely on Trained ‘Mandated Reporters’ to Identify Abuse

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Information supplied by “mandated reporters” trained to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect give child protection agencies a better shot at helping endangered or abused children, according to Lori Lower, long-time administrator of the Perry County Children & Youth Office.

Lower said most of the abuse and neglect investigations her agency handles are initiated as result of outside reports.

“The earlier we can intervene, the better it is for the child and the family,” Lower said. “If the agency isn’t aware, we’re not going to be able to do anything about it.”

Early intervention, she explained, can be the difference between being able to address and help solve problems and keep a family intact versus placing a child in foster care.

Basically, mandated reporters are the eyes and ears of a community. They’re people who come into contact with children in the course of performing their jobs and are required by law to report suspected abuse and neglect. They include nurses, health and social service workers, teachers and other school employees, law enforcement authorities, and members of the clergy.

Lower has worked with the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA) for the last seven years providing training to mandated reporters. PFSA programs trained 7,880 mandated reporters throughout Pennsylvania during the past year.

She said training helps mandated reporters understand the reporting process and their responsibilities and gives them confidence in their judgment. “People want to know how they can help,” she said.

PFSA recently went on record in support of state Senate Bill 1137, which would require three hours of abuse-identification training every five years for teachers and other mandated reporters employed by or under contract to public school districts, intermediate units, vocational-technical schools, charter schools, and private schools.

Lower said she was wholeheartedly in favor of the proposed legislation. She said that in her experience, the more training that mandated reporters receive “the more vested they are” in their responsibilities.

More than 25,650 cases of suspected child and student abuse were reported in Pennsylvania last year. Slightly more than 16 percent of those reports—more than 4,200—were substantiated.

Fifty children died from abuse, four more than 2007 and 19 more than 2006. Abuse also accounted for 6,140 injuries to children. Physical injuries ranged from bruises and abrasions to broken bones, skull fractures, and scaldings. The majority of injuries were sexual in nature, ranging from sexual assault to rape and incest.

For more information, visit the PFSA Web site at www.pa-fsa.org.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posted by Sandra On January - 20 - 2010 1 COMMENT

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

ptsd.jpg ptsd image by crazycowgirl_wtx

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), once called shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome, is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened. PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster. Families of victims can also develop post-traumatic stress disorder, as can emergency personnel and rescue workers.

Most people who experience a traumatic event will have reactions that may include shock, anger, nervousness, fear, and even guilt. These reactions are common; and for most people, they go away over time. For a person with PTSD, however, these feelings continue and even increase, becoming so strong that they keep the person from living a normal life. People with PTSD have symptoms for longer than one month and cannot function as well as before the event occurred.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of PTSD most often begin within three months of the event. In some cases, however, they do not begin until years later. The severity and duration of the illness vary. Some people recover within six months, while others suffer much longer.

Symptoms of PTSD often are grouped into three main categories, including:

  • Re-living: People with PTSD repeatedly re-live the ordeal through thoughts and memories of the trauma. These may include flashbacks, hallucinations, and nightmares. They also may feel great distress when certain things remind them of the trauma, such as the anniversary date of the event.
  • Avoiding: The person may avoid people, places, thoughts, or situations that may remind him or her of the trauma. This can lead to feelings of detachment and isolation from family and friends, as well as a loss of interest in activities that the person once enjoyed.
  • Increased arousal: These include excessive emotions; problems relating to others, including feeling or showing affection; difficulty falling or staying asleep; irritability; outbursts of anger; difficulty concentrating; and being “jumpy” or easily startled. The person may also suffer physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, nausea, and diarrhea.

Young children with PTSD may suffer from delayed development in areas such as toilet training, motor skills, and language.

Who Gets PTSD?

Everyone reacts to traumatic events differently. Each person is unique in his or her ability to manage fear and stress, and to cope with the threat posed by a traumatic event or situation. For that reason, not everyone who experiences or witnesses a trauma will develop PTSD. Further, the type of help and support a person receives from friends, family members and professionals following the trauma may influence the development of PTSD or the severity of symptoms.

PTSD was first brought to the attention of the medical community by war veterans, hence the names shell shock and battle fatigue syndrome. However, PTSD can occur in anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. People who have been abused as children or who have been repeatedly exposed to life-threatening situations are at greater risk for developing PTSD. Victims of trauma related to physical and sexual assault face the greatest risk for PTSD.

How Common Is PTSD?

About 3.6% of adult Americans — about 5.2 million people — suffer from PTSD during the course of a year, and an estimated 7.8 million Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. PTSD can develop at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than are men. This may be due to the fact that women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, abuse, and rape.

How Is PTSD Diagnosed?

If symptoms of PTSD are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical exam. Although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose PTSD, the doctor may use various tests to rule out physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.

If no physical illness is found, you may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for an anxiety disorder. The doctor bases his or her diagnosis of PTSD on reported symptoms, including any problems with functioning caused by the symptoms. The doctor then determines if the symptoms and degree of dysfunction indicate PTSD. PTSD is diagnosed if the person has symptoms of PTSD that last for more than one month.

How Is PTSD Treated?

The goal of treatment is to reduce the emotional and physical symptoms associated with PTSD, to improve daily functioning and to help the person better cope with the event that triggered the disorder. Treatment for PTSD may involve psychotherapy (a type of counseling), medication, or both.


Doctors use antidepressant medications to treat PTSD and to control the feelings of anxiety and its associated symptoms, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil, Celexa, Luvox, Prozac, and Zoloft; and tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil and Doxepin. Tranquilizers such as Ativan and Klonopin; mood stabilizers such as Depakote and Lamictal; and neuroleptics such as  Seroquel and Abilify are sometimes used.


Psychotherapy for PTSD involves helping the person learn skills to manage symptoms and develop ways of coping. Therapy also aims to teach the person and his or her family about the disorder, and help the person work through the fears associated with the traumatic event. A variety of psychotherapy approaches are used to treat people with PTSD, including:

  • Cognitive-behavior therapy, which involves learning to recognize and change thought patterns that lead to troublesome emotions, feelings, and behavior.
  • Exposure therapy, a type of cognitive-behavior therapy that involves having the person re-live the traumatic experience, or exposing the person to objects or situations that cause anxiety. This is done in a well-controlled and safe environment. Exposure therapy helps the person confront the fear and gradually become more comfortable with situations that are frightening and cause anxiety. This has been very successful at treating PTSD.
  • Psychodynamic therapy focuses on helping the person examine personal values and the emotional conflicts caused by the traumatic event.
  • Family therapy may be useful because the behavior of the person with PTSD can have an affect on other family members.
  • Group therapy may be helpful by allowing the person to share thoughts, fears, and feelings with other people who have experienced traumatic events.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a complex form of psychotherapy that was initially designed to alleviate distress associated with traumatic memories but is now also used to treat phobias.

What Is the Outlook for People With PTSD?

Recovery from PTSD is a gradual and ongoing process. Symptoms of PTSD seldom disappear completely, but treatment can help sufferers learn to cope more effectively. Treatment can lead to fewer and less intense symptoms, as well as a greater ability to cope by managing feelings related to the trauma.

Research is ongoing into the factors that lead to PTSD and into finding new treatments.

Can PTSD Be Prevented?

Some studies suggest that early intervention with people who have suffered a trauma may reduce some of the symptoms of PTSD or prevent it all together.

PTSDSupport.jpg PTSD image by tinker_1985

SOURCE:  http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/post-traumatic-stress-disorder


Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 1 COMMENT


*1 in every 3 girls will be sexually molested before the age of 18
*1 in every 6 boys will be sexually molested before the age of 18
*Every 10 SECONDS a child is raped or killed in the U.S.
*Today up to 5 children will die from abuse or neglect
*In 13 seconds, another child will be abused in the U.S
*There were 2.9 million child abuse reports made in 1992
*ONLY 28% of the children identified as harmed by abuse are investigated
*Boys are at a greater risk of serious injury and of emotional neglect than are girls
*85% of the 1.2 – 1.5 million runaways are fleeing abuse at home
*80% of perpetrators are biological parents
*60 % of male survivors report at least one of their perpetrators to be female
*Natural mothers are the perpetrators of 93% of physical neglect, 86% of educational neglect, 78% of emotional neglect, 60% of physical abuse, and 55% of emotional abuse.
*Children in mother-only households are 4 times more likely to be fatally abused
*Female abusers are typically younger than male abusers.
*The median age was 30 years for women and 33 years for men
*Today 6 children will commit suicide
*Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death (ages 15-24)
*Untreated child abuse increases the likelihood of arrest for a violent crime by 38 percent
*60 MILLION survivors are former victims of child sexual abuse in America today
*71 % of child sex offenders are under the age of 35
*38% of women & 20% of men have been sexually abused during adolescence
*It is estimated that 3%-6% of the clergy population has abused a child
*The typical child sex offender molests an average of 117 children–most of whom do not report the offense

~~~ Imagine the outcry if these statistics represented a disease, which was wiping out 5 children per day, victimizing millions, and who’s by-products where disabilities & expanding violence. Youth rights are really about human rights, and simple empathy is a giant first step to the benefits of increased awareness. The high jump in child abuse statistics shows the importance of youth rights by showing cases of frightening lack of knowledge!!~~~

….Go ahead….


Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Grooming Articles

Many people think that child molesters are strange men who hide in bushes and snatch unsuspecting children off the streets. But in truth, a child is much more likely to be molested by someone he or she knows.

Before the molestation takes place, the perpetrator goes to great lengths to cement his or her relationship with the child to insure compliance. This behavior is called “grooming.” According to INTERPOL, “The majority of sex offenders groom their victims.”

In his publication, “Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis,” former FBI agent Kenneth V. Lanning lays out five stages of the grooming process: identifying a possible victim, collecting information about the intended victim, filling a need, lowering inhibitions, and initiating the abuse. The good news is that there are several opportunities during the process for savvy parents to spot what is going on and put a stop to it.

Famous, Notable Celebrity ABUSE Survivors–You are NOT alone!

Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 5 COMMENTS

Notable Survivors

Here is a listing of famous and infamous survivors of child abuse, sexual abuse, spousal/dating abuse, and rape.
If there is a link for you to click, that means there is a profile for you to read. If you know of a notable survivor I don’t have up here, please let me know.
To return to the main page, click here.

  • Alexander Pushkin (poet) abuse, info courtesy of AEST

  • Alice Walker (author/activist) abuse

  • Andrea Dworkin (author/activist) rape

  • Angela Rose (activist) sexual assault (visit Angela’s site here )

  • Angela Shelton (actress/model/director/actvist) incest

  • Angie Dickenson (actress, etc) emotional abuse

  • Anne Heche (actress) incest

  • Anne Sexton (poet) child sexual abuse, info courteousy of AEST

  • Antwone Fisher (author) emotional abuse/child sexual abuse

  • Axl Rose (musician) child sexual abuse (according to IMDB.com)

  • Baby Lyssa Chapman (famous bounty hunter/daughter of Dog) statutory rape

  • Beethoven (composer) unspecified child abuse

  • Beth Chapman (famous bail bondswoman/wife of Dog) domestic violence

  • Bill Clinton (former U.S. President) secondary domestic violence

  • Billie Holliday (singer) childhood rape

  • Billy Connoly (comedian) incest

  • Brett Butler (actress) domestic violence

  • Carlos Santana (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Carrie Otis (model) rape

  • Chester Bennington (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Christina Aguilera (singer) unspecified child abuse/secondary domestic violence

  • Christina Applegate (actress) dating violence

  • Christina Crawford (author) emotional abuse

  • Cindy Williams (actress) emotional abuse

  • Clara Bow (actress) incest

  • Connie Francis (singer) rape

  • Dave Mustaine (musician) child physical abuse/secondary domestic violence

  • Dave Pelzer (author) multiple forms of abuse

  • Derek Luke (actor) child sexual abuse

  • Desi Arnaz, Jr. (actor) emotional abuse

  • Dog the Bounty Hunter (famous bounty hunter/reality TV stars) child physical abuse

  • Dorie VanStone (author) multiple forms of abuse

  • Drew Barrymore (actress) unspecified child abuse

  • Eleanor Roosevelt (former First Lady) unspecified child abuse

  • Elizabeth I (Queen of England) teenage sexual assault, info courteousy of AEST

  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning (poet) abuse, info courteousy of AEST

  • Elizabeth Loftus (psychologist) child sexual abuse

  • Ella Fitzgerald (singer) abuse

  • Emme (model) emotional abuse

  • Erin Gray (actress) unspecified child abuse

  • Eve Ensler (playwright/actress) incest

  • Fantasia (singer) teenage rape

  • Farrah Faucett (actress) domestic violence

  • Fiona Apple (musician) childhood rape

  • Florence Holway (artist/activist) rape

  • Fran Drescher (actress) rape

  • Gabrielle Union (actress) rape

  • Gavin DeBecker (violent crime expert) psychological abuse

  • George Orwell (author) unspecified child abuse

  • Greg Luganis (athlete) abuse

  • Halle Berry (actress, model) domestic violence

  • Henry Miller (writer) abuse, info courtesy of AEST

  • Henry Rollins (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Janice Dickenson (model) child physical & emotional abuse

  • Janice Mirikitani (poet) incest, Janice’s story is featured on a DVD sold at RAINN’s site

  • Johannes Brahms (composer) child sexual abuse, info courteousy of AEST

  • Jonathan Davis (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Joyce Meyer (evangelist, author) child physical abuse & incest

  • Kirk Hammett (musician) child physical & sexual abuse

  • Laveraneus Coles (athlete) child sexual abuse

  • Leslie Triber (author/poet) abuse

  • Lorena Bobbit – marital rape

  • Lynn C. Tolson (author) incest/domestic violence/sexual assault

  • Marie Waldrep (poet/activist) incest/domestic violence

  • Marilyn Manson (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Marilyn Monroe (actress) child physical & sexual abuse/childhood attempted rape (according to IMDB.com)/domestic violence

  • Marilyn VanDerber Atler (former Miss America) incest

  • Mary J. Blige (singer) emotional abuse/childhood rape/secondary domestic violence

  • Mary Wollestonecraft (author) child physical abuse

  • Mata Hari (famous spy) domestic violence

  • Maya Angelou (author, poet) childhood rape

  • Maynard James Keenan (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Meat Loaf (musician) peer abuse/parental physical abuse (?)

  • Mike Patton (musician) neglect/child sexual abuse

  • Missy Elliot (rapper, producer) child sexual abuse/secondary domestic violence

  • Nicole Brown Simpson – domestic violence (very likely murdered by OJ)

  • Oprah Winfrey (talk show host) child sexual abuse

  • Ozzy Osbourne (musician) emotional abuse

  • Pamela Anderson (actress) rape/domestic violence

  • Patricia Weaver Francisco (author) rape

  • Patsy Cline (singer) domestic violence

  • Patty Duke (actress, etc.) multiple forms of abuse, info courtesy of AEST

  • Paula White (evangelist, author) child sexual abuse

  • Queen Latifah (rapper/actress/model) child sexual abuse

  • Rain Pryor (actress) child physical abuse/teenage sexual abuse

  • Richard Nixon (former U.S. President) unspecified child abuse

  • Rita Hayworth (actress) incest

  • Robert Blake (actor) multiple forms of abuse, info courtesy of AEST

  • Rosanne Arnold (actress) child sexual abuse

  • Rose McGowan (actress) religious related (SRA?) abuse

  • Rosie Perez (actress) child sexual abuse

  • Rudyard Kipling (author) unspecified child abuse

  • Sandra Dee (actress) incest

  • Sinead O’Connor (musician) multiple forms of abuse, info courteousy of AEST

  • Stasi Eldredge (author) rape

  • Suzanne Somers (actress) emotional abuse

  • Teri Hatcher (actress) incest

  • Tina Turner (singer) domestic violence

  • Tom Arnold (actor, etc) abuse, info courtesy of AEST

  • Toni Childs (musician) abuse, info courteousy of AEST

  • Tori Amos (musician) rape

  • Virginia Woolf (author) incest

  • Viva (actress) child sexual abuse

As Waters Passing By > Notable Survivors

A Guide for Parent’s Whose Child has been Sexually Abused

Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 4 COMMENTS



Your child has been sexually assaulted. You may be feeling a broad range of emotions—outrage, anger, hurt, and a sense of responsibility. Several questions may also remain unanswered. Why did this happen to my child? Could I have prevented it? Will there be any long-term effects?
When the offender is a parent, the effects on the family are even more traumatic. Did it really happen? Should I leave? Will he go to jail? How could he do this?
Your immediate concern, however, must be for the child. When a child is
molested, parents often feel uncomfortable with talking about the abuse. Yet, the future adjustment of the child depends upon the responses of the parents. When a parent can be emotionally supportive and comforting, long-term negative effects can be lessened.
Studies show that one in four girls and one in six boys will become a victim of sexual assault before they reach the age of eighteen. Unfortunately, parents are neither encouraged nor taught how to talk to children about sexual assault.
The intent of this guide is to provide suggestions to parents in talking with their child, anticipating physical and emotional needs, and deciding if professional counseling is needed.

When a child reports a sexual assault, parents often question whether the child is telling the truth or not. However, evidence indicates that children rarely make up stories about being sexually abused. Usually they are too fearful of the consequences to the offender, themselves, and the family members.
If your child tells you about being sexually assaulted, let them know that you believe them. If you question whether the abuse really occurred, talk with a child protection worker or mental health counselor.

Parents often feel they are the last to find out about the abuse. After the sexual assault is reported, children are generally interviewed by a child protection worker and law enforcement officer. Within the initial interview, children are asked to give a detailed account about the sexual assault. Your child may or may not be upset about this interview.

Children often do not directly tell a parent about the molestation. They sometimes feel embarrassed, responsible, or fearful of a parent’s response. Do not blame your child for not telling you sooner. Try and understand what your child has experienced. Ask how he or she felt about the interview and try to determine if anything in the interview was confusing.

When a parent talks with a child about the sexual assault, the child is helped by:
— Understanding what actually happened
— Expressing feelings about the abuse
— Knowing a parent cares
— Realizing that he/she is not responsible for the abuse

Your ability to listen to your child is important because sexual abuse evokes strong feelings in everyone. The following guidelines suggest ways a parent can talk with a child about sexual abuse.

1. Find a time and place to talk with your child as soon as possible. Choose a
place where you will not be interrupted and allow sufficient time to talk.
2. Ask your child to tell you about the sexual assault. Let your child tell you
what happened in his/her own words and try not to interrupt.
3. Do not pressure your child to talk. Discontinue the discussion when your
child indicates a desire to stop.
Example— “I can see it’s hard to talk about this. We can talk more later if
you want.”
4. Do not contradict your child’s story. Listen and be supportive to what your
child says about the abuse.
5. Do not blame your child for the sexual assault or ask “why” questions.
Some-times in talking with a child, parents express anger. It may be con-
fusing to the child as to whether you are angry with the offender or the
child. Children are NOT responsible for the sexual abuse even though
they may often feel to blame. A child should be assured that the offender
is the one responsible.
6. Understand that your child may care about the offender. When the
offender is a parent or close friend, a child may be concerned about what
will happen to that person. Frequent expressions of anger by a parent
about the offender may be upsetting to the child. Help your child under-
stand that what the offender did was wrong and he needs help to stop
this type of behavior.
7. Reassure your child by letting him/her know that you are sorry this has
happened to them and you will protect him/her from further abuse. Let
your child know that they can tell you if anyone tries to touch them in this
way again.
8. Talk with other children in the family. When the offender is a parent,
brothers and/or sisters need to understand that the offender, not the child is
responsible. The child who has been abused should be included in the
discussions if he/she wants to be.

Generally, children are not seriously injured by a sexual assault. However, it is advisable to have your child examined by a medical professional to check for
injuries. A medical exam can reassure a child that no physical damage has
occurred. An exam, however, does not necessarily confirm or disprove a child’s
story of sexual assault.

Each child reacts differently to a sexual assault based on the child’s personality, age, type of abuse, relationship with the offender, and reactions of family and friends.
Effects may occur over a period of weeks, months, or years following the abuse.

Common symptoms that may occur immediately following the abuse include:
— Sleep disturbances
— Loss of appetite
— Depression
— Fears
— Physical problems such as stomach aches and migraine headaches
— Regressive behaviors such as thumb-sucking, bed wetting, and baby talk
— Sexual acting out behaviors such as inappropriately kissing or touching other
children or adults
— Problems at school

Children’s reactions to therapy vary and some may not want to attend. However, when possible, it is important that a child discuss the abuse. Very few children have no feelings about the abuse. Parents can aid in their child’s healing by:
— Stating that therapy can be helpful and encouraging attendance.
— Recognizing that a child may feel angry, depressed, or physically upset during
treatment. When a child begins to talk about the abuse, these symptoms are
frequently present.
— Talking with your child during or following counseling if needed.
— Letting the therapist know if the child has misunderstood what is said in treat-
ment, if symptoms continue, or if the child does not want to continue.

Parents must also be concerned about their own feelings about the abuse. Following the reporting process, parents often experience many negative feelings toward their child. Even the most caring parents may feel:
— Angry that the child did not tell them sooner
— Upset that the child did not tell them first
— Fearful that the child initiated the abuse
— Hurt and embarrassed that the child was abused
Such feelings should not be expressed to the child. Parents need to find friends or a counselor with whom they can talk about these and other feelings. Talking to someone who understands will benefit you and in turn, your child.


Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

If you are having difficulty trying to explain to your child the difference between “Good Touch—Bad Touch” then here is a perfect format to follow…
You could even READ this directly to your child!! 🙂

Good Touch, Bad Touch, Secret Touch: Your Body Belongs to You
University of Iowa Children’s Hospital
Child Protection Program
First Published: 2003
Last Revised: October 2003
Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed

(SOURCE:  http://www.uihealthcare.com/topics/medicaldepartments/pediatrics/goodtouch/index.html)

You can decide who can touch you, who can kiss you, or who can give you a hug. You have the right to say, “no.”

What do you do when someone touches you inappropriately?
* Say no! Tell the person that you don’t like it and you don’t want to be touched.
* Get away fast! Run away from the person whose touch you don’t like. Never stay alone with that person ever again.
* Call for help. You can scream.
* Believe in yourself. You did nothing wrong.

If someone touches you inappropriately, tell someone you trust what has happened. Don’t let threats scare you into running away or keeping quiet.

When a person touches you and asks you to keep it a secret between the two of you, ask yourself, “Do I feel comfortable about keeping this secret? Does the secret bother me?”

Don’t keep secrets that make you feel uncomfortable. Go to a person you trust-a parent, a relative, a teacher, or your doctor. If the person you go to doesn’t believe you, go to someone else you trust until someone believes you and helps you.

Do everything you can to stay away from the threatening and intimidating person. Don’t stay alone with a person who touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable or makes you feel unsafe.

Good Touch
It feels good to be hugged and kissed by the people you love. For example:
* When Mommy gives you a hug and kiss after you wake up.
* When Daddy gives you a good-night hug and kiss.
* When Grandma and Grandpa come to visit and everyone gets hugs and kisses.

Bad Touch
Touches that make you feel uncomfortable are usually bad touches. You don’t have to keep a secret when someone gives you bad touch. Don’t feel that you are bad. Whoever gives you a bad touch is the one who is bad, not you. Your body belongs to you. Nobody should touch you if you don’t want to be touched.

Do you know what a bad touch is?
* It is a bad touch if it hurts you.
* It is a bad touch if someone touches you on your body where you don’t want to be touched.
* It is a bad touch if a person touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.
* It is a bad touch if that touch makes you feel scared and nervous.
* It is a bad touch if a person forces you to touch him or her.
* It is a bad touch if a person asks you not to tell anyone.
* It is a bad touch if a person threatens to hurt you if you tell.

Unfortunately, some adults may abuse the trust you give them. The person who touches you in a way you don’t like is the person who is doing something wrong, not you. Sexual abuse is always the fault of the bigger, older, or stronger person. Do not blame yourself and don’t allow anyone to blame you.


Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 3 COMMENTS

A Profile of the Child Molester

by Ken Wooden


During my two decades of work as an investigative reporter, I interviewed hundreds of convicted child molesters in prisons across America. My objective was to uncover how they had lured children and teens into abuse and worse. My intention was also to generate a criminal profile that could be shared with parents and law enforcement. Instead, I found child molesters and abductors to be a diverse group that possesses no tidy criminal profile.

So who are these sexual predators?

Males and Females
Young Adults, Middle-Aged Adults, and Seniors
Upper Class, Middle Class, and Disadvantaged
All Races & Ethnicities
Vocationally Diverse

In short, pedophilia, or adult sexual attraction to children, does not discriminate by race, gender, class, or age.

One child pornography sting operation by the U.S. Justice Department and Customs Postal Inspectors resulted in well over two hundred arrests. The occupations of those arrested was a virtual rainbow of American life, representing 44% of all occupations listed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

How many child molesters live in the United States?

Approximately 400,000 convicted pedophiles currently reside in the United States, according to Department of Justice estimates.*

Are there really female child molesters?

Yes. A 2000 statistical report by the US Department of Justice* found that female offenders victimized:

12% of victims under the age of 6
6% of victims ages 6 – 12
3% of victims ages 12 – 17

How many victims does a child molester average?

Interviews guaranteeing complete confidentiality and immunity from prosecution, conducted by Emory University psychiatrist Dr. Gene Abel*, uncovered that:

Male offenders who abused girls had an average of 52 victims each.
Men who molested boys had an astonishing average of 150 victims each.
Only 3% of these crimes had ever been detected.

How do child molesters get into situations where they can exploit children?

Due to the nature of their sexual addiction, few pedophiles are able to resist their powerful urges to initiate contact with children and will go to great lengths to do so. Common strategies include:

Befriending parents, particularly single parents, to gain access to their children.
Offering babysitting services to overextended parents or caregivers.
Taking jobs and participating in community events that involve children.
Attending sporting events for children and/or offering to coach children’s sports.
Volunteering in youth organizations, offering to chaperone overnight trips.
Loitering in places children frequent – playgrounds, malls, game arcades, etc.
Spending time in Internet gaming and social communities, learning the online interests and lingo of youngsters.
Becoming foster parents.

What is the most common method used by child molesters?

The Affection Lure. (See Think First & Stay Safe Parent Guide) Most victims of abuse are “groomed” over a period of weeks, months, or years. The Affection Lure is used both offline and online to seduce unsuspecting youngsters in need of love and attention. Child molesters have repeatedly told me: When there’s a physically or emotionally absent parent in the picture, it makes the child more vulnerable than ever.

Which age group is most often targeted by child molesters?

In the interviews I conducted, the majority of molesters cited a preference for children on the brink of puberty. This is the age of sexual awakening, making it easy for molesters to prey on the sexual curiosity and ignorance of youngsters. To quote one of the predators I interviewed, “Give me a kid who knows nothing about sex, and you’ve given me my next victim.”

While we as parents are inclined to give pre-teen children more freedom and less supervision, this age group is actually the most vulnerable to abuse and abduction. We must talk frankly and often to our children about “the birds and the bees” and not allow child molesters to educate our children for us.

Wouldn’t a vigilant parent be able to detect a child molester, just by their actions?

Not necessarily. Always remember:

Pedophiles are notoriously friendly, nice, kind, engaging and likeable.
Pedophiles target their victims, often insinuating themselves into that child’s life – their family, school, house of worship, sports, and hobbies.
Pedophiles are professional con artists and are expert at getting children and families to trust them.
Pedophiles will smile at you, look you right in the eye and make you believe they are trustworthy.

Do kids and teens ever sexually abuse other children?

Sadly, yes – and many of these juvenile offenders are victims of sexual abuse themselves. A U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics report* found that:

23% of all sexual offenders were under the age of 18.
40% of offenders of victims under age 6 were themselves juveniles
13% were 7-11 years old; 27% were 12-17 years old.
39% of the offenders of victims ages 7-11 were juveniles.
27% of the offenders of victims ages 12 -17 were juveniles.

What types of assaults were these?

Juvenile offenders under the age of 12 were responsible for:

23% of forcible sodomies
19% of forcible fondlings
17% of sexual assaults with an object
7% of forcible rapes

Juvenile offenders ages 12 – 18 were responsible for:

36% of forcible sodomies
27% of forcible fondlings
23% of sexual assaults with an object
17% of forcible rapes

When and where did these assaults usually happen?

The peak time for juvenile assaults was 3 pm, after school. Other spikes in the number of incidents were at the traditional meal times of 8 am, noon and 6 pm. Most of these assaults happened in the home of the victim, the home of the offender, or another residence.*

How many of these assaults were by family members?

49% of offenders of victims under age 6 were family members.
42% of offenders of victims ages 7-11 were family members.
24% of offenders of victims ages 12 – 17 were family members.*

Are there groups of organized pedophiles that prey on children?

Yes. Small groups of militant and highly organized child molesters operate worldwide through pedophile organizations, whose members claim genuine concern for the welfare of children. The actual number of members in these organizations is unknown, though their power is evident. One pedophile organization’s newsletter correctly identified ten sting operations in five different states. Another exposed and compromised four federal sting operations. Clearly, these organizations have connections.

What are their beliefs and goals?

In general, these groups believe that sex with children is harmless; some even claim that sexual relations are healthy for children. Their goals include decriminalizing child molestation and lowering the age of consent.

Where do they meet?

In addition to attending pedophile conferences and conventions, members now meet primarily via the Internet where they may swap methods, success stories, even names, descriptions, and images of children. Since the early 1980’s, they have exploited the Internet to communicate with one another, spreading their propaganda to anyone who will listen.

Aren’t their activities illegal?

Most pedophile groups and members are careful to keep their public activities within the realm of protected civil liberties.

In 2006, a new political party (PNVD) was established in the Netherlands. Commonly referred to as “the Pedophile Party,” it seeks to lower the age of consent from 16 to 12. Opponents had asked The Hague District Court to bar the party from registering for national elections, but Judge H. Hofhuis ruled: “Freedom of expression, freedom … of association, including the freedom to set up a political party, can be seen as the basis for a democratic society.”

Are these pedophile groups a real threat?

While the average child molester does not belong to a pedophile organization, we would be foolish not to take seriously any group whose members are committed to sexual activity with children.

Final Thoughts:

While there are sexual predators who are organized and whose activities cause public ire, it is the millions of individual sexual predators worldwide whose day-to-day actions and steadfast determination are a far greater threat to the safety of our children. Knowing this – and knowing that we cannot be with our children every moment of every day – it is essential that we teach them how to recognize and evade the lures used for generations by sexual predators of every kind. As I told President Bush during the 2002 White House Conference on Missing, Exploited and Runaway Children, “If predators are using the lures, shouldn’t we be teaching our children these lures?”

Parents would do well to heed the steady increase in juvenile perpetrators, as well as the 3 pm peak for child sexual assaults. This speaks greatly to the need for after school facilities and activities for latch-key children who are at greater risk of victimization, even in their own homes.

It is also important to remember that 2/3rds of all crimes are never reported. When it comes to juvenile sexual assaults, the percentage of unreported crimes is undoubtedly higher, given the nature of the crimes and the tender age of victims.

Ken Wooden

*Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics, by Howard N. Snyder, Ph.D.; National Center for Juvenile Justice, July 2000, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs


Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Techniques For The Child Interview And A Methodology For Substantiating Sexual Abuse

Because of the central role played by the child interview in substantiating sexual abuse, it is addressed in greater depth than some of the other aspects of child sexual abuse practice.
As noted in the previous chapter, child interview data may be gathered in one or more interviews, depending on the particular child, the professional conducting the interview, and the safety of the child’s living arrangement. The interviewer must initially spend time getting to know the child. This allows the interviewer to learn about the child’s life circumstances and possible context of abuse and to ascertain the child’s developmental level, modes of communication, the child’s affective or emotional state(s), and overall functioning, including the child’s competency. With young children, this part of the assessment usually involves play activity with some questions. With older children, the interviewer is likely to rely primarily on talking to the child and asking questions. At this point, questions are usually about the child’s life in general and are neutral. They might include queries about the child, as well as her/his school, friends, and family.
Either before, during, or following this general discussion, the interviewer speaks to the child about why she/he is being seen and how the information the child gives will be used. If the interview is to be taped or there are people behind the one-way mirror, the child should be informed. This material is communicated at the child’s developmental level and varies with the circumstances of the case.
Information elicited, statements recorded, and behavior observed during this initial phase of the interview often lead naturally into discussion of possible sexual abuse.
Techniques for Interviewing the Child
A variety of techniques can be used in trying to elicit information from the child. The focus here is on techniques most useful with young children. Appropriate questions and several types of media or props – anatomically explicit dolls, anatomical drawings, picture drawing, story telling, and the doll house – are discussed.
Although appropriate questions will be the first technique discussed, they are no more important than the media that will be described. In many cases, what children demonstrate with media is far more compelling than what they say. It is also somewhat artificial to treat questioning as a separate undertaking. Although questions can be used by themselves, as will become clear, questions are always asked in the process of using media, and the limited research suggests children communicate more accurately when questioned using props than when questioned without them.
It is a good practice to use more than one technique in eliciting information, even if it is only the combination of the use of anatomical dolls and questions. Some of these techniques, such as story telling, are rightfully the province of mental health professionals and should not be used by Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworkers and law enforcement personnel. However, the other techniques can be used by all professionals likely to interview children, provided they have adequate training in their use.
Use of Questions
It is prudent to avoid leading questions in case they might cause a false accusation and in order to preclude challenges to interviewing techniques. The interviewer should assume that the more open-ended the question, the greater confidence he/she should have in the child’s responses. A continuum consisting of five types of questions, from most open-ended to most close-ended, is presented in the following discussion. This framework is fairly consistent with other clinical writing on questioning strategies.74 75 The types of questions are as follows:
general questions,
focused questions,
multiple-choice questions,
yes-no questions, and
leading questions.
General Questions
General questions are frequently used as opening questions when an adult comes in for assessment or treatment. For example, if an adult rape victim comes to a mental health professional, the therapist might begin by asking, “Tell me why you came to see me today.” This question is likely to elicit an account of the rape.
Interviewers attempting to determine if a child has been sexually abused usually ask comparable general questions early in the interview. They might ask, “Did anyone tell you why you are coming to see me today?” With adolescents and late latency-aged children, general questions often produce some information about sexual abuse. Unfortunately, these general questions are less useful with young children. Typical responses from them are, “No,” or “I don’t remember” (despite the care the accompanying adult might have taken in preparing the child). Alternatively young children may acknowledge that they know why they are being interviewed but say they don’t want to talk about it. The children may also give vague responses such as “to talk about the bad things” or “to say what Grandpa did.” However, they may fail or refuse to elaborate. More directive questions are needed.
Focused Questions
Clinical experience suggests focused questions are optimal. They often elicit relevant information, but they are not leading. There are three types of focused questions:
questions focused on people,
questions focused on the circumstances of the abuse, and
questions focused on body parts.
Within each type, questions focused on daily routine and care activities may produce important information. For example, questions about bathing may elicit details about the body, the “helping” parent, and the abuse setting.
Questions focused on persons will include questions about the alleged offender. It is a good strategy to begin by asking questions that will not be difficult. Thus, focused questions might first be asked about siblings, then about the mother, and finally about the alleged offender. A series of focused questions about an alleged offender might be the following:
“Where does Joe (mother’s boyfriend) live?”
“What kind of things does he do with the family?”
“Are there things he does especially with you?”
“Are there things Joe does that you like?”
“Are there any things he does that you don’t like?”
“Does he ever do anything with you that you don’t like?”
There are two types of focused questions about the possible circumstances of the sexual abuse that many interviewers use.
“Are there any secrets in your family?”
“Does ______ ever play games with you?”
These questions are commonly used because often children are told that the sexual abuse is a special secret between themselves and the offender. Alternatively, offenders may induce children’s cooperation or normalize the behavior by defining the victimization as a game.
However, there are other potentially productive focused questions related to the circumstances of the abuse. These questions are suggested by the information the interviewer gathers before seeing the child. Examples might be as follows:
“What do you do when Grandpa babysits?”
“How does Daddy take care of you when Mom is at work?”
“What happens when you are in the bath?”
Questions that focus on body parts are generally used in conjunction with anatomically explicit dolls or anatomical drawings. The interviewer has the child give names for the various body parts. Then focused questions can be asked. For example, the interviewer might ask the following questions with regard to the penis:
“Did you ever see a ‘dinky’ (penis)/anybody else’s ‘dinky’?”
“Whose did you see?”
“What does a ‘dinky’ do?”
If the child responds, “It goes ‘pee’,” the interviewer might ask,
“Does it do anything else?”
Comparable questions might be asked of a female victim about the vagina:
“Did you ever see anyone else’s ‘peepee’?”
“Did anyone ever ask you to touch their ‘peepee’?”
“Did anything ever happen to your ‘peepee’ that you didn’t like?”
“Does it ever hurt?”
“What makes it hurt?”
“Does anyone ever touch it?”
If the child responds that she touches it, the interviewer might ask:
“Does anyone else touch it?”
If the child names someone, the evaluator might follow with:
“When does he touch it?”
In some cases or at certain points during an interview, children may not respond to focused questions, or they may reply, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t remember.” In these cases, more directive questions are necessary.
Multiple-Choice Questions
When information is not forthcoming with a focused question, the interviewer may resort to a multiple-choice question. There are several caveats for their use. First, young children may have difficulty with this format, and they will have more difficulty the more options given. Second, interviewers must be sure to include a correct response, so that the child is not given the choice between two or more incorrect responses. Thus, in a case in which the victim has affirmed that another child was there, but did not respond when asked who it was, the interviewer might ask, “Was it one of your friends or someone else?” in case it was someone the child did not know. Third, it is advisable to limit the use of multiple-choice questions to the circumstances of the sexual abuse and, if possible, not to use them to ask about the abuse itself. For example, the interviewer might ask:
“Do you remember if you were wearing your day clothes or your night clothes?”
The interviewer would avoid asking:
“Was it your dad, your stepdad, both, or someone else who hurt your butt?”
Yes-No Questions
Despite the fact that research indicates that even young children provide quite accurate information in response to yes-no questions,76 they are generally used in investigative interviews only when more open-ended questions are not productive, but the interviewer continues to have concerns about abuse. The reason for reservations about yes-no use is concern that they may elicit “social desirability” responses, especially in young children. That is, the child may answer in the affirmative because she/he thinks a positive response is desired. Alternatively, the child may not understand the question and nevertheless answer yes.
Unlike focused questions, yes-no questions usually identify both the alleged offender and the sexual behavior in question. (Focused questions, except those about the circumstances of the abuse, contain one or the other.) Examples of yes-no questions are as follows:
“Did your mom put her finger in your vagina?”
“Was it your stepfather who made your ‘bum’ (anus) bleed?”
Leading Questions
A leading question is one in which the desired answer is specified in the question. Leading questions are commonly encountered by witnesses when they are cross-examined in court. However, they are not appropriate to investigative interviewing of children. Leading questions are usually not necessary and may be perceived as coercive because they convey the interviewer’s own view of events. Interrogations using leading questions also may influence children’s interpretations of events77 and are likely to lead to an attack on the validity of the interview findings. Examples of leading questions are as follows:
“Your dad sucked your penis, didn’t he?”
“Isn’t it true your grandmother told you to say your stepdad put his ‘dick’ in your sister?”
Strategic Use of Questions
The interviewer should use as many open-ended questions as possible. That is, the interviewer endeavors to use general or focused questions and only resorts to multiple-choice or yes-no questions if the former are not eliciting any information. As more close-ended questions are employed, it is prudent to have less confidence in the replies. When information is elicited in response to, for example, a multiple-choice question, the interviewer then reverts to a more open-ended approach, perhaps asking a focused question.
The following series of questions is illustrative: The interviewer asks the child where mom was when the abuse occurred (a focused question), and the child does not reply. The interviewer then asks whether mom was there or not (a multiple-choice question). The child replies that mom was there. The interviewer then asks, “What was she doing?” (a focused question). The child responds, “She was helping my dad.” The interviewer then asks how the mom helped (another focused question). The child says, “It’s hard to say.” The interviewer responds, “Well, did she do any of the touching?” (a yes-no question). The child nods. The interviewer then asks where the mother touched (a focused question).
For a chart that illustrates the continuum of questions, see Appendix C.
Use of Anatomically Explicit Dolls
Anatomical dolls are the most widely employed of the media.78 Although most appropriate for use with children aged 2 to 6, anatomical dolls may be used with children of any age. In this section, the challenges to the dolls, their advantages, and techniques for their use will be discussed.
Challenges to Anatomically Explicit Dolls
The dolls have been challenged, generally by defense attorneys and their expert witnesses, as being “leading,” that is, triggering allegations of sexual abuse because they are “suggestive.” However, research indicates that they do not elicit sexual responses from children who do not have prior sexual knowledge,79 80 and in the few studies that compare the responses of children believed to be sexually abused to those of children not so found, the former are significantly more likely to engage in sexualized behavior with the dolls than the latter.81 82 However, many children believed to have been sexually abused do not engage in sexualized behavior with the dolls.
Nevertheless, a definitive determination of sexual abuse is made not merely on the basis of what the child does with the dolls. Children may learn about sexual activity in ways other than being abused, for example, from consensual involvement with peers, from viewing erotica or pornography, or from sex education classes. Therefore, if the child spontaneously demonstrates sexual activity with the dolls, the interviewer needs to ask questions to clarify the source of the child’s knowledge.
That is, if a child puts the penis of the adult male doll into the vagina of the female child doll, such behavior is certainly suggestive but not conclusive. In response to such a demonstration, the interviewer might ask, “Who does that?” in order to find out whether or not the child has been sexually abused.
In addition, anatomically explicit dolls have been criticized because they have not been subjected to the validation process employed with psychological tests. As noted above, there have been studies employing the dolls with general populations of children and a small number of studies that compare the responses of children assumed to have been sexually abused to those assumed to have not been abused.83 However, the dolls are not meant to be a psychological test, any more than Barbie™* dolls are. Rather, they are a medium through which interviewers may communicate with children, just as language is.
Advantages of Anatomically Explicit Dolls
The dolls are not a magical instrument that makes disclosure of sexual abuse automatic. In addition, the small number of studies comparing anatomical dolls to other media, for example, regular dolls, suggest thus far no particular superiority of the dolls over other media. However, the advantages noted by clinicians include:
For young children, the dolls may be a more familiar medium than speech, and often one in which they are more accomplished, because children generally interact with toys, including dolls, before they have a lot of language.
The dolls’ explicit parts may serve as a stimulus to remind the child of sexual abuse.
Their genitalia, breasts, mouth openings, and anal openings allow for more precise communication than speech or nonexplicit dolls.
For many children, who actually have the language to communicate, showing what happened with the dolls may be easier than telling.
How to Use Anatomically Explicit Dolls
There is no scientifically demonstrated right or wrong way to use the dolls. Everson and Boat 84 have reviewed the various guidelines for using anatomical dolls and have determined that there are five different functions they may serve – comforter, ice-breaker, anatomical model, demonstration aid, or memory stimulus. The most commonly endorsed functions are as an anatomical model, as a demonstration aid, or as a memory stimulus.
When the dolls serve different functions, they may be used in different ways. Three methods of using the dolls and the functions they serve are described.
Scenario in which the child spontaneously engages with the dolls. Some interviewers have the dolls available in the room with their clothing on. Children will sometimes pick up the dolls and begin playing with them. Depending on the stage of the interview, the interviewer may encourage the child to examine the dolls more closely. This process may involve the use of several dolls, usually four, and may include identifying them by gender and whether adult or child, undressing them, and identifying body parts, including the private body parts. In this process, the dolls may serve as a memory stimulus.
The interviewer may interpret unusual reactions to the dolls, for example, marked fear or sexualized behavior, as indicative of possible sexual abuse, and will want to pursue these reactions further. The child might be asked why seeing the doll caused her/him to be so upset. If sexualized behavior was noted, the child might be asked who does that and additional questions about the acts the child has demonstrated.
Similarly the sight of the genitalia on the dolls may serve as a memory stimulus and result in a statement about sexual abuse or something indicating advanced sexual knowledge. Again the interviewer will pursue these leads by asking for specifics and further information.
When the mere sight of the dolls with genitalia does not lead to any information, the interviewer may use them as an anatomical model. Using the names the child has given for the genitalia, the interviewer asks questions about the dolls and their genitalia. Below are sample questions about the penis and possible responses. It is important that the interviewer have in his/her repertoire a range of ways to approach the child, but the interviewer should allow the child ample time to respond and avoid a barrage of questions.
“Who has a ‘dingdong’?” “Did you ever see one?” “Whose did you see?” “Does anything ever come out of the ..dingdong’?” If the child responds yes, “What color is it?” If the child says white, milk, or like snot, “Did any ever get anywhere on or in you?”
“Did anyone ever try to do something to you with a ‘dingdong’?” “What did he try to do?” “Can you show me with the dolls?”
“Did anyone ever want you to do something to or with his ‘dingdong’?” “Can you show me with the dolls what he wanted you to do?” “Did you have to do it?”
“Do you know what a ‘dingdong’ feels like?” “Does it ever change?” “Does it ever get bigger?” “Is it hard or soft?” “Is it hanging down, or does it stick up?” “Can you show me with the dolls how it goes?”
Similar questions can and in many cases should be asked about other genitalia and the anus. However, caution should be used in asking questions about erections, semen, and how the semen tastes when there is no independent information that the child is likely to possess such knowledge. This will avoid a circumstance in which the interviewer introduces the child to advanced sexual knowledge.
In cases in which the child spontaneously picks up the dolls, they can be used somewhat differently as an anatomical model as follows: rather than asking children about their own experiences, once the dolls have been undressed, children can be asked what might have happened to the doll, or the doll can be named (using a name other than the child’s) and then questions asked about its experiences. This may make the discussion less threatening. Thus, instead of asking a female victim about her own vagina, the interviewer might ask about “this girl’s ‘peepee’.” If positive information is elicited, it is important to ask if something like that happened to the child and, if so, with whom.
Comparable questions can be asked about the naked dolls, rather than their parts. Examples might be:
“What do they do when they have their clothes off?” inviting the child to demonstrate.
“Do the mom and dad ever do anything when they’re naked?”
“Show me how they take a bath.”
“Does the daddy ever do anything to the girl when she’s naked?” If the child affirms, “Can you show me that?”
Again, the interviewer must ascertain that the child is speaking about her/his own experience if the child reveals any knowledge of sexual activity.
Scenario in which the dolls are introduced during the discussion of sexual abuse. Another way the dolls can be used is during the course of verbal disclosure. In this instance, the dolls are used as a demonstration aid. There are several circumstances in which they can be used in this manner. If a child is saying, “I don’t want to talk about it,” the interviewer may ask the child if she/he prefers or would find it easier to show. Second, the dolls may be used to clarify or obtain more detail about a verbal disclosure, for example, what exactly “humping” is. Third, the dolls may be used as a medium to corroborate the child’s verbal statements. It is especially important, with children who are 2 to 6 years old, to get them to clarify or corroborate any verbal disclosures with the dolls. With children aged 6 and older, the evaluator may ask if they prefer to show what happened with dolls, draw a picture, or tell about it.
To introduce the dolls, the interviewer may say to the child that she/he has some dolls that are a little bit different. The interviewer may then select relevant dressed dolls and might ask the child if she/he has ever seen dolls like these before, as they are undressed. Alternatively, the evaluator may introduce one doll, undressing it to show the child how the dolls are different, and then have the child choose the dolls to use to “show what happened.” Children may demonstrate by using two (or more) dolls, or they may use the doll and their own bodies.
For example, one 3-year-old girl, when asked to show how Daddy hurt her, using the dolls, picked up the naked adult male doll and thrust his penis into her crotch, saying “unh, unh, unh.”
In such a situation, questions can be asked to obtain specific detail, such as:
“Can you show me how far his ‘dick’ went into your mouth?” “Did anything come out of his ‘dick’ when he did that?”
“Do you remember what room you were in?” “Were you on the bed or somewhere else?” “Can you show how he did it?”
Some children will not respond when asked to use the dolls to demonstrate the alleged abuse. The interviewer then may proceed to less spontaneous approaches. For example, the child may be asked to point to the place on the child doll where something happened to her/him, and if the child does point, then the child may be asked what exactly happened. Similarly, the interviewer may ask the child to point to the part of the adult doll’s body that was used in the encounter, assuming some sort of an encounter has been affirmed. If the child designates a body part, the child is then asked to demonstrate exactly what happened.
Finally, if no information is forthcoming from the approaches already described, the interviewer can ask the child if she/he will answer “yes” or “no” if the interviewer points on the child doll to the parts of the child’s body that might have been involved. Alternatively, the interviewer can use the adult male doll to ask the child to reply “yes” or “no” to the parts of the alleged offender’s body that might have been involved. These are yes-no questions and therefore fairly close-ended. It is advisable to point to some body parts very unlikely to be involved in order to test for possible “social desirability” responses. If confirming information is elicited, then, of course, the interviewer reverts to more open-ended questions.
Scenario in which the dolls are introduced without any cues. Finally, the dolls can be introduced independent of any opening by the child. If no opportunities for a discussion on sexual abuse have arisen, some professionals will introduce the dolls toward the middle of the interview. However, others prefer to introduce the dolls rather early to elicit material about possible sexual abuse. When used in this manner, the dolls may serve as a memory stimulus or a diagnostic screen, but their major use is as an anatomical model.
Some professionals use the dolls to assist in identifying private (where it’s “ok” to touch yourself in private, but where others should not touch you) versus other body parts, or good and bad touch areas. Sometimes touch is differentiated as good (e.g., a hug), bad (e.g., a slap), and trick – which feels good but is bad because it is in a private area. Then the child is asked about any experiences of touching in the private area or bad or trick touching.
Objections have been raised to the concept of good and bad touch, and it may be advisable to avoid using this concept for three reasons. First, the term “touch” is confusing to young children and may foreclose consideration of some types of activity (e.g., licking and object or penile intrusion). Second, the terms, “good” and “bad” may be too vague in that they do not connote the actual body parts. Third, the use of good and bad to refer to breasts, genitalia, and anus may lead to negative perceptions of the private body parts. However, these views of good and bad touch represent professional preference. There is no evidence that the use of the “good touch/bad touch” approach either contaminates or invalidates an interview.
Use of Anatomical Drawings
Anatomical drawings are pictures of adults and children, males and females, at different developmental stages – elder, adult, adolescent, latency age, and preschooler, without clothing and with primary and secondary sex characteristics. These drawings may have the frontal position presented on one side of the page and the dorsal on the other. 85 They are used like skin maps; therefore, relevant pictures are used for each child interviewed.
In many respects, the use of anatomical drawings parallels the use of anatomically explicit dolls. Anatomical drawings are useful with the same age range of children as the dolls; they are particularly useful with very young children but also appropriate with older children. Appropriate pictures are chosen by either the child or the interviewer. The child can be asked to mark on the drawing or point to the part on the drawing that was involved.
The disadvantage of pictures is that it is more difficult for the child to enact any sexual behavior with pictures. However, children may make clothing for the pictures in order to demonstrate how clothing was removed, put one drawing on another to show “humping” (intercourse), and draw arrows and lines between genitalia in order to indicate intercourse.
On the other hand, anatomical drawings have the considerable advantage of being a permanent, visual record. They become part of the interviewer’s case record and, as such, are admissible in court. In addition, the drawings have not been challenged as the anatomical dolls have.
Because of the potential use of drawings as evidence, it is advisable for professionals to put as much information as possible on the drawings. Professionals should have the child write the name of the person whom the particular drawing represents, if the child can do so. If the child cannot write, the interviewer should write the name. The interviewer should encourage a child to write or draw on the pictures to illustrate aspects of the abuse. For example, if the child indicates the offender used a finger to hurt her vagina, the interviewer should have her circle or mark the appropriate finger(s), and then the child or the interviewer should write beside the finger that it is the one that went in her vagina. Professionals should write on the picture the questions asked and the child’s responses. For example, in a situation involving sexual abuse in day care, a 4-year-old girl marked the penis, the head, and the feet on the anatomical drawing representing her little brother. These were the places “the teachers did bad things.” Beside each of the child’s marks was written “a place the teachers did bad things.” The questions and the child B’s whispered responses were written beside the penis on the picture representing B’s brother:
Int.: “Who did something to his penis?”
B.: “Miss Rose.”
Int.: “What did she do?”
B.: “Bit it.”
Int.: “How do you know?”
B.: “I saw her.”
Use of Picture Drawing
Although a few clinicians have made observations about the characteristics of drawings of sexually abused children,86 87 there has been no systematic exploration of their content. Nevertheless, many types of pictures can be helpful. Drawing is most useful as a diagnostic technique with latency-aged children. However, children as young as age 4, and in some cases 3, can produce useful drawings as long as the various items in the picture are labeled and explanations are written on the picture. Some adolescents will prefer to draw a picture of what has occurred rather than to describe it verbally.
Drawing can have uses other than gathering information about possible sexual abuse. For instance, drawing can be employed to reduce tension, to understand issues other than sexual abuse, and to assess the child’s overall functioning.
The interviewer may employ pictures either indirectly or directly to gather information that may be related to the child’s victimization. Asking the child to draw any of the following pictures may indirectly result in findings:
“Draw me a picture of anything.”
“Draw me a picture of yourself.”
“Draw me a picture of a person.”
“Draw me a picture of your family.”
“Draw me a picture of your family doing something.”
“Draw me a picture of (possible perpetrator).”
Sometimes sexual content (e.g., genitalia or sexual acts) is noted in the pictures. If this is the case, questions should be asked about this content. The child’s responses may provide information about sexual abuse. For example, a 5-year-old child, when asked to draw “anything,” drew a picture of “Daddy” with a large “peanuts” (penis). When asked what the “peanut” was and if she had ever seen one, she eventually described her father taking her into his bed and fondling her as he fondled himself.
Alternatively, asking the child to talk about the picture may elicit information about abuse. For example, the interviewer might ask what is happening in the picture or what makes the person in the drawing happy, sad, angry, and scared. A 5-year-old drew a picture of her mother and her mother’s boyfriend and then scribbled over the drawing. When asked what they were doing, she indicated the scribbles meant they were having sex.
If the child fails to provide any information about sexual abuse in response to queries about drawings, then caution should be exercised in their interpretation. Although the specifics of the pictures and other information about the case must be taken into account, pictures of genitalia do not necessarily mean the child has been sexually abused, and a sad drawing could have a wide range of significance.
The following drawing requests are aimed at gathering information directly and may be used when the child has already indicated something happened.
“Draw me a picture of (identified perpetrator).”
“Draw me a picture of where (the abuse) happened.”
“Draw me a picture of what (the perpetrator) did.”
“Draw me a picture of the (instrument/body part) he used.”
These requests may be used when children are having difficulty disclosing, when there is a need to clarify what the child has said or demonstrated, or when the interviewer wants to corroborate disclosures using the medium of drawing.
To facilitate disclosure, the interviewer may ask the child if she/he would rather draw when the child says she/he doesn’t want to talk. Further, if the child claims not to remember very much, asking the child to draw the location of the alleged abuse may trigger recollection of detail and free the child to discuss the abuse.
Drawings that may be particularly helpful for clarification are pictures of what the offender used (instrument or body part) and of what happened. A 5-year-old with vaginal injury referred to an instrument used in her abuse as “Daddy’s stick” but could not give further detail. The police officer interviewing her asked her to draw it, and she drew what appeared to be a ruler. Her mother was able to say where in the house it would be found, and the officer got a warrant and seized the physical evidence.
Like anatomical pictures, the child’s drawings become part of the case record and can be submitted into evidence. Therefore, the interviewer should have the child label various parts of the drawings and write relevant comments. Again, if the child is unable to do this, the interviewer should label the drawings.
The Dollhouse
Very little has been written about the use of the dollhouse in interviewing children alleged to have been sexually abused. Nevertheless many mental health professionals and some CPS workers use it in investigative interviewing. It is especially useful with preschoolers.88
Larger dollhouses, with sturdy furniture and people 3 to 6 inches tall, are optimal. The bigger the people, the easier it will be for the child to show activities and for the interviewer to see them. Most dollhouse people do not have removable clothing, which makes it difficult for the child to demonstrate some sexual abuse. However, the dollhouse provides a better opportunity to address the issue of the context of the sexual abuse than most other media.
Like drawings, dollhouse play can have goals other than data gathering about possible sexual abuse. For example, dollhouse play can be used to get to know the child and to understand something about how the child generally perceives families and family activity. And again like drawings, the dollhouse can be used indirectly and directly to gather information about possible sexual abuse.
Indirect use could involve observing the child’s dollhouse play and then commenting or asking questions when themes possibly related to sexual abuse are present. For example, the child might repeatedly have the little girl doll going to bed with the adult male. The interviewer might ask what is happening when they go to bed.
The interviewer might use the dollhouse more directly to gather information if he/she has some background about the context of possible abuse. In a case involving a little girl who had just turned age 3, the mother thought the father had inserted something into the child’s vagina one evening when the mother was lying ill on the couch and the father gave their daughter a bath. During the second session with the child, the interviewer structured the dollhouse situation so the mother doll was on the couch, the little girl doll in the bathtub, and the father in the bathroom. When the child approached the dollhouse, familiar to her from the previous session, she froze and began to shake. Later she demonstrated sexual abuse by her father.
Other examples of using contextual information might involve setting up a scenario around bedtime or watching television and then asking the child to show what happens at bedtime or TV time and other relevant questions.
Research on the Reliability and Suggestibility of Child Witnesses
Along with other challenges to allegations of sexual abuse have come challenges to the credibility of children as witnesses. Questions regarding the accuracy of their memories and their suggestibility have been raised.
Fortunately for professionals concerned about the sexual abuse of children, these questions have been addressed through a series of experiments that simulate some of the circumstances of sexual abuse. In general, these studies indicate that children can remember and that they are resistant to suggestion.
Children’s Memories
Older children have more complete recall than younger children. However, studies indicate children as young as 3 years old can recall experiences comparable to those found in sexual abuse. Young children remember fewer details and recall central rather than peripheral events when compared to older children.89 Moreover, although children may not volunteer information about concerning events (a genital exam) or traumatic events (an inoculation or having blood drawn),90 similar in some respects to sexual victimization, such events are recalled as well by children as adults.91 Children’s ability to provide accurate accounts appears to be facilitated by the availability of “props,” such as anatomically explicit dolls, regular dolls, and anatomical drawings.92 93 As noted in the discussion of appropriate questions, children may require fairly direct questions in order to provide information. Children’s memories will fade over time, but their recall can be enhanced by periodic recall of the events in question.
Children’s Suggestibility
The research indicates that most children are resistant to giving false positive responses to leading and suggestive questions. When they do provide false positives, they are generally limited to a nod or a simple “yes.” Older children are more resistant to suggestion than younger ones.94 Children are much more likely to deny actual experiences, which are perceived as traumatic or unacceptable, than to make false assertions about events that did not occur.
However, one study found that children are suggestible, not with regard to factual data but as to the interpretation of the facts. In a study involving 75 children, Clarke-Stewart had a cleaning man interact with toys. In one condition, the man described his activities as cleaning and in the other as playing. The children were then interrogated by an interviewer who pressured the child to interpret the man’s behavior as either cleaning or playing. The researchers found that children did not change their statements regarding what had actually taken place, but most children were highly influenced by the interviewer’s interpretation of the cleaning man’s acts (cleaning versus playing). The implications of this study are clear. They reiterate the importance of using open-ended questions as much as possible and caution professionals to be careful about interpreting behavior, especially child care behaviors.95
Criteria To Be Used To Substantiate Sexual Abuse
Once data have been gathered from the child interview and other sources, the interviewer must decide whether, in her/his opinion, the child was sexually abused. A number of writers have addressed this issue.96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 All of these authors are of the opinion that substantiating information must go beyond affirmative responses to one or two questions, and most suggest some combination of descriptive detail and emotional reaction to the content. Indeed, there is a fair amount of consensus among these writings about the characteristics of a true account of abuse.
However, there has been very little research on the extent to which these clinical criteria are actually present in true cases, in large part because it is so difficult to isolate cases that are proven to be true. The criteria developed by Faller105 will be presented here because there is one research study that examines the extent to which they are found in cases substantiated by offender confession, because they are parsimoniously organized, and because they are fairly consistent with the criteria developed by other writers.
There are three general categories of information that should be assessed in the child’s statements and/or behavior:
a description (either verbal or behavioral) of the sexual behavior;
information about the context of the sexual abuse; and
an emotional reaction consistent with the behavior being described, the child’s functioning, and the circumstances of the interview.
A Description of the Sexual Abuse
In assessing the child’s description of the sexual activity, the interviewer is looking for:
sexual knowledge beyond that expected for the child’s developmental stage;
an account consistent with a child’s perspective; and
an explicit description of the sexual acts.
Advanced sexual knowledge and a child’s perspective are, of course, more persuasive findings with younger children. An explicit account is relevant for children of all ages.
Information About the Context of the Sexual Abuse
Information about the context of the sexual abuse might include:
where it happened;
when it happened;
where other people in the family were;
what the offender might have said to involve the child;
what the victim and offender were wearing and what clothing was removed;
the frequency and/or duration of the abuse;
whether the offender said anything about telling or not telling;
whether the child told; and
if so, whom did the child tell and that person’s response.
The child may have been sexually abused many times and, therefore, may not remember details about all instances. It is best to ask the child to tell about the last time in order to obtain contextual information. In the research on these criteria, the child was considered to have provided sufficient contextual material if she/he gave three pieces of contextual information.
Preschool children will probably have a hard time focusing on and describing the most recent incident. In addition, they will not have the ability to abstract and say, for example, “Sometimes it happened in the bathroom, at other times in the basement, and once at my grandmother’s house.” As a consequence, their accounts of the context (and the abuse, itself) may be confusing and apparently inconsistent. What may be happening is the child may be recalling different incidents when being questioned at different times or by different people. These problems may occur when preschool children are interviewed by different people and/or at different times, or when they recount two or more different incidents, or parts of them, in the same interview.
An Emotional Reaction Consistent With the Abuse Being Described
Children may have a variety of emotional reactions to sexual abuse, depending on the characteristics of the child and the abuse. The following are common emotional reactions and associated child or abuse characteristics:
reluctance to disclose: characteristic of most children except possibly for very disturbed or very young children;
embarrassment: a rather mild response often found in disturbed and young children;
anger: more characteristic of boy victims (but not always evident);
anxiety: noted frequently in adolescent girls;
disgust: a typical reaction to oral sex;
depression: often present in victims who care for the abuser or feel they are responsible;
fear: typical of cases in which the child has been injured or threatened during the course of the victimization; and
sexual arousal: another response sometimes found in disturbed and young children.
Situations In Which the Clinical Criteria May Not Be Found
The small number of studies that examine clinical criteria in proven cases (which are usually substantiated with offender confession) find that a substantial number of children’s accounts lack the expected criteria.106 107 108 For example, in Faller’s study, only 68 percent of accounts contained all three criteria. Young age of the victim and being a boy were associated with not satisfying the expected criteria. Younger children were less likely to provide contextual detail and to evidence an emotional response consistent with the account. Similarly, boy victims were less likely to describe the abuse and to exhibit affect.
There can be other good reasons why children fail to manifest the expected clinical criteria. Affect may be absent because the child dissociates, the child has told about the abuse many times, or the trauma has already been addressed in treatment. In addition, emotionally disturbed children, who have suffered many other traumas, may not become upset about sexual abuse because, compared to their other life experiences, it is not as bad. Detail may be absent because the abuse has been repressed or because it happened long ago and has been forgotten.
It is legitimate to substantiate a case with only a description of the sexual abuse.
Moreover, it is important for interviewers to appreciate that a child’s inability to describe sexual abuse does not mean it did not happen. It means that sexual abuse cannot be confirmed, but that is different from it not having happened. Research on adult survivors indicates that many victims never tell.
Criteria for Confirming an Allegation From Other Sources
There are other sources of information that can support a finding of child sexual abuse.
Suspect’s Confession
The most definitive finding is the suspect’s confession. Unfortunately it is uncommon, particularly at the point of investigation, when the alleged offender may be very frightened and concerned primarily with his own well-being.
An operational definition of a full confession is that the alleged offender admits to all or more sexual activity described by the child. As a partial confession, the suspect may make “incriminating” statements by admitting to some but not all of the child’s allegations. Alleged offenders may minimize their behavior by admitting to “just touching,” may deny acts involving severe penalties, or may not admit to certain behavior they find particularly shameful. These incriminating statements deserve attention because they may be found in cases in which the suspects are frightened to admit. There appear to be several types:
The alleged offender may claim diminished capacity.
“I don’t remember what I do when I’ve been drinking.”
The suspect admits to the behavior but says it was not intended to be sexually abusive. There are actually two types of cases that fall within this category, those in which the suspect says the mistake was on his part and those in which he insists his behavior has been misinterpreted. Examples follow:
“I forgot my daughter was in the bed with me. I thought she was my wife.”
“I was only trying to show her the difference between men’s privates and little girls’.”
The evaluator must use common sense in assessing the probability that the alleged offenders’ explanations are likely and feasible. There will be cases, especially those involving child care activities, where this is quite difficult.
In addition, the suspect may admonish professionals to attend to the accounts of others.
“My daughter would never lie about a thing like that.”
Finally, the alleged offender may say that he didn’t abuse the child, but he is confessing to it to get on with treatment or to keep his daughter from having to testify against him in court.
Medical Evidence
As noted in the previous chapter, there has been considerable progress in the documentation of physical findings from sexual abuse.
Other Physical Evidence
In some cases, the police and sometimes others will have obtained physical evidence such as pornography or instruments used in the abuse.
Occasionally, there will be eyewitnesses to sexual abuse. These may be other children who were also abused or who observed abuse. They may also be adult eyewitnesses, sometimes the spouse of the offender.
Forming a Conclusion About Sexual Abuse
In order to arrive at a conclusion about the likelihood of sexual abuse, the professional weighs the clinical findings from the child’s interview as well as confirming evidence from other sources. Rarely is the professional 100-percent sure that the abuse occurred as described, with absolutely no room whatsoever for doubt. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to determine without any doubt that the sexual abuse did not occur. In this regard, Jones has developed a useful concept, a continuum of certainty. Cases fall somewhere along a continuum from very likely to very unlikely.109
For guidelines that can be used to establish the likelihood of an occurrence of sexual abuse, see Appendix D.


Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 4 COMMENTS
Myths and Facts About Child Molesters

(SOURCE: http://rapeinfo.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/profile-of-a-child-molester/)

Myth: Anyone who would molest a child is seedy-looking or looks suspicious. I’d know them by looking at them.
Fact: Handsome, rich men molest children. Beautiful, talented women molest children. Ordinary people you laugh with every day molest children. You simply cannot tell a child sexual predator by looking. (But do pay attention to your instincts, which see deeper than a person’s surface appearance.)
Myth: Child molesters are unsociable and isolated. If I knew any, I’m sure I naturally wouldn’t like them.
Fact: Most child molesters are known and liked by others. Plus, they cultivate certain relationships in order to gain access to children, and many are genial and personable individuals with whom others enjoy socializing.
Myth: Married men don’t molest children–they have their wives. Besides, a married man would only molest a child if he wasn’t getting sex from his wife.
Fact: Marital status doesn’t correlate to whether a person is a sexual predator or not. KEY FACT: A man deprived of sex does not morph into a child sexual predator. Molesting children is about preferring the power position and avoiding vulnerability. The taste for sex with children is separate from a normal human adult sex drive oriented to adults.
Myth: He’s a pastor (or teacher, or elder, or highly respected businessman–fill in the blank with anyone)–he would never do that.
Fact: Child molesters can be anyone–anyone at all. We must not hesitate to blow the whistle on a child molester regardless of position, fame, or wealth. Our children are worth more than that.
Myth: He has a Ph.D., she’s president of the company–too smart to be doing something that depraved.
Fact: Molesting children is not a function of low income or intelligence. Geniuses can be child molesters; millionaires can be child molesters.
Myth: A real child molester would never talk about the subject.
Fact: A child molester may say contemptuous things like “Child molesters are the sickest people on the planet” or “Child molesters deserve the death penalty.” The rest of us might say things like that too, so this isn’t an indicator by itself–just a warning that predators know the right line to take.
Myth: He hugs and cuddles my child in healthy ways right in front of me, and my child doesn’t resist or fuss. So obviously nothing’s happening.
Fact: Molesters themselves say that they deliberately do this so that your child, the victim, thinks you approve of the way the molester touches them. A child assumes his parents know what’s going on, so when the molester hugs him in front of you and you’re fine with that, the child thinks you’re OK with what happens in private too.
If I Can’t Tell Who They Are, What Can I Do?

Fortunately, many things.
Listen to your instincts. If you feel a deep disquiet or unease around someone, simply don’t let that person have access to your child–especially not alone time.
Don’t put your faith in the presence of a group. A child molester can and will single out a child while on group trips such as camping, Scout outings, etc. Child sexual predators go on trips like this because they know they can get alone time with their victim.
Make sure your child gets plenty of healthy attention, love, and physical affection at home. This prevents your child from having the vulnerability that predators look for in potential victims. A healthy, well-loved child with good self-esteem is less likely to be targeted. In a sense, molesters are looking for victims who are already victims.
Make yourself a safe person for your child to talk to. If he does something wrong, don’t take out your frustration on him or blame him. I have a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old, and my natural reaction is, “Haven’t I TOLD YOU A MILLION TIMES not to do that?” or “Why on EARTH would you do a thing like that?” or “Honey, why didn’t you just ASK ME FOR HELP!” It feels good to let the steam blow out my ears, but then my kids clam up and stop trusting me. This is because they’re not stupid children. Instead, try “Okay, that wasn’t good, was it? Why was it not good? What’s your plan for the future?” Say this patiently and supportively, not in anger.
Impose appropriate consequences without anger. This can’t be overemphasized. If you get angry whenever your child fails or misbehaves, or you get upset a lot in general, be certain she will learn never to tell you anything. And a child without a parent he trusts is a victim waiting to be victimized. Molesters know this. They watch for this type of relationship between a parent and a child so they can exploit it and gain the victim’s trust with patience and kindness.
Teach your child early that no one has the right to touch her private parts and that she can say a strong “NO” and you will back her up completely. She can fight or run away or tattle and you will stand by her 100 percent. Molesters make threats about what parents will or won’t do to a child if he tells, so you have to have that trust with your child.
Don’t consistently let any one adult go on isolated alone activities with your child.
Study adults, particularly men (sorry, gentlemen–it’s statistics and the “can’t tell by looking” thing again, so you get extra eyeballing even if you’re a genuinely good guy), who work with children and still want to spend more time with them outside of work. They may take children on special outings outside of work, for example. Also study those who seem way more plugged into youth culture than into age-appropriate adult culture. Whether or not a person twangs your intuition, observe the person closely and don’t let him have your child alone until you’re satisfied he’s completely safe. Talk to others about him. Find out all you can.
If your child spends a lot of individual time with someone, ask your child carefully phrased questions about whether the child has been exposed to any sexual material of any kind. Kids are curious. If it’s presented to them, they’ll probably watch and listen.
If you suspect your spouse may be molesting your child, watch closely. Do you feel like somehow, subtly, you’re being cast as the bad guy to your child, while your spouse is the good guy? Abusers gradually block communication between their child and the other parent, and damage the trust in that relationship.
If you’re a parent married to a stepparent, be aware that all the statistics show a significantly higher incidence of child sexual abuse among stepparents than among birth parents. Molesters target a child or children, then marry the mother in order to gain access to the children. The biggest way you can prevent this, if there’s any possibility of it happening (and you have to tell yourself frankly to look for it even if you don’t think it’s ever going to happen in your house), is to keep the lines of trust and communication open between yourself and your children. You may be thrilled with your new spouse’s interest in your children–but watch for signs that he’s giving them treats and rewards while subtly coming between you and them. Is he subtly teaching them that you’re not trustworthy and he is? Is he gaining their trust while undercutting you or your relationship with your children? While you want to back up your new spouse, you also want your children to know you’re still with them in spirit and that you trust them and support them. You can support your spouse while still letting your kids know that you believe what they say on a day-to-day basis.
How Do Child Molesters Control Victims and Keep Them From Telling?

Glad you asked. Keep in mind that these answers come from molesters themselves:
I’ll do anything to get to your child and to keep your child once I’ve victimized her.  I’ll do anything and say anything to keep assaulting your child and to keep your child from telling. I really don’t care if it’s harming your child–I just care about pursuing sexual gratification.
I threaten your child with the loss of his family. I tell him he’ll be taken away from his family if he tells, or that his parents will be taken away.
I threaten your child with violence to her or to her family.
I manipulate your child into thinking it’s his fault. Or I make him think he’s at least partly responsible and that if anybody gets punished, it will be him.
I tell your child this is normal parental behavior.
I win your child’s love and trust with treats, attention, and “love.” If she’s not getting love and attention from you, she’ll get it from me. [Note: This includes children with a full-time stay-at-home parent. If they’re not getting love and attention from Dad–or Mom, as the case may be–they’ll be looking for it.]
So How Can I Tell If My Child is Being Molested?

He becomes extremely modest and protective of showing his body. Or he goes the other direction and sexually acts out.
She has genital pain, itching, discharge, bleeding, stomachaches, headaches, or other physical complaints. Stomachaches and headaches that stem from sexual assault are very real physical pain.
He starts sleeping poorly, starts wetting his bed, has new fears, refuses to go to places he’s been before or be with certain people, starts having school problems or difficulties with peers, cries excessively, is depressed, gets clingy or aggressive, or becomes secretive.
She may try different methods of escapism, such as running away, drugs or alcohol, daydreaming, or isolating herself.
Be aware that some children being molested may not show any of these symptoms. Some child molesters groom their victims so successfully that the children love their abusers and even try to protect them.
The Center for Behavioral Intervention in Oregon has put out a terrific brochure called “Protecting Your Children: Advice From Child Molesters.” To get a copy, call 503.644.2772. The organization doesn’t seem to have a website right now.
Impact Personal Safety is a top personal safety organization nationwide. They have practical, real-world self-defense classes for adult women and men, teenagers, and children. Classes and school programs are available. For a history of the organization, see the Impact site, or read here.


Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 2 COMMENTS

Networking Safety Tips: Help Keep Your Children SAFE

Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 1 COMMENT

(SOURCE:  http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/tech/tec14.shtm)

Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens

You’ve probably learned a long list of important safety and privacy lessons already: Look both ways before crossing the street; buckle up; hide your diary where your nosy brother can’t find it; don’t talk to strangers.

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, is urging kids to add one more lesson to the list: Don’t post information about yourself online that you don’t want the whole world to know. The Internet is the world’s biggest information exchange: many more people could see your information than you intend, including your parents, your teachers, your employer, the police — and strangers, some of whom could be dangerous.

Social networking sites have added a new factor to the “friends of friends” equation. By providing information about yourself and using blogs, chat rooms, email, or instant messaging, you can communicate, either within a limited community, or with the world at large. But while the sites can increase your circle of friends, they also can increase your exposure to people who have less-than-friendly intentions. You’ve heard the stories about people who were stalked by someone they met online, had their identity stolen, or had their computer hacked.

Your Safety’s at Stake

The FTC suggests these tips for socializing safely online:

  • Think about how different sites work before deciding to join a site. Some sites will allow only a defined community of users to access posted content; others allow anyone and everyone to view postings.
  • Think about keeping some control over the information you post. Consider restricting access to your page to a select group of people, for example, your friends from school, your club, your team, your community groups, or your family.
  • Keep your information to yourself. Don’t post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or bank and credit card account numbers — and don’t post other people’s information, either. Be cautious about posting information that could be used to identify you or locate you offline. This could include the name of your school, sports team, clubs, and where you work or hang out.
  • Make sure your screen name doesn’t say too much about you. Don’t use your name, your age, or your hometown. Even if you think your screen name makes you anonymous, it doesn’t take a genius to combine clues to figure out who you are and where you can be found.
  • Post only information that you are comfortable with others seeing — and knowing — about you. Many people can see your page, including your parents, your teachers, the police, the college you might want to apply to next year, or the job you might want to apply for in five years.
  • Remember that once you post information online, you can’t take it back. Even if you delete the information from a site, older versions exist on other people’s computers.
  • Consider not posting your photo. It can be altered and broadcast in ways you may not be happy about. If you do post one, ask yourself whether it’s one your mom would display in the living room.
  • Flirting with strangers online could have serious consequences. Because some people lie about who they really are, you never really know who you’re dealing with.
  • Be wary if a new online friend wants to meet you in person. Before you decide to meet someone, do your research: Ask whether any of your friends know the person, and see what background you can dig up through online search engines. If you decide to meet them, be smart about it: Meet in a public place, during the day, with friends you trust. Tell an adult or a responsible sibling where you’re going, and when you expect to be back.
  • Trust your gut if you have suspicions. If you feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online, tell an adult you trust and report it to the police and the social networking site. You could end up preventing someone else from becoming a victim.

For More Information

To learn more about staying safe online, visit the following organizations:Federal Trade Commission — www.OnGuardOnline.gov
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

The FTC manages OnGuardOnline.gov, which provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.

GetNetWise — www.getnetwise.org
GetNetWise is a public service sponsored by Internet industry corporations and public interest organizations to help ensure that Internet users have safe, constructive, and educational or entertaining online experiences. The GetNetWise coalition wants Internet users to be just “one click away” from the resources they need to make informed decisions about their and their family’s use of the Internet.

Internet Keep Safe Coalition — www.iKeepSafe.org
iKeepSafe.org, home of Faux Paw the Techno Cat, is a coalition of 49 governors/first spouses, law enforcement, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other associations dedicated to helping parents, educators, and caregivers by providing tools and guidelines to teach children the safe and healthy use of technology. The organization’s vision is to see generations of children worldwide grow up safely using technology and the Internet.

i-SAFE — www.i-safe.org
Founded in 1998 and endorsed by the U.S. Congress, i-SAFE is a non-profit foundation dedicated to protecting the online experiences of youth everywhere. i-SAFE incorporates classroom curriculum with dynamic community outreach to empower students, teachers, parents, law enforcement, and concerned adults to make the Internet a safer place. Join them today in the fight to safeguard children’s online experience.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children — www.missingkids.com; www.netsmartz.org
NCMEC is a private, non-profit organization that helps prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation; helps find missing children; and assists victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families, and the professionals who serve them.

National Crime Prevention Council — www.ncpc.org; www.mcgruff.org
The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) is a private, nonprofit organization whose primary mission is to enable people to create safer and more caring communities by addressing the causes of crime and violence and reducing the opportunities for crime to occur. Among many crime prevention issues, NCPC addresses Internet Safety with kids and parents through www.mcgruff.org and public service advertising under the National Citizens’ Crime Prevention Campaign — symbolized by McGruff the Crime Dog® and his “Take A Bite Out Of Crime®.”

National Cyber Security Alliance — www.staysafeonline.org
NCSA is a non-profit organization that provides tools and resources to empower home users, small businesses, and schools, colleges, and universities to stay safe online. A public-private partnership, NCSA members include the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Trade Commission, and many private-sector corporations and organizations.

staysafe — www.staysafe.org
staysafe.org is an educational site intended to help consumers understand both the positive aspects of the Internet as well as how to manage a variety of safety and security issues that exist online.

Wired Safety — www.wiredsafety.org
WiredSafety.org is an Internet safety and help group. Comprised of unpaid volunteers around the world, WiredSafety.org provides education, assistance, and awareness on all aspects of cybercrime and abuse, privacy, security, and responsible technology use. It is also the parent group of Teenangels.org, FBI-trained teens and preteens who promote Internet safety.

For kids:
Protect your password and make sure you really know who someone is before you allow them onto your friends list
What you post online stays online. Don’t post anything you may want to take back.
Get the OK from friends and family before posting their personal information online.
Check what your friends are posting or saying about you. Even if you are careful, they may not be and may be putting you at risk.
Never make plans to meet an online “friend” in person. MySpace users are not always what they say they are. Someone who says they’re 15 years old may actually be 45 years old!
Remember, what you post online is never completely private and it stays online forever! Don’t post anything you may want to take back. Never post anything you wouldn’t want a potential college, employer, or sports team to see.
Always keep your passwords private. Only share your passwords with your parents.
Never, ever, give out your personal information like your name, address, or phone number. Instead, use your log-in name or e-mail address.
Don’t share photos of yourself, your family, or your home with people you meet online. If you do share a photo of yourself, distort it in some way to protect your identity.
Always delete unknown e-mail attachments without opening them. They can contain destructive viruses.
Log off immediately and tell your parents if someone writes something that is mean or makes you feel uncomfortable. Never respond!
Be careful sharing other information too, like the name of their school, sports teams, or hobbies, where they work or hang out, or any other information that can be used to identify them or locate them offline.
Pick a user name that doen’t reveal too much personal information. Never use your name or home town as your user name.
Be careful when communicating in IM Buddy or friend lists. Know the person before including him/her in your IM buddy or friend list. If you do not approve of a user, delete the user name and block that user.
Never agree to meet someone that online without first checking with your parents. If your parents agree to the meeting, be sure that it is in a public place and bring someone with you.
A lot free software compatible with MySpace can be found on the Internet, unfortunately, many of them contain some kind of spy tools, spam applications, or viruses. Check with your parents before downloading or installing software or doing anything that could possibly hurt our computer or jeopardize your family’s privacy.
And for parents:
Talk to your kids, ask questions and learn how to navigate MySpace. Make the time they spend on MySpace a privilege, or something they have to work for, like an allowance.
Ask to see your kid’s MySpace page.
Don’t consider monitoring your kid’s MySpace account as an invasion of privacy. After all, it’s a public forum.
Keep the family computer in a public area, not your child’s room
Don’t let your kids put too much information online.
Never give out a primary e-mail address to people you don’t know and make sure your kids don’t provide any personal information in their username.
Talk to your kids about the dangers of identity theft.
Find out who your kid’s IM buddies are, and find out who’s on their friends list.
Make sure your kids have set their profile to “private.”
If necessary, pull the plug! Be the parent. Safety comes first.
Set the rules for when and what your children are allowed to access online.
Discuss safe ways to communicate with others and how your kids should represent themselves online.

Recent Comments

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.

Recent Comments

5-mth old baby dies from child abuse

On Aug-9-2010
Reported by Sandra

Man Fathered 9 Kids With His Own Daughter

On Jul-16-2012
Reported by Sandra
Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.
%d bloggers like this: