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CSA: At PSU, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard recounts abuse

Posted: Monday, October 29, 2012 1:14 pm | Updated: 1:24 pm, Mon Oct 29, 2012.

Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Retired boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard says he cried for Jerry Sandusky’s accusers after hearing of the former Penn State assistant coach’s arrest on child sex abuse charges nearly a year ago.

A survivor himself, Leonard spoke about his own experiences Monday at the university’s inaugural conference to raise awareness about combating abuse.

Leonard says it’s still a difficult topic, but he wants to be a leader in speaking out about against abuse and encouraging victims to come forward. Experts say cases of child sex abuse are underreported.

Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison after being convicted on dozens of criminal counts. Eight accusers testified at trial.

Leonard says he would tell those accusers that speaking out about their experiences may prevent others from experiencing abuse

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CSA: Boy Scouts’ banned sex abusers posted online

By Carl Prine and Andrew Conte

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 9:48 p.m.
Updated 14 hours ago

Long kept secret by the Boy Scouts of America, the names of nearly 1,900 volunteers banned by the organization for alleged sexual abuse is now online, and it includes 21 Western Pennsylvania men — most of them accused of molesting kids in their care between 1968 and 1991.

Their identities were culled from stacks of cases termed the “Perversion Files” by the Scouts and were released publicly on Monday by Seattle attorney Timothy Kosnoff, a civil litigator who has lawsuits against the Scouts and other institutions accused of fostering a culture of child sexual abuse.

Scouring the rolls, the Tribune-Review counted 88 adult male volunteers across Pennsylvania banished by the Scouts. In Western Pennsylvania, 21 men tied to 23 troops from 1974 to 1991 were placed on the worldwide ban, including five former Scout leaders in Pittsburgh and one each in Arnold, Wilmerding, Butler, McKees Rocks and Duquesne.

Following a recent Oregon Supreme Court decree, the Portland firm of O’Donnell Clark & Crew plans on Oct. 18 to release tens of thousands of redacted pages from the same files, forcing communities nationwide to confront a legacy of alleged molestation covered up by one of America’s most trusted institutions.

“I intended for this to be used by victims and their families as a useful key, a guidepost, for understanding the thousands of documents that are going to be released,” Kosnoff said.

“The irony is that the Boy Scouts of America is a well-organized machine that’s more like a modern corporation than many people realize,” he added. “It documented these cases and retained these files. And they did that for 100 years, perhaps compiling more than 20,000 files against individuals.”

Local Scout leaders refused to comment on the latest round of disclosures, referring Tribune-Review inquiries to officials at the organization’s Dallas headquarters who did not return messages. In the past, officials there have insisted that they’ve reformed antiquated rules for combating the abuse of children, making scouting safer than ever before.

The “Perversion” dossier was intended to serve both as a formal blacklist of suspected sex criminals and as a means to block the accused volunteers from suing the Scouts for violating their due process rights. But in recent years the catalog of alleged violators has aided lawsuits charging the organization with tolerating the abuse of thousands of children in order to protect its institutional reputation.

“The files show that the focus wasn’t on the victims,” Kosnoff said. “People can see with their own eyes the patterns and the scope of the problem in the organization that made this abuse possible.”

Three Western Pennsylvania troops reported multiple allegations of misconduct, a Trib review of the documents shows. Pittsburgh Troop 527, for example, triggered complaints against four volunteers from 1989 to 1991. They included Samuel “Tiny” Nugent, 63, of Erie, banned by the Scouts in 1989 and convicted two years later of molestation.

He’s joined on both the Scouts’ list and the Megan’s Law catalog of Pennsylvania’s sexual predators by Albert William Otte, 55, of Butler; John Stephen Ricci, 63, of Enon Valley; Michael L. Flavin, 61, of Erie; and Raymond Alexander, 65, who now lives in Philadelphia.

Scout officials in Arnold placed Flavin on the blacklist in 1990 after his arrest on molestation charges. Alexander was banned in 1991 after Wilmerding Scouts alleged a lengthy pattern of misconduct dating back 13 years. Accused of violating children in Beaver County, Ricci resigned from the Scouts in 1986, according to the files. Similar allegations forced Otte out of two Butler troops in 1991.

The Trib was unable to reach any of them for comment; none has a listed phone number.

Seven of the 21 local men were convicted in Pennsylvania of sex crimes against children, though the violations that led to blacklisting by the Scouts vary widely. One case involved a 14-year-old boy who dropped his pants, making a fellow Scout “feel weird.” Another blocked a volunteer in Windber in Somerset County, who previously had been accused of molestation. He allegedly tried to give alcohol to boys and take their pictures.

Everyone on the list had the opportunity to appeal their bans, and they either failed to convince Scouting officials of their innocence or never tried to refute the allegations, Kosnoff said.

Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations on sex crimes against children does not expire until the victim reaches 50 years of age, except for cases before 1984. That will prevent prosecutors from ever indicting five of the men on the Scout list for allegedly molesting kids in Pittsburgh, Bethel Park, Summerville, Jefferson County; Farrell, Mercer County; and Clintonville, Venango County.

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape spokeswoman Kristen Houser in Harrisburg said the ongoing scandal at Penn State University tied to convicted pedophile football coach Jerry Sandusky and the deluge of data from the Boy Scouts’ files should prod all parents and institutions to redouble their efforts to protect children. Organizations must ensure that they comply with all state laws mandating the reporting and vetting of sexual predators, she said, and they should schedule regular training for both staffers and volunteers on spotting and stopping abuse. Moms and dads can help, too.

“‘I’m watching. I know what I’m looking for, and I’ll hold you accountable.’ That’s a message parents can send,” Houser said.

The Boy Scout lists now online likely will affect victims differently, said Christopher Anderson, executive director of MaleSurvivor, a New York-based nonprofit that aids grown victims of sexual assault. Some will recall terrible memories, but others will feel vindicated.

“It will stir up a lot of emotions for many survivors,” Anderson said.

Carl Prine and Andrew Conte are
staff writers for Trib Total Media.
Prine can be reached at 412-320-7826
Conte can be reached at 412-320-7835 or

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CSA: Protect Your Child from a Predator

By Jessica Snyder Sachs from Parents Magazine

When I was in fifth grade, I begged my parents to let me quit music lessons. But I didn’t tell them why. I feared what might happen if they knew what the teacher had done to me after saying he loved me and leading me away to a dark bedroom.

Suffice it to say that when my own daughter started lessons at age 5, I plopped myself down in the same room with a book.

Fortunately, there’s a much greater awareness about child sexual abuse than there was in my youth. In fact, there’s a much greater awareness than there was just 12 months ago, before former Penn State University’s football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing ten boys over a 15-year period. (Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse.)

That horrifying case has sparked a national conversation about child sexual abuse, as well as a significant increase in calls to hotlines from people seeking support and guidance about preventing or stopping it. In just the first two weeks after the allegations surfaced, the national organization Stop It Now!, which works to prevent child sexual abuse, experienced a 130 percent increase in contacts.

What many parents now understand is that sexual abuse is quite common. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Roughly 90 percent of offenders are relatives of their victim, or acquaintances such as neighbors, family friends, teachers, and coaches. “Child predators can appear to the outside world to be warm, caring, loving, and respectful,” says Robin Sax, author of Predators and Child Molesters and a former Los Angeles prosecutor who specialized in sex crimes against children. “It is these very traits that allow them to continue their horrific acts.”

That’s one reason why the prevention strategies that many of us have heard before aren’t very helpful. Expecting kids to sort out the difference between positive and negative touch can backfire, for instance, because sexual abuse doesn’t always start out feeling “yucky.” It doesn’t necessarily hurt, nor does it have to involve touch. (Such is the case when adults show pornography to kids or get them to expose themselves for photos.) And suggesting your child “yell and tell” if a grown-up makes him feel uncomfortable can be a tall order. This is especially true when the offender is an authority figure who has worked hard to win your child’s trust.

Unfortunately, children will often keep abuse secret because they feel confused, scared, or guilty. “An abuser typically shames his victim or threatens a child with what will happen if she tells,” says Anne Lee, founder of Darkness to Light, a nonprofit in Charleston, South Carolina, dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse. It’s important to encourage children to ask for help if anything makes them feel mixed up or confused, says Linda E. Johnson, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, a chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America. But avoid using the word should. By saying “You should scream” or “You should run,” it puts the burden on the child. (And if you happen to share this advice with a child who has already been abused, it gives the unintended message that he was responsible for protecting himself, she adds.)

So how can you best safeguard your children? The best prevention involves having somewhat difficult conversations with your child but making sure they’re age-appropriate. (See “Preventing Abuse” on the next page.) Also, trust your gut. “Go with your instincts if anything bothers you about someone who spends time with your child,” Sax says. That includes the neighbor or person from church who is overly eager to help you out by babysitting or just taking your kid off your hands. Having a bad vibe is not necessarily enough to make a crime report, but it’s plenty to justify your not allowing that person access to your kid. “In a school setting, always report an uneasy feeling to administrators, because they are mandated reporters and are trained to decide whether the situation warrants further attention,” she explains. You are not liable, as long as there is something suspicious that warrants the report.

Prevention and warning signs

Know Who’s In Your Child’s Life

Girl with teddy bear

Since we can’t always be right there with our kids, we need to know that they are always in supervised situations with trustworthy adults. Today many youth organizations have policies such as the Boy Scouts of America’s “two-deep leadership” rule, which requires at least two adults on all outings. If your child belongs to a group with this guideline, make him aware of it so he can tell you if it’s not being used.

Similarly, check whether your child’s day care, school, and after-school programs have an open-door policy, along with either an actual open door or a window into every room where kids spend time. (Many classrooms have at least a small window built into each door.) Ideally, this should be combined with regular, unexpected visits by supervisors. In fact, for any situation that’s innately private (such as counseling), there should be a door with a window, so you always have the chance to observe, says Johnson.

If you use a nanny or another unsupervised caregiver, don’t stop with a check of her background and references. Occasionally drop in unannounced. And make it clear that you don’t want your child left in someone else’s care without your permission, since it’s possible that a friend or a family member of the caregiver could have sexual- behavior problems, says Johnson. This is particularly important if care takes place in a home where other grown-ups or older kids may be around.

Get to know the coaches, clergy, teachers, and other adults in your child’s world and observe how they interact with her. Show up to practice, involve yourself in activities, and volunteer in the classroom. And if anything feels off, talk to other parents and compare notes. “Listen up when they express concerns or uncomfortable feelings, and strategize as a group about how you can ensure the safety of one another’s kids,” says Kristen Houser, vice president of communications and development for the anti-sexual violence coalition Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, which founded the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

It’s also crucial to become acquainted with your children’s friends. Pay special attention to friendships involving older kids, which can lead to vulnerable situations. More than a third of those who sexually abuse children are under the age of 18 themselves. In many instances, a child may not grasp that his actions toward another child are harmful, says Deborah Donovan Rice, executive director of Stop It Now!

Recognize Red Flags

Only one in five kids who have been sexually abused will report it, says Robin Castle, child sexual abuse prevention manager at Prevent Child Abuse Vermont. (The majority of survivors wait until they’re older to talk about it.) “It’s very, very hard for a child to disclose, even under the best of circumstances,” she explains. So you need to watch for warning signs. “If your child tells you that he doesn’t want to be around a particular person or take part in certain outings, take him seriously,” says Lee, who speaks from personal experience. As a child she was abused repeatedly by an uncle who told her no one would love her if they found out what she’d done. She kept quiet but tearfully dreaded annual gatherings at the family’s summer cabin.

Some children may show physical signs such as unexplained urinary infections, redness, or swelling in the genital area. Other kids may have stomachaches, headaches, or sudden bedwetting. Behavioral signs can include angry outbursts, sleep problems, withdrawal, or a drop in grades. Sexual precociousness is another worrisome sign; perhaps the child starts making sexual comments or showing inappropriate sexual behaviors. Of course, none of these actions points specifically to sexual abuse, but they may warrant a consultation with a child psychologist or a pediatrician who’s been trained in child abuse.

Above all else, keep this in mind: “If you suspect that your child—or any child—has been abused, the most important thing is to not investigate it on your own,” insists Johnson. Extensive questioning may jeopardize an ensuing investigation. Instead, immediately report your suspicion to your state child-protection-services agency (find a state-by-state list at

How to Talk About Abuse

If your child ever discloses abuse to you, you have one main responsibility: “Listen for all you’re worth, and be loving and supportive,” says Johnson. Incidents reported by children are rarely false, experts agree. There’s no template for this discussion; it depends heavily on the child’s age, the possible suspect, and how long ago the potential abuse may have occurred. But you should follow certain guidelines. First, have the conversation in private. Be aware of your body language: Lean forward, make eye contact, and get close to his eye level to help your child feel more comfortable, says psychologist Julie Medlin, Ph.D., coauthor with Steven Knauts, Ph.D., of Avoiding Sexual Dangers: A Parent’s Guide to Protecting Your Child.

Immediately reassure your child that you believe him and that he did the right thing by telling you. Keep your questions open-ended (“What did you do together?” “What happened next?”), avoiding detailed ones that are suggestive, such as “Did he put his mouth on your penis?”

Unfortunately, some parents deny the abuse (“Your Uncle John would never do such a thing!”), blame the child (“How could you let this happen?”), or become hysterical (“I’ll kill him!”). Such responses can cause kids to shut down or alter their story out of fear. Instead, reiterate to your child that you are not upset with him and that it’s not his fault.

If there’s any good news here, it’s this: “Sexually abused children who receive support and help can and do heal,” says David Finkelhor, Ph.D., director of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center. Research has shown that the majority of sexually abused kids grow up with no significant mental-health or behavioral problems, he adds. The factors that appear to help include social support, strong self-esteem, and a child’s understanding that she was not to blame for the abuse. Child psychologists and psychiatrists with specialized training can help kids begin the process of overcoming the trauma. This is why it’s so crucial for children to speak up. “Keeping the secret can subliminally reinforce feelings of shame that can be harmful later in life,” says Houser.

Though as a child I chose not to disclose my abuse—fearing that it would cause turmoil in our close-knit community—I thrived anyway. But I am well aware that I’m more fortunate than many people who have been through a similar experience. When I try to understand why I came out of the experience relatively unscathed, I believe it stemmed from my self- confidence and my refusal to take any blame. Both were inspired by my parents’ unconditional love.

Preventing Abuse: An Age-By-Age Guide

Depending on your child’s developmental stage, you’ll need to focus on specific issues and address (or avoid) certain topics.

Ages 2-4
Use the right language. “Skip the euphemisms,” says Robin Sax. “Call a vagina a vagina and a penis a penis.” This decreases potential confusion and improves your child’s ability to discuss sexual situations.

Explain what’s private. Tell her that besides herself, her parents, and her doctor (and caregiver if your child’s still in diapers), no one should touch her private parts. If anyone does, she can tell you and you won’t be mad.

Give him ownership of his body. Has a stranger ever ruffled your child’s hair, telling you how cute he is? Your tendency may be to politely tolerate the behavior. But it’s a great teachable moment. Saying “I don’t feel comfortable having someone we don’t know touching my kids” models to your child that it’s okay to say “no” to touch—even from outwardly “nice” people.

Be a safe refuge. You may think this is obvious to your child, but explicitly state that she can tell you if she ever feels confused or scared about anything and that you’ll help and love her no matter what has happened.

Break the taboo around sexuality. If your 4-year-old asks where babies come from, for instance, give her a brief, honest, and age-appropriate answer. “If we tell a child she’s not old enough to know, or to not ask such questions, then we’ve given the message that this subject is off-limits,” says Robin Castle.

Ages 5-8
Reinforce boundaries. Support your child if he wants to say “No, thank you” to hugs or kisses from relatives. If your son is squirming away as Grandma leans in give him a kiss, you can say, “Vincent isn’t really in the mood for a kiss right now, and that’s okay, isn’t it, Grandma?” suggests Linda E. Johnson.

Head off guilty feelings. Don’t wait until you suspect something is wrong. “Kids need to hear that it is never their fault if someone behaves sexually with them and that they can always come to you,” says Jolie Logan, CEO of Darkness to Light. In doing so, you help take away the perpetrator’s most powerful weapons—shame and fear. Bathtime is one opportunity to talk about bodies and boundaries, says Logan (“I want you to understand that people shouldn’t touch your private parts, or ask you to touch theirs”). Or use current events: “There are grown-ups who like to do inappropriate things with children, and it’s my job as a parent to keep you safe. You can always come to me if you feel uncomfortable.”

Teach Internet safety. Many experts consider kids this age too young to be online by themselves. Use parental controls to limit her access, and explain that people are not always who they claim to be online. Insist your child never disclose personal information, and ask her to tell you if she ever feels uncomfortable about messages she receives.

Ages 9 and up
Continue the conversation. As children near adolescence, their peers could sexually threaten them. Indeed, your child’s own budding sexuality may get him into situations that offenders may readily take advantage of. Look for chances to talk about this; it can include brainstorming ways for your child to avoid or get out of uncomfortable situations with peers. Reinforce that it is never a child’s fault when someone mistreats her.

Monitor devices. Kids can easily, and often accidentally, access porn through smartphones and gaming systems such as Nintendo Wii and Sony PSP that can be connected to the Internet. “We’re seeing a record- high number of these cases in our practice,” says Dr. Julie Medlin. “Most parents have no idea that their kids can access porn so easily in this way, nor do they understand just how much of a negative impact such exposure can have on the child’s sexuality.” Consult your device’s user guide to enable parental controls and limit access to certain games with mature content and to manage Web browsing, chat features, and purchases.

Help identify trusted adults. Many children cannot bring themselves to disclose sexual abuse directly to parents, Sax says. So she encourages teaching kids to seek out adults whom they feel comfortable turning to when something is bothering them. She adds that they should continue to tell until someone acts on the issue. By law, teachers and school counselors must report suspected abuse to authorities, and in 18 states (and Puerto Rico), all adults who suspect abuse are required to report.

Where to turn for help

Childhelp USA maintains a 24-hour National Child Abuse Hotline.

National Children’s Alliance has nearly 700 advocacy centers nationwide and helps with the process of reporting and recovering from abuse.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) has a free, confidential, secure service that allows victims past and present to get help via its phone and online hotlines.

Stop it Now! also offers a phone and an e-mail Helpline dedicated to sexual-abuse prevention. Its Ask Now! advice column features actual situations so people can seek guidance for their own concerns.

Originally published in the November 2012 issue of Parents magazine.

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CSA: Huge Win for Victims of Child Abuse Imagery

On October 1, 2012 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that victims depicted in child abuse imagery have a right to restitution when a defendant is found in possession of the images, regardless of whether the defendant created or distributed them.  This ruling is significant for victims of these crimes, whose images are often spread widely among networks of criminals who view their abuse, resulting in thousands and thousands of viewings.  Imagine knowing that images of your abuse as a child are being viewed around the world for years, with no way to halt this re-victimization.  The reality is that every time a victim of this abuse has his or her image viewed, the victim suffers new harm.  Full restitution is absolutely necessary.  NCVLI has been working on this and related cases from the beginning – submitting an amicus brief on the issue and publishing a Bulletin (available on our victim law library, or by clicking here.) on the importance of restitution for victims of child abuse imagery.  Read the New & Noteworthy Court Opinion of this recent decision here

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I Don’t Own My Child’s Body

By Katia Hetter, CNN
updated 9:09 PM EDT, Wed June 20, 2012

(CNN) — My daughter occasionally goes on a hugging and kissing strike.

She’s 4. Her parents could get a hug or a kiss, but many people who know her cannot, at least right now. And I won’t make her.

“I would like you to hug Grandma, but I won’t make you do it,” I told her recently.

“I don’t have to?” she asked, cuddling up to me at bedtime, confirming the facts to be sure.

No, she doesn’t have to. And just to be clear, there is no passive-aggressive, conditional, manipulative nonsense behind my statement. I mean what I say. She doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone just because I say so, not even me. I will not override my own child’s currently strong instincts to back off from touching someone who she chooses not to touch.

I figure her body is actually hers, not mine.

It doesn’t belong to her parents, preschool teacher, dance teacher or soccer coach. While she must treat people with respect, she doesn’t have to offer physical affection to please them. And the earlier she learns ownership of herself and responsibility for her body, the better for her.

The trial of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach accused of sexually abusing young boys, has only strengthened my resolve to teach my kid that it’s OK to say no to an adult who lays a hand on her — even a seemingly friendly hand.

Sandusky’s comments on child rape allegations

“When we force children to submit to unwanted affection in order not to offend a relative or hurt a friend’s feelings, we teach them that their bodies do not really belong to them because they have to push aside their own feelings about what feels right to them,” said Irene van der Zande, co-founder and executive director of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, a nonprofit specializing in teaching personal safety and violence prevention. “This leads to children getting sexually abused, teen girls submitting to sexual behavior so ‘he’ll like me’ and kids enduring bullying because everyone is ‘having fun.’ ”

Protection against predators

Forcing children to touch people when they don’t want to leaves them vulnerable to sexual abusers, most of whom are people known to the children they abuse, according to Ursula Wagner, a mental health clinician with the FamilyWorks program at Heartland Alliance in Chicago. None of the child victims of sexual abuse or assault she’s counseled was attacked by strangers, she said.

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Sometimes a child picks up on something odd about your brother-in-law that no one knows. It may not be that he’s a sexual predator. He may just have no sense of boundaries or tickle too much, which can be torture for a person who doesn’t like it. Or he may be a predator.

“It sends a message that there are certain situations [when] it’s not up to them what they do with their bodies,” said Wagner. “If they are obligated to be affectionate even if they don’t want to, it makes them vulnerable to sexual abuse later on.”

Why wait until there’s trouble? Parenting coach Sharon Silver worked hard to cultivate her children’s detector. Silver says her sons easily pick up on subtle clues that suggest something isn’t quite right about particular people or situations.

In your child’s case, it may be that something’s off about Aunt Linda or the music teacher down the street.

“It’s something inside of you that tells you when something is wrong,” said Silver. Training your child to pay attention to those instincts may protect him or her in the future.

Having sex to please someone else

Would you want your daughter to have sex with her boyfriend simply to make him happy? Parents who justify ordering their children to kiss grandma might say, “It’s different.”

No, it’s not, according to author Jennifer Lehr, who blogs about her parenting style. Ordering children to kiss or hug an adult they don’t want to touch teaches them to use their body to please you or someone else in authority or, really, anyone.

“The message a child gets is that not only is another person’s emotional state their responsibility but that they must also sacrifice their own bodies to buoy another’s ego or satisfy their desire for love or affection,” said Lehr.

“Certainly no parent would wish for their teenager or adult child to feel pressure to reciprocate unwanted sexual advances, yet many teach their children at a young age that it’s their job to use their bodies to make others happy,” she said.

We can’t be rude

You might think my daughter’s shiftless parents are not teaching her manners, but that’s not true. She will shake your hand in greeting or give you a high-five when we’re saying goodbye. She knows how to set the table and place a napkin in her lap. She even has me saying a little all-inclusive blessing she brought home from school.

We’ve trained her to say please and thank you so often that she’ll say it back to me when I ask her anything. “What did you say?” I sometimes ask her when I didn’t hear her. “Please?” she’ll answer. No, I meant what did she actually say? (Maybe we’re overdoing it.)

Once a cheater, always a cheater?

She has to be polite when greeting people, whether she knows them or not. When family and friends greet us, I give her the option of “a hug or a high-five.” Since she’s been watching adults greet each other with a handshake, she sometimes offers that option. We talk about high-fives so often she’s started using them to meet anyone, which can make the start of any social occasion look like a touchdown celebration.

“When kids are really little and shy, parents can start to offer them choices for treating people with respect and care,” said van der Zande. “By age 6 or 7, even shy kids can shake somebody’s hand or wave or do something to communicate respect and care. Manners — treating people with respect and care — is different than demanding physical displays of affection.”

It creates more work

Refusing to order her to hand out hugs or kisses on demand means there’s more work to keep the relationships going and keep feelings from being hurt. Most of our extended family live far away, so it’s my job to teach my kiddo about people she doesn’t see on a daily basis.

We make sure to keep in contact with calls and Skype and presents. In advance of loved ones’ visits, which usually means an all-day plane ride, I talk a lot about how we’re related to our guests, what they mean to me and what we’re going to do when they arrive. I give them plenty of opportunity to interact with her so she can learn to trust them.

I explain to relatives who want to know why we’re letting her decide who she touches. And when she does hug them, the joy is palpable. Not from obligation or a direct order from Mom.

And while I hope I’m teaching my child how to take care of herself in the future, there are benefits to allowing her to express affection in her own way and on her own timeline. When my child cuddled up to my mother on the sofa recently, happily talking to her about stories and socks and toes and other things, my mother’s face lit up. She knew it was real.

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CSA: Pedophiles and pimps score at large sporting events like Super Bowl XLVI


for this article.

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CSA: A local pastor has spoken out about his experience


Darkness to Light is getting increased response for workshops on preventing childhood sexual abuse since the Penn State scandal. A local pastor has spoken out about his experience.

By Adrianne Murchison January 12, 2012

Darwin Hobbs, who is training to become a Darkness to Light facilitator, said he was sexually abused by his stepfather from 10- to 12-years-old.

“For many years I kept it secret and I did not tell a soul until I was about to marry my wife Tracy, in 1993,” said Hobbs, 43, a worship pastor at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, in Norcross.

Hobbs said he told his mother just before his 40th birthday, after his stepfather died. He now talks about it openly, as part of his healing process. “There is tons of shame behind that kind of thing happening. You’re flooded with guilt, all kinds of depression…It’s like I literally died. Like all, sense of normalcy for me was no longer possible,” Hobbs said.

The harm is even deeper if an adult witnesses the abuse and doesn’t stop it. “Because you go though life with a sense of fear and not feeling protected,” he said. Referring to the Penn State scandal, Hobbs said, “I can only imagine if someone said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ and you are rescued.”

One in four girls, and one in six boys are abused by their 18th birthday, according to Darkness to Light.

Yet conversations on sexual abuse can often bring an uncomfortable silence.

It’s something that Sandy Springs resident Kim Cunninghis is used to. Since 2006, she has been talking about sexual abuse prevention as a facilitator for Darkness to Light, the children’s protection agency that Hobbs is training with.

“I would get push back from people saying, ‘I have boys,’ or ‘My kids are older. I would know by now,’ “ said Cunninghis, a mother of two. “I flat out had people say, ‘It’s not in our neighborhood; not in our community.’ “

Since news broke on the Penn State and Syracuse University scandals, people are a little more willing to talk openly about sexual abuse and prevention, Cunninghis said.

Calls have increased and more men have expressed interest in Darkness to Light workshops. The sessions raise awareness for parents and people who work with children. “Then you can start having a dialogue with your kids. Or your child is going to a sleepover and you want to be aware of who is going to be in the house,” Cunninghis said.

She added, “It teaches you kind of what to look for in a perpetrator. The grooming process; how long it takes. It’s not just the child that gets groomed, it’s the entire family. And in [Jerry] Sandusky’s case [at Penn State] that was an entire state.”

These can be scary concepts for a parent, said Daren Roberts, a children’s instructor at Alliance Martial Arts, in Sandy Springs, who took the Darkness to Light workshop.

Unlike, say, bullying, sexual abuse is not something people talk openly about, he said. “It’s very scary for a parent to try to conceptualize that there are [harmful] relationships in your child’s day to day life that you are not aware of,” he said. “And you have to protect other kids too.”

The training helps adults talk about their own experiences. Cunninghis said, “People have come forward and given good feedback [following the workshops]. They’ve said, “Yes it was somebody my family knew…”

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DV: Nobody Ever Earned It

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Child Sexual Abuse: The Devil We Know vs. the Devil We Don’t

Wise words from Mr. Burrell…–Joy


By William D. Burrell

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 04:30

 It has been just over two months since the news of the arrest of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky broke. The torrent of electronic and print media coverage was overwhelming, but the facts alone are stunning: a career college football coach and pillar of the community charged with numerous acts of sexual abuse of a dozen young men over some twenty years.

The after-effects are equally shocking. The Penn State president and two high level university administrators were fired, followed shortly by the departure of Joe Paterno, the university’s iconic head football coach. The legal process—criminal and civil—will take years to conclude, and that time and perhaps more will be needed for the Penn State community to heal.

While Sandusky is entitled to the presumption of innocence, the public record of the allegations against him contained in the grand jury reports paint a portrait of a classic serial child sex abuser with numerous victims over many years.

This portrait is consistent with the evidence we have about the behavior and offending patterns of this group of offenders.

However this case ultimately ends, it provides a cautionary tale about preventing child sexual abuse and an educational opportunity for all of us. This is a particularly important opportunity, given another recent high-profile, equally horrific, example of child sexual abuse.

The story of Jaycee Lee Dugard captured the attention of the nation and the media in 2009 when she was rescued from an eighteen year long captivity at the hands of her kidnapper.

She had been abducted off the street in South Lake Tahoe, CA by a paroled sex offender in 1991 when she was just 11 years old. During her captivity, she was repeatedly sexually assaulted and gave birth to two children. Ultimately freed, she told heart-wrenching stories of her captivity that send chills down the spine of anyone who reads her testimony.

The Dugard case is an extreme example of the scenario parents everywhere fear. A child is abducted by a stranger from a public place that is presumed to be safe, and is sexually assaulted or worse. The case has echoes of the 1994 New Jersey case of Megan Kanka, who was abducted, raped and murdered by a paroled sex offender who lived across the street.

The Megan Kanka case triggered swift action in New Jersey. The package of laws known as “Megan’s Law” was written, considered, voted on and passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in four months time, which may be a record. Megan’s Law includes requirements for sex offender registration and community notification of the residence of the more serious offenders.

The philosophy behind this law is that registration of known sex offenders will enable law enforcement to keep track of them and let the public know where the highest-risk offenders them are living.

Subsequent laws adopted in other states and at the federal level have broadened the scope of  Megan’s Law.  Some states now prohibit registered sex offenders from establishing residence close to locations where children congregate (schools, playground, parks and day care centers). To the parent who fears a child abduction scenario, the provisions of Megan’s Law seem like a good idea. We know who the bad guys are, we know where they live, and we’ve made it illegal for them to live near our kids.

But whatever level of comfort the Megan’s Law provisions may provide, the Sandusky case raises a whole new set of issues that represent a larger threat to the safety of our children.

The evidence and experience demonstrates that our children are at much

greater risk of sexual assault at the hands not of a registered sex offender who

is a stranger, but of someone that they know and trust. That person is often also

known and trusted by the child’s parents. And the offense is likely to occur not

in a dark alley or a seedy van with blacked out windows, but at home or in a

place that should be safe, such as a school, a church or a sports locker room. 

A large number of child-victim sex offenders are not known to the criminal justice system.

They have not been caught and registered; so we don’t know who they are. Many of them occupy positions, either paid or volunteer, that involve regular contact with children. The offenders are often respected individuals whose motives are not suspect and whose reputations are often exemplary. They often take months and years to build relationships with children, gaining their trust and often establishing a situation where the child is emotionally or even financially dependent on the perpetrator. This contributes to the reluctance of the child to expose the abuse, and increases the guilt they feel if and when they do.

The allegations in the Sandusky case portray just this type of behavior, played out over many years with numerous victims.

The shock, surprise, disbelief and dismay that surrounded Sandusky’s arrest are also very common with these types of cases. In a recent case that broke in New Jersey just after Christmas, an elementary school vice principal and volunteer coach was charged with videotaping high school athletes in the locker room shower. A person who knew and trusted the alleged perpetrator said, “I have kids of my own and now I’ll never be able to trust anyone with my kids – no teacher, no coach, no one. Because if Pat Lott is dirty, there is no one I can trust.”

If the greater risk to our children is from people we know and trust in places

where they should be safe, what should we do? As a Star-Ledger (NJ) editorial

critical of residency restrictions for sex offenders noted, “To protect our kids,

we have to watch them, educate them and communicate with them”.

This is certainly a much more difficult challenge, but one that we must face up to. Kids need to know the appropriate boundaries for physical contact – what’s OK and what is not. They need to know that it is their right to say “no.”

They need to feel safe in discussing questionable situations and conduct with their parents. Parents too need to be aware of the danger signs, ask questions and take action when justified. Child-victim sex offenders rely on people—parents and victims— not saying anything, not questioning their actions when inappropriate because they are such “good guys.” We need to look behind bedroom doors and locker room doors, not just behind the bushes at the bus stop or playground.

There is an obvious need for leadership at the state and federal level to help citizens and communities address this situation.

We need help in developing and implementing the programs and educational efforts to help parents and their children, teachers and schools, communities and organizations across the country figure out how to meet the challenge of better protecting our kids.

It is unfortunate that the federal government is currently pursuing a strategy that embraces the “register and restrict” approach to sex offenders and attempts to take it to a new level. The Adam Walsh Act calls for the states to contribute information to a national sex offender registry. Significant expenditures are required at the state level. The state of Texas estimated that it would cost some $39 million for it to comply with the mandates of the Act. Some states, including Texas, have determined that the penalty they would suffer (the loss of 10% of federal justice assistance grants) isn’t worth the cost.

While some states may be rejecting the Adam Walsh Act for primarily financial reasons, we should use the opportunity to shift the focus to a strategy that addresses the reality on the ground.

As the Star-Ledger editorial concluded, “Tightening the noose around sex offenders gives is the illusion of safety. But in reality, it would leave our children less safe.”

I was a probation administrator in New Jersey when Megan’s Law was enacted and worked to develop and implement the registration policies for sex offenders on probation. I recall feeling that the effort, while well-intentioned and perhaps effective, would ultimately create a false sense of security for parents.

The true danger to kids was then—and continues to be—not the sex offenders we know, but rather those that we don’t.

William D. Burrell is a regular blogger for The Crime Report. An independent corrections management consultant specializing in community corrections and evidence-based practices, he was a member (2003-2007) of the faculty in the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University in Philadelphia.  Prior to joining the Temple faculty, Bill served for 19 years as chief of adult probation services for the New Jersey state court system. Bill is chairman of the Editorial Committee for Perspectives, the journal of the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and serves on APPA’s Board of Directors.  He has consulted, developed and delivered training for probation and parole agencies at the federal, state and county levels. He welcomes reader comments.

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CSA: Sexual Politics at Penn State—An Inside Look


By Kathleen Barry

January 6, 2012

The author, professor emerita of Penn State University, describes the culture that produced the recent scandal—and suggests a path to a needed focus on the victims of such abuse.

I was once summoned to my dean’s office to justify comments I made in a radio interview upon publication of my book Prostitution of Sexuality (1995).  I had said that one in ten women in the United States is raped, and that figure—which has since doubled—was an undercount because only 10 percent of rapes are reported. The interview angered a Penn State alumni, who demanded that the university president take action against me. In all seriousness, the president forwarded the complaint to my dean, who expected me to explain myself. My answer didn’t satisfy apparently so I was called in once again. This time I told the administration that the call was likely coming from a sexual predator, and I walked out of the dean’s office.

Penn State caters to an alumni whose donations are a major source of income, and whose presence is a major segment of the crowd that fills the 100,000-plus capacity football stadium every home game.  In such an atmosphere, coach Joe Paterno, as the lead draw for alumni contributions, was beyond question. So, for a time, was Rene Portland, the Penn State women’s basketball coach whose explicit “No Lesbians” team policy and attendant sexual harassment wreaked havoc on many young women’s lives and college careers. When Penn State, under pressure from feminist and lesbian/gay rights groups, mandated sexual harassment training for all coaches in the 1990s, Paterno and Portland, with the arrogance of the untouchable, showed up for only the last 15 minutes of the program.

Despite a 1991 Penn State non-discrimination and harassment policy, Portland persisted with her harassment until 2006 when a student sued the university for being taken off the team and being threatened that her parents and community would be told she was a lesbian. Penn State’s own investigation recognized that Portland had created a “hostile, intimidating and offensive” environment for lesbians. The suit, settled out of court, cost Portland her job. But in the world of Penn State athletics, hatred of lesbians combined with a football cult of male macho continued to validate a sexually hostile campus culture.

A beacon of hope for students devastated  by that culture—Portland’s victims, survivors of fraternity gang rape and date rape—existed in the Penn State Center for Women’s Students, developed and directed for years by Sabrina Chapman and later by feminist therapist Peggy Lorah. Still, the coaches for the most part were untouched and uncaring until the arrest last month of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on allegations of child sexual abuse, which finally brought down Paterno and University President Graham Spanier as well.

With all the media coverage of the scandal since mid November, the public remains distanced from the actual harm that the children victimized by Sandusky experienced and must live with. And the extent of the hostile sexual climate at Penn State has gone unreported. The language of media reports too often implied implicit consent by the children. As former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy points out:

While the word “rape” rarely appears, nearly every news source describes the crimes at issue using the following terms and phrases: “engaging in sexual activity”; “fondling”; “the boy performing oral sex”; “anal sex/intercourse” and “sexual assault.”

Christine Stark’s new novel portrays a survivor of abuse in present moment reality.

To break through the mainstream media’s problematic language and get a sense of the depth of harm the victim experiences in sexual abuse, I suggest reading Christine Stark’s new novel, Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation. The author, also a poet and visual artist, manages to bring the experience of sexual abuse into a present moment reality through the first-person narrative of Little Miss So and So, from age five to twenty-five, from surviving her father’s sexual abuse at various ages to a world of support created by feminists and lesbians.

Since feminism broke open this best kept secret decades ago, we have been heartbroken and angered by the testimony and memoirs of women who as children fell victim to a father, stepfather, grandfather or uncle. The effects could be so severe that memory might not contain it—until some experience in adulthood provides the trigger and floods of anguish take over. So the story, Nickels, is not new. But Christine Stark has chosen a style and genre—a stream of consciousness novel—that keeps Little Miss So and So in the present tense.

Her reality is not segmented into sentences or paragraphs; its monologue is born in experience and expressed in a voice authentic to her heroine at various ages. Nothing could bring her reality—the abuse, the doctors, the courts, her escape, breakdown and recovery—closer to our consciousness. The author knows something about survival, about putting one foot in front of the other to move through a situation we are never meant to experience.  Little Miss So and So’s present moments yield immediately to new present moments that the reader cannot escape; yet the pace is fast enough to relieve us of the need to “get through it.”

This book and its empathetic engagement will be a treasure to anyone working with victims of sexual abuse. And if we want to truly understand the failure in the Penn State scandal, we will look closely to its victims.


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