Posts tagged ‘National Children’s Advocacy Center’

April 22, 2016

What Do These People Have in Common?

Can you guess what the following famous and not-so-famous people have in common?:

All of the above people are guilty of child sex abuse. Regardless of gender, level of fame, religion, title, and geography, they all abused boys and girls.

Cry Baby by wan mohd via FlickrSadly, in the US, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the time they reach their 18th birthday, according to the Centers for Disease Control! Like the perpetrators of this horrible crime, the victims come from all walks of life.

So, why am I telling you this on a blog dedicated to nonprofit management, marketing, and fundraising?

Let me explain.

I’m a former member of the board of directors of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, so this month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, is particularly meaningful to me. To mark the occasion every year, I devote one blog post that will help you protect your loved ones from the nightmare crime of child sex abuse. Fortunately, we can do something about this national tragedy.

First, we need to recognize that child sex abusers are difficult to spot. Warnings of “stranger-danger” are inadequate because over 90 percent of abusers are not strangers; they are someone in the child’s circle of trust. Abusers can be men or women, famous or not famous, leaders or average individuals, city dwellers or rural residents, Americans or non-Americans. To help you better understand and recognize child molesters, read my post: “Can You Spot a Child Molester? Discover the Warning Signs.”

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April 10, 2015

Can You Spot a Child Molester? Discover the Warning Signs

I know. The question is an odd one: Can you spot a child molester? It’s a particularly odd question for a blog dedicated to nonprofit management, marketing, and fundraising.

So, what’s going on here?

Child by Paolo via FlickrWell, April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. To mark the occasion every year, I devote one blog post that will help you protect your loved ones from a nightmare crime that affects one-in-four girls and one-in-six boys. Fortunately, we can do something about this national tragedy. Let’s begin with how you can recognize child molesters and, then, we’ll look at actions you can take.

Years ago, I served on a jury hearing a child-sex-abuse case. At that time, I knew very little about pedophilia. My knowledge was limited to what I learned through the mainstream press. So, I assumed that most child molesters were priests or guys wearing trench coats and driving unmarked vans. However, during the course of the trial, I learned that about 90 percent of child-sex-abuse victims are molested by someone the child knows (i.e.: a relative, teacher, coach, family friend, etc.).

Because child molesters are usually people known to the child and his or her family and in their circle of trust, it’s often difficult to recognize them for the danger they represent. Fortunately, there are some helpful clues as to who might be a molester. The blog site news.com.au published a controversial article, “Could You Spot a Paedophile? Here are the Warning Signs.” In the post, veteran crime reporter Candace Sutton identified nine characteristics of a child molester:

1. The Everyman. Child molesters generally do not look like child molesters. If they did, they wouldn’t be very successful pedophiles. Instead, molesters tend to look “normal.” They are often clean cut, respectable citizens. Remember Coach Jerry Sandusky from Penn State University?

“Pedophiles are almost always men, more often married adult males and they work in a very wide range of occupations, from unskilled work up to corporate executives. What to look out for is someone who relates better to children than to adults, and has either very few adult friends or whose friends might also be sex offenders.”

2. Child-Related Workers. While child molesters hold a variety of jobs, many seek professional employment or volunteer opportunities that will bring them into close contact with children. You should not be fearful of all child-related workers. However, you should limit and/or monitor their one-on-one time with children.

“Watch out for teacher adoration beyond the bounds of a normal crush, accompanied by ‘secret’ phone calls and special individual attention.”

3. Happy Snappers. Child molesters often collect photographs and videos of children who are not their own. While they sometimes produce and collect child pornography, many more molesters seem to enjoy images of children who are clothed and engaged in typical childhood activities.

Be cautious around adults who enthusiastically photograph children who are not their own.

4. Close Relatives and Partners. This one is especially tough. Unfortunately, child molesters are often family members. In the child-sex-abuse case I mentioned above, the jury I served on ended up convicting a step-grandfather of sexually abusing his step-grandson.

“The incestuous or family molester is usually an adult male such as the father, stepfather, uncle, grandfather or live-in boyfriend of the mother, who then molests the child or children.”

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April 20, 2012

10 Essential Tips to Protect Children from Real Monsters

There are many ugly problems in the world. For many of those troubles, we’re powerless to do much, if anything, to change the situation. Sadly, monsters are very real. 

I want to bring a heinous problem to your attention. But, fear not. I will also show you some very simple things that you can actually do about it. Oh, and it won’t cost you a cent.

Child sexual abuse is a nightmare affecting one in four girls and one in six boys in the United States, though it is a worldwide problem. It is a problem that knows no geographic, ethnic, racial, religious, or economic boundaries.

Fortunately, you can actually save a child, perhaps your own, from ever having to experience this terrible crime. Here’s what you can do:

First, read “The 10 Tips for Protecting the Children You Love from Sexual Abuse.”

Second, make this my most read blog post ever by sharing the URL with friends, family members, and colleagues. Post the URL on Facebook, Tweet it, email it, post it on your blog. The more people that read “The 10 Tips,” the more children that you and I will be able to spare.

Two simple things is all I ask of you: 1) continue reading, and 2) spread the word.

The following was written by the terrific staff at the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, an organization on whose board I serve. The article first appeared in Parents Express Magazine (June 2009). With permission, I’m reprinting it here:

 

As parents, we’d like to think that there are no dangers facing children in our society today. But as staff members of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, we can’t ignore the fact that a staggering proportion of American children are affected by sexual abuse. Research from the Centers for Disease Control shows that by their eighteenth birthdays, one in four girls and one in six boys will have been sexually abused. Furthermore, children who have been sexually abused often suffer long-term consequences, including increased risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, behavioral problems, prostitution, depression, and physical health issues. The phenomenon is quietly enormous, and although it may be difficult to safeguard children everywhere, it is important to know that parents do have power to protect their children.

In celebration of Child Abuse Awareness Month in April, here are some suggested ways to decrease the risk of sexual abuse occurring to your loved ones:

1. Make your home a “No Secrets Zone”

Kids are naturally intrigued by secrets and oftentimes parents inadvertently ask them to keep secrets for seemingly harmless reasons. As one Forensic Interviewer explains, “When I allow my niece to eat a huge candy bar right before dinner, I am always tempted to tell her to make it ‘our’ secret.” The problem with this—aside from massive sugar shock and possible wrath from her sister-in-law—is that secrets are also the fuel that keeps sexual abuse going. Perpetrators use secrets to keep kids silent and to continue the abuse. Make sure that your child knows that secrets are never okay and that no one should ask them to keep a secret. It can be difficult to explain, but teach your child the difference between a secret and a surprise. Secrets are something you are never supposed to tell and can make you feel bad; surprises, like birthday gifts, are good and can be revealed at a certain time.

2. Respect your child’s personal boundaries

When you arrive at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a holiday and they run to give your children kisses, inevitably, kids at a certain age will protest. Their “yucks!” are then followed by our insistent prompts to “Go ahead and give Grandpa a kiss.” You might be trying to avoid hurt feelings and to teach respect, but children must be able to show love and affection in ways that feel comfortable to them. Do not force kids to give hugs or kisses if they don’t want to. When you force unwanted physical contact, you send kids the message that adults do not have to respect their physical boundaries and you leave them vulnerable to abusive situations. Listen when a child says “no.” There are other ways to show affection and respect—a high five, a handshake, anything—that your child may find more appealing. 

3. Teach kids the proper names for body parts

When you’re in the middle of the supermarket and your daughter starts screaming, “Mommy, my vagina hurts,” it might seem like a good idea to come up with a cute and discrete code word for that body part. The list of creative nicknames we’ve heard over the years goes on and on: “peach,” “pocketbook,” “princess,” etc. Yes, these names might spare you from public embarrassment, but what if your child is being sexually abused and tells her teacher that her uncle touched her “cookie”? It suddenly becomes very hard for that teacher to discern just how serious the problem is. By teaching children the correct names for their body parts—especially their genitalia—you enable them to communicate more effectively with others about their bodies and any contact that they do not like. We know it can feel uncomfortable to constantly use the words penis and vagina, but it would feel infinitely worse to know that your child was trying to speak out to stop abuse and no one understood her. 

4. Monitor “one-on-one” situations

One-on-one situations with an adult leave kids at risk for abuse. For working parents reliant on childcare or parents that are desperate for a revitalizing date night, this can be especially tricky to negotiate. It’s not realistic to say that your children should never be alone with a babysitter or another adult, but when they are, whenever possible, make sure that they can be readily observed by others. Keep blinds open in the house, doors to rooms open, and try to check in at irregular intervals to give potential perpetrators the message that you and others are watching.

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November 11, 2011

Tragic Lessons of the Penn State Fiasco

This is the most difficult blog post I’ve ever written.

The subject matter is truly horrific.

The story on which this post is based continues to change daily, literally. The story offers so much to comment on, that it’s difficult to know even what to focus on. Children have allegedly been sexually abused. Two nonprofit organizations will likely suffer. It’s a moral and public relations debacle that has led to rioting. It reveals grotesque failures of character. It is about a powerful institution that seems to have cared more about protecting itself than protecting children and, as a result, has eventually done itself great harm.

I’m writing about the child sex abuse scandal that has been exposed at Pennsylvania State University.

I’ve been following the story closely. I’m a Pennsylvanian and, therefore, I care about what happens at Penn State, our flagship public university. I’m also a member of the board of directors of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, an organization that brings justice and healing to the victims of child sexual abuse. Protecting the innocent and defenseless are core values of mine.

Former Penn State Coach Joe Paterno

I learned of the story the way most people did. On November 5, 2011, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly and State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan announced the results of a grand jury investigation. Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State Football Defensive Coordinator, was charged with sexually abusing eight boys. Tim Curley, Penn State Director of Athletics, and Gary Schultz, Penn State Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, were charged with perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse. Four days later, the Penn State Board of Trustees fired Graham Spanier, President, and Joe Paterno, the legendary football head coach.

Mike McQueary was a graduate assistant in 2002 when he allegedly witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a 10 year old boy in the showers of a locker room on campus. While McQueary did not stop the alleged rape, while he did not call police, he did notify Paterno … the next day. McQueary is now the wide receivers coach at Penn State though his position may be under review.

Why didn’t McQueary rescue the child? Why didn’t McQueary call 9-1-1? Why did he wait until the following day to tell Paterno, his superior? Where was McQueary’s moral compass?

After receiving the news, why didn’t Paterno call 9-1-1? Instead, he reported the information to Curley, his supervisor. While Paterno may have fulfilled Pennsylvania’s legal requirements, what about his moral obligations? Even the coach himself admitted, “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.” Rich Hofman, of The Philadelphia Daily News, has asked what Paterno’s legacy will now be: “Is it: ‘He did the legal minimum.’ Or is it: ‘He told his supervisor.’”

Bill Phillips and the editors of Men’s Health wrote an interesting article that explores the psychological issues involved and what may have affected the behavior of McQueary and Paterno. However, I still have to say that I would have expected better, especially of Paterno.

In our country, one-in-four girls and one-in-six boys will be sexually abused before adulthood. We must act when we have suspicions. In Pennsylvania, it’s the law. It’s not up to us to investigate. But, it is up to us to give the professionals the chance to investigate. If you suspect child sex abuse and do little or nothing about it, you are part of the evil. We have a profound moral obligation to protect the innocent and defenseless in our society. Please do your part. You can learn more about what you can do at the National Children’s Advocacy Center website, at the National Children’s Alliance website, or by contacting your local child advocacy center.

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