At a conference about preventing child abuse, it was reported that Utah ranks eighth in child abuse and first in sex abuse rates of children.
Kit Sumner was sexually abused as a child and he said it has affected his whole life.
“It never really goes away,” he said. “It comes out sooner or later.”
“The abuse is not only terrible while it’s going on, it’s not only horrible in itself, but afterwards, it makes them susceptible to further victimization,” said Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes, who addressed the conference.
Numbers show Utah is eighth highest among all states in child abuse. The state had 6,900 cases in 2014. Of those, 27 percent were sex abuse, the highest rate of any state. Only 13 percent of the cases were neglect, one of the lowest rates among all states.
Carrie Jensen of Prevent Child Abuse said Utah has tougher laws than other states and may pursue child abuse more vigorously and that might help explain the high rates.
She wants to make sure help is more available for the victim and to pursue prosecution for the perpetrators.
But child abuse is difficult to count and victims are often unable to speak out or get help.
Our Children Are Alone. Even more alone than many of you realized, as you will see in my next post.
Hello? I’m all alone and scared. (Quieter) oh please, please don’t let it hurt me again…. (child starting to cry)
ALONE, in a fight for their lives. Can you hear them?
Hello?!?!? Please help me…. (quieter, but still crying). HELLO!!!! (Child scared and crying, almost screams, and the sound of little footsteps) oh no please….
More and more are realizing that the actual numbers of Children that are Sexually Abused are far higher than listed, but so are the number of innocent Children that are murdered every year.
How is there only 686,000 incidents of Child Abuse every year, when there are over 3,000,000 calls that are reported.
Do you know that only 2% of the reports of Child Sexual Abuse are unsubstantiated???? Now think about the more than 75% that is never reported, so in reality, there are over 12,000,000 incidents of Child Abuse every year.
This year alone, 10,000,000 Children, ages 13-years-old and up, will contract at least one or more STIs or STDs.
If you are wondering how many of Our Children from birth to 12-years-of-age will contract one or more STIs or STDs, I honestly do not know, I have yet to find these numbers compiled….
“I apologize for not posting this last week, but due to the media bias toward religion, and the media’s obvious use of Clergy Sexual Abuse to cover-up shortcomings, or more to the point, total disregard toward Our Children’s safety by Our Constituents, in not enacting ample legislation and also not opening up the Statute of Limitations with the exception of Clergy related, I ceased posting anything related to Clergy Abuse and also anything related to Law Enforcement Abuse”.
Sexual abuse of children is “one of the great tragedies of the modern (Protestant) church,” a crime that often is ignored by congregations who should be focused on nurturing the next generation of believers, said Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian, a former Florida sex crimes prosecutor and grandson of famed evangelist Billy Graham.
Tchividjian’s comments came as Houston jurisdictions of the United Methodist and Evangelical Lutheran churches this week host training sessions for clergy on the danger of “moral failure.” As many as 300 Methodist ministers on Wednesday are to attend sexual ethics training conducted by the 675-congregation Texas Annual Conference. Similar seminars are being staged by the Evangelical Lutheran church’s Gulf Coast Synod in communities in the greater Houston area.
“I can tell you in my own experience that there are hundreds and hundreds of abuse cases that have occurred within the Protestant context,” said Tchividjian, a Liberty University law professor and founder of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, a non-profit organization working to identify and prevent sexual abuse of children in church settings.
“The absolute tragedy is that not only do churches fail to protect children. It’s the dismal responses. All too often a congregation’s response is to protect itself,” Tchividjian said. “We love redemption stories. All the offender has to do is cry and express his or her sorrow, and pretty soon they’re surrounded by rejoicing. They may even make the victim feel he or she was to blame.”
Tchividjian said one-fourth of females and one-sixth of males have experienced sexual abuse by the time they turn 18. “That may not all have happened in a church setting,” he said, “but most pastors are absolutely ill-equipped to understand this issue.”
While much concern about sexual abuse of children has focused on the Catholic church, Tchividjian said the situation within Protestant congregations remains a hidden crisis. “When things surfaced within the Catholic church, a lot of people in the Protestant world reacted with shock and pointing of their fingers at the Catholics,” he said. “Their reaction was not to take a step back to evaluate sexual abuse in their own denominations.”
Tchividjian said his organization seeks to educate the Protestant community regarding how sexual predators “think and act,” providing expert assistance to congregations grappling with abuse and, in some instances, investigating allegations of wrongdoing.
“As Christians, we believe in a Gospel that is about a God sacrificing himself in order to preserve and protect individuals. When it comes to child sexual abuse, too many churches and Christian organizations prefer to sacrifice individuals in order to protect themselves. We end up living out the very antithesis of the Gospel that we preach. The consequences are devastating.”
Manatee, FL – Secretary of the Department of Children and Families Mike Carroll said “systemic issues” led to the death of Janiya Thomas and the department must learn from it.
Janiya Thomas’ body was found stuffed in a freezer Oct. 18 after her mother, Keishanna Thomas, refused to discuss her whereabouts.
Janiya was discovered missing after deputies came to remove her five “This is a case of chronic neglect over time,” Carroll said. “We were evaluating what was happening at that moment instead of asking: ‘Why is this the 10th time we’ve been out here?”
The Department of Children and Families, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the Safe Children Coalition all agreed to close the case on Keishanna Thomas after she became uncooperative with child protective workers in May 2014, according to a DCF report.
At the time, Thomas had been accused of abusing her children 11 times and her oldest child, now 15, had been removed from her care when she was 4 years old with 22 body scars Thomas could not explain. The child, who said the scars had come from beatings, was eventually returned to Thomas.
In May 2014, a complaint said the same child was coming to school with a strong body odor and the school had to provide her with deodorant. The report also said the girl had an infection since January and, in one incident, had slipped and hit her head at school.
After officials made numerous attempts to contact Keishanna Thomas, she eventually told them to just put the child on the bus. The child was taken to the hospital and Thomas eventually picked her up.
At that point, the investigator said Thomas was engaged with voluntary protective supervision, which is handled by the Safe Children Coalition, but had not been fully compliant. The investigator said there were “no implications for child safety,” and recommended VPS continue to monitor Thomas.
The investigator reported Thomas had 10 prior incidents, but there was “no definitive pattern or frequency.”
On an unspecified date, the department, sheriff’s office and coalition all agreed to close the case because Thomas became uncooperative. On Oct. 16, the sheriff’s office came to her home to shelter children, ages 2, 9, 11, 12 and 15. Two days later, 11-year-old Janiya Thomas was found dead in a freezer. She was last seen alive in June 2014, according to reports.
Thomas is being held in the Manatee County jail on charges of aggravated child abuse, child abuse and abuse of a dead body.
Maj. Connie Shingledecker, who heads the Child Protective Investigations Division in the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, said she can’t talk about specific cases, but they have little option under the law to check on people and their children unless an investigation is open against them.
“The law doesn’t allow you to say, ‘Oh, I want to check up on this family today and see how they’re doing,'” Shingledecker said. “You can’t just drop in whenever you feel like it.”
And once the case is turned over to voluntary protective services, the Safe Children Coalition has discretion and is supposed to alert the sheriff’s office if evidence of abuse could call for removal of children, Shingledecker said. Such a call was never made in the case of Keishanna Thomas before it was closed.
Officials with the Safe Children Coalition did not return requests for comment.
Now, Gov. Rick Scott is proposing an additional $22.9 million to DCF’s budget to hire 272 more case managers statewide and reduce case loads. Scott’s office referred all comments about the announcement to a press release, declining to say whether the announcement was partially motivated by Janiya’s death or where the new case managers would be sent.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking when a child is a victim of abuse or neglect. Anytime something horrific happens to an innocent child, we have to stop and think about what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Scott said in the release. “The funding we are announcing today will help us better coordinate care across our state and give us the necessary tools to work toward stopping child abuse.”
Through the Safe Children Coalition, DCF has 46 case managers in Manatee County. The average case load for each manager is about 20 at a time, according to DCF. There are 33 case managers in Sarasota with a case load of 15 apiece.
Shingledecker said they have had 3,228 hotline reports about child abuse so far in 2015, not counting out-of-state reports. To address those allegations, there are 38 investigators averaging at least 85 investigations by each employee in 2015.
Additionally, the department has a 31.6 percent turnover rate in 2015, up from a 23 percent turnover rate in 2014, Shingledecker said, adding much of that can be attributed to not paying people appropriately.
“When you have employees that leave, it takes a while to get new people trained,” Shingledecker said. “I have 12 people right now who don’t have a year’s experience, and therefore don’t have the heightened skills or training that come with that experience.”
Inexperience is not unique to Manatee County, Carroll said. About 70 percent of case managers statewide have less than one year of experience because the turnover rate within the department is huge. And the number of children being served by DCF and its partners is up as much as 66 percent in certain areas of the state this year.
“These are people who are asked to make split-second decisions that can be life and death,” Carroll said. “They could’ve made better decisions in this case, absolutely.”