MI Stewards Of Children Workshop To Help Prevent CSA

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Stewards of Children workshop helps educate adults on the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse.

Free workshop to discuss
Child Abuse prevention

Howell, MI  –  LACASA Center’s Child Abuse Prevention Council invites Livingston County residents to attend a free workshop on ways to help prevent child sexual abuse in the community.

The Stewards of Children workshop is an evidence-based program that teaches adults five steps to protecting children.  This half-day program is critical for parents, grandparents, adults who work or volunteer with children and concerned community members dedicated to helping children grow up safe, healthy, and whole.

CAP will hold its winter workshop session at 9 a.m. on March 22.

The program was created by Darkness to Light, a non-profit organization committed to raising awareness about the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse.  Stewards helps educate adults on the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse.

Space is limited at the March 22 Stewards of Children workshop and registration is required.  To register, or to schedule a Stewards of Children workshop for a business, community organization, or other group, contact CAP Council coordinator Holly Naylor at hnaylor@lacasacenter.org or call 517-548-1350, ext. 287.

LACASA Center is a nonprofit organization that provides critical services and programs for local victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Funding for the Stewards of Children program is provided by Michigan’s Children’s Trust Fund.

IN Will Focus On Child Abuse, Teen Violence

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Indiana Teen Attempted Suicide Rate Leads the Nation

Child Abuse, Teen Violence higher in Indiana than other states

Children in Indiana are surviving, but they may not be thriving, according to new data released Monday.

The Indiana Youth Institute released their annual KIDS COUNT in Indiana Data Book, which provides information on how Hoosier children are managing.  The numbers show the state’s child abuse and neglect rate has risen steadily since 2011.  In addition, Hoosier teens report higher levels of dating violence than in many other states.

The book provides information on other key areas such as teen suicide, child poverty and education.

Teen Violence

One in ten Indiana high school students have been forced to have sexual intercourse.  In comparison, the national average is 6.7 percent.

The data also shows one out of 10 high school students report they are purposely hurt by their partner, the national average is 9.6 percent.

Sandra Ziebold, CEO and executive director of Beacon of Hope Crisis Center, said there is no clear-cut answer as to why Indiana’s teen violence numbers are so high, but it’s important for teens to know what respect looks like in relationships.

“We have to make sure as a society that we are modeling healthy relationships,” Ziebold said.  “I think many times teens aren’t aware of what a healthy relationship should look like so maybe they start to model all that they’ve witnessed, could be in their homes.”

One of the many possible aspects for the increase in teen suicide rates could be the increase in teen dating violence.

“When a person is violated through teen violence they feel like their value, there is no value to their life,” said Rosalyn Turcott, Hands of Hope Community Education coordinator.  “Because if there was, they would not be treated in such a manner.”

The book shows almost one in 10 high school students attempt to commit suicide, which is above the national average of 8.6 percent.

Child Abuse and Neglect

In 2015, 17 out of every 1,000 Hoosier children were victims of abuse or neglect and that 47.3 percent of all reported cases involved children between the ages of zero to five.

The increase in reports are concerning, but there is also a benefit in the increased numbers of cases, according to Glenn Augustin, vice president of advancement for the Indiana Youth Institute.

“That’s actually a good thing because to ensure children get the intervention they need if they are being abused or neglected, those reports have to come in so the Department of Child Services can investigate them,” Augustin said.  “To see the number of calls going up shows that the word is getting out and adults are taking seriously that responsibility that they have to report cases of abuse and neglect.”

The rise in cases is also attributed to the increase of Hoosiers addicted to drugs like opioids.  Augustin said parents can neglect their children if they are concerned about receiving their drugs.

Child Poverty

Even though Indiana’s economy is improving, one in five Hoosier children are still living in poverty.  More than half of children in single-mother homes and almost a quarter of children in single-father homes face poverty.  Both statistics are above the national average.  Single mothers earn significantly less than what single fathers make and a larger portion of their income goes to child care.

To reduce the number of children effected, Augustin said certain areas need to be tackled.

“Trying to ensure that parents are ready for the responsibilities of raising a child, that they are aware of the resources that are available to them in their community to help them when they maybe are struggling,” Augustin said.  “That they feel empowered or willing to seek out those resources when they need help.” 

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MD State Attorney Has Eye For Detail

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Rocking horses outside the home of daycare provider Gail Dobson in Trappe, Md., who was convicted in the death of 9-month-old Trevor Ulrich.

Montgomery leads the way on prosecuting
Child Abuse

Montgomery County, MD  –  Cases involving the deaths of very young children are not easy to prosecute.  There usually are no witnesses, the medical information is often complicated, emotions are fraught, and it is always hard to believe that anyone — least of all those whose care the child has been placed in — would want to cause harm.  So a trio of convictions in child deaths won by Montgomery County prosecutors over the past year is noteworthy, underscoring State’s Attorney John McCarthy’s priority in combating crimes against society’s most helpless.

“Trevor would have been 8 years old, he would have been in second grade.  He would have had a joyful life.  But now there are only tears and sadness and a void that his death left behind,” Assistant State’s Attorney Debbie Feinstein told the jury that this month found day-care provider Gail Dobson guilty of second-degree murder in the Sept. 3, 2009, death of 9-month-old Trevor Ulrich.  It was the second time the Eastern Shore woman had been found guilty; an earlier conviction was overturned on the grounds of ineffective counsel, and the case became ensnared in an ongoing debate over the validity of Shaken Baby Syndrome and abusive head trauma.

Montgomery prosecutors, who took over the case because of conflicts by Talbot County officials, used Ms. Dobson’s conviction — along with the convictions in Montgomery last year of Moussa Sissoko (sentenced to life in prison with all but 50 years suspended for killing his infant son for $750,000 in insurance) and Adou Louis Kouadio (sentenced to 40 years in the murder of his 2-month-old son) — to make critical points:  that dynamic head movement and impact can do great damage to young brains and those who might suggest otherwise do a great disservice.

“Junk science” was Mr. McCarthy’s characterization as he pointed out that the experts who “supposedly should have been called” in Ms. Dobson’s first trial were not allowed to testify in the second trial because they failed to meet the legal standard.

The possibility always exists that a person could be wrongly accused in a child’s death because of sloppy work by investigators or medical personnel.  But testimony in Ms. Dobson’s case detailed the painstaking process — including the work of experts at Children’s National Medical Center — used to determine the cause of death and how investigators looked for other causes and tried to rule out abuse.  The resources that Mr. McCarthy’s office has devoted to investigation of child abuse and deaths — including Ms. Feinstein’s development into a national expert — set a model that other jurisdictions should follow.

MT Working To Reduce Child Abuse

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Montana State Capital

Bill to reduce Child Abuse introduced to panel

Great Falls, MT  –  A bill introduced to the state House Human Service Committee on Wednesday night looks to install a five-year plan that would address the growing child abuse and neglect issue statewide.

Kimberly Dudik, D-Missoula, is sponsoring HB 517, which would require the Department of Public Health and Human Services to form a strategic plan by Aug. 15, 2018.  That plan would work to reduce child abuse and neglect statewide over a five-year period.

Dudik told the Tribune while the DPHHS already works to alleviate child abuse and neglect, it has never had a plan mandated by the state Legislature.

“Oklahoma has had such a plan but we haven’t seen it in Montana,” she said.  “This is geared at having the Legislature say we would like a strategic plan in place to develop this.”

Numbers Dudik used in support of the bill showed child abuse and neglect cases taking leaps in the last six years: 1,030 cases in 2010 jumping to 2,433 in 2016.  In Cascade County alone, child abuse and neglect cases climbed from 112 in 2009 to 386 in 2015.

Simultaneously, 230 children were removed from homes in meth-related cases in 2010, compared to 1,050 in 2016.

Dudik said much of the growth in abuse and neglect cases is directly attributed to growing drug use in the state.

“We’ve really got to get a handle on this in our state to help the next generations of kids growing up here,” she said.

As well as mitigating the factors that cause child abuse and neglect, the plan would look at factors specific to both urban, rural and reservation areas within Montana to quantify cases and attempt to project the case numbers in years ahead.  The plan would also examine the effects of abuse and neglect on children, families and society, as well has the developmental issues abuse and neglect leaves on children.

The plan would bring several agencies together in order to compile the information, including the Montana children’s trust fund, state advisory council for child and family services, the governor’s Montana Kids Commission, tribal communities, juvenile courts, law enforcement and others.

Laura Smith, deputy director of the DPHHS, said the bill would mandate agencies come together for the plan.

“This brings really unique expertise to the table and breaks down silos on a critical issue,” she said before the committee.

Representatives from the U.S. Supreme Court, Montana Association of Christians, Montana Protect Kids Commission and a youth services organizations also testified in support of the bill.  No opponents spoke against it.

Currently, the fiscal note attached to the bill requests $18,000 in total expenditures to develop the plan, although Dudik on Wednesday said that number may change.  Dudik told the Tribune Thursday that the number is adjustable to the funding appropriated to the DPHHS this year, and the plan will likely be developed if the bill is amended to request no funding at all.

“It was depending on how much of their funding was going to be cut, but some of it was restored,” Dudik said.  “Nonetheless, (Smith) is confident the DPHHS can do this within the time frame given to them.”

Smith confirmed this in her testimony Wednesday night.

“It is important and we will make it a priority,” Smith told the committee.

If the measure passes, the DPHHS would deliver the plan to the children, families, health and human services interim committee and the legislative finance committee prior to the 2019 session.

The House Human Services committee will look to take executive action in the coming weeks.  The next hearing is not yet scheduled.