Tag Archives: Parenting

Child Abuse Increases

.jpg photo of Child Abuse poster
Child Abuse increases with declining economy, holiday season

Child Abuse increases with declining economy, holiday season

It is estimated that 80 percent of all addresses have at least one sex offender within one mile and there are 266 registered sex offenders in Midland County, according to the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, and 200 in the city of Midland, according to the Midland Police Department. Search Midland’s Sex Offender registry here: http://www.sheriffalerts.com/cap_main.php?office=54759

Midland, TX  –  The holidays, coupled with a declining economy, brings stress to all, but it also brings a more disturbing trend: a rise in child abuse.  Local agencies that provide counseling and crisis services to abuse victims say that both physical and sexual abuse cases are on the rise, but suspected child sexual abuse cases remain in the majority.

“(Child abuse) is a huge problem here and it has been for years,” said Kristi Edwards, Clinical/Operations director and counselor for Centers for Children and Families.  “When times are really bad, people’s stress levels go up, their frustration goes through the roof. Kids are kids no matter what, they don’t understand that dad’s job or mom’s job is cutting hours or employees.”

Not only does an increase occur during downturns, but the advent of the holidays regardless of the economy is unfortunately a reliable predictor of spikes in child abuse, said Elisha McPeek, program director and lead forensic interviewer at the Midland Rape Crisis and Children’s Advocacy Center.

“The boom starts to bust, things become tight, families become stressed, and physical and sexual abuse tends to go up,” McPeek said.  “When Christmas comes, kids are out of school, these things go up as well.”

Child sexual abuse is suspected to be vastly underreported for the most part.  So far this year, MRCCAC has performed forensic interviews with 504 children for alleged physical and sexual abuse, observing homicides and other court cases.

Of that number, 319 have been suspected sexual abuse cases.  In 2014, there were 542 children interviewed total, with 352 for suspected sexual abuse.

“Child sexual abuse exists in Midland as much as people don’t want to admit it does,” said Paula Cox, MRCCAC education director. “We’re not any different from the rest of the country. Horrible things happen in this area, too.”

Cox hasn’t seen noticeable progress when it comes to lowering child sexual abuse rates here over the past few years.

“It’s a bigger issue absolutely than people realize,” McPeek said.  “And if kiddos are not receiving support and therapy and intervention it will cause issues for them later in life.”

Permian Basin Community Centers psychiatrist Mark Luley said a large number of the patients he sees in the Bridges Behavioral Health Clinic are coming in with mental health issues related to childhood sexual abuse.

“In our clinics we see a lot of PTSD,” Luley said.  “There’s a huge trend here.  If you suffer from PTSD or depression as a child, you’re more likely to use alcohol.  My clinic certainly has a lot of alcohol dependence, a lot of cocaine dependence, and what’s really concerning is the synthetic canniboids.  Generally a lot of (the PTSD and substance abuse) is related to childhood sexual abuse and mental abuse during childhood.”

Texas law defines sexual abuse of a child “any sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional or physical welfare as well as failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct with a child.  A person who compels or encourages a child to engage in sexual conduct commits abuse, and it is against the law to make or possess child pornography or to display such material to a child.”

No matter the severity of the abuse, the consequences on the victim’s mental and physical well-being can be detrimental.  The fact that 98 percent of sexual abuse perpetrators are family friends, relatives or otherwise known and trusted by the child, only adds to the devastation that the abuse can inflict and the effort made to keep it secret.

“Childhood sexual abuse can be an underlying issue in many later problems in adulthood,” wrote Bridges Behavioral Health Clinician Amber Hoelscher in an email.  “I have seen it manifested through depression, anxiety and addiction, just to name a few.  Many adults may not make the connection that the abuse from their past is still bothering them in their current daily lives.”

Centers for Family and Children serves clients age 3 and up.  Of their clientele, more than 50 percent report some kind of sexual abuse, and 25 percent will report some type of childhood sexual abuse, Edwards said.

“Whenever you’ve had severe childhood sexual trauma, just like PTSD in veterans, it colors everything you do,” Edwards said.

However, many adults don’t see the issues they’re struggling with as PTSD, identifying it as depression, anxiety or an inability to sleep due to nightmares, Hoelscher said.  But the symptoms often manifest in full-blown PTSD or varying degrees of a stress disorder.

“The people we work with say they can’t go anywhere without knowing where the exits are,” Edwards said.  “It affects your relationships, your ability to pay attention.  A lot of people will say they’re afraid they’ll lose their job because sometimes when they’re in the middle of something they’ll have some kind of anxiety and they don’t want to tell people why –that it’s because they were raped or molested as a child.”

With any kind of abuse, victims often report feeling shame. But with sexual abuse, that level of shame has a different tone.

“That’s happening before you even know what sex is about,” Edwards said.  “Somebody that’s touching you, either hurting you or saying you love me so trust me, or don’t tell or I’ll hurt you or your family.  That messes you up. But there’s also pleasure associated with sexual stimulation. So that can also cause the shame.  Yes, it did feel good, or yes, I had an orgasm.  But you know it’s wrong because it was with a brother or an uncle or dad or a trusted baby sitter or whatever.  Almost everybody who’s experienced some type of sexual abuse says it’s difficult to be emotionally connected with other people.”

Victims of sexual abuse are often “groomed” to not tell, or to feel that the abuse is their fault.  This can keep a child from making an outcry, and thus, reporting by outsiders becomes essential.

“Whether you’re a parent, teacher, coach, youth pastor, it’s really about getting to know your kids and allowing them to talk to you,” Cox said.  “If they once were very happy child, an extrovert, and then all of a sudden they go into their shell, or they don’t want to go to school or go home or have unexplained bruises or injuries.  All of these signs don’t necessarily mean they’re being abused, but something’s going on, so whether or not it’s abuse, it’s something you need to have a conversation about.”

If there’s any suspicion at all, it’s worth it to report it, Cox said.

“A lot of people say, what if I’m wrong?  What if nothing is going on? OK, but what if there is? That’s what you need to focus on.  Not whether the kid or the mom is gonna be mad at you because I would much rather deal with somebody hating me than to know I didn’t do something when a child is being abused.”

One in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before their 18th birthday, according to Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas. Conversations about what inappropriate touching is has to happen earlier, Edwards and Hoelscher said.

“The schools teach stranger danger, good touch bad touch, etc., but some of those classes don’t start until you’re in junior high,” Edwards said.  “We’ve gotta start younger. I’m gonna say 2 and 3 is probably an age in which we need to start giving voice to these kids.  They start knowing what their private parts are, so we start saying we don’t show those in public, we don’t touch those in public.  So to me a natural extension of that is, no one else looks at those, no one else touches those.”

The healing process from sexual abuse can be long and difficult, but there is a way to find peace in a healthy way, local professionals said. Truly healing from sexual abuse often requires the help of a professional.

“We build on successive experiences,” Edwards said.  “If your early childhood is successive experiences of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, that’s all you’ve got in your head and every memory that’s connected to takes you back to something like that. There’s no foundation of safety and control.”

Many who have experienced childhood abuse fall into reckless and dangerous behavior when they get older, such as self-harming behaviors, substance abuse and sexual promiscuity.

“It can be that they think they don’t deserve any better,” Edwards said.  “Who’s gonna ever want me?  Is this ever gonna be an act of love for me because it’s never been an act of love?  It’s always been an act of ‘they’re more powerful than I am, I’m helpless.’  It makes you feel powerless, dirty, ruined, shamed.  It affects you in your job, your relationship with your children, your friends, the way you feel about yourself. It affects your spirituality because people say how could God love me?”

A foundation of self-love, security and trust takes time to build.

“A large percentage of the population we see has a hard time coming to grips with some of the things that have happened to them before, and I think they try to block off those thoughts, and, as a result, don’t seek treatment,” Luley said.  “A large percentage of our population (in Bridges Behavioral) has childhood PTSD and they’ve never received treatment for the things they encountered when they were young, be it mental, physical, or sexual abuse.  And those are things that really require treatment.”

Have you experienced childhood sexual, physical or emotional trauma? Have you found a way to heal?  If you’d like to share your story, please email reporter Erin Stone at estone@mrt.com.

Centers for Children and Families
Services: Counseling
Cost: Free
Location: 1004 N. Big Spring St., Ste 325
Contact: 432-570-4069

Midland Rape Crisis and Children’s Advocacy Center
Services: Forensic interviews and crisis intervention services, free counseling for victims of all ages and their families, and group therapy.
Cost: Free
Location: 1700 N. Big Spring St.
Contact: 432.682.7273 answered 24 hours a day

Permian Basin Community Centers
Services: Mental health services, intellectual and development disability services, substance abuse/chemical dependency, early childhood intervention, HIV services, Veteran’s services.
Cost: Free
Location 401 E. Illinois Ave.
Contact: 432.580.510

GA Woman Gets 190 Years For Child Abuse

.jpg photo of woman convicted of child abuse
Dianna Franklin

Taylor Co. woman sentenced to 190 years in Child Abuse case

Macon, GA  –  A Taylor County woman was sentenced Tuesday to 190 years in prison for abusing her adopted daughter.

She’s the Taylor County woman found guilty of putting her adopted daughter in a chicken coop as punishment.

A jury found her guilty on 28 counts including cruelty to children, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment.

“We’re talking about torture were talking about abuse were talking about that this county that this state has not seen where the child didn’t die,” Prosecutor Wayne Jernigan said.

The child, now 18, was in court when her mother, Diana Franklin was sentenced.

“I will never treat my children the way you treated me.  I forgive you for everything you’ve done.  You have to pay for what you did to me,” the teen said before her mother was sentenced.

Judge Bobby Peters felt troubled by Franklin’s demeanor.
“You’ve actually shown no remorse at the beginning of this trial during the trial or after the trial even when you testified,” Peters said.

Franklin and her husband Samuel Franklin were arrested in May 2012 and charged with beating and starving the teenage girl and making her sleep in a chicken coop.

During the trial jurors heard about the abuse Franklin’s adopted daughter suffered for years.

They convicted her for using a shock collar on the girl, locking her in a chicken coop naked and giving her lashes.

It’s abuse the GBI investigator Leigh Brooks said the daughter still remembers.

“She continues to have nightmares as a result of the abuse she suffered from Diana Franklin,” Brooks said.

She said, “This is the worst case I’ve ever seen where the child survived a child abuse case.”

Peters didn’t hold back how he felt about Franklin before reading his sentence.

“You’ve shown no remorse,” he said.  “You’re just an evil woman who hides behind the Bible.  “You’ll get better treatment in prison than you gave your daughter.”

Franklin said she never imagined herself being there defending herself.  “In a pair of handcuffs for doing nothing more than loving someone who needed love,” Franklin said.

But in the eyes of the law what she called love was viewed as abuse.

The trial for Franklin’s husband Samuel, is expected to begin next week.  He faces similar charges to his wife, as well as child molestation charges.

Bianca Who Did This To You?

.jpg photo of movie poster telling about Child Abuse
Bianca who did this to you?

Movie Tackles Topic Of Child Abuse

Randy Holloway hopes audiences leave “Bianca: Who Did This To You?” ready for the next step.

“The one thing I really want the movie to do is help start the conversation, because these issues never get talked about,” says the Detroit-based director-writer-producer of the drama about the abuse of girls and women.  It screens at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the AMC Star Southfield.

“Bianca: Who Did This To You?” follows the journey of one woman who is molested as a child by members of her church, physically and mentally abused by her parents and forced to leave home to start a new life.  Getting married seems to promise a fresh chapter, but then something happens that could take her back to the pain she thought she had escaped.

The movie was shot in February 2014 with a local cast and crew. Michigan State University graduate and model Qiana M. Davis plays the grown-up Bianca.  Other actors include Shawntay Dalon, who’ll appear on the Comedy Central series “Detroiters,” and Robert Shannon, who’s had roles in Detroit-filmed projects like AMC’s “Low Winter Sun.”

Also featured in the film are original songs by “American Idol” season 13 top 10 finalist Malaya Watson of Southfield, who’ll be at the event and give a live performance.

A portion of the proceeds will go to SASHA Center.  Its mission includes increasing awareness of sexual assault, providing resources and public education, and offering peer support groups to survivors of rape in southeast Michigan.

Holloway says he hopes “Bianca” will help others who’ve endured abuse and that he already struck a chord when he created a Facebook page about the movie.

“I got so many messages thanking me and saying,’This is my story.  I am Bianca.’ “

‘Bianca: Who Did This To You?’
7:30 p.m. Sat.

AMC Star Southfield

$25 for screening, $35 for VIP ticket (includes reception with food, drink, a meet-and-greet with cast and crew)

Tickets can be purchased at Neptix.com

Bianca Who Did This to You?  Trailer #1

Missouri Man Arrested For Child Abuse At School

.jpg photo of suspect in child abuse case
Youssif Omar, 53

Suspect in child abuse arrest disaffiliated with MU in July

COLUMBIA, MO  –  A Columbia man who was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of abusing a 14-year-old female relative for failing to wear her hijab is a former adjunct instructor at MU.

Youssif Omar, 53, was arrested Wednesday evening at the 1700 block of Timber Creek Drive on suspicion of child abuse.  Columbia Police Department spokeswoman Bryana Larimer said in an email statement that police were dispatched to Hickman High School at 3 p.m. that day in reference to the incident.

Larimer said that after Omar noticed the relative not wearing her hijab that he “grabbed her violently by the hair, pulled her outside and down a flight of stairs.”  He then slapped the girl in the face, pulled her by the hair again and put her into a vehicle, the report said.

Omar was taken to the Boone County Jail. He was later released after posting $4,500 bond.

Christian Basi of the MU News Bureau said Monday that Omar has not been affiliated with MU since July 2015.  He also refuted widespread media reports that Omar was an assistant professor, saying that Omar had never held a faculty position.  The MU directory on Monday morning listed Omar as an adjunct instructor of Arabic in the Department of German and Russian Studies.

Basi confirmed that Omar had been an adjunct and said he also was a research assistant in the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum and in the Campus Writing Program.

Omar is also the former managing editor of MU’s Artifacts, a semi-annual journal of undergraduate essays sponsored by the Campus Writing Program.  Essays published in the journal come from MU writing intensive and composition courses.

Each edition of the journal includes an introduction from the managing editor.  Omar wrote essays titled “Good Will in Globalized World” in April, “Divine Matrix” in December, “Diversity” in August 2014 and “Importance of Art in Our Life” in April 2014.

Omar remained listed as the managing editor of the publication early Monday morning, but the website was later updated to show Bonnie Selting of the Campus Writing Program as the new managing editor.

The Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said Monday that the case remained under review.