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Friday, 27 November 2009

Major role for schools in preventing child abuse

By Meera Srinivasan

Friday, Nov 20, 2009


Experts believe that sustaining such efforts is real issue

Schools should pay attention to their screening and recruitment process



CHENNAI: Several events were organised in the city on Thursday to mark the ‘World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse.’ However, some activists and experts believe that sustaining such efforts is the real issue. They feel every day ought to be a ‘prevention of child abuse day’.

From abusing children emotionally for “poor academic performance” to sexual abuse, many children are being subjected to a lot of abuse, if reports of incidents highlighting these are an indication. But, there is something everyone can do to prevent this.

For instance, Lady Andal Matriculation School has been taking several efforts in this direction. In particular, it lays emphasis on generating awareness of child sexual abuse (CSA). Vice-principal Rathi Radhakrishnan says: “Everyone tends to brush such things under the carpet, saying child sexual abuse should not be there in schools. But, the truth is that it is there. Acknowledging the possibility [of CSA] is very important.”

From inviting experts in the field to address students, to sensitising teachers, the school has been taking up several efforts. “We even address the little ones in our Montessori sections about who can hug them, and how they should identify inappropriate, unacceptable behaviour of adults.”

Jayashree Padmanabhan, principal of Gill Adarsh Matriculation School, also thinks it is important for children to be given opportunities to speak out. “We wanted to know their opinion on child abuse and we organised events such as oratorical contest, debate and slogan-writing competition today [Thursday]. They came up with some very insightful thoughts.”

Underlying the role of schools in creating awareness, Tulir — Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse has initiated ‘Daring to Care,’ a school-based campaign.

The initiative seeks to rope in city schools into the space of prevention of CSA. “Many schools have been extremely cooperative. Some have even distributed flyers to their kindergarten children with their school’s logo on them,” says Vidya Reddy, executive director, Tulir. Safe schools acknowledge and accept the possibility of abuse in and out of school. “They talk about it, giving children a notion of their safety,” she adds.

Schools should pay attention to their screening and recruitment process. “They have to see what kind of training is given to teachers on child protection, what measures are taken to maintain safety in schools, whether there is a code of conduct and questions such as, How do you report an allegation of abuse? And how do you address it?”

Complaint cell

The School Education Department launched a complaint cell (Number: 28273591) two years ago. According to a senior official at the Directorate of School Education, the cell does get calls from students reporting sexual abuse. “But, the number of such calls has come down.” The Chief Education Officers have been given instructions to deal with such cases “responsibly.” And responsibly would have to be taking the matter to the police immediately, and not merely transferring teachers, which is a common practice, say activists.

Interest to spread the message from different quarters is a promising sign. An online network of mothers, www.chennaimoms.com, has been sending out messages to parents on the possibility for abuse online and the need for Internet safety. “Many children spend considerable time online. Many parents said they did not know that such threats existed and seemed happy to become aware,” says Bhavani Raman, founder, chennaimoms.com.

[Source: http://www.thehindu.com/2009/11/20/stories/2009112058380200.htm ]

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

9-year-old files case of rape against dad

04/11/2009

A depraved man raped his helpless 9-year-old daughter in Mumbai for two years and even sold her to his friends. Finally, the girl’s grandfather took courage and helped the girl file a case. Apart from this painful and shocking case in today’s crime file, there are the cases of an MD who had an itch to steal, a human sacrifice in IT city of Hyderabad and a BPO who jumped to death in Bangalore. Read on.

Crime file

Father, friends arrested for abusing young girl

In a depressing and shocking case, a 9-year-old girl in Mumbai has filed a complaint of rape against her father. The girl filed the case with the help of her grandfather.

In the horrifying complaint, the girl described how her father, Chhatish Das (33), and friends allegedly raped her for over two years, made her bones ache and sent her through hell.

The police have now arrested Das and two others -- Ashok Sahu and Shabbir Syyed.

The girl is half Cambodian and does not have any relatives from her mother's side in Mumbai. She first poured out her woes to her grandmother who informed her husband. The grandfather took her to the police station and helped her file a complaint against his own son.

According to the police, Das worked as an electrician in Cambodia and fell in love with a local woman. They got married in 2002 and had a daughter. Three years after marriage, he left his wife and returned to India. A year later, his wife sent their daughter to India.

Das's parents had thrown him out of their house for marrying without their consent. But when Das pushed his daughter to the streets to beg, they let him and the girl stay in their house in Kandivli (W).

The girl told the police that her father had forced her to have sex with him. He then started bringing in his friends and on several occasions took money in exchange for sex.

One day the girl telephoned her grandfather and complained that her father was ill-treating her. The elderly man then sent the child and her grandmother to his village. There the girl took courage to describe the trauma she had been undergoing. The shocked grandmother brought the little girl to Mumbai and told her husband about it.

The man then took the girl to the local police station and helped her file a complaint.

Senior police inspector P S Gawande of Charkop police station told the local press that the girl's story was big shock to her grandparents . The couple discussed it for a couple of days and then decided to file a police complaint on Tuesday .

The elderly couple said they were also victims to brutality as Das beat them regularly while under the influence of alcohol. The couple eventually asked Das to leave their flat with his daughter.

[ Source: http://news.in.msn.com/crimefile/article.aspx?cp-documentid=3349802 ]

[Thanks to Sagnik for the link]

Friday, 30 October 2009

Support Laws against Child Sexual Abuse

Hi all,

ELAAN has put together a petition, targeted at the Indian Parliament and Law Commision of India, for laws against CSA. This is a BIG step, and it needs all our support. Go sign the petition at the link below:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/law-against-child-sexual-abuse.html

Thanks,

Amrita.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

16-year-old raped by dad, uncle

(Please click on blog title to read the actual article from the Times Of India)

NAGPUR: The story of a pregnant 16-year-old girl, rescued by neighbours of Vandevi slums recently from the clutches of her 35-year-old father,

brought to the fore the grotesque brutality she was made to undergo at home. She has been suffering at the hands of her uncle and then herfather for years in Uttar Pradesh and later in city. Neetu (name changed), joined the ranks of the hapless girls who were not spared by the persons whom they trusted the most.

Neetu had lost her mother Chanda when she was just an infant. She desperately looked upon her father to rescue her from an uncle in Uttar Pradesh who was exploiting her repeatedly. Her father did ‘rescue’ her in 2008, but allegedly started forcing himself upon her.

The pregnant girl, sick and mentally upset, is now sheltered at government’s girls’ hostel. Yashodhara Nagar police have arrested father Gurucharan Yadav, alias Gopal, on Sunday. Yadav was nearly lynched by Vandevi Nagar residents before police saved him. He is reminiscent of Austria’s dungeon dad Josef Fritzl and Mumbai businessman Kishore Chowdhury.

The girl, whose case is similar to that of a teenager from Hingna who had indicted her father for rape recently, has named her dad and his younger brother as tormentors.

Neetu had studied till eighth standard in Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh and was keen to continue further. Though the account of her early years could not be known, it is learnt that Neetu had to strive hard to survive since her mother died and father remarried. She had to work as domestic help too.

Yadav left his daughter and migrated to city some years ago. He started earning his livelihood as an auto-rickshaw driver. Meanwhile, he had a son and a daughter from his second wife Nirmala. Neighbours claimed Nirmala, apparently left disgusted by Yadav lifestyle, left him.

“We were curious about the girl. Yadav said she was his daughter. Once I went to see what was going on inside the shanty and was aghast to find him (Yadav) in his towel. There were two pillows on the bed,” said neighbour Noorjahan Quereshi adding that she was sensing some foul play as the girl was never allowed to mingle much with others.

The matter came to fore when Farzana Banoo, another neighbour, was approached by the distraught girl who told Banoo she needed help. “Her father (Yadav) had once urged me to look after her as she was not well. I was shocked when she told me her father was having physical relations with her. I immediately urged her to stop coming to me as it was against my religious belief and there are children who come for spiritual lesson at home,” said Banoo.

They could ignore no longer when the girl started having ill-health. Yadav and three neighbours-- Quereshi, Shaikh Raju and Hamida Begum-- took Neetu to a health centre at Shanti Nagar. She was referred to another clinic at Kamal chowk. There she was discovered to be pregnant.

“We approached the girl the following day in absence of her father to know the truth,” said a neighbour adding that the girl was being sheltered at different places in city including Pension Nagar before she was brought here. “She divulged the facts,” said the neighbour.

She also told them her uncle had raped her repeatedly when his wife was away at native place for delivery. “Yadav and the girl were away from home for a day. When they returned, we challenged Yadav and contacted the police,” neighbour Raju said.

Senior inspector Rajendra Pardesi, in-charge of Yashodhara Nagar police station, said that police wanted to concentrate on the culprit (Yadav) who is in the custody. “It would be better if we decide to make a strong case out of the apprehended culprit and not make it too complicated,” said Pardeshi indicating he did not intent to pursue Yadav’s younger brother although the girl has clearly named him too.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

A letter to my non-survivor friends: things I want to tell you but don't know how

Hi,

Found this piece really moving. Thanks to Askios for the link.

http://community.feministing.com/2009/04/a-letter-to-my-non-survivor-fr.html

Shared via AddThis

FACSE invites all to the open meeting on 25th Aug, '09 in Mumbai

Dear Friends,

Greetings from FACSE!!

As you already know, Forum against Child Sexual Exploitation (FACSE) is a 13 year old network of individuals, professionals and organizations working to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

The forum the following broad objectives:

To create awareness about the issue of child sexual abuse among different target groups as well as the general public.

To lobby for necessary changes in the law.

To handle cases through home visits, counselling, legal follow up and emotional rehabilitation of the children.

We also take great pleasure in informing you that Saathi has taken up the Convenorship of the Forum for the next three years. Saathi is registered development organization in Mumbai and is committed to working with issues faced by youth living on the streets and runaway or abandoned adolescent girls since 1997.

With a new energy we are reviving the activities that FACSE used to pursue. We would like to thank you in making the last meeting a success

This time, we have invited Dr. Naina Athale, Counsellor and faulty at Tata Institute of Social Sciences as the Guest Speaker to share her experiences of working with sexually abused children using play therapy.

Our intention is to use the medium of film for sensitizing each and every person in contact with children (through work or otherwise) to their responsibility of upholding and promoting the Rights of Children. We would thus like to invite you for the open meeting on 25th August 09 Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. at the following address.

FACSE
C/o CCVC,
Room No: 54, 2nd Floor
Gilder Lane Municipal School,
Off. Belasis Bridge.
Opp. Mumbai Central Station
Mumbai 08

Kindly RSVP at this number 9820996223 or 23002683 (Ms. Ketki Doshi)

Regards
FACSE team

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Teacher 'disrobes' girls

Published on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 19:26,
Updated on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 20:19 in
India section

Vidisha: In a shocking incident, a teacher allegedly removed upper clothes of eight Adivasi girl students of fifth standard of a government school near Tyonda in Vidisha on the pretext of taking measurements for their uniforms.

The shameful act of the teacher has now forced the eight girls of Ganjbasoda's Nurpur Education Guarantee Scheme School to discontinue their studies.

The incident that took place on July 24 about five km from Tyonda came to light when the girls complained to their parents about it, District Education Officer Manish Verma said on Wednesday.

He said the parents in a complaint alleged that the Guruji (teacher), Sanjeev Sharma, had allegedly removed the upper clothes of eight Adivasi girl students on the pretext of taking measurements for their uniforms in a closed classroom after calling two students at a time.

Once he made them to remove their upper clothes, he took the measurement with his fingers, instead of an inch-tape, Verma said. The students also alleged that the teacher had misbehaved with them when they were half-naked in the closed classroom, the DEO said.

The angry villagers went to the school but by then, Sharma had left after locking the premises following which they complained about the matter to the DEO.

Later, the DEO constituted a four-member committee, led by Tehsildar Kiran Badbade, which after conducting a probe found Sharma prima facie guilty on the matter.

Taking action on the probe report, the DEO dismissed Sharma from service yesterday with immediate effect.

[Source: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/teacher-disrobes-girls/98153-3.html ]

Friday, 3 July 2009

It doesn't cost much to protect a child from sexual abuse


90 million children in India have been sexually abused. This means that they have been touched, kissed and fondled inappropriately, sometimes raped. This has been done to them usually by someone they trust and know and at an age when they cannot even begin to understand what might have been happening. Most of these children grow up believing it was somehow their fault that this happened to them. They either grow up to be very disturbed and traumatised adults or many a times abusers themselves.

90 million children - if it hasn’t happened to your child or to someone you know, it is just sheer providence.

Arpan was set up by me to help sexually abused children and adults and prevent it from happening as commonly as it does. Arpan has been working on the issue since year 2006 and has reached out to over 3500 adults and 800 children so far.

We wish to expand our programs and reach out to over 3000 adults and children this year for which we need 25 lacs. We need your support.

Your contribution will help.

Teach personal safety skills to children so that they can protect themselves from sexual abuse .
Train parents and teachers to prevent and intervene in the event of CSA .

Children and adult survivors heal through counseling and therapy, and restore their dignity and self respect to become healthy happy human beings.

To know more about what we do and see a video on Child Sexual Abuse click here - http://www.arpan.org.in/whatwedo.html

To see a video of our Personal Safety program being taught in schools - http://www.arpan.org.in/personalsafetyed.html

A variety of donation options are available for you to support. For eg. it costs only Rs. 400/- to teach a child how to protect him/herself from sexual abuse and for us to help the child if he needs any intervention. Please click here to view more such donation options and the different modes of payment. http://www.arpan.org.in/contribute.html

I really look forward to your support. I would also appreciate if you could send this appeal to people in your organization, friends and family.

Thank you so much! : )

For more information you could contact me (Pooja Taparia) on 9820135567 or pooja@arpan.org.in


Warm regards,
Pooja
*******
Pooja Taparia
Founder - CEO
Arpan
Our vision - A safe world free from Child Sexual Abuse and its ill effects.
email: pooja@arpan.org.in
website: www.arpan.org.in
blog: www.arpancsa.blogspot.com
facebook: arpan
You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfmo8kjezs8

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Kids in Irish 'Fritzl' incest hell

By JOANNE McELGUNN
Irish Sun Crime Editor
Published: 17 Jun 2009


A HORRIFYING case of suspected incest involving up to SEVEN youngsters and BOTH their parents is being investigated by Irish police. The children claim they were raped and brutally assaulted by their father and mother in their west of Ireland home.

In a case reminiscent of the infamous Josef Fritzl incest horror in Austria they detail how they endured years of vile abuse behind closed doors.

They told investigators how they were forced to have sex with their parents and each other. There are serious concerns that the mother gave birth to a child fathered by one of her sons. The terrified kids — aged between one and 13 when the alleged abuse came to light — detailed how they were raped by their father while their mother looked on.

They described a catalogue of unimaginable horror including watching their baby sister, then TWO, being raped by their father. A source said: “What they describe is beyond horror — way above anything that this country has ever previously heard.

Appalling

“This involves up to seven kids from an even larger family. It was a house of sheer, utter horror where every imaginable abuse is said to have taken place. “Parents forcing sex on the children who in turn were made have sex with each other — it’s all alleged. “There are also strong suspicions that the mother gave birth to her son’s child - who was one of the seven kids then abused.” The children told how their father abused them with a stick and forced them to have sex with both parents.The investigation also heard claims that they were made to perform sex acts on each other.

Following a two-year probe gardai sent a file to the DPP recommending the father be charged with the rape and aggravated sexual assault of the children. Officers also recommended the mother be charged with the aggravated sexual assault of four of the children and several counts of aiding and abetting sexual assaults. However, after assessing the file for over a year the DPP declined to prosecute. It has been alleged five of the children made statements detailing the abuse — including seeing their baby sister and brother being raped and assaulted. Now the DPP has ordered that the case be reviewed and resubmitted to his office.

The move, it is thought, follows the successful prosecution of a case in Roscommon. Last July this 40-year-old woman was convicted of incest against one son and the sexual abuse of another. She also pleaded guilty to neglect of six of her children. The DPP has ordered a review of other similar cases, including the one revealed by the Irish Sun today. Several officers have been appointed to examine this case before sending it back to the DPP. A source said: “They want to see if anything was missed.” The kids, who were taken into care a decade ago, first came to the attention of the Midland Health Board in the late 1990s when they lived in its catchment area. The family were placed under the supervision of the MHB after a number of complaints from neighbours about the physical condition of the children.

It was not until the family moved to the west of Ireland and came under the care of the Western Health Board that the claims of rapes and sex assaults came to light. The children were first interviewed about the sexual abuse around eight years ago and they detailed a horrific home-life of rapes, beatings, hunger and neglect. One told how he and his brother were made to have sex with their sister — who has since tried to kill herself several times and is feared to be “beyond hope”. Another detailed how he saw an older brother have sex with his mother and his father hav e sex with a sister. Yet another told how he would vomit after being forced to perform oral sex on his father.Another child said he saw his father having oral sex with four of his brothers and sisters. They also described how their father would beat them and their mother. All of the children were interviewed separately and have reportedly given startlingly similar accounts of abuse — detailing how they would hide under a table when their father was looking for his next victim.

Both parents were arrested in 2002 and denied any wrongdoing. The couple are still together, despite the fact the husband has been convicted of beating his wife. He is many years older than her and there is some suspicion he began having sex with her when she was 12 or 13.A source said: “The only comfort is that this mother is now beyond child-bearing age. “Some of the younger children remain in foster care where they are doing well. Others are older and no longer in care. They are trying to cope as best they can

[Author's email id : joanne.mcelgunn@the-sun.ie ]
[Thanks to Askios for the article ]

Monday, 15 June 2009

The Ryan Report: It's horrifying

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA) is one of a range of measures introduced by the Irish Government to investigate the extent and effects of abuse on children from 1936 onwards. It is generally known in Ireland as the "Ryan report" or "the Ryan Commission" (previously "the Laffoy Commission"), after its presiding judge, Justice Seán Ryan. The Commission's work started in 1999 and it published its public report on 20 May 2009.

Though the Commission's remit encompassed all forms of child abuse outside the family, the majority of allegations it investigated related to the system of residential "Reformatory and Industrial Schools" operated by Catholic Church orders, funded and supervised by the Irish Department of Education.

The Commission's report said testimony had demonstrated beyond a doubt that the entire system treated children more like prison inmates and slaves than people with legal rights and human potential, that church officials encouraged ritual beatings and consistently shielded their orders' paedophiles from arrest amid a "culture of self-serving secrecy", and that government inspectors failed to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation.

Those abused were, amongst other things, stripped, beaten and raped by nuns, subjected to naked beatings in public, forced into oral sex and even subjected to beatings after failed rape attempts by brothers. One person described how they attempted to tell nuns they had been molested by an ambulance driver only to be "stripped naked and whipped by four nuns to 'get the devil out of you'". Another described how they were removed from their bed and "made to walk around naked with other boys whilst brothers used their canes and flicked at their penis". Yet another was "tied to a cross and raped whilst others masturbated at the side".

The abuse has been described by some as Ireland's Holocaust. The abuse was said to be "endemic" across Irish educational institutions. The UK based Guardian newspaper, described the abuse as "the stuff of nightmares", citing the adjectives used in the report as being particularly chilling: "systemic, pervasive, chronic, excessive, arbitrary, endemic".
[To read about the Ryan Report in details, click here.]
[Thanks to Sagnik for the link to the article.]

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Arpan's awareness video on CSA

Hi ,

Just a minute of your time. ARPAN has come out with an awareness video on Child Sexual Abuse. I think it's effective. The video is avaliable on YouTube in the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfmo8kjezs8

"A child can be abused by anyone, just about anyone...."

Spread the message.

Regards,
Amrita.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Mumbai businessman held for raping daughters

(Please click on title to view the actual article from IBN Live)
Thursday March 19, Mumbai -  In a horrific incident reminiscent of the infamous Josef Fritzl case, a father in Mumbai has been sexually abusing and exploiting his daughters for the last 10 years.

Mumbai Police arrested the 60-year-old businessman on charges of allegedly raping his two daughters. The mother of the two girls has also been arrested for abetment.

The elder daughter, now 21, was allegedly raped for 10 years. The businessman started raping his second daughter - a 15-year-old - just a few months ago. The elder daughter then confided in her maternal grandmother when she saw her younger sister being targeted just as she had been by her father.

Police say the couple was under the influence of atantrik, Hasmukh Rathod, who said raping the girls will bring the family prosperity.

Police say the father started raping his elder daughter when she was 11 years old after thetantrik advised the father to have sexual relations with her.

"The father has been raping her for nine years on the pretext that it would make him rich. The tantriktoo has been raping the younger daughter for five months now," claims police officer Mukund Mahajan.

The incident is reminiscent of the infamous Josef Fritzl incest case in Austria. Fritzl faces trial for imprisoning and raping his daughter for 24 years and fathering seven children.

He has pleaded guilty to all charges including rape, incest and enslavement of his daughter. The 73-year-old Fritzl has also admitted to being responsible for the death of one of the seven children after video testimony by his daughter.

Some cases of a father raping his daughter that have been in news in the past include the case of a 13-year-old Bhopal girl who was allegedly sexually assaulted by her father on February 4, 2009, when she complained to him about her cousin who had been raping her.

In April 2005 a 14-year-old girl in Hyderabad yd had been repeatedly raped by her father and even became pregnant.

In October 2006 Pratima, 25, a Dalit woman accused her father, Birendra Kumar, SDM of a Derapur in Banda district in Kanpur, for raping her for more than a year.

In another shocking incident the principal and two teachers of an institution for disabled girls in Himachal Pradesh have been arrested for sexually abusing at least six of them for a year.

The arrest came after raids on the institution, Prerna Welfare.


Saturday, 7 February 2009

Most perpetrators of sexual assault are someone the family or child knows

01/17/2009
Reported by Katie Weidenboerner, Tri-County Sunday.
Email: katiew@thecourierexpress.com

DuBOIS - Despite the stereotypes of a stranger in a trench coat hanging around the playground, in more than 90 percent of sexual abuse cases, the child and the child's family know and trust the abuser. "What we see and statistically what has been proven, is most of your perpetrators are someone the family or the child knows. They're somebody that knows your habits - who knows when you're not going to be home and when you're going to be home - so they can take advantage," Billie Jo Weyant, director of Citizens Against Physical, Sexual and Emotional Abuse, said. "That's why a lot of times kids are so afraid to tell. Even adults can be afraid to tell. You don't know what that person has threatened those children, young adults and adults."Since most children seek approval from adults, they are vulnerable to abuse."The use of physical force is rarely necessary to draw a child into sexual activity. Offenders know this and take advantage of children in this way," Diane Kuntz, executive director of Prevention and Service for Sexual Assault through Guidance, Empowerment and Support, said. "They often groom children for sexual assault. The grooming process includes building trust, bestowing favors, alienating others, demanding secrecy and violating boundaries. Usually, sexual abuse begins gradually and then increases over time. It is rarely a one-time incident and often continues for years."PASSAGES and CAPSEA have differing perspectives regarding the increase of services provided to child victims of sexual assault and their families.PASSAGES was founded in 1980 as The Rape Crisis Center, and is dedicated to the provision of free and confidential services to the survivors of sexual assault throughout Clarion, Clearfield and Jefferson counties.Kuntz said since 1995, the number of children seen at PASSAGES has nearly doubled, along with the number of service hours provided. "In the past year, PASSAGES has provided 560 hours of services to 93 children," Kuntz said. "According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, there were 4,562 substantiated cases of child sexual assaults in Pennsylvania in the 2005-06 fiscal year. In addition, sexual violence centers throughout the Commonwealth served 37,353 individuals. Of those served, 10,147 were child victims."Even though these numbers may seem staggering, Kuntz said 88 percent of child sexual abuse is never reported to authorities and sexual assault is the violent crime least reported to law enforcement.CAPSEA is committed to providing confidential service to victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in Elk and Cameron counties as well as to victims of all other serious crimes in Elk County.Weyant said of the 1,708 new victims the organization provided assistance, accompaniment and transportation to between 2007 and 2008, the number involving child sexual assault fluctuates. "Sexual violence and child sexual assault - this is something that is not going to go away in the next 10 years. On a positive note, me being here almost 19 years, I have seen many strides in the legal system, victims services," Weyant said. "Prevention is key. Adults have to educate themselves and children need to be made aware from day one with age appropriate information." Weyant said when victims services, law enforcement, the judicial system and other agencies work together and share information, abuse is more likely to be noticed and more victims can be helped. She stressed that when agencies share information, they are not disclosing private information, but talking about the issues and how to help victims."There was a time when I first started when you said 'sexual assault' and people said 'that doesn't happen around here.' People wanted to just hide," Weyant said.Kuntz agreed the "taboo" surrounding sexual assault is being progressively combated by increased awareness and education."Since 1995, the number of prevention/education programs provided in our service area has dramatically increased. In fiscal year 1994-95, PASSAGES provided 138 programs to 3,927 participants. In the 2007-08 fiscal year, Passages provided 785 programs to 15,438 of our area's youth," Kuntz said. "Talking about it is preventing it while assisting victims in coming forward. The more that people understand how common the problem really is, the easier it is to talk about. Thus, allowing victims to heal and helping to prevent sexual violence by raising awareness." Weyant said in her 19 years of working in victims services, she has also seen an improvement in the way details surrounding child sexual abuse are reported by the media. As an example, she recalled a high profile case in the early 1990s."So much detail was given (in the local newspapers) - the little girl's name, street address, the mother's name was in it. It was horrible because those people no longer had a safe haven," Weyant said. "I think the press has improved greatly." She said because of the press coverage, that trial had to be moved to another county in the eastern portion of the state. As a result, the family had to find their own means for travel, food and lodging. In comparison, psychologist and Project Point of Light Director William Allenbaugh II said if too much detail about the crime is published, it has the potential to hurt the victim."From a victim's perspective, the concern I have with the graphic depictions are the problems it can create for victims. If victims are in grade school, middle school, high school, even though they aren't named, people quickly put two and two together," Allenbaugh said. "I think it creates another obstacle for them to overcome. Victims can survive, but it is a process, and it gets more complicated when other people are aware of what went on." Project Point of Light was developed in 1986 as a joint effort of Clearfield and Jefferson counties' adult probation offices and the State Board of Parole in Altoona and Butler. It is an outcome-based program which targets adults and adolescents who experience difficulty as a result of inappropriate sexual behavior. Services are also available to victims and non-offending parents.From a perpetrator's perspective, Allenbaugh said he doesn't know how the details of a crime would serve any purpose, especially since they are already provided by affidavit to those who are working with the offender."I would have concern with the vividness more so for the victim than the perp," Allenbaugh said.The average age at which children are sexually abused is between 7 and 13. Allenbaugh said the youngest children he has worked with in the past year were 5 year olds."Look for a major change in where they (a child) are at. We see kids a lot of times who are sexually abused who experiment with siblings, such as trying to perform oral sex on their sisters - beyond what should be known," Allenbaugh said. "It could also be that they are seeing porn at home, which in my opinion is another form of sexual abuse."Sexual abuse is defined as any sexual act between an adult and a minor or between two minors where one exerts power over the other. Sexual abuse of children can include forcing, coercing or persuading a child to engage in sexual activity or to participate in non-contact acts like exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism or talking sexually by phone or Internet.Weyant said there are victim crisis centers in every county in Pennsylvania.Once a victim discloses, he or she can call CAPSEA and a trained volunteer or staff member is available 24 hours for immediate crisis intervention. One of the first concerns of the CAPSEA representative is to make sure the individual is safe and to assist in getting them medical attention or referrals to meet their other needs. CAPSEA volunteers and staff can also serve as accompaniment and support to the victim."We don't do anything that victim or survivor doesn't want us to do. We let that person take the lead," Weyant said. "Also, people who initially call us don't have to disclose their name. We can assist an anonymous call, and all of our services are free of charge." Once the first response is handled, CAPSEA can also provide ongoing crisis, options and empowerment counseling and make referrals to other organizations and services. PASSAGES also has a 24-hour hotline. The organization offers individual and group counseling, medical accompaniment, legal advocacy through the entire legal process, and other information, referral and educational programs.Weyant has been involved in sexual assault education for many years. "I tell people anytime someone discloses that they have been victimized, it is never the fault of the victim. Do not act shocked or act like you don't believe that person. If people don't know what to do or where to turn, please call us. That is what we're here for," Weyant said. "It is a horrendous thing to go through, but when that person is in need of help and can find there are people who aren't going to judge them and are going to be in their corner with them, I think that is such a boost to helping that healing process start."When sexual assault occurs, if it is not dealt with, it can be like a contagion that plagues other areas in that victim's life and of society as a whole.Weyant and Allenbaugh said many cases of sexual assault start when victims are children and go on into adulthood. Allenbaugh works with victims through victim witness, Children & Youth Services and self referral."I work with a lot of victims in their 50s who are now trying to deal with what happened to them as kids and never reported it because back in those days it was just something you didn't talk about," Allenbaugh said. "Women have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go."An information packet from PASSAGES said early sexual victimization can result in life-long problems. The degree of trauma depends on age and personality of the child, the nature of the relationship between the child and offender, the nature and duration of the abuse, and the way disclosure is handled, especially the degree of support a family offers. Allenbaugh added that with older adults who have been sexually abused, some of the signs may be substance abuse, becoming obese as a way to avoid becoming close with people, lack of trust, depersonalization and lack of self esteem. Prostitution, delinquency, suicide, depression and sexual fears and dysfunction are also often associated with early and long-term abuse.A pattern of victimization can continue into future generations. Women abused as children sometimes marry men who will abuse their children. Men abused as children may continue the cycle of victimization as abusers."There is no simple checklist I know of (to be able to realize someone is being sexually abused). You have to look at the individual because there are so many different variables that can occur," Allenbaugh said. "The younger you catch it, the better."
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[Thanks to Askios for the link to the article]