Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, August 8, 2016

New York Law Requires Child Abuse Hotline to be Posted in Schools

From News10:

New York is now requiring that every public and charter school posts the phone number the the state's child abuse hotline. The post must be in a place where students can see the sign. The law requiring such action has resulted in calls from children "around the clock every day."

Read more here.

August 8, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Child Maltreatment History Should Be a Bar to Being a Foster Parent

 From Youth Today:

It’s just common sense: An adult's past criminal history or history of child maltreatment is not to be balanced against the safety of a child. This is not to say a person with any criminal record should be barred as a foster parent, but certainly an applicant with a substantiated history of child maltreatment, no matter how far in the distant past, should be permanently barred.

Foster care agencies have a legitimate reason to inquire about a prospective foster parent’s criminal and child maltreatment history, be it an inquiry, arrest, charge or conviction. Why? Quite simply, the agency seeks to maximize child safety.

In addition, a good background check helps identify a superior applicant while simultaneously reducing the agency’s potential liability. In many states, the agency responsible for approving foster parent licenses is permitted to waive or not even take into account an applicant's child maltreatment or criminal history if the offense happened many years ago or if the agency's internal risk analysis indicates no cause for concern.

Read more here.

August 5, 2016 in Adoption, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Termination of Parental Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Germany Expresses Regret Over Failure to Stop Child Abuse at Nazi Nurse's Commune

From NBC News:

Germany's foreign ministry acknowledged Tuesday that its diplomats "looked away" and failed to prevent child abuse at a commune founded by a Nazi pedophile in Chile.

Paul Schaefer — a Nazi nurse who became a preacher — set up the secretive Colonia Dignidad commune in Chile after fleeing Germany for South America in 1961.

He died in a Chilean prison in 2010 at the age of 89 while serving a 20-year sentence for child abuse, arms possession and human-rights violations.

Children who lived at the Colonia Dignidad commune testified at trials of colony leaders about being sexually abused, enslaved and separated from their parents.

On Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier publicly expressed regret over any role his ministry had in the decades-long scandal.

"Over the course of many years, from the 60s to the 80s, German diplomats at best looked away," Steinmeier said.

He said it was "no glorious chapter" for Germany's embassy in Chile, adding that envoys "clearly did too little for the protection of their fellow citizens in this colony."

At its height in the 70s and 80s, Colonia Dignidad had some 300 Chilean and German residents. Most worked as farmers at the commune, which was guarded by barbed wire and watchtowers.

Women had to wear braided pigtails and colorful dirndls — a traditional German outfit — while men often were seen in lederhosen, the male equivalent.

The German parliament in 2008 released funds for projects supporting former commune members' reintegration into society.

Read more here.

May 4, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 25, 2016

UK Internet Charity Finds Fourfold Increase in Child Abuse Imagery

From Yahoo News:

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), an online child sex abuse charity, said on Thursday that the number of reports of images and videos containing child abuse had increased by 417 percent over the last two years.

In its annual report, the IWF said 68,092 reports had been positively identified as containing illegal child sexual abuse imagery and taken down.

That represented a 118 percent increase over the previous year, it said.

Prime Minister David Cameron gave his approval for the IWF to start proactively searching for online child sexual abuse imagery in April 2014.

From that time, IWF analysts could themselves search for child abuse imagery rather than just acting upon reports they received, prompting a dramatic increase in the number of images identified.

"By being allowed to actively search for these hideous images of children, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the sheer number of illegal images and videos that we’ve been able to remove from the internet," IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves said in a statement.

Of the images discovered in 2015, 69 percent were of children aged 10 or under and 34 per cent were Category A which involves the rape or sexual torture of children, the IWF said.

Hargreaves said the IWF planned to increase the number of its analysts to 17 from 12.

 

Read more here.

April 25, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Using Data to Predict Child Abuse

From Marketplace.org:

Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth are used to treating cases of abuse. Dyann Daley, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Cook Children’s, remembers a tiny toddler who had been kicked by his father in the stomach. “We didn’t know exactly what the injury was when he came into the operating room," she said. "But he had come into the hospital awake.”

Although doctors tried to keep him alive, the injury just wasn't survivable. He bled to death during surgery. "It was an emotional time because of the type of injury he had and how close he was in age to my own children,” Daley said.

In 2013, more than 1,500 American children died from abuse and neglect. That's the most recent national info available. Last year in Texas, the Department of Family and Protective Services announced 170 children died. Tarrant County, which includes the city of Fort Worth, has one of the highest rates of abuse in the state. Dyann Daley, who runs Cook Children's Center for Prevention of Child Maltreatment,  says no one really knows why.

 "Some people say we’re better at catching it or better at reporting it," she said. "I’ve worked in a number of children’s hospitals in Texas and also in other places in the United States. And I’ve never seen as much physical abuse as I see here.”

 Daley has been on a mission to train doctors and nurses to recognize the signs of abuse early – like suspicious bruises or marks. But detecting abuse is hard. Especially for infants who may not interact with teachers or nurses familiar with the clues.

 What they’d really like to do is prevent it. So they're experimenting with “big data” technology that could help predict neighborhoods where kids are most likely to be abused.

 It's known as predictive analytics. “This technology has been used to predict where shootings would occur and other types of violent crimes, but no one had applied it to domestic violence, like child maltreatment before,” Daley said.

Read more here.

April 22, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 28, 2016

US Lacks Strategies to Lower Child Abuse Deaths

From ABC News:

The United States lacks coherent, effective strategies for reducing the stubbornly high number of children who die each year from abuse and neglect, a commission created by Congress reported Thursday after two years of sometimes divisive deliberations.

According to federal data, the number of such deaths has hovered at around 1,500 to 1,600 annually in recent years. But citing gaps in how this data is compiled, the report suggests the actual number may be as high as 3,000 a year.

Commission chairman David Sanders said a goal of zero maltreatment deaths was realistic.

"We looked at the airline industry — no one accepts a plane crash anymore. We can get that way with child fatalities," said Sanders, executive vice president of Casey Family Programs.

The report made dozens of recommendations, including expanding safe-haven programs for abandoned infants and enlisting a broader range of community organizations to help often-overburdened child protection service workers.

"We need a system that does not rely on CPS agencies alone to keep all children safe," the report said. "Other systems become key partners, including the courts, law enforcement, the medical community, mental health, public health, and education. Even neighbors who come into regular contact with young children and families are part of a public health approach."

Still, the commission, comprised of six members appointed by Congress and six by President Barack Obama, failed to reach consensus on some issues. Two members declined to approve the final report and wrote dissents criticizing one of the major proposals.

Read more here.

March 28, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Missouri Law Protects Children From Abuse By Children

From STLToday.com:

Last year, after testifying before Missouri legislators about her daughter’s alleged sexual abuse by another child, Becky Wekenborg’s Facebook page began to ping with messages from strangers asking for help.

She knew then, well before the bill expanding the scope of the Children’s Division was passed into law, that the state might be tackling something bigger than policymakers projected.

“Until people started contacting me, I didn’t realize that there was such a big problem,” she said. “I was just amazed at all these people who reached out to me who wanted advice and knew my name because of what my daughter had been through.”

In August, the new state law went into effect mandating that the Children’s Division perform family assessments when it receives child abuse hotline calls alleging inappropriate sexual behavior perpetrated by children on other children.

Prior to that, the state was only mandated to investigate allegations of child abuse involving people who have “care, custody or control” of a child. That ruled out state intervention in most complaints against minors and essentially excluded all children under 14.

Child advocates lauded the change. But even they failed to predict the extent of demand for the new services.

Read more here.

March 20, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Rising Cases of Horrific Abuse Push Valley Children's Hospital to Increase Care

From The Fresno Bee:

Dr. Philip Hyden has seen a lot over nearly 30 years of treating abused children, but nothing like what’s happening to kids in the Central Valley.

“I’ve lived in New York City, I’ve lived in L.A., I’ve lived in Hawaii, I’ve lived in Denver, I’ve lived in Florida and Illinois,” he says, “and I’m telling you that the amount of time I’ve been here and the amount of cases I see per year is bewildering. It’s just overwhelming, what I see.”

And Hyden, who took the helm of The Guilds of Valley Children’s Hospital Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Center in 2010, says he’s seen “everything you can think of.”

“I’ve seen children sold for sex that are less than a year old. I’ve seen children sold for drugs. … I’ve seen kids tortured, tied in garbage bags, deprived of food to where they are actually skeletal, multiple contusions on them like hanger marks and extension cord marks, burns from cigarettes and other objects … burns from hot water and flames.”

These horrors are behind Valley Children’s recently expanded child abuse program. Officials say that of 483,000 reports of suspected child maltreatment made in California in 2013 – the most recent data available – 90,000 came from areas traditionally served by the hospital.

Many victims were previously sent to other facilities before Hyden joined Valley Children’s in 2010. His arrival marked the beginning of a new program with staff solely focused on evaluating and treating abused children. The work is largely funded by a $5 million endowment awarded by guilds that raise money for the hospital. The $5 million goal set in 2009 was reached last year.

The number of abused children seen at Valley Children’s continues to grow. The year before Hyden’s arrival, the hospital saw 159 abused children – 65 of them hospitalized for more severe injuries. Last year, the child abuse prevention and treatment center saw 974 children – 135 requiring hospitalization.

Hyden credits the growth to expanded services, along with a growing awareness of these services, but added that it “doesn’t look like child abuse is decreasing in the Valley at all.”

Read more here.

 

March 13, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Reporting Error Inflates Maryland Child Abuse Cases

From The Baltimore Sun:

A recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services included a startling statistic: The number of abused or neglected children in Maryland in 2014 had climbed 27 percent, the second-sharpest increase in the nation.

But state officials say that the figure was inflated because of a reporting error. It turns out that the number of cases depends on how a state defines a victim.

The federal government has been gathering state-level child abuse and neglect data for more than two decades, tracking the time it takes for Child Protective Services to respond to a report of child abuse, for instance, and the number of cases that are substantiated after an investigation.

The most recent installment of that data, which was released in late January and covers 2014, identified 15,800 children in Maryland who were victims of abuse or neglect — up from just over 12,000 cases the year before. Only Massachusetts had a larger year-over-year increase in abuse cases.

But officials at the Maryland Department of Human Resources said the federal number should not include children who are assisted through a new effort to segregate "low-risk" cases and work with those families to improve the situation at home rather than conduct a formal investigation.

That effort, known as "alternative response," was fully implemented in Maryland in 2014.

"We have determined that Maryland should not have counted any of the children receiving alternative response as victims," DHR spokeswoman Paula Tolson said in a statement. "Maryland therefore will be resubmitting 2014 data to correct this error."

The alternative response approach is designed to lessen the adversarial relationship between families and caseworkers. While many child advocates regard it as a best practice, some critics question whether the two-track system does enough to keep children safe.

Read more here.

February 26, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Catholic Bishops Not Obliged to Report Clerical Child Abuse, Vatican Says

From The Guardian:

The Catholic church is telling newly appointed bishops that it is “not necessarily” their duty to report accusations of clerical child abuse and that only victims or their families should make the decision to report abuse to police.

A document that spells out how senior clergy members ought to deal with allegations of abuse, which was recently released by the Vatican, emphasized that, though they must be aware of local laws, bishops’ only duty was to address such allegations internally.

“According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds,” the training document states. 

February 16, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Congress Moves to Confront Military Child Abuse with Talia's Law

From Military Times:

The House on Tuesday passed a bill that would require anyone employed by the Defense Department to report cases of suspected child abuse on military installations to state child protective service agencies in addition to reporting such suspected crimes up their chain of command.

The legislation was approved by voice vote and sent to the Senate for consideration.

Called Talia’s Law, the bill is named for five-year-old Talia Williams who was tortured and beaten to death by her father — an active-duty Army specialist at the time — and step-mother in 2005 at Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii.

Talia’s mother, Tarshia Williams, sued the U.S. government in 2008 for what she argued were failures by military officials to report suspicions that her daughter was being abused. Williams was awarded $2 million in a settlement last May.

The Defense Department had signed a memorandum of understanding with the State of Hawaii in 2013 that said the state’s child welfare services agency was “primarily” responsible for handling instances of child abuse on military bases. But DOD also has its own parallel system for child and domestic abuse investigations.

Suspected cases of child abuse are reported to military police or the installation’s Family Advocacy Program, which work in coordination to identify and investigate instances of child abuse. Those mandated by law to report suspected child abuse are usually professionally involved with children, such as day-care workers and doctors.

The U.S. District Court of Hawaii, where Williams brought her suit, found that various individuals failed to report Talia’s case, including members of the military police, doctors, and an employee with the Family Advocacy Program – all covered by the House bill.

Read more here.

February 15, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Springfield Mom Creates Foundation to Fight Child Abuse

From Springfield News-Leader:

Cindy Dennis, author of child abuse prevention books, is creating the Give A Child A Voice Foundation.

By forming a nonprofit foundation, Dennis said she hopes to reach more children, parents, grandparents, foster parents and educators. As a foundation, she will be in a better position to raise funds and apply for grants. And she can get cheaper "nonprofit" publishing rates.

The Springfield mom presented her plans Wednesday at the 1 Million Cups meeting, where entrepreneurs pitch their business concepts to an audience.

"Our objective is to reduce and eventually end all forms of child abuse, neglect and molestation," she told the audience. "We will achieve this by teaching kids to stand up for themselves, be vigilant and become a crusader for their own well-being."

"Children will learn that their bodies are sacred and no one has a right to victimize them. They will learn tactics and strategies that can lead to prevention."

Dennis said as the foundation raises money, she will be able to create a high-quality video "that is engaging to children with animation and songs." Dennis also wants to distribute the book "Friend Manual" to kindergarten through third-grade classes, preschools and churches.  "Friend Manual" teaches kids about safety, the difference between good secrets and bad secrets, and what to do if a stranger approaches or tries to grab them.

Read more here.

January 31, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Colorado Hotline Expands Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect

From The Denver Post:

With the approaching first anniversary of the launch of a toll-free statewide telephone hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect, child-welfare officials are urging Coloradans to stay vigilant if they're concerned about a child's safety and well-being.

The Colorado Department of Human Services announced that as of Dec. 20, state and county officials had received nearly 205,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect since the hotline went live on Jan. 1 — both through the new state hotline and from people contacting counties' and the state's human services offices.

"There is a growing understanding in our community that we all play a role in keeping our kids safe," state Department of Human Services Director Reggie Bicha said in a news release.

Bicha said the 1-844-CO-4-KIDS hotline is integral to help Coloradans spot and report signs of child abuse and neglect. "One call can save a child," he said.

Of the total 204,983 calls received by Dec. 20 about possible child abuse or neglect, 26,461 were made on the state hotline, according to Department of Human Services spokesman Lee Rasizer. Of that total, 4,516 came from Boulder County, 706 from Broomfield County and 5,395 from Weld County.

Under a system in which calls are evaluated and determinations made about whether further assessments and investigations are merited, and how rapidly those assessments and investigations need to be made, 88,441 of the total calls to the state's hotline and Colorado counties were accepted for assessment and 32,709 were assessed and investigated, Rasizer said.

Read more here.

 
 

January 1, 2016 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

New Law in Child Abuse Cases Addresses Washington County Concerns

From Glen Falls Post-Star:

A new law lobbied for by the Washington County Attorney’s Office and signed last week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will close a loophole in Family Court laws that was noted in recent years during the prosecution of local child abusers.

The law, which was based on bills co-sponsored in the state Assembly by local Assembly members Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, and Steve McLaughlin, R-Melrose, toughens penalties in Family Court for those who commit serious child abuse.

State law has long allowed for abusers to only be found to have committed “abuse” against children who were not their biological children, even in cases of homicide or sexual abuse, instead of the higher finding of “severe abuse.”

For example, Dan Martindale, Washington County’s deputy county attorney who was among those who lobbied for the law change, said he prosecuted a Family Court case in which a man was found to have committed “abuse” by sexually abusing a stepchild, but was found to have committed “severe abuse” of a biological child who wasn’t physically assaulted but may have witnessed some of the abuse.

“The rationale was that ‘severe abuse’ was defined in the Social Services Law as a ground for terminating parental rights, and since there were no parental rights to terminate, the child could not be severely abused,” he said.

While the finding may seem trivial when compared to sentences in criminal court for the companion cases, Martindale said the differences can determine what custody rights the accused has. A finding of severe abuse can result in termination of parental rights, while a simple abuse finding cannot.

Read more here.

December 5, 2015 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Study Finds More Child Abuse in Homes of Returning Vets

From USA Today:

The babies and toddlers of soldiers returning from deployment face the heightened risk of abuse in the six months after the parent’s return home, a risk that increases among soldiers who deploy more frequently, according to a study scheduled for release Friday.

The study will be published in the American Journal of Public Health. The abuse of soldiers’ children exposes another, hidden cost from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that killed than 5,300 U.S. troops and wounded more than 50,000.

Research by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia looked at families of more than 112,000 soldiers whose children were 2 years old or younger for the period of 2001 to 2007, the peak of the Iraq War. Researchers examined Pentagon-substantiated instances of abuse by a soldier or another caregiver and from the diagnoses of medical personnel within the military’s health care system.

“This study is the first to reveal an increased risk when soldiers with young children return home from deployment,” David Rubin, co-director of the hospital’s PolicyLab and the report’s senior author, said in a statement. “This really demonstrates that elevated stress when a soldier returns home can have real and potentially devastating consequences for some military families.”

Rubin said the study will help the Army and other services learn "when the signal [of stress] is the highest and the timing for intervention to help the returning soldiers."

The Army said it will use the information to help serve soldiers and their families better.

Read more here.

November 20, 2015 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Oklahoma City Adoption Attorney Accused in Child Trafficking Case

From NewsOK:

A longtime Oklahoma City adoption attorney was accused Thursday in a child trafficking case of cheating adoptive parents out of thousands of dollars.  

Prosecutors allege the attorney, Robert Golden Boren, created a fake company to unlawfully charge adoptive parents more than the actual living expenses of the birth mothers. They also allege he overcharged the parents for so-called social services.

"In essence, Boren reported the expense he charged the adoptive couple but NOT what was actually paid," Oklahoma City police Detective Priscilla Helm wrote in a court affidavit. "This allowed a profit for Boren that was hidden from the adoptive couples, the birth mothers and the Courts.” 

The detective reported Boren received more than $110,000 in illegal profit between 2009 and 2013 on cases she examined. 

Read more here.

October 28, 2015 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Child Abuse in Iowa

A private group called Prevent Child Abuse Iowa has launched a website with extensive information on preventing child abuse and how Iowans can report possible cases of child abuse.  The site aims to provide advice on situations ranging from what to do when a sex offender lives in your neighborhood to how to start a conversation with a person putting another person in an uncomfortable situation.  The site also "provides links to groups with counselors willing to talk to the public."  The website is http://www.pcaiowa.org/.

Read more here.

MR

March 1, 2013 in Child Abuse, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Controversial Child Abuse Registries

From DesMoinesRegister.com:

Iowa's 51,960-name child abuse registry could get an overhaul in the wake of complaints that the list damages reputations and job prospects for the accused before they've had a fair hearing.
...

Appeals took an average of 273 days in 2008, the most recent year available. About one-fourth of the appeals that reached a hearing were reversed.

It takes no conviction in court to end up on the registry - only a finding by Iowa Department of Human Services staff that it was "more likely than not" that the person neglected a child or, in a much smaller number of cases, abused a child.

Read more here.

MR

 

February 24, 2011 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mind Your Own Business?

That is the question posed by MSNBC.com:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.America's latest folk-hero flight attendant may be the one on a Southwest Airlines jet who took a 13-month-old baby from her mother after the woman slapped the crying child for kicking her. 

The flight attendant's actions, however, set off an intense debate: When and how should bystanders intervene?

Read more here.

MR

August 24, 2010 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Smoking in Car Child Abuse?

The Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners in England has called smoking in a car with children child abuse.  He urged parents, mothers-to-be, the obese, smokers, and drinkers to turn into healthy role models for their children.  Read about it here.

MR

August 17, 2010 in Child Abuse | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)