Our Broken Justice System

When criminals are brought before judges for sentencing, judges should weigh factors including the severity of the crime, public safety, losses to the victim and a defendant’s efforts to change. But all too often judges hand down light sentences to repeat offenders who often go on to commit even more violent crimes. It has become even more common for judges to hand down probation to those convicted of child sexual abuse.

Our Broken Court System

In June of 2013 an 11 year old girl had been sexually abused by her then step-father. (A third degree Felony) He was later arrested and held on a $250,000.00 bond. Even though a great many pages of documents were submitted to Sarpy County Judge Zastera proving that this man had been physically and emotionally abusive to his children and wife for more than 10 years before he was arrested for child sexual abuse, the judge allowed him to plead guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor sexual assault, and only sentenced him to two years probation and required him to register as a sex offender! 

Although Judge Zastera required him to have no contact with his step-daughter, he did allow him to live with his three other biological children. Only ten days after he was released on probation, he was arrested again in Plattsmouth, Nebraska after throwing his then 8 year old daughter across a room and into a wall. The father was later transferred to the Sarpy County jail for violating his probation—after police discovered weapons, drugs, alcohol and pornography in his possession. But he was never charged for abusing his biological daughter! He was then sentenced to less than three months in the Sarpy County jail and then allowed to leave the state; where is allowed to abuse others there.

Judge Zastera has since retired from the bench, but now works as a defense attorney for other sex offenders.

Our Broken Welfare System

Many may ask, “Why didn’t the mother just take her kids and leave?” Many times women who live with an abusive partner don’t leave with the children out of fear of retribution from their partner. Some have even had their abusive partner threaten to kill them and their children if they ever left.

But rather than providing therapy and help for these children and their mother, who all suffer from years of abuse, the children are removed from the home and placed in foster care where they are refused contact with their mother and many times placed in separate foster homes.

In the meantime, the mother suffers even more mental anguish from being separated from her children and may begin to self medicate with drugs or alcohol. This causes CPS to flag the mother as potentially unfit and the children could be removed from her care several times. 

A typical CPS victim family is living below poverty level. Their main concerns have been to take care of their children and make enough money to pay bills each month. They don’t know what the US Constitution says and have never studied laws about child welfare, thus, they are no match for child welfare social workers whose work-life revolves around court cases and separation of children from their families. So long as families are kept confused and “in the dark” about what’s going on, the social workers have a great advantage over them when they go to court.

There has been a great outcry against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for separating young children from their mothers after crossing our borders illegally. Many are calling it inhumane and demanding the dismantling of ICE because of it.  But where is the outrage against Child Protective Services (CPS) and the hundreds of thousands (Yes, thousands) of children separated from their mothers and siblings? 

In 2016, over 687,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care. In June of 2017, the child welfare system in Nebraska had 4,123 children in foster care. And the numbers keep rising. But instead of being safely reunified with their families, many of these children will languish for years in foster homes or institutions. Nebraska historically has removed children at one of the highest rates in the nation. 

Recently the Omaha World Herald reported that state auditors are calling into question more than $26 million worth of Nebraska child welfare spending from last year. The audit also discovered that a state ward was placed in the home of a foster parent whose son was the ward’s boyfriend—even though the boyfriend was convicted of sexual assault in 2011!

HHS agreed that with the auditors that some matters needed correcting, but disputed key findings in the audit. Isn’t placing a child in the home of someone convicted of sexual assault a key finding? 

Foster Care And Minority Children

Racial and ethnic minority children are overrepresented in the number of children in foster care. African American children, Native American children, and children of two or more racial backgrounds are more likely to be in foster care. Even more striking, the time spent in foster care increases for minority children with two or more racial backgrounds. This is a troubling and complex situation.

The Foster Care Review Office data on DHHS wards indicate that minority children are also more likely to be separated from their siblings during their time in care. This is particularly true for African American children and Native American children. But once children are in the foster care system, there is little variation in well-being by race. Many children of all races struggle with a variety of issues related to being in foster care. 

National research shows that children who experience four or more changes in placement are likely to suffer permanent damage from the instability and trauma of broken attachments.

The American child welfare systems is badly broken—and the children are the ones who suffer serious harm as a result. Some will be separated from their siblings. Others will be bounced from one foster home to another, never knowing when their lives will be uprooted next. Too many will be further abused in systems that are supposed to protect them.

Caseworker turnover produces another source of instability. Among the Nebraska cases reviewed, 16.8 percent of children had five or more caseworkers while in their latest episode of foster care. An additional 36.8 percent had three or four caseworkers! 

So it’s no wonder so many children fall through the cracks! It was reported that at least 50 Nebraska children—some as young as 4 years old—have suffered from sexual abuse while in the state’s care. And that’s just in the first 4 months of this year! 

For-Profit Foster Care

For-profit foster care homes were originally created to replace government-funded foster homes. For-profit programs are generally revered because they can cut the corners and costs that public systems can’t. But those corners are generally very important and critical for the wellbeing of children. And when corners are cut, it generally means that those who are supposed to care and provide for children are under qualified, not background-checked, and occasionally criminal. In 2013, the LA Times reported that children living in private, for-profit foster care are 33 percent more likely to experience abuse—be it physical, sexual or emotional.

The Omaha World Herald reported that for five years Nebraska has tried privatized foster care; and it has been a terrible failure. A study compared results achieved by state child welfare workers and by the Nebraska Families Collaborative, the private agency that manages child welfare cases in the Omaha area. It found no cost savings and no significant difference—either positive or negative—in outcomes for children and families. “Privatization promised better outcomes at a lower cost, and that has not happened,” the authors wrote in their report. “It was, perhaps, a worthy experiment, but it has failed.” And yet the Nebraska State Legislature continues to be unable to reach a common sense solution for the child welfare problem in our state.

What does the Bible say about this?

The Bible does not specifically use the term child abuse. What the Bible does tell us is this: children have a special place in God’s heart and anyone who harms a child is inviting God’s wrath upon himself. When Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children from coming to Jesus, he rebuked them and welcomed the children to his side, saying, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10:14) Then Jesus took the children in His arms and blessed them. (verse 16) The Bible promotes child blessing—not child abuse.

Children are abused and mistreated in several different ways, all of which are abhorrent to God. The Bible prohibits child abuse in its warnings against improper treatment. Though healthy forms of discipline are biblically acceptable, such discipline should never be administered as physical punishment. There is no place for uncontrolled anger when dealing with children.

The Bible also prohibits child sexual abuse in its condemnation of sexual sin. Sexual abuse or molestation is particularly devastating, and warnings against sexual sin abound in Scripture. To force sexual acts upon a child is a horrible, evil offense. 

In addition to committing a sexual sin, the perpetrator is also attacking the innocence of one of the world’s most vulnerable persons. Sexual abuse violates everything about a person from his or her understanding of self to physical boundaries to spiritual connection with God. In a child, these things are so barely established that they are often altered for life and without appropriate help, may not ever heal.

Another way the Bible prohibits child abuse is in its forbidding of psychological and emotional abuse. Ephesians 6:4 warns fathers not to “exasperate” or provoke their children but to bring them up in the “training and instruction of the Lord.” Harsh, unloving verbal discipline, emotional manipulation, or volatile environments alienate children’s minds from their parents and render their instruction and correction useless. 

It has been well documented that many foster parents provoke and exasperate their foster children by placing unreasonable requirements on them, belittling them, or constantly finding fault, thereby producing wounds that can be as bad as or worse than any physical beating can inflict. Colossians 3:21 tells us not to “embitter” our children so they will not become discouraged. Ephesians 4:15–19 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow destructive words to pour from our lips—especially toward the tender hearts and minds of children. Child abuse in any form is evil. 

We are told that if we witness injustice that we are to write to our senators and other lawmakers to make our voice heard. In the past I have written to over 20 state senators pleading with them to do something to protect our children from predators that they are forced to live with—either in their own homes or in foster care—by placing restrictions on those who have been convicted of child sexual abuse. Currently, Nebraska has no restrictions on sex offenders of any kind, so being required to register as a sex offender means nothing. The few who responded: Governor Pete Ricketts, Senators Patty Pansing Brooks, Brett Lindstrom, John McCollister, and Sara Howard, told me that there was nothing they could do.

Nothing they can do? According to the Nebraska Legislature website, a senator is called, among other things to: “…right injustices involving the public; establish state policy by introducing bills to create new programs, modify existing programs, and repeal laws which are no longer needed; study problems between sessions and determine whether legislative solutions are needed to correct them…”

 CPS, the court system, the broken foster care system and lawmakers who refuse to protect our children and allow them to receive justice are just as guilty as the one who abuse them. Jesus said, “…But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)

But it’s not just CPS, the court system, the broken foster care system and lawmakers that are to blame. Anyone who has witnessed, or know of a child being abused and does nothing are as guilty as those in the broken foster care system who refuse to protect our children. “If someone sins by failing to testify when he hears a public charge about something he has witnessed, whether he has seen it or learned of it, he shall bear the iniquity.” (Leviticus 5:1) 

God’s Justice

The Bible is very clear about refusing to report the crime of child abuse: “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4) “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this’, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? (Proverbs 24:11-12)

Today, Jesus might well say, “I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not welcome me; afraid, abused and in foster care and you did not visit me. Truly, I say to you, when you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” 

The Bible reveals that all of mankind’s systems of government will one day be wiped away. This will happen at the return of Jesus the Messiah, which is detailed throughout God’s Word.  “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” (Dan. 2:44) See also: Revelations 11:15; Obadiah 1:21; Zechariah 14:9

Unlike our current government system, the kingdom of God will not be “left to another people”.  It will not be based upon the ideas of man. This government—the kingdom of God—will be built upon God’s Law, which will be administered perfectly. This newly established kingdom will solve mankind’s most persistent problems, which stem from its flawed systems and governments. But until that day comes, we have an obligation to be a voice for those who are afraid to speak. 

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Many modern day Christians are taught to believe that the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel divorced themselves from Jerusalem and gave up their observance of the Sabbath and God’s Feast Days and that they became virtual pagans in belief. 

They also believe that the Christian Church became “spiritual Israel” after God rejected physical Israel for its sins against Him and that Jesus’ death and resurrection put an end to our observance of God’s Mosaic Laws. 

The simple truth is, the northern ten tribes of Israel were never actually lost. The New Testament itself shows that the location of the ten tribes of Israel were well known to Jesus and the apostles in the first century. 

Let’s start with the writings of James, the son of Joseph and Mary who was born after the birth of Jesus. James knew exactly where the members of all the twelve tribes of Israel were in the first century and he addressed his letter to them. He writes in James 1:1, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the TWELVE TRIBES SCATTERED ABROAD, greetings.” (Emphasis mine)

The apostle Peter also knew the location of the twelve tribes of Israel: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the elect, exiles of the Dispersion throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…” (1 Peter 1:1) 

The contents of James’ letter is directed at the “twelve tribes scattered abroad”, not just the tribe of Judah. (The Jews) James’ letters were most likely read in the synagogues where many of them attended on the seventh day Sabbath. In fact, in James 2:2 the word “assembly” in the King James Version is actually “synagogue,” the official meeting place that the Hebrews, Jews and non-Jews alike, attended throughout the world. The KJV should have translated it that way. 

James did not have to point out the importance of observing Sabbath, and celebrating God’s Feast Days because they were already observing them! They were familiar with all of the Psalms of the Old Testament (James 5:13); they knew what the technical Hebrew term “Lord of Sabbath” meant (James 5:4); and they were completely knowledgeable of all the teachings of the Old Testament prophets. (James 5:10) 

Indeed, so familiar were these twelve tribes with “the Scripture” (that is, the Old Testament) that James simply referred to the Holy Scripture as authority without once having to define it to those tribes who were scattered away from Jerusalem. (James 2:8) In fact, many of them had become “teachers” or”masters” in matters concerning the Scriptures. (James 3:1) Interestingly, many modern translations have changed James 5:13 to read sing “praises” instead of Psalms. And changed James 5:4 from “Lord of the Sabbath”, to “Lord of Hosts”. I wonder why?

In Peter’s letter he writes: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” Does this sound like he was writing to a group of pagans who gave up their observance of God’s commandments?

Many point to the apostle Paul and his writings as proof that God rejected Israel and replaced them with the Gentiles. First we need to realize that the word “gentile” is a misinterpretation of the word, “goyim” which simply means non-Jew. You see, all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews.

The primary reason that Paul chose to leave Jerusalem and go and preach to the Gentiles (non-Jews) is because the Jews, out of jealousy, rejected Paul’s teaching. (Acts 13:45-46)

Concerning the Church in Rome Paul writes, ”For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:3-4) Many Christians today misinterpret this verse to mean that Christ ended the law. But that is not what Paul wrote. He wrote that “Christ is THE END of the law” not that Christ ENDED the law.

As clear as Paul could make it, he stated that “Israel” (that is, representatives of all twelve tribes) were in the first century trying to establish their own righteousness by obedience to the Law of Moses. In no way does this describe Pagan sun-god worshippers. All of Romans chapters nine, ten and eleven concerns this very matter of Israel’s attachment to the Law of Moses for their salvation. Paul and all the apostles made extra effort to teach that salvation only comes by faith alone in Messiah.

The fact is, both the apostle Peter and James (heads of the Jerusalem Church) were well aware of exactly where the peoples of the northern ten tribes of Israel were then located. They were then living north and east of Jerusalem. We have the precise statements of Josephus (the Jewish priest and historian of the first century) that the Northern Ten Tribes were in no way lost. “There are two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while until now there have been ten tribes beyond the Euphrates who number into the countless myriads whose number cannot be ascertained.” (Antiquities XI. 133)

One of the primary prophetic teachings concerning the fate of the northern ten tribes of Israel is the fact that they would become “wanderers among the nations.” (Hosea 9:17) Amos said the same thing. “For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” (Amos 9:9)

There is also other prophecies concerning the tribes of Israel. God told Abraham that he would be a father of many nations. (Genesis 17:1-6) And Jacob was told that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of dust on the earth and that they would expand to the west, east, north and south. (Genesis 28:14-15) These prophecies speak of multiple generations and seeds, not the single seed of Messiah. The tribe of Judah (the Jews) have never been more than one nation.

So where exactly did the ten tribes go? Egypt, Asia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Greece and most of Europe. So if your ancestors originate from any of those places I can almost guarantee that you are a descendant of one of the ten tribes of Israel. Proof of this can be found in Old Testament prophecies and historical documents. This should place a new perspective on God’s commandments and His Feast Days for you. 

In Jeremiah 1:10 God commissions Jeremiah to “…uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and plant.” Judah’s throne was overthrown and destroyed during the Babylonian captivity in 585 BC. Israel was planted and built up. But not in Babylon. Jeremiah was allowed to leave Babylon with King Zedekiah’s daughters. You see, in the Babylonian mind, women could not inherit the throne.

So where did Jeremiah and the king’s daughters travel to? North and west of Palestine. Which today would be the British Isles, Ireland and Scotland. The tribe of Dan always named cities they conquered after themselves. (Judges 18:11-12; Joshua 19:47) The annals of Irish history tells of a strong colony called Tautha de Danaans (Tribe of Dan) who arrived in ships around 700 BC and drove out others who settled there. 

Cities in Ireland: 

DANslaugh, DANsower,  DUNglow and DUNsmore. Dunn in Irish means judge—the same as Dan in Hebrew. Scotland also has cities beginning with Dun.

(For more information on Jeremiah and his trip to Ireland see https://www.cbcg.org/booklets/america-britain/chapter-twelve-the-prophet-jeremiah-s-mysterious-royal-commission.html)

Even before the Old Covenant was ratified and before he scaled Mount Sinai to receive the Law from God, Moses was instructed about Passover and the first Feast—The Feast of Unleavened Bread. God told Moses, “Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.“ (See Exodus 12:12-17) In Lev. 23:2 God leaves us with no doubt as to whom these observances belong. They are God’s Feasts—not Israel’s; and not the Jews’. 

Obeying God’s commandments and observing His Feast Days has nothing to do with salvation. We cannot make God love us more if we obey Him, and He will not love us any less if we don’t. But BECAUSE we love God we obey His commandments.

“By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:2-3)

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

“By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.” (1 John 2:3)

When my children were small they obeyed my rules. Not because they thought I would love them more if they obeyed me, or feared that I would love them less if they disobeyed. But BECAUSE they loved me, they obeyed my rules.

Human tradition stops many of us from obeying God’s commandments and observing God’s feasts. We read in Isaiah 29:13-14: “These people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is but rules taught by men. Therefore I will again confound these people with wonder upon wonder. The wisdom of the wise will perish, and the intelligence of the intelligent will be hidden.” Sound familiar? Jesus quoted that same Scripture to the Pharisees in Matthew 15:8-9.

Many Christians today have been taught that we unable to keep God’s commandments. That is why Jesus had to die for us. No! Jesus had to die for us because we carried in us the condemnation of original sin. And Jesus was made to be the sacrifice for that sin. If we are unable to keep God’s commandments, why then did God say in Deuteronomy 30:11-14, “For this commandment which I command you today is not mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, `Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, `Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that YOU MAY DO IT.” (Emphasis mine) Why would God command us to do something that He knew we were incapable of doing? He wouldn’t.

 

Yes, many of us have fallen into temptation, but that is different from knowingly and purposely disobeying God’s commandments. The apostle Paul explains that the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good. God’s laws are not the problem; WE are the problem. And trusting in Jesus is our only solution.

“Once I was alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. So I discovered that the very commandment that was meant to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing its opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good…So this is the principle I have discovered: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s Law. But I see another law at work in my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:9-25)

Black Lives Matters March; Women’s March; The Me Too Movement; and recently the student demonstrators marching on Washington, calling for action against gun violence after the recent massacre at a South Florida high school. 

Every one of these protests were supported and echoed by professional athletes, Hollywood entertainers and politicians. Every news channel covered these events almost every day. 

But do you know what none of the media were reporting? What professional athletes, Hollywood entertainers and politicians refused to speak out against? The epidemic of child sexual abuse in homes across the country! In fact, there is more community outrage about animal abuse than there is about child abuse! And the only time the news reports any type of child abuse is when it involves multiple sex trafficking, the death of a child, or some horrendous act perpetrated on a child that the news outlets can sensationalize. 

It is reported that 1 in 5 children have been sexually abused before reaching the age of 18. That means that out of the 500,000 students who marched on Washington protesting gun violence, over 100,000 of them had been sexually abused at some time in their childhood—AND THEY SAID NOTHING!

Nebraska law now requires that any child, age 3-18, who has experienced sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and neglect, witnessed a violent crime, or who has been recovered from a kidnapping or found in a drug endangered environment, be interviewed at a Child Advocacy Center by a trained professional. 

In 2015 4,945 children were served by a Child Advocacy Center in Nebraska alone. And out of those 4,945 children served, nearly half had reported being sexually abused—91% were abused by someone the child knew well; a step-parent, relative or caregiver.

Yet, sadly, for every one child that discloses sexual abuse, many more remain silent. Because they are either too afraid, or too ashamed, or both. The number of child abuse cases would easily double, if every child that should be seen at a Child Advocacy Center under state law was actually provided that opportunity. 

http://nebraskacacs.com/Docs/2015%20Annual%20Report%20-%205.30.16%20-%20Compressed%20V2.pdf

Many of us have heard the stories from the Me Too Movement how traumatic it was for adults to be sexually harassed or assaulted. If it’s traumatic for an adult to be sexually harassed by someone, how much more traumatic is it for a child to be sexually assaulted in their own home by someone they trusted and was supposed to care for them? http://theweek.com/articles/749634/how-metoo-leaving-child-victims-behind

To make matters worse, even when the perpetrators are arrested and charged, most judges only sentence them to probation and require them to register as a sex offender— which does nothing to protect vulnerable children. 

The Sex Offender Registration law in many states do not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders. This is a common misperception. The SOR law in these states does not prevent an offender from attending events, limit employment, restrict an offender from entering any facilities—schools, playgrounds, children museums or other public places where children congregate. Some states do not even restrict a convicted child abuser from living with or socializing with their victim! In many states The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time. This is another reason many victims of child sexual abuse never speak out or report their abuse—they know that they will never get justice.

There are many organizations across the country who are working with law enforcement and legislators to fight against child sex trafficking and rescue its victims. I applaud the work that they do, but they are they are working on the symptom instead of the root cause. 

Research has shown that 43% of runaway and homeless youth were sexually abused before they left their homes. These young people often flee abuse at home, but are exposed to further sexual victimization and human trafficking once on the street. One of every three runaway teens on the street will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. And the average age is fourteen. Many of these children will be trapped in prostitution for years before they escape—and the trauma they experience could affect them well into their adult years.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! 

April is both National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. There are many ways in which adults can make a critical difference in a child’s life. Whether you are a parent, teacher, coach, neighbor, or family member, you can help. 

Caring adults can support the healthy growth and development of children who have experienced abuse by helping them recognize that it’s not their fault and that you believe them. Children who are able to confide in a trusted adult and feel they are believed by that adult will experience less trauma. Children who falsely claim to have been sexually abused only make up less than 1% of all reported cases.

It is time for adults to speak out for those who have no voice!

For more information on what you can do to prevent child sexual abuse visit the sites below:

https://www.d2l.org

https://laurenskids.org

http://justiceforchildren.org

http://www.smallvoices.org

Child Sex Abuse In The Church

Posted: January 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

AP’s annual poll reported that the wave of sexual misconduct allegations that toppled Hollywood power brokers, politicians, media icons and many others was the top news story of 2017. Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and recently senate candidate Roy Moore have all been accused of sexually abusing others.

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts recently announced that he had promised “a careful evaluation of the judiciary’s sexual misconduct policies.” He said, “Recent events have illuminated the depth of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace.” Roberts added, “Events in the past few weeks have made clear that the judicial branch is not immune.”

Last month, distinguished federal appeals court judge Alex Kozinski retired following accusations by women that he had touched them inappropriately, made lewd comments and shown them pornography.

All of this started the “Me Too” movement that grew like a wildfire thanks to social media, talk show hosts and the news media.

I recently watched aghast as a tearful young woman revealed to Megyn Kelly on her talk show how traumatized she was because a man had grabbed he butt years ago. If an adult woman can be traumatized by someone grabbing their butt, how much more will a small child be traumatized by being sexually assaulted by someone they trust?

The Nebraska Inspector General, Julie Rogers discovered that at least 50 Nebraska children in foster care—some as young as four years old—have suffered sexual abuse while in the state’s care. The Inspector General’s Office launched an investigation after getting a stream of reports concerning sexual abuse of children and youth in the welfare and juvenile justice system.

It is clear that child sexual abuse has become an epidemic in our communities. Many organizations work hard to raise awareness to the public and lawmakers about human trafficking and the sex trade, and yet the epidemic of child sexual abuse in the home is underreported or totally ignored by the media and most people.

Pigs in the parlor

Even churches tend to try to sweep this heinous crime under their religious rug. “That’s ridiculous!” Some would say. “Christians don’t engage in child sexual abuse!”

But contrary to popular myth, the majority of perpetrators who sexually abuse children attend church regularly. Statistically, the abuser is well known to the victim 75-95% of the time. Often the abuser is a family member, a trusted family friend or a child care provider. You may be sitting next to a victim or perpetrator of child sexual abuse in church every Sunday and never know it!

Because child sexual abuse is a felony in many locations, pastors, teachers, counselors and other formal caregivers would do well to learn the laws of their locale pertaining to the reporting of suspected abuse. In many states a person is required by law to make a call to Child Protective Services of a reasonable suspicion of child abuse. The person reporting is protected by law, and laws of confidentiality.

So why are churches so reluctant to report it?

Possibly because they worry about the impact of reporting on a church member—the financial implications or causing the church member to leave the congregation. Christians are also more concerned with the image and testimony of their church to the community. At the heart of this struggle is a fear that is rooted in the need to self-protect—the fear of losing the “good reputation”—the fear of losing ministry donors and losing congregation members. And a fear of losing a ministry altogether.

All such fears are usually masked by a rationale that the reporting of child sexual abuse among church members may “damage the reputation of Christ”. This sounds spiritual, but this has nothing to do with Jesus or HIS reputation. It is actually about protecting THIER reputation.

The problem of child sexual abuse is brought to our attention in Leviticus 18 and again in the New Testament. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6; Galatians 5:19-21) The problem is not new. Nor has it gone away. One in four girls and one in 10 boys will be sexually assaulted by someone they know and trust before they reach 18.

Statistics show that your child or grandchild has at least a 1 in 10 chance that they will be sexually abused in their own home. And if you are a single parent living with someone other than your child’s biological parent, your child is 30 times more likely to be sexually abused in your home than in the home where both biological parents live!

Let’s make sure we all understand one important truth, child sexual abuse is both a sin and a serious crime. Besides biblical and legal grounds for reporting suspected abuse to authorities, there are also practical reasons to do so. Statistics have shown that 70-80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use. Children who are sexually abused are at greater risk to suffer from post-traumatic stress and other anxiety symptoms, depression and suicide attempts. Adolescents with a history of child sexual abuse demonstrate a three to fourfold increase in rates of substance abuse/dependence. Behavioral problems, including physical aggression occur more frequently among sexually abused children and adolescents. (Find more stats at: https://www.d2l.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Statistics_5_Consequences.pdf)

The state government has the authority to remove children from parents who are inflicting (or knowingly allowing) physical and/or emotional harm to children. However, this can’t happen if the authorities are not notified of the suspected maltreatment. Oftentimes, a child’s very survival is dependent upon whether we take the initiative and report. There should be little debate within the Christian community that the protection and survival of children is a God ordained responsibility that we cannot neglect or excuse.

I believe that since so many Christians are victims and offenders, the image and testimony of the church would be greatly enhanced by dealing with the issue openly. The church needs to be involved in prevention of child abuse of any kind. An important first step is for the church to admit that it happens and that it happens among its own members. This will be a vital first step in the process toward getting help and healing for both the victims and their families.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

“And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6)

The exact date of Jesus’ birth is unknown, and the early Christians did not even celebrate Christ’s birth. Birthdays and their celebrations had always been Roman feast days. In about 350 AD, Pope Julius set December 25 as the date of Jesus’ birth to correspond with the pagan Roman feast of Saturnalia, the festival of the Unconquered Sun.Temples were decorated with greenery and candles. There were feasts and parades with special music, and gifts were exchanged with family and friends. Among the British Druids, mistletoe was worshiped, and the Saxons used holly and ivy in their winter religious ceremonies. As Christianity spread throughout Europe, many of these pagan customs and festivities of the winter solstice were absorbed into the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

God gives specific instructions warning us about using pagan practices to worship Him. (the exact thing Christmas does) God warns us not to teach or do any of the detestable things which pagans have done for their gods, “so that we would sin against the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 20:18; 12:30-32 )

Jesus also rebuked the religious teachers of his day who had substituted human traditions and teachings for God’s divine truths and commands: “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites . . . ‘in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ . . . All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.” (Mark 7:6-9)

Jesus’ words in Mark 1:15 come in the form of an urgent command: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Not only does Jesus come to announce the soon-coming Kingdom of God among humankind, but also to prepare the elect for their spiritual responsibilities within that Kingdom.

Believing in God and Jesus is not enough. Even the devil and his demons believe in God. (James 2:19 ) We must repent and believe. Repentance is a prerequisite for belief.  What is repentance? Its basic meaning is “to change” or “to turn.” Once a person hears the gospel and is convicted that his way of life is wrong, he must change his present behavior and “bear fruits worthy of repentance.” (Matthew 3:8)

Repentance is not merely feeling sorry or remorseful. There is a difference between being sorry for your sin and repenting of it. Many who claim that they are sorry for their sin are merely sorry that they got caught in their sin. Politicians caught in scandals have proven this to be true many times. But true repentance is being so stricken in one’s heart for the sin itself that one seeks the cleansing blood of Jesus and begins to live according to God’s standards—according to God’s law. Remorse without a corresponding change in conduct is not true repentance.

Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15; 21; 23) Was Jesus differentiating between his commandments and God’s? I don’t think so. In John 15:10 Jesus said, “If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.” Later, when requested to name the greatest commandments, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart. . . . And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.” (Matthew 22:36-40) When we put all these things together, repentance is simply living as Jesus did!

Many Christians today claim that because we are but human with a sin nature, we cannot help but sin. But the apostle John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

I believe that what the apostle wrote came from Deuteronomy 30:11-14 which states, “When you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off…But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” Why would God tell us that we can obey His commandments if He knew that it was impossible for us to accomplish?

Faith then—true living faith, is trusting God’s Word and practicing it, whether in the face of hardship, sacrifice, the contrary opinions of friends and family, or even death.

While a man cannot earn entrance into God’s Kingdom—that is a gift that God must bestow, (Ephesians 2:8) it is plain from Scripture that willful rebellion against God’s standard of righteousness will keep a person from receiving God’s full blessings and possibly from entering His Kingdom.

James 2:10 warns us that whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all….” Jesus himself also warns, “Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

The Bible includes a whole list of festivals that God commanded, that Jesus Himself observed and that the apostles and early Church were still keeping decades after Jesus’s death and resurrection. Each one teaches us a vital lesson in what Jesus has done, is doing and will yet do, in carrying out God’s great plan for humankind. God’s feasts mentioned in Leviticus 23 have enormous significance in God’s plan for humanity.  (Notice the Bible calls them God’s feasts—not Jewish feasts)

Christmas, in contrast, teaches us none of this. Because it is a hodgepodge of pagan customs and beliefs thrown together with traditions of men. It only obscures the true purpose of Jesus’ birth on earth and his ultimate return.

God in His Word sets out many choices for us. Will we do things His way or our own? Will we worship Him as He tells us to, or expect Him to honor whatever religious practices we choose regardless of what His Word says?

But no matter what we have done in the past, we can repent and be forgiven and begin to truly follow God’s Word as a new creation.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The Silent Epidemic

Posted: October 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

Drug overdose deaths in 2016 exceeded 59,000, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times. It is now considered to be an epidemic by the current administration and many cities are taking steps to curtail its spread.

The sexual harassment in Hollywood, among news anchors and political leaders has also been called a cultural epidemic. https://www.thenation.com/article/sexual-harassment-not-disease-it-surely-epidemic/

But every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies involving more than 6.6 million children. (Referrals included neglect, physical and sexual abuse) However, studies also indicate significant undercounting of child maltreatment fatalities by state agencies—by 50% or more.

Four to seven children die every day due to child abuse and neglect. Around 80% of child maltreatment fatalities involve at least one parent as perpetrator. In 2014, state agencies found an estimated 702,000 victims of child maltreatment. That’s enough to pack 10 modern football stadiums! And yet, most people remain silent about this epidemic.

Every 8 minutes a child is a victim of sexual abuse. The majority of the victims are between the ages of 7 and 13. Children who do not live with both biological parents have a 30% higher risk of being sexually abused than children who live with both biological parents. In nearly half of child sexual abuse cases that were committed by a step-father or the mother’s live-in boyfriend, 40% of the mothers sided with their child’s abuser rather than their child. Sadly, only 6 out of 1,000 of these perpetrators will end up in jail or prison.

It is time we place as much (if not more) importance and passion on protecting children from neglect and abuse as we do on adults.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

“And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6)

Resources and stats:

https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse-statistics/

https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/male-perpetrators-child-maltreatment-findings-ncands

In February 2015, Casey Cline was convicted in Sarpy County, Nebraska of sexually assaulting of his then 11 year old step-daughter. (Case # 13-411- A third degree Felony) http://www.icrimewatch.net/offenderdetails.php?OfndrID=2377330&AgencyID=55290

Even though a great many pages of documents were submitted to Sarpy County Judge Zastera proving that Cline had been physically and emotionally abusive for more than 10 years before he was arrested, Judge Zastera allowed Cline to plead guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor sexual assault and only sentenced him to two years probation and required him to register as a sex offender.

Only ten days after Cline was released on probation he was arrested again in Plattsmouth, Nebraska after throwing his 8 year old biological daughter across a room and into a wall. Cline was only charged with violation of probation after police discovered he was in possession of weapons, alcohol, pornography and illegal drugs.  His children were removed from the home and placed in foster care. Cline was never charged with child abuse in that case.

At Cline’s hearing on charges of probation violation Judge John Steinheider of Plattsmouth released Cline on a signature bond and also allowed him to have contact with his children while they were in foster care!

At his sentencing, Cline’s pre-sentencing report (PSR) stated that Cline was also charged with child abuse in two different states. In spite of the fact that the PSR revealed that Cline had a 15 year history of abusive behavior, his public defender still recommended that Cline be given probation again and have contact with his children claiming that the children were in no danger!

Fortunately, this time the judge did not agree with the public defender and sentenced Cline to 180 days in the Cass County jail.

After serving only 3 months in Cass County jail in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, Cline was allowed to move to Colorado. Although he was required to register as a sex offender at his new address in Colorado, he refused to do so for several weeks. He was finally forced to register as a sex offender in Colorado, but only after I continued to call the sheriff’s office about him. Since then he has moved at least twice and as of July 2017 no one knows his current address. He could be anywhere from Colorado to Florida.

Cline has a Face Book page and is a member of several porn groups there. I have reported him to Face Book three times now, but even though Face Book has a policy of banning sex offenders from using Face Book, nothing has been done. Many of your children use Face Book. Cline’s next victim may be your child. You can prevent this by sharing this article on your social media sites.

Casey Cline has proven many times that he does not feel that laws apply to him. Let’s make him famous so that he doesn’t get the chance to harm another child.

Other pictures of Casey Cline: