Posts Tagged ‘child sexual abuse’

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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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

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all, only 27 states have rules restricting how close sex offenders can live to schools and other places where groups of children may gather, according to research by the Council of State Governments.

But these laws are based on the myth that there is a stranger who is lurking in the bushes and dark alleys and grabbing children off the street. When in fact, less than 10% of all child sex abuse cases are perpetrated by strangers. Over 90% of child sexual abuse cases are committed by someone the child knows well. And over 60% are committed by a family member. In nearly all cases involving a family member sexually assaulting a child, the perpetrator is only sentenced to probation—And many times is allowed to return to the home where the crime took place!

A U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study in 2003, the most recent available, found that 5.3 percent of inmates released from prison after being convicted of a sex offense are arrested for another sexual offense within three years. Although researchers generally acknowledge that the recidivism rate may be much higher because these crimes are often underreported.

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) which is Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, was supposed to provide a new comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in the United States. These Guidelines were issued to provide guidance and assistance to covered jurisdictions—the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the principal U.S. territories, and Indian tribal governments—in implementing the SORNA standards in their sex offender registration and notification programs. But these requirements are only informational in nature and do not restrict where sex offenders can live. (https://www.smart.gov/pdfs/final_sornaguidelines.pdf)

For example, The Nebraska Sex Offender Registration law does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders. Again, this is a common misperception. The SOR law also does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children or vulnerable persons. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information under statutes 29-4004 and 29-4006 at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

That means that someone who has been convicted of sexually abusing a child in Nebraska and is sentenced to probation is free to attend or work in schools, children museums, daycare centers and even live with other vulnerable children!

Many people have been told that if you want changes in laws and policies you need to write to your senator. Well, I have written to over 20 Nebraska state senators, the governor, the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos and even President Donald Trump, asking them to change the SOR laws in order to better protect victims of child sexual abuse from their abusers. Sadly, most did not respond. And the few that did respond, told me that there was nothing that they could do. Nothing that they could do?!

A senator is called, among other thing to:

  • Represent the people and the best interests of his or her legislative district.
  • Protect property and persons, strengthen our productive capacity, and create new opportunities.
  • 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.

Two senators told me that I should contact the Nebraska Inspector General about the SOR. But according to its website, the OIG does not have the authority or ability to look into complaints relating to the court process, such as decisions made by judges, the conduct of attorneys, or immediate concerns about the safety of children. http://oig.legislature.ne.gov/?page_id=15

I wrote one Senator and asked how I could address the Nebraska Legislature myself on the subject of Child Sexual Abuse and the SOR laws and he responded by telling me:

“ The podium is under the authority of the Speaker of the Legislature…it is highly unlikely that the speaker would approve of such a request.”

If this is true, then why is it that on the Nebraska Legislature’s website it states:

“At public hearings, citizens have an opportunity within the time available to make their views known or have them incorporated into the official committee record. In Nebraska, gubernatorial appointments and most bills, with the exception of a few technical bills, receive a public hearing by one of the Legislature’s committees.” http://nebraskalegislature.gov/about/testifying.php

If a senator is called to, “Establish state policy by introducing bills to create new programs, modify existing programs, and repeal laws which are no longer needed”, but introduce bills that do more to protect sex offenders than their victims, then the prophecy of Isaiah 5:20 has come true: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

In February of this year Nebraska State Senator Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln introduced Legislative Bill 289 that would require anyone trafficking an adult and soliciting a trafficked adult to carry a minimum of a year and a maximum of 50 years in prison. “When you consider the horrors of this crime, probation is nothing more than a slap on the wrist,” she said.

Senator Brett Linstom also introduced a bill that would require non-custodial parents be notified if a sex offender is living with or has unsupervised access to their child.

And yet, neither of these bills does anything to deter those who commit these heinous crimes against children, nor do they do anything to protect the victims. But…they make good sound bites and help them get re-elected.

But it’s not just our politicians who are to blame. There are many who have taken to the streets protesting for the rights of women, for the LGBT community, for religious freedom, and even for the right to spread hateful propaganda. But no one is taking to the streets to protest against the 1 in 5 children who are abused, molested and raped in their own homes every day—Or the judges who only sentence the perpetrators to probation for their crime!

Sadly, there are stricter punishments and restrictions for those who abuse animals than for those who abuse children!

Almost everyone has seen the ASPCA’s heart wrenching TV commercial that portrays abused and neglected dogs and cats. The use of emotion in the commercial is clearly evident. What better way to urge viewers to donate money than by showing pictures of sorry-looking, hurt animals with Sarah McLachlan’s song, ‘In The Arms Of An Angel’ playing in the background? I have to admit that it is a very moving, emotional, (and productive) commercial. The ASPCA garnered over $30 million from that commercial.

Very few people won’t cringe at the sight of the graphic images featuring badly injured animals in crates and cages.

But maybe the next time you see that commercial try to think of the more than 300,000 children who are abused and neglected in the same way (and worse) every year in this country.

Of course if someone made a commercial about abused children using the same method as the ASPCA, it would probably be banned from TV. (If it even was allowed to be aired to begin with)

We have truly become what what described in the Bible as living in the last days:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3: 1-5)

Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6) How many sermons have you heard denouncing child sexual abuse?

I for one, will not stop advocating on behalf of those children who have been treated worse than animals. I will not go quietly into the night. I will not turn back. I will continue to be a voice for those who are afraid to speak.

What will you do?

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

Read correspondence below:

Sample Letter to Senators

Response from Sara Howard

Response From Governor

Response From Don Bacon

Response from Brett Lindstrom

Letter to Betsy DeVoss

Letter From Sec. of Ed

Many parents believe that most children are groomed for sexual abuse online or face-to-face by a stranger. But many more times they are groomed by someone they know. Sometimes it’s someone who is living right in their own home! A step parent or live-in partner, a family member or relative. In fact, children who live with a single parent that has a live-in partner that is not the biological parent of the child are 30 times more likely to be victims of child sexual abuse than children living with both biological parents. But alert parents can often stop a sex offender before he or she harms a child.

Here are some of the things every parent should know: 

  • One in four children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
  • Ninety percent of children are sexually abused by people they know well, including immediate family members.
  • Child sex abuse isn’t limited to sexual intercourse. It also includes oral sex, genital contact, deliberately introducing a child to pornography and exposing one’s genitals to a child.
  • In the vast majority of cases, children who report sex abuse are telling the truth.
  • Fewer than 5 percent of children who have been sexually abused actually report it, and fewer than 5 percent of perpetrators are arrested.
  • Some sex offenders make a concerted effort to get access to children and often target parents and children they see as vulnerable.
  • Single mothers and their children are especially vulnerable, since many of them have little or no outside support.
  • Sex offenders often position themselves as the “hero” saving the mother and child from a difficult or unhappy situation.
  • Sex offenders don’t pounce immediately. They may spend weeks or months “grooming” a child, working to make a child feel special by showering him or her with gifts, special activities and outings, and attention. They may approach the mother with offers to lessen the burden on her, such as watching a child after school every day for free.
  • Sex offenders will work to break down a child’s natural inhibitions. These behaviors include “accidental” touching, insisting that the child sit on the offender’s lap, roughhousing, tickling, massages,”accidentally” walking in on a child undressing, showering, or using the toilet. It usually escalates later to showing pornography to a child, photographing a child (in either sexual or non-sexual poses) and providing a child with alcohol or drugs.
  • Sex offenders rarely stop at one victim.

Most parents never suspect that a family member or a trusted friend would sexually abuse their child so they don’t even realize that person has been grooming their child until after the abuse has happened. We must understand that groomers will often go to great lengths not to be identified and the signs of grooming aren’t always obvious.

If a child is being groomed by someone in the home they may:

  • Be very secretive about what they are doing and where they go.
  • Spend an inordinate amount of time alone with the much older person.
  • Come home with gifts such as new toys, clothes or cell phones.
  • Have unexplained changes in behavior or personality.
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior for their age.

Once they have established trust, groomers will exploit the relationship by making the child (and their mother) feel dependent on them. Which is why many mothers may hide the abuse rather than report it. The abuser will use any means of power and control to make a child and mother believe that they have no choice but to allow the abuser to do what they want. To hide their abuse the abuser may introduce “secrets” as a way to control or frighten the child. In many cases the abuser will convince the child’s mother that it is the child’s fault in order to stop them telling anyone about the abuse.

Because child sex abuse has become so prevalent in our society today, it is important for parents to be vigilant in protecting their children from predators that may be living with them. Even in cases where the abuser is arrested and charged, many times the perpetrator is only sentenced to probation and required to register as a sex offender.

But in many states the Sex Offender Registration law does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders. This is a common misperception. In Nebraska for example, the SOR law does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children or other vulnerable persons. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time. In some cases the perpetrators are even allowed to have contact with their victims!

Why don’t our legislators care more about our children?

A senator is called to, among other things, to:

  • Represent the people and the best interests of his or her legislative district.
  • 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.

I have written to many senators concerning the outdated SOR laws with no success. Legislators have done little or nothing to change the SOR laws so that victims of child sexual abuse are better protected.

As a parent you must recognize that YOU are responsible to protect your child. You may face a difficult dilemma in these circumstances, but you are not helpless. If your child has disclosed abuse, and your spouse or partner has access to your child, you must deny that access. It is important that your child know that you believe them and support them. It is also important that your child be in ongoing therapy so that they have a safe place to talk about their concerns. By law you may be unable to totally keep them from their abuser, but you can petition the court to only allow the abuser supervised visits with the child. Therapist’s recommendations are often used by the court to determine what is in the best interest of the child’s welfare and safety. It is also important that you be in ongoing therapy as well to address issues related to your child’s abuse.

What else can a parent do?

Keep a log of interactions and concerning behaviors of your child’s abuser. Maintain a log of all suspicious statements made by the child. If the child discloses additional abuse, immediately report to Child Protective Services and to law enforcement. Consult with the child’s therapist and voice your concerns. If child sexual abuse is revealed, by law the therapist must report it. Your hope is that with time and additional reports to Child Protective Services, that the abuser will be arrested and charged.

Talk to your child at an early age. Include sex abuse awareness among the safety precautions you teach your kids. Just as you tell them to watch for cars when crossing the street, teach them that no one should touch their private parts and tell them it’s okay to refuse a hug or other contact that makes them uncomfortable—Regardless if it’s Grandpa Joe or “Mommy’s new friend.”

If you’re squeamish about discussing sex with your kids…Get over it! This is not about you. Let your kids know that they can talk to you about sex and sexual abuse. Give them age-appropriate sex education and use proper names for all body parts. Find books that parents and children can use to help prevent sex abuse.

If your child tells you that he or she has been touched inappropriately, don’t start grilling your child for details. Instead, simply tell them that you believe them; that it’s not their fault; and immediately call law enforcement or the Department of Human Services. Children who are possible sex abuse victims should be interviewed only by professionals. The police and Child Services are trained for this and are always willing to deal with the interview part.

Most of all, trust your gut and stand your ground. If another person’s words or actions regarding your child are setting off alarm bells, say “no.” And if your “no” is ignored, then you need to terminate the relationship.

It is important to know that if you neglect to report the abuse, you may be charged with child endangerment and your child may be removed from your home and placed in foster care.

Other helpful resources:

Darkness 2 Light http://www.d2l.org

Rainn (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) https://www.rainn.org/articles/how-can-i-protect-my-child-sexual-assault

National Sexual Violence Resource Center http://www.nsvrc.org/projects/child-sexual-assault-prevention/preventing-child-sexual-abuse-resources

Many people have been led to believe that the Sex Offender Registration laws of their state protects children from pedophiles that may be living near their home or their children’s school. This is a common misperception. The SOR law in many states does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children or vulnerable persons. The SOR law can only mandate the offender to register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

In other words, a registered sex offender is able to legally visit and work at schools, playgrounds, children’s museums, daycare centers and other places where vulnerable children may congregate.

First we have to distinguish between the types of sex offenders. All rapists, whether they are violent or not, are criminals. There are also sex offenders (public exposure, unwanted sexual advances) who, while they committed a crime, are not rapists and who are not violent. But when we are talking about keeping children safe, many parents are concerned about pedophiles. But not all sex offenders are pedophiles. So lumping all sex offenders together does not really add any marginal value to keeping our children safe. The person who got drunk and raped a woman is a criminal, but not a pedophile.

Politicians want you to think that registries are effective because politicians have put a lot of political capital and attention into registries. They want you to think that placing sex offenders on the registry is proof that they are keeping your child safe. But simply focusing on the registry, they neglect to focus on that the real threat to a child. The problem is that the politicians aren’t advocating evidence-based approaches, and aren’t focusing on the fact that more than 90 percent of people who commit child sexual abuse is well known to the victim. The majority of the time that child sex abuse is reported, it is committed by someone who is a trusted family member. On top of that, the majority of children never report sexual abuse when it’s happening. They’re often afraid of their parents’ reactions or fear getting into trouble. They also might believe the abuser when they tell them that something bad would happen if they tell.

We always hear about the sex offender who was on the registry and reoffended, but these high profile cases are reported because they make for good stories for the news media. But such recidivism is not representative of what is going on the majority of the time.

A parent might believe that if they check the local sex offender registry it will help to keep their children safe. The question then is: what else have they done in addition to checking the registry? The people that we need to be worried about the most are not the ones we know are on the sex offender registry.

Children need to be taught safety skills

Parents need to realize that the person most likely to sexually abuse their child is someone they know and trust, and someone who has regular contact with their child. This known and trusted person is likely to violate the trust of the family and child. That is why it is important for a child to have the tools needed to protect themselves from these trusted persons, and to know when to speak up when the trust is violated.

It is not only important for parents to educate their children, but schools need to educate their students too. Because sometimes the abuse is happening at home. And parents and educators need to be properly trained how to identify when a child is being victimized.

I am not advocating that we eliminate sex offender registries. Parents and the public should want to know who has committed sex offenses that may be living near them. And since all criminal records are public information, this information should not be suppressed.

My point is that the sex offender registry is about as effective in stopping child sexual abuse as using a BB gun against a home invader—you might get lucky by using it, but it won’t be a very effective deterrent. The public needs to start to understand that sex offender registries don’t keep people safe the way they think because of the nature of how predators operate when building and then violating trust. That is why the real threat is likely to come from someone known and trusted by the family. The statistics are very clear about this.

Warning Signs

Everyone can take steps to prevent the sexual abuse of children. The web site, stopitnow.org provides prevention tip sheets that can help you take action to keep children and youth safe, whether it’s making a family safety plan, finding a safe school or camp, or safety on the internet.

Signs that a child has been abused:

  • Acting out in an inappropriate sexual way with toys or objects.
  • Nightmares, sleeping problems.
  • Becoming withdrawn or very clingy.
  • Becoming unusually secretive.
  • Sudden unexplained personality changes, mood swings.
  • Regressing to younger behaviors, e.g. bedwetting, thumb sucking.
  • Unaccountable fear of particular places or people.
  • Outburst of anger.
  • Changes in eating habits.
  • Talk of a new, older friend and unexplained money or gifts.
  • Self-harm. (cutting, burning or other harmful activities)
  • Not wanting to be alone with a particular person.

Behaviors to watch for when adults are with children:

  • Makes others uncomfortable by ignoring social or physical boundaries.
  • Refuses to let a child set any of his or her own limits.
  • Insists on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with or holding a child even.
  • when the child does not want this physical contact or attention.
  • Frequently walks in on children/teens in the bathroom.
  • Turns to a child for emotional or physical comfort normally shared with adults.
  • Has secret interactions children.
  • Spends excessive time emailing, text messaging or calling children.
  • Insists on or manages to spend uninterrupted time alone with a child.
  • Frequently babysits children for free; takes children on special outings alone; buys children gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason.

Since the courts, judges and politicians will do little or nothing to protect our children from sexual predators, it is up to adults, parents and teachers to educate ourselves and our children on the dangers of sexual abuse.

You can find more tips at: http://www.stopitnow.org/ohc-content/warning-signs

Over the years I have written songs with lyricist Tom White, who is also my longtime friend and brother in Christ. Even though we are now miles apart we still collaborate on songs through the internet. He recently sent me lyrics to use in a song. I will be working on the music in the coming days, but the words are so intensely descriptive that I couldn’t wait to share them with you.

These Hands by Tom White

They reached down to pick her up, dry her tears then tenderly lifted her off the ground/They brushed off her clothes so gently and then lovingly placed her on the Merry go round/They offer her some ice cream or some candy, a vile threat presented as a special treat/ Warning her that if she shares this secret with anyone she’ll get hurt and end up alone on the street

And those hands—hands that are meant to protect are used to abuse, to injure, and neglect/And those hands—hands that are meant to defend/They rush to crush life to bring about its end/Who will protect the innocent? Who will raise their voice for the silent one? Who will, without fail, shine a light to expose the unspeakable things in shadows done?

Forty five minutes off the bus she finds the streets are cruel/She ran from the prison called home to find more of the same/Her body becomes a token used over and over again by men and women too many to name/She cries out to God for mercy, hoping against hope Where the thought of escape becomes a nightly dream/But each day she’s bought and sold like a piece of meat/And all she can do is silently scream

And those hands—hands that are meant to protect/Are used to abuse, to injure, and neglect/And those hands—hands that are meant to defend/They rush to crush life to bring about its end/Who will protect the innocent? Who will raise their voice for the silent one? Who will, without fail, shine a light to expose the unspeakable things in shadows done?

Your life goes on while children are defiled/The sex traffic lights are all blinking green/If you ignore it soon enough it should go away/Then the problem will be unheard, unknown and unseen/But Christ hears the cries of the least of these/And calls us to be his voice, his hands and feet/To live outside the stained glass windows/So that we, like him, can hear the cries from the street

So that hands—our hands, can truly protect/We can lift up and encourage and deflect/Yes those hands—your hands, can defend/ Like a shepherd, like a brother, like a friend/Protecting the innocent starts with you/Raise your voice and speak up for the silent one/Shine a light so bright that it will expose/The unspeakable things in shadows done