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Sextortion: Trolling the Internet for Innocent Victims

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This article is part 4 of 15 in the column BeAKidsHero™

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Children are not only avid users of social media, they are also fairly naïve. That makes them ideal candidates for sextortion. One of the newer forms of sexual exploitation, sextortion uses the internet to coerce victims, including unsuspecting children, in order to obtain sexual photos, videos or money, or to engage in sex.

Here’s how it often works. A girl reaches out on social media to share feelings or vent. Then one day she receives a response from a boy she doesn’t know, who offers understanding words. A correspondence ensues and before long explicit photos are exchanged. Escalating from here, the boy, who is actually an older man, wants more photos and threatens to expose her if she doesn’t provide them. Read more

Protecting Our Nation’s Children: See Something, Say Something

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In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, something did not look quite right. A neighbor was concerned that children were being harmed. She picked up the phone and made a call.

This phone call, to the statewide child abuse hotline, resulted in a response by law enforcement and child welfare professionals, who made an alarming discovery: 12 Amish girls, ranging in age from 6 months to 18 years, were found in the rundown home of a male acquaintance of their parents. Shockingly, the parents had “gifted” their then-14-year-old daughter to this man, who subsequently impregnated her not once but twice. Criminal charges were brought against all three adults, and the children were removed from the home and returned to their Amish community to live and begin the healing process. Read more

Why Kids Reporting Abuse Often Recant

This article is part 3 of 15 in the column BeAKidsHero™

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It is incredibly difficult for children who have been abused—sexually, physically, psychologically, or through neglect—to talk about it. But what makes the situation even worse is when those they tell don’t believe them.

In approximately 23 percent of child abuse cases, children recant allegations of abuse. Research has been conducted to better understand why they do this. The main reason? The nonoffending primary caregivers do not believe them. In a vast majority of the cases, the nonoffending caregiver is the mother. Read more

“Race Gap” Hurts American Children According to Children’s Budget Review

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When it comes to government spending on children, race matters. In a 2016 review of the federal children’s budget, a growing racial divide was named as one of the largest issues facing American kids.

Demographer Dr. William Frey, who was present at the Children’s Budget Summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by the nonpartisan advocacy group First Focus, stated that America’s diversity explosion is “bigger than the Baby Boom.” By 2050, the United States will be home to more African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans than whites. In fact, since 2011, more babies from minority populations have been born in the United States than white babies, a demographic reversal that is likely here to stay.

Children of color are the future of the United States. But will they have access to the education and resources they need to reach their potential? Read more

Animal Abuse: A Precursor to Child Abuse?

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This article is part 2 of 15 in the column BeAKidsHero™



Abuse happens because a person wants to feel power over another being. Abusers typically start with something they can easily control, such as a family pet. But sadly the pet will not be the only victim.

Children’s advocates, social service workers, and mental health professionals all recognize a connection between animal abuse and child abuse. And so does law enforcement. In the FBI’s annual Crime in the United States report issued in February 2016, animal abuse was added to its listings of criminal acts because of its relation to more serious crimes. Read more

Philadelphia Soda Tax: A Sweet Victory for Kids?

Editor’s Update: The Bill has passed the City Council making Philadelphia the first major city to tax soft drinks.


On Wednesday, June 8th, a Philadelphia City Council committee voted “yes” to an amended version of Mayor Jim Kenney’s controversial soda tax. The original tax, 3.0-cents-per-ounce, would have raised an estimated $95 million each year for universal pre-K and improvements to city parks and recreation centers.

The revised proposal calls for a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax and the addition of diet soda to the list of taxable sweetened beverages. At $91 million, the projected revenue is just short of the initial goal. Kenney’s administration has also introduced some last-minute plans for the tax: $41 million of the revenue through 2020 will be applied to the city fund. The City Council is expected to pass this amended bill during this week’s final vote.

But will kids see the promised benefits? Read more

Conflicting Emotions on High School Graduation Rates

High school graduation rates have been the source of a lot of news coverage—and conflicting emotions—in the past few months.

President Obama and 19 governors hailed increasing graduation rates in their annual addresses. At the same time, leading journalists and policy wonks have raised questions about those very gains and about the value of a high school diploma.

How to make sense of this optimism and skepticism? Let’s take it one step at a time.

First, there is no denying the progress in graduation rates. Just 10 years ago, the nation’s on-time high school graduation rate was hovering just over 70 percent, where it had been stuck for decades. Today the graduation rate is 82.3 percent, the highest in history. Read more

The Summer Hunger Crisis

From the city streets of Baltimore to the wide open spaces of Kansas and the suburban cul-de-sacs of Fort Worth, kids will struggle to eat this summer. Summer vacation will be a time of anxiety and stress for low-income families forced to decide between buying a bag of groceries and paying the electric bill.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Summer meals are available to help millions of children get the nutrition they need. These meals could be a catalyst for improving the overall well-being of children across the nation.

One in five kids in the United States lives in a “food insecure” family, a family that struggles to consistently put enough food on the table for everyone. During the school year, free and reduced-price meals at school are a lifeline, ensuring that children get reliable access to nutrition. When schools close for the summer, however, these meals disappear. In one recent survey, low-income families say grocery bills can rise as much as $300 a month during the summer, putting incredible pressure on already-strained budgets. Read more

Sometimes Facts Make My Head Spin

Recently, the CDC published a report showing that the economic cost of child abuse and neglect places it at or near the top of major public health problems in the U.S. The scope of the problem is mind boggling. In 2008, state and local child protective services received more than 3 million complaints. That’s an average of six complaints every minute of every day.

The CDC also studied the lifetime economic cost of each confirmed case. In a somewhat macabre financial cost analysis, precise to the dollar, the CDC calculated that the average cost is $210,012. That is comparable to major health problems such as stroke ($159,846) and type 2 diabetes (over $200,00). Read more

America’s Children: The Poor Among the Plenty

Thursday, UNICEF released Fairness for Children: A League Table of Inequality in Child Well-being in Rich Countries (Innocenti Report Card 13).  This comparative study looks at income inequality among households with children in the richest nations around the globe.

In the U.S., among households with children, there is a 58.9 percent gap between households at the median income level and those at the 10 percent level (those whose income is less than that of 90 percent of all households with children). Why is this measure important?  Economists use it to show how far a country allows its poorest children to fall below children in families with an average income. In calculating it, all social programs that help to lessen the gap are taken into account. Read more

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