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Child Slavery: America’s Hidden Crime

This article is part 1 of 15 in the column BeAKidsHero™

 

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So far in 2016, there have been 1,654 cases of human trafficking reported in the United States, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC).  It’s estimated that one-third of those are cases of child trafficking.

Human trafficking is big business—generating more than $32 billion globally each year—and it doesn’t only happen in other places.  It happens right here at home. Read more

Animal Abuse: A Precursor to Child Abuse?

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

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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

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

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

Self-Harm and Kids: Why They Do It. How We Can Help.

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This article is part 5 of 15 in the column BeAKidsHero™

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Why do children cut, burn, hit or poison themselves? The cause is often a feeling of despair or untreated mental illness and depression.

And it’s a growing issue among pre-teens and teens. Nearly 2 million cases of self-harm are reported each year, but the actual number may be higher, as a majority of those engaging in self-injurious behavior (SIB) conceal their activity.

According to updated data on self-harm from HealthyPlace.com

  • One in five females and one in seven males engage in self-harm yearly
  • Ninety percent of those who engage in self-harm begin in the pre-teen or teen years
  • Nearly 50 percent have been sexually abused
  • Many learn how to inflict harm from friends or pro self-injury websites

Read more

Poverty’s Influence on Child Abuse

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This article is part 6 of 15 in the column BeAKidsHero™

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Twenty-two percent of children in the United States live in families with incomes below the poverty level. While this alone is a frightening statistic, it becomes even more alarming when you realize that poverty has a direct correlation to child maltreatment.

A 2010 study of child abuse and neglect led by Andrea J. Sedlak, PhD, found that children living in lower-income or poverty-level households are three times more likely to become victims of neglect, or physical or sexual abuse. In most cases one or more parent is the perpetrator. Read more

An Inside Look at a Child Forensic Interview

This article is part 7 of 15 in the column BeAKidsHero™

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Every 10 seconds, an allegation of child abuse is made in the United States. Once reported, an investigation begins that ideally includes a child forensic interview conducted at a Child Advocacy Center (CAC).

Designed as safe, neutral, and child-friendly environments, the CAC model reduces trauma to alleged child victims and their families by utilizing a multidisciplinary approach that facilitates collaboration among investigative agencies and advocacy support organizations. This collaboration streamlines investigations, potential prosecutions, and the medical and mental health support of child victims. Read more

Statute of Limitations Impedes Child Justice

This article is part 8 of 15 in the column BeAKidsHero™

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In October 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling, his brother, and a friend were riding their bikes near their homes in St. Joseph, Minnesota, when a masked man kidnapped Jacob at gunpoint. He ordered the other boys to run into a nearby wooded area, threatening to shoot them if they looked back.

For nearly 27 years, no one knew what had happened to Jacob, despite a massive search effort. Recently Danny Heinrich, a 52 year old man being held on child pornography charges, provided officials details about Jacob’s remains, which were subsequently recovered in an undisclosed location in central Minnesota. Read more

Strangulation’s Unwitting Victims: Children

This article is part 9 of 15 in the column BeAKidsHero™

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What widespread act of domestic and intimate partner violence often leaves no visible sign of injury, yet contributes to 10 percent of violent deaths in the United States? Strangulation.

It can take only 10 seconds, under a slight 11 pounds of pressure, for a strangulation victim to lose consciousness. Death can follow in five minutes or less. Related health symptoms and even loss of life can occur years later.

The fact is that strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence. As mentioned in the August-September 2014 issue of the Domestic Violence Report, the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence conducted a statewide survey on strangulation in 2011 and found the following regarding the 151 survivors who participated: Read more

Teamwork Is Key in Child Abuse Cases

This article is part 10 of 15 in the column BeAKidsHero™

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In 2015, nearly 312,000 children were interviewed at child advocacy centers around the country.  These were alleged victims of sexual or physical abuse (or neglect) or had witnessed the abuse or maltreatment of someone else.

Integral to the investigation of these cases—and to the continued safety and welfare of the vulnerable children—are multidisciplinary teams (MDTs). These special teams, composed of child protection professionals, work in tandem to explore the details of abuse allegations as well as provide necessary trauma assessments and treatment to child victims and their families.  While structure and individual team protocol vary based on community needs, MDT members can include the following: Read more

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