When the Internet began, there was a great deal of celebration that this would be the route to true democracy, justice, and progress. At first, it was such a wondrous thing, it was difficult to imagine its underbelly. But the child pornographers wasted no time polluting the ether with some of the most heinous crimes there are. The Internet in the end, reflects the human condition—a deep and complex mix of good and bad.
Just like real property, good fences make good neighbors in the ethersphere. Therefore, the critical issue facing us all is when will truly effective fences on the Internet become operative. The best fences protect privacy, but they are also constructed in a way that permits the authorities to enforce the law. Read more
Herculean efforts across the United States have been undertaken to eliminate the threshold legal barrier for most sex abuse victims: the statute of limitations. Some states have been very successful like Delaware and Minnesota while others remain mired in a system that blocks the vast majority of survivors like New York. To their credit, advocates, survivors, and their supporters continue to press even in the most backward states.
While a legislative push can be empowering for many survivors, it can also be traumatic when legislators irrationally reject the survivors’ pleas for justice. For example, Pennsylvania senators have professed allegiance to a non-existent Pennsylvania constitutional doctrine to avoid passing a bill that would revive expired SOLs for those who were shut out of the system. It is a cruel position that was captured beautifully in this political cartoon. Read more
A bipartisan bill brought forth by Republican Rep. Ted Poe of Texas and Democrat Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York would give judges the legal power to order the publication of names and photographs of those found guilty of buying sex from sex-trafficking victims.
Called the Shame Act of 2017, H.R. 440 simply amends existing child sex-trafficking law to allow the courts to order attorneys general to release to the public names and pictures of those convicted under the code. The basic idea is captured in the name of the act—to add an element of public shaming to the sentence in hopes would-be perpetrators might think twice. Read more
Sometimes I feel like I should pen a letter of apology to the Framers of the Constitution. They fundamentally understood that people are inevitably tempted to abuse power and that concentrations of power are dangerous. It was a fortuitous and sage combination of common sense and the Presbyterianism of Princeton at the time. To put it a bit more simply: power must be checked, or it will run amok, and that goes double for combinations of power. And, oh yes, those who have power will work hard to be unaccountable. Power without accountability is the gravest danger we can face.
With that as the foundation, we really should be able to do better. Instead, lawmakers are increasingly the unaccountable power-grabbing people the Framers warned us about. And nowhere are our elected officials failing more spectacularly right now than in the case of child sex abuse. Read more
The wild ride of this year’s presidential election has left many looking for landmarks that will guide their choice for the next president. One place to figure out who stands for what lies in the 2016 Republican and Democratic Platforms. So I decided to explore how each party deals with children.
It would not have been irrational to assume that this would be the year when the epidemic of child sex abuse might find its way onto a platform. After all, Spotlight won the Oscar Award for Best Picture. Read more
Republicans would do well to catch up to the rest of the culture on the issues of sex assault and child sex abuse. They are quickly being outpaced by a society that no longer is willing to wink at the rapist or child abuser. Context for rape and child abuse no longer matters: the people are sick of child sex abuse and sex assault, period, whether it occurs in the religious, sports, school, university, or family arena. Smart politicians are seeing that this is a scourge with no political preference.
Yet, too many Republicans—with rare exceptions like Rep. Jason Spencer of Georgia and Rep. Deborah Hudson of Delaware—are responsible for blocking simple legislative change that would identify the hidden predators and provide justice to victims. And they are doing it for all the wrong reasons. Read more
One challenge in stopping child sexual abuse is that it is often perpetrated in secrecy—a secrecy that the majority of child victims maintains.
There is overwhelming evidence that most child victims delay or never disclose child sexual abuse to friends, family members, or the authorities.1
A large adult retrospective study determined that 21.2 percent of survivors disclosed their abuse promptly; 21.3 percent disclosed abuse from one month to five years after it occurred; and the majority, 57.5 percent, delayed disclosure for more than five years.1 Many of us may scratch our heads and wonder, “Why in the Read more
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
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
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