Welcome to Barriere Bits, the child abuse information e-zine that will provide you with international child abuse information.
In this issue, you'll find child abuse news from:
After nearly two years of attempts, a lawsuit involving child sexual abuse at the hands of two other children (also known as child-on-child sexual abuse) will be allowed to proceed. The parents of three allegedly sexually abused children, known only by initials H.A.L., J.H.L., and S.L.L., maintain that employees of the Jacksonville, Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) violated the constitutional rights of their children almost a decade ago when they placed them in a foster home with known-to-be-sexually-aggressive children. The employees named in the suit declared they are immune from any liability and prosecution, as they were acting within their discretion as state employees. The 11th United States Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. They said the officials "exhibited deliberate indifference to the known risk", and as such, determined the case would be allowed to go forward.
My Comments: State workers cannot be allowed to hide behind an "acting within their discretion" clause to avoid facing the consequences of knowingly putting other children in harms way. If for no other reason, to ensure it does not happen again.
European Union with USA:
A joint effort between the European Union and the United States has resulted in more than 170 arrests of child pornographers around the globe. An investigation determined that producers, distributors and customers of child pornography were in close to 30 countries, including the USA, where 61 arrests were made. According to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, "This joint EU-U.S. coordinated effort began with the discovery in Europe of a father who was sexually abusing his young daughters and producing images of that abuse." Eleven girls from the United States--aged 3 to 13 years--who were sexually abused were rescued; dozens were found in Europe. Attempts to locate more child victims are ongoing. Additional arrests are expected as the investigation continues.
My Comments: Double thumbs up to all the agencies involved in taking down these child sex offenders. It's heartening to know that international boundaries did not prevent these agencies from doing what needed to be done.
Parliament in New Zealand passed amendments this week to their Sentencing Act 2002 by inserting a section that deals with offences against children. Judges in the sentencing phase of cases involving violence against, or neglect of, children who are under the age of 14 years, will now be required to take into account specific aggravating factors when determining the length of sentence to impose, including:
Maximum sentences have yet to be determine for such cases, and are expected to be covered in a second bill slotted for introduction early in 2009.
- the victim's defencelessness
- threats the offender made that prevent the victim from making a disclosure
- the degree of long-term physical or psychological effects on the victim
- and the impact that the betrayal of trust between the victim and the offender has on the victim.
My Comments: It seems to me the efforts here are tackling child abuse from the wrong end of the issue. This legislation will have the effect of making an offender more accountable for his/her criminal actions through stiffer sentencing, but it won't do anything to prevent child abuse or intervene on behalf of children who are being abused. If there is any hope in doing so, society must focus on the root causes of child abuse and the risk factors associated with child maltreatment (poverty, economic downturns, lack of parental resources and support, lack of parent training; the list goes on), and then concentrate on addressing the multitude of issues. Legislation that deals with someone who has already offended will not stop or even make a dent in the pandemic that is child abuse.
If you haven't already, check out the newest feature on www.child-abuse-effects.com: weekly videotaped readings by me, Darlene Barriere, from On My Own Terms, A Memoir. Each week over the next couple of months, I will read and post a different excerpt, and then offer some after thoughts. Listen as I discuss more about what I've just read (stuff that didn't make it into the book). Or the process I went through writing it. Or my thoughts about the various issues brought to light in the excerpt; don't be surprised if you find yourself able to relate on many levels. I promise you'll learn at lot more about me as a person, the process I went through writing the book, and about my path toward healing and recovery. Go to My story of abuse to hear this week's reading. I change it up each Thursday, so don't miss any.
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Darlene Barriere is a child abuse survivor, a violence and abuse prevention educator and author of On My Own Terms, A Memoir. She lives in semi-arid Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada with her husband, John.