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Barriere Bits, Issue #018 Child Abuse Continues to be Ignored
November 18, 2008

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:


New Orleans:
A recent survey revealed that only 1 in 6 residents in New Orleans did anything about known child abuse--this despite the fact that an overwhelming number of residents in that state believe that child abuse is a major problem that is getting worse. Further, the poll found that less than 50% of those interviewed were aware they could report child abuse to authorities anonymously. Of this 50%, once they were made aware that they could report without leaving their names, just over two-thirds stated that fact would make them more likely to make a report.

According to the poll: - 7 out of 10 stated child abuse is difficult to identify. - 4 out of 10 stated they did not know what to do if they were aware of child abuse. - 1 out of 3 stated fear was responsible for their reluctance to report child abuse. - Nearly 50% stated they knew a child who had been abused.

My Comments: Clearly, there needs to be a great deal of training conducted in order to address these alarming poll results. But even when training is made available, very few in the general population enrol. Sadly, it usually takes a local case of child abuse that ends in tragedy before the general public is outraged enough to want to do something. But during such times of justifiable outrage few are interested in learning how they themselves can help to prevent child abuse; rather, in times of such tragedy, people are more apt to point fingers and look for "someone" to blame. This kind of outrage is a human phenomenon that is repeated all over the world when a child dies at the hands of a parent or caregiver. When a child dies from child abuse, people often take to the streets demanding more from Child Protective Services and the authorities. But unless and until ordinary every day citizens are prepared to do their part by taking some form of training to learn more about child abuse and its effects, and what can be done to both intervene and prevent it, the epidemic of child abuse will persist and worsen. We must stop pointing fingers and instead, gain the upper hand by getting involved. Last month's issue of Barriere Bits (October 2008) gave a number of ways to do just that.

United Kingdom:

Scientists at Lancaster University are developing computer software that will be able to identify pedophiles pretending to be children on the Internet. Known as Project Isis, the programming will analyze language and syntax in order to determine if an adult is impersonating a child during the "grooming" process of online contact. By tapping into the research that has revealed the differences in how people of certain age groups write, the programming will be able to distinguish, for example, when a person is 30 but claiming to be 13. The programming will also keep track of secret code words that pedophiles use as file names for child pornography, as well as be able to identify pedophiles who use file sharing networks to exchange pornography.

Currently, a prototype system is using non-sensitive data to test the system. The next step will be to employ the software on real-life pedophile cases for which police and other agencies will supply material.

My Comments: Very promising.


Figures released by a non-governmental organization (NGO) working toward child rights show a constant rise in sexual child abuse: nearly 5 children are victimized each and every day. Reports reveal that 992 children were sexually assaulted during the first half of 2008.

In January 2005, the federal cabinet of Pakistan approved the National Plan of Action for Child Protection that was developed collaboratively by the NGO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which includes suggestions and initiatives for prevention of child abuse and child exploitation. However, four years later, the government has yet to implement it.

My Comments: Clearly, the Pakistan government does not consider the rights of children a priority.


According to a recent news report, the Justice Ministry in Turkey is proposing that amendments be made to the Turkish Penal Code that if passed, will lower the minimum age for marriage from 15 to 14, AND will enable a convicted rapist to be released from prison if s/he marries the victim. Further, it has been proposed that in cases of criminal sexual intercourse with underage children, the minimum age should be lowered from 15 to 14. The judges claim the current laws do not meet the needs of today's society.

The law currently reads that a child under the age of 16 cannot marry and that sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 15 is a criminal offense, even if the child did not resist.

My Comments: I can't imagine the re-victimization that a woman would suffer over and over again if she was made to marry her rapist. And lowering the minimum age to 14 from 15...raise it; don't lower it. What ARE these judges thinking!


Children and others who know of or suspect child abuse in Jamaica will soon have a toll free 3-digit emergency number to make a report. The number 2-1-1 will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although reports of child abuse could be made to the Office of Children's Registry--in operation since January 2007--the main focus on this organization is to compile data on child abuse. While the Children's Registry does take on the role of determining where each report should be directed, they do not get involved in any investigations. It is unclear about whether there will be some kind of combined effort between those in charge of the new hotline and those at the Office of Children's Registry.

The hotline is reportedly being supported by UNICEF and was recommended by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

My Comments: I will update my hotline numbers to include 2-1-1 for Jamaica when the service has been implemented.

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Author Bio

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.

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