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Barriere Bits, Issue #007 -- Child Abuse: An International Issue
December 18, 2007
|Welcome to my new format for Barriere Bits, the child abuse information e-zine that will now provide you with international child abuse information.
In this issue:
In the province of Manitoba, legislation has been brought forward that will compel all citizens to report any images or examples of child pornography, including those on the Internet and on computers being serviced. This is the first legislation of its kind in Canada, as it will extend to computer technicians and Internet service providers, which has never before been in effect.
My Comments: It's about time! Canada already has mandatory child abuse reporting laws for all citizens. We also have a Tourist Law that allows Canada to charge any Canadian who is believed to have committed child abuse, even if that child abuse occurred in another country. I can't believe that we don't already have a nationwide law that obliges EVERYONE to report images of child pornography.
A preliminary annual report drafted by the Florida Child Death Review Committee has revealed 170 children died last year as a result of child abuse and neglect, an 80% increase over 2006. Most of these children were under the age of 4. Neglect was cited in 103 deaths, while 53 of those were as a result of drowning due to lack of supervision (neglect). The report also cited 55 child homicides, most of which were committed by the boyfriend or husband of the child's mother. Crying, potty training, and feeding were purportedly the triggers for these homicides.
My Comments: This 80% increase is being downplayed, because drowning deaths were not included in figures for previous years. But the real controversy here is that children continue to die from child abuse. Even one death from child abuse is too many.
A landmark case in Doncaster, South Yorkshire in England has resulted in £25,000 compensation for a child abuse victim. The ruling was awarded to now 31-year-old Jake Pierce after he sued Doncaster Council for failing to protect him from what they knew were his violent parents. Pierce was ruthlessly abused from the time he was a baby until he was 14, when he ran away from home. Social workers repeatedly sent him home, even after suffering severe scalding, and in spite of warnings by doctors that he should never be sent home. The Council now also faces a six-figure sum for Pierce's legal costs.
My Comments: I applaud the ruling! This ground-breaking judgment will likely bring on a flood of cases; and rightly so. The United Kingdom has a dismal record when it comes to protecting children and educating about child abuse. If more accountability cases are brought to the courts, then perhaps lawmakers will finally pay heed and institute legislation that will truly protect the most vulnerable of their citizens; their precious children.
The government in West Australia introduced mandatory reporting legislation for sexual abuse. The new bill requires doctors, nurses, police and teachers to report any evidence of child sexual abuse to the Department of Child Protection. A conscious decision was made not to include the other forms of child abuse in this mandatory reporting because it is believed that it would result in a flood of unsubstantiated child abuse and neglect complaints.
My Comments: This is very short-sighted legislation. It simply doesn't go far enough. It sends the message that it's okay to neglect children and to physically and emotionally harm them. Advisors have defended their position, claiming that incorporating mandatory reporting laws for all types of abuse have resulted in more than 80% of unsubstantiated complaints, which have bombarded already-short-handed child protection agencies, the consequences of which have taken away from what is termed "real" cases of abuse. Balderdash! Canada incorporated the all-encompassing mandatory child abuse reporting law. If we can do it, so can Australia.
A national crisis meeting on child care will take place December 19th. Expected to attend are the premiers and family ministers of Germany's 16 regional states. The meeting was called amid public outcry after a mother killed her 5 boys by tranquilizing and then suffocating them with plastic bags. The tragedy is the latest in a string of deadly child abuse cases in that country.
Ask Darlene has now been integrated into my site. Questions and answers will now appear as pages that all visitors can comment on.
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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.
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