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:
Governor Deval Patrick (D-Milton) and State House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi (D-Boston) joined in signing a new child welfare law entitled "An Act Protecting Children in the Care of the Commonwealth." The law allows for the creation of a new office to monitor child abuse and neglect and it calls for stiffer penalties to be imposed on offenders. A section of the bill also requires mandated reporters such as teachers, physicians and social workers to report known or suspected child abuse or be subject to a $1000 to $5000 fine and up to 2 ˝ years incarceration. Under the bill, mandatory training for social workers is required, and the foster system is extended to 18- to 22-year-olds. Tuition and fee waivers at all state community colleges will now be granted to these foster children.
My Comments: Not only does this child abuse legislation address mandated reporters, offender sentences and who is in charge of monitoring child abuse and neglect, it also provides for a higher education for children in foster care; children who might not otherwise be in a position to further their education. Thumbs up to this legislation!
The Kentucky General Assembly approved the new law first mentioned in the April 15, 2008 issue of Barriere Bits E-zine. The new law, taking effective today, July 15, 2008, will broaden Kentucky’s child sex abuse laws while increasing penalties for abusers and those who fail to report abuse.
Tacoma and Seattle and State of Washington:
A lawsuit filed against Tacoma, Seattle and the State of Washington for the police department failing to act on a tip of child sexual abuse has resulted in an $11 million settlement being awarded. The suit was filed on behalf of eight boys who were aged between 5 and 12 when the abuse took place at the hands of their foster father, Ronald Young. Young sexually abused and photographed the boys, then posted the photos on the Internet during 2003 and 2004. He was caught, convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison in 2005 for his crime. The case has also led to the police implementing sweeping changes to procedures in handling child abuse tips in order to avoid any other abused child falling through the cracks.
My Comments: It's a travesty that cases such as these must come to light, that children must have to be continually abused and then have a lawyer act on their behalf, before proper policies and procedures are put in place; policies that should have been implemented right from the get-go.
In an effort to deter travelling sex tourists, a new law passed by parliament in May came into effect yesterday, July 14, 2008. Under the government's new Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, the crown will be able to prosecute UK citizens accused of committing sex offences abroad.
In some countries, it is not illegal to possess indecent images of children, and in other countries the age of consent is below 16 years; but under the new law, UK citizens can be charged, even if the offence would not have been prosecuted in the country of origin.
Chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) Jim Gamble welcomed the new law. "No offender should be able to escape to foreign jurisdictions in order to abuse children," he stated. "This measure sends out a clear and unequivocal message to offenders everywhere - and no matter whether they're in the UK or abroad - we'll track you, we'll bring you to account and you'll face the consequences of your criminal actions," Gamble went on to say.
My Comments: This legislation is definitely among the toughest worldwide for sex offenders. I applauded such legislation; Canada already has such a law in effect. However, there is one loophole that has not been closed in the UK: known sex offenders are only required to notify authorities of the first country they plan to visit, and therefore cannot be tracked to subsequent countries they visit. This law needs to go even further so that these known offenders can indeed be tracked and prosecuted if they re-offend.
TelstraClear, one of New Zealand's largest Internet providers, has joined forces with an Internal Affairs Department scheme to block websites that post child pornography. The move was prompted by international research that identified children as young as 11 years of age were inadvertently accessing porn sites while doing homework. Users who try to access sites that have been identified as hosts of child pornography may see a webpage that tells them the site has been blocked and to contact the Department of Internal Affairs for answers to any queries.
My Comments: While the Internet is a wonderful tool for children to gain access to information, the flip side is access to indecent images of children. We must therefore remain vigilant when it comes to protecting these children. Thumbs way up to TelstraClear!
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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.