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Barriere Bits, Issue #021 Child Abuse Survivors Prone to Headaches
February 17, 2009

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:


Researchers at Prince of Wales hospital in Hong Kong have discovered a link between childhood physical or sexual abuse and adult-onset headaches. The data also suggests that the more abuse a child endures, the more the child is predisposed to headaches as an adult. Although the actual cause of headaches was not determined in this study, prior research indicates that the same areas of the brain are activated when sufferers experience either emotional anguish or physical pain, which has led scientists to posit that the adversity endured as a child leaves that child with "poor coping skills" as adults.

The Hong Kong study involved 18,000 participants and encompassed 10 countries.

My Comments: "Poor coping skills" sound so demeaning. I'm not a scientist, or do I have a doctorate to my name. What I am is a pragmatist and a child abuse survivor who used to suffer from terrible headaches myself, even when my coping skills were well honed. I believe there is a great deal more involved than a lack of "coping skills" when it comes to adult-onset headaches. We are only now beginning to learn about the brain. I believe researches will eventually find a far more physiological explanation than one that, in my opinion, comes way too close to suggesting that child abuse survivors are weak-minded.


The largest child abuse investigation in Ontario's history has resulted in 93 charges against 31 men across the province. The father of a four-year-old boy from Ottawa has been charged with distributing and making child pornography. The young boy is now in foster care.

"Media was seized, computer media," stated Ottawa police Staff-Sgt. Monique Perras. "In one instance, for example, there were over 20,000 pictures of child sexual abuse."

Police estimate that approximately 65,000 computers in Canada are actively involved in the distribution of child pornography. Since August 2006, a provincial strategy has resulted in the completion of more than 5,800 investigations of Internet crimes against children, which have in turn resulted in 2,468 charges laid against 809 people.

"These pictures are from children and they're getting younger and younger," Perras told CTV Ottawa. "These children have been sexually abused, raped. These are our children. This is not a victimless crime," Perras went on to say.

My Comments: I couldn't agree more with Staff-Sgt. Perras. Computer images that depict child sexual abuse means that children have been sexually assaulted. I'm proud that my country is utilizing technology to help ensure the safety of children around the globe. And don't for one second think this is a problem unique to Canada. Internet child pornography is a worldwide problem, which means that every country needs to use all available resources to protect society's greatest asset: our children.

New Zealand:

An ex-patriot New Zealander, Professor Matthew Sanders, is planning to return to his homeland from America to implement what has already been touted a highly successful parenting program in North Carolina. Two years into the program, the trial has resulted in significantly reduced rates of child abuse cases, injuries to children, and out-of-the-home placement of children. Professor Sanders says he plans to set up a similar program at Auckland University, stating the parenting courses must be widely available to be successful at reducing rates of child abuse.

My Comments: Double thumbs up to Professor Sanders! Parent education is vital in reducing cases of child abuse. Not only does education help parents with their parenting skills, it also instils confidence in those parents; a confident and educated-in-parenting mother and father are far less likely to abuse their children. I sincerely hope such programs become widely available around the world.


Washington State:
A bill that would increase penalties for child abusers was introduced by Representative, Mike Hope (Republican - Lake Stevens, Snohomish) last month. If passed, House Bill 1724 would increase the sentence for first-time offenders of child abuse from 8-10 years to 10-18 years, with a mandatory prison term of at least 8 years, regardless of good behaviour. The proposed legislation would increase the sentence for repeat offenders from 11 to 33 years. The bill would also limit convicted offenders' interaction with children, preventing them from working (either paid or as a volunteer) with children who are under the age of 13.

My Comments: This is one bill that has bi-partisan support, in part, because of a local case of severe child abuse: 15-month-old Eryk Woodruff, who was almost beaten to death by a babysitter who was a friend of the family. The toddler's abuser was convicted and sentenced to the maximum 10-year prison term, but with good behaviour, could be out in 5.

I don't disagree with longer sentences; I'm all for them. What concerns me is the economic crisis currently in full swing in the United States. When I hear news reports that 40,000 inmates in California will be released into society because of overcrowding, when I learn that states across the country are finding themselves unable to balance their budgets, when I turn on my television to reports that some states cannot make their payrolls or issue tax refund cheques to their tax paying citizens, I wonder how all of this will impact the individual states' ability to continue to house, feed, clothe and medically take care of inmates with lower minimum terms, let alone those who would be facing longer terms.

UPDATE from Barriere Bits Issue Dec 16, 2008
Titled: A Case of Child-on-Child Sexual Assault

The state of Florida has agreed on a $2.9 million settlement to 3 children who were sexually assaulted by older children while in foster care. The settlement came on the heals of an unprecedented federal appellate court decision that allowed the 3 children to sue the Florida Department of Children and Families for knowingly placing them in a home nine years ago where an older child had previously sexually assaulted another foster child in that same home. Approximately one third of the settlement will pay attorney fees; the remainder will be placed in a trust fund that will pay for the ongoing treatment and care required for the 3 children, now aged 12, 14 and 17. The children have reportedly been adopted together.

My Comments: As I stated in my original comments in the December 2008 issue, Social Services agencies cannot hide behind laws intended to help them protect children in order to protect themselves from blatant disregard for known dangers to children in care. Now that the ruling has paved the way for children to sue such agencies, it will remain to be seen if this case will spur additional suits from children who were victimized in and by the foster system.

Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka has a child help line: 1929. Since its inception in January 2008, approximately 1,265 complaints of child abuse have been lodged. Although the help line was put in place for children to report abuse directly, it has been parents, teachers, neighbours, relatives and other adults who have registered the vast majority of reports.

My Comments: I will place this Sri Lanka help line number with all the hotline numbers on my site so that my visitors can find it. Hotline numbers from around the globe can be found on my child abuse stories page at Hotline Numbers.

Website News:

Video Readings from Previous Weeks:
If you've missed any of my video readings from On My Own Terms, A Memoir, you can now catch up by going to My Story of Abuse page. There you will see the most current reading, as well as a montage of thumbnail pictures, each of them a link to the archived individual weekly readings. PLEASE NOTE: Some archived videos have been edited down as a result of a 10-minute time restriction for videos.

Programming Glitch:
A programming glitch with regard to story, commentary and article submission automated notifications has prevented my contributors and regular visitors from being notified via their inbox when a new submission has been posted on my site. In order to ensure you stay up-to-date with visitor contributions, don't rely solely on your inbox. Since all new story, commentary and article pages built on my site are listed on My Blog page, in date order--most recent at the top--I suggest you bookmark the page and then check it each day to ensure you stay current. I apologize for the inconvenience, and I remain optimistic that this glitch will be resolved soon. Thank you for your understanding.

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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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