“GET BLUE” – NATIONAL EFFORT TO EDUCATE AMERICA DURING APRIL, NATIONAL CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH

April marks the 29th anniversary of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time dedicated to child abuse education, awareness and prevention activities. To observe National Child Abuse Prevention month, Love Our Children USA, (a national organization headquartered in New York whose mission is to break the cycle of violence against children) begins its ninth annual GET BLUE campaign – a national effort to educate and raise awareness for Child Abuse Prevention.

The “Blue Ribbon” is the symbol for child abuse prevention. Love Our Children USA urges every person across the country to GET BLUE. By wearing a Blue Ribbon pin during April and throughout the year, we can educate families, children, neighbors and communities on how to prevent child abuse and neglect — encourage communities and individuals in recognizing and preventing child abuse, assist families in achieving healthy parenting practices through education and resources and empower individuals to report child victimization and intervene in situations where violence and neglect harm children.

To signify the importance of the month, Love Our Children USA announces the Ninth Annual National Love Our Children Day on Saturday, April 14th. Created by Love Our Children USA, National Love Our Children Day is celebrated annually to honor children, strengthen families and raise awareness for efforts to keep children safe. Each year the day is recognized with a proclamation from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

National Love Our Children Day is like Mother’s and Father’s Day for children and is celebrated across the U.S. This day was created to acknowledge the value of children and to educate parents on the importance of giving them love, protection and respect, the three essential elements children need to become strong and successful adults. By promoting healthy and happy children and strengthening families we can keep kids safe.

To create a greater awareness Love Our Children USA has created a virtual i-Walk which will take place online during the month of April. The awareness and funds raised will go towards parenting education programs to keep children safe and strengthen families. The i-Walk is sponsored by Karma 411, Rolemommy.com, Project You Magazine, Kenn Viselman Presents and the Oogieloves.

In just one year the number of child sexual abuse by teachers was alarming. There were five cases in New York City alone just in February and the scandal at the Miramonte School in Los Angeles shook the education community there. The Penn State and Syracuse scandals shook college campuses and all of the parents in the country who harmed or killed there children this year was tragic.

According to Love Our Children USA Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ross Ellis “Child abuse has reached epidemic proportions and the unnecessary tragedies we’ve seen this past year calls for educating the public immediately and often.” Reports of child abuse nationwide have increased by 30-percent in the last 10-years. If the country thinks child abuse isn’t a problem, they need to think again. More than 3 million children are victims of child abuse each year and almost 1.8 million children are reported missing each year, many of whom are abducted from their homes and front yards. Those are only the ones that are reported.

“It is of critical importance that we educate the American public and raise a greater awareness to break the cycle of violence against children – before it starts,” says Ellis.

Ross Ellis said “A child’s voice is small, ignored and unheard. We must raise the volume so that everyone hears their message. Imagine if everyone in the country wore a Blue Ribbon — we could make such an impact in raising awareness to break the cycle that breaks children’s hearts, spirits and lives. We must protect our children instead of protecting the people who are supposed to be protecting our most innocent. ”

National Child Abuse Prevention Month is not only a timely opportunity to remind ourselves of our collective responsibility to protect America’s children and strengthen America’s families, but it is time to accelerate education and awareness of this very public epidemic and make our children a priority NOW. The country, our communities, concerned citizens, and even youth must work together to break the cycle.

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Demanding Extensive Background Checks on Teachers To Keep Children Safe At School

The rash of teachers and school employees across the country who have been arrested for the alleged sexual abuse of children is more than alarming.

For the fifth time this month, a New York City teacher has been charged with a sex crime against a student.

Brett Picou, 30, an art teacher at P.S. 52, is accused of fondling an 11-year-old girl, which took place at school.  News sources report that at least six other students all girls, may be victims. One child told the school principal a week ago, triggering the investigation.

The New York City Department of Education said Picou has been suspended without pay since the student made the accusation on February 15.

Picou joins Chukwuma Duru, Tyleek Brooks, Gregory Atkins and Wilbert Cortez. Duru is a substitute teacher. Brooks and Atkins worked as teacher’s aides. Cortez is a computer teacher.

And it’s not just in New York City. At the beginning of February, the Los Angeles Times reported that teacher Mark Berndt of the Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles was arrested for the most despicable acts against children. Berndt is deservedly looking at multiple potential life sentences.

In 1994, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office decided not to press charges against veteran Los Angeles teacher Mark Berndt for fondling a girl because prosecutors determined there was “insufficient evidence.”

Now 18 years later, Berndt the teacher everyone loved has finally been arrested after a one-year investigation for the photographing children in class while he sexually relieved himself under his desk, spoon-fed his own semen to blindfolded elementary school children and photographed them with a giant live cockroach on their faces.  Berndt’s 23 counts of lewd acts against children took place between 2005 and 2010. The victims were both girls and boys between the ages of 7 and 10.

And last April teacher Steven Noyes of the Village School in Naples, Fl., a private school affiliated with the North Naples United Methodist Church, was accused of sexual abuse against one of his 9 year old female students at the school. The police investigated the case, but when the teacher in question didn’t cooperate, they dropped the ball.  The teacher was not willing to talk to police or take a polygraph test, returned to school. The head of the school Ginger Sauter was heard saying “This is all my fault, I shouldn’t have let him hug the children” and now the little girl, the innocent victim has been expelled from school.

What are our schools missing when hiring teachers? How extensive are their background checks?

While we would never want our innocent teachers to suffer, we may have to! It’s time to demand that our schools have more extensive background checks and do these annually to check for any discrepancies, arrests, or any negative information.

Child molesters choose to work where they can be close to children. As a country, we must insist that our children are kept safe from these predators at school.

Please sign our PETITION and urge legislators to hold extensive background checks before hiring teachers and school administrators and to run extensive mandatory annual background checks on all teachers and school administrators.

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The Silent Story: Child Molesters And Predators In Our Schools

Yesterday the Los Angeles Times reported that teacher Mark Berndt of the Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles was arrested for the most despicable acts against children. Berndt is deservedly looking at multiple potential life sentences.

And it could have been prevented!

In 1994, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office decided not to press charges against veteran Los Angeles teacher Mark Berndt for fondling a girl because prosecutors determined there was “insufficient evidence.”

Now 18 years later, Berndt the teacher everyone loved has finally been arrested after a one-year investigation for the photographing children in class while he sexually relieved himself under his desk, spoon-fed his own semen to blindfolded elementary school children and photographed them with a giant live cockroach on their faces.  Berndt’s 23 counts of lewd acts against children took place between 2005 and 2010. The victims were both girls and boys between the ages of 7 and 10.

Hundreds of photos were recovered from Berndt’s home, showing Berndt with his arms around children or with his hands over their lips. Some allegedly show children with tape over their mouths. Several girls were photographed with a blue plastic spoon filled with an unknown clear white liquid held up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest the substance. The substance tested positive for Berndt’s semen according to law enforcement, who also found adult pornography in Berndt’s apartment that “mirrored” the bondage-type photos of the children. More than 26 children were identified in the 390 total photos. Ten of the children have not yet been formally identified.

Back in 1994, a girl, who was 10 or 11 years old at the time, reported Berndt fondling her over her clothing near her genital area. If prosecutors had probed deeper or another one of Berndt’ s victims had come forward, Berndt would not have been teaching and the children at Miramonte Elementary and they would not have endured such disgusting and despicable acts.

Today another teacher at Miramonte Elementary was arrested and charged with acts of lewd conduct involving 23 students earlier this week – unrelated to Berndt.

These two teachers are not the first to be arrested for lewd sexual acts against children.

Many teachers across the country have been involved in child molestation. Some have been arrested and some have gotten away with their crimes against children because of insufficient evidence, because of cover ups, because no one was courageous enough to step forward and report their own abuse.

Take beloved teacher Steven Noyes of the Village School in Naples, Fl., a private school affiliated with the North Naples United Methodist Church, who has been accused of sexual abuse against one of his 9 year old female students at the school. The police investigated the case, but when the teacher in question didn’t cooperate, they dropped the ball.  The teacher was not willing to talk to police or take a polygraph test, returned to school, the head of the school Ginger Sauter was heard saying “This is all my fault, I shouldn’t have let him hug the children” and now the little girl, the innocent victim has been expelled from school.

So because the police dropped the ball, and no one has been brave enough to come forward to report other abuse by Noyes, could we be looking at Noyes  and other teachers who harm children becoming another Berndt in 18 years?

We must stop teachers from hurting our children NOW! We cannot wait 18 years to have them arrested.

Schools across the country must be more diligent in background checks. Perhaps teachers need to go through annual background checks. It would be unfair to the good teachers, but it would certainly take care of the bad ones.

We can no longer protect our teachers who commit these horrible acts against children. We should be protecting our most innocent – our children.

If you know of a teacher who is harming you, has harmed you in the past or who is harming other children it is your duty to report it. It is law enforcement’s duty to not let these cases get buried as a result of insufficient evidence or teachers not willing to cooperate. It is the school’s duty to ensure that their students are taught by teachers whose only agenda is to educate – not violate!

You can report child abuse here

 

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Did Joe Paterno Really Break His Silence?

As  Appeared In Psychology Today
Published on January 17, 2012

Co-Authored by Robin Sax, Ross Ellis and Angela Rose

How shattering the silence stops abuse

Joe Paterno “broke his silence on the Sandusky case since being fired from Penn State University.” Clearly not a tell-all nor a hard ball interview, Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post portrayed Paterno as a sympathetic, sick, frail old man who simply did the best he could.  Do you feel sorry for him?  Do you think he deserves a pass? Do you think his age, notoriety and illness is justification to the many victims who would not have been abused had Joe-Pa cared about him as much as he cared about himself, his team, and the school.

Denial, minimization, blame are the tenets of sexual abuse cover-ups and misunderstanding.  While Joe-Pa may not have known what to do then, he should be able to say I know what to do now.  The missing parts of the interview were the noticeably absent questions of:

  1. Did you ever confront Sandusky? If so, what did he say?  What did you say?
  2. What would you do if this happened today?
  3. When you saw Sandusky as recently as September 2011 did you think it was strange that he was still courting kids on campus?

A hundred more questions come to mind.

The value of Paterno’s silence breaker is that this gives us an opportunity to talk about sexual abuse– a subject that despite how progressed people think we are– is one that many would prefer to remain a silent subject. 

On Tuesday, January 17 on Fox 11 KTTV’s Good Day LA, Angela Rose shattered the silence of sexual violence by sharing her own story of overcoming being kidnapped when she was 17 years old and sexually assaulted by a repeat sexual offender who was on parole for murder. Although her case was perpetrated by a stranger, Angela stresses that sexual abuse is typically committed by someone who is known to the victim. The offenders prey on their victims using trust as well as silence and fear as a tool to continue to offend. Angela Rose founded the nonprofit PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment and she is partnering with other groups to tackle this societal problem.

Child sexual abuse is a worldwide pandemic and prevalence rates are known to be as high as 60 percent. Sexual abusers tend to choose occupations that put them in close contact with children. They can be found in every profession. They are heterosexual and homosexual — they don’t discriminate.

While Penn State and Syracuse are now institutions that have been exposed, there are hundreds of other schools that work harder to cover up the abuse than simply expose it and deal with it.  In all of these cases, the pattern is the same when a child reports sexual abuse and when confronted with the investigation process— a process designed to be a fact finding process—the child is the one who is disbelieved, penalized, and blamed.  The children get victimized twice – once by the people they look up to and admire, and then again through the cover-ups of the perpetrators, and their colleagues.

Take a case that as not received the same attention as Sandusky or Fine.  It is the case of Steven Noyes of Naples Florida.  In April 2011, nine-year old Jane Doe reported that she was sexually and inappropriately touched by her fourth grade teacher Steven Noyes.  Not surprisingly, he denied all allegations and hid in the joy of being the “beloved teacher.”  While the school  initially suspended Noyes, it came out that he was doing report cards, continued official duties and even  communicated with children  and parents during his time on “admin leave.” It smelled of a BS admin leave with no real intention of looking objectively into the facts of the allegations.  The smell got worse when the school seemed to have conducted a shoddy (at best) internal investigation that  resulted not only in Noyes returning to school but culminated in the ultimate blow when principal Ginger Sauter suggested that the child leave the school with zero justification. So, like these other high profile cases the school seemed to practice their same protection for themselves instead of saying “mea cupla, we screwed up, and we are sorry.”

School and institutions have choices.  They can choose to pick denial, minimization and blame and live being more concerned about the institution, the school, and the teacher – or they can stop blaming the victim and protect the victim.

When the institutions protect abusers, they not only are allowing for rampant prolific abuse to continue but are sending the message for victims to stay silent because the adult and institution will always win.  Children are being taught that  horrific,  vile, and abusive behavior is acceptable  and that their words do not matter.

We are here to say victim’s words DO matter.  Their disclosures are critical.  The victim’s voices must be heard and we the growns up cannot be silent.  The fact that we even have to have laws of mandated reporting to order people in positions of trust to report is telling even and of itself.  The fact that those who work with children have to be mandated to tell is just troubling.   Do we really need a law to say “tell.”  Do we need to have laws to say do the right thing and don’t kick the victim out of school too?

We can no longer be silent.  We all have a responsibility to tell whether mandated by  the law or not.  We are the adults – and kids count on us to be vocal and stand up for our victims who will live with this pain for the rest of their lives.   In New York City, buses and subways are covered with billboards that say “When you see something, Say something!” We urge you to REPORT IT!  In workplaces and in the armed services there are hotlines given for anonymous reporting.  Whether duty bound by mandated reporting laws, we the adults should retrain our default to tell and to tell until someone does something.   The more silent you stay, the more children are hurt.

You can make a difference. Report! Advocate! Get involved and most importantly, tell.

Love Our Children USA: Love Our Children USATM is the leading national nonprofit and ‘Go-To’ prevention organization fighting all forms of violence and neglect against children in the U.S. Since 1999, Love Our Children USA has broken ground in preventing violence against children and eliminating behaviors that keep them from reaching their full potential. Love Our Children USA teaches effective parenting solutions and fosters kid success by creating valuable programs that empower positive changes in parenting and family attitudes, bullying and cyberbullying prevention, Internet safety and school violence prevention through public education.    The goal of Love Our Children USA is Keeping Children Safe® and strengthening families. www.loveourchildrenusa.org

PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment is a multinational nonprofit that uses art, education and grassroots action to shatter the silence of sexual violence. www.ShatteringTheSilence.org

Robin Sax is a Fox 11 legal analyst,  California-based attorney and former sex crimes prosecutor, who has authored six books including It Happens Everyday Inside the Life of a Sex Crimes DA and Predators and Child Molesters:  A Sex Crimes DA Answers 100 of the Most Asked Questions.  http://robinsax.com/.  Robin Sax is a former deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County who specialized in child sexual assault cases. She is the author of Predators and Child Molesters.

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Teaching kids and teens gratitude

In these extraordinary times many are feeling fearful, sad, depressed, anxious, lonely and many other emotions. 

Yet, it is important to remind ourselves what we are grateful for. And that’s something we should be teaching our children and teens.

Gratitude, thankfulness, or appreciation is a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.

Children can be taught to look for the god things in any situation and to appreciate these opportunities or circumstances in their lives.

Those small or overwhelming obstacles could be a lesson or an experience that will open the door to new and wonderful experiences.

By teaching kids and teens gratitude for the good and the bad, you will be raising healthier and happier kids and boost their self esteem.

  • Set a good example
  • Role play
     
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Introduce your kids and teens to volunteerism and reaching out to others who need help
  • Show them what they should be thankful for even if they don’t have something they want
  • Teach kids and teens to see the good in others regardless of whether they like them or not (this is also a good way to educate about bullying prevention)

Parents should model behavior they want their children to have. Make gratitude an everyday practice. Take steps to teach gratitude to your kids and teens and watch them grow up into wonderful adults. 

Thanksgiving day is the perfect time to show gratitude. What are you grateful for?

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Penn State Students Riot Over Firing of Football Coach Joe Paterno

         
  

The fact that this story is being written shows us what seems to be more important in the minds of Penn State students – and it’s not the fact that innocent children have been sexually abused and the abuse was covered up. It’s all about money-making college football.

Last night thousands of Penn State students rioted after hearing about the firing of 84 year-old Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Students screamed and chanted “We want Joe.” They threw rocks and bottles and tipped over a news van.

A 20-year-old junior from Scranton, PA and an 18 year-old freshman from Baltimore told news sources that they thought the decision was a little harsh and said they are just allegations.

Do these students not understand that it is against the law NOT to report child abuse? Are students that immune to horrific and immoral behavior against children, that they would rather see a football coach keep his job?

Do they not understand that child sexual abuse is as bad as it gets? That an adult who took advantage of young boys and took away their very foundation?

What are the parents of the rioters thinking?

There was a witness to the sexual abuse of a 10-year-old boy by coach Jerry Sandusky who told Joe Paterno about the abuse. And many more victims have come forward. Paterno did nothing. He might as well have abused the boys himself.

Paterno, Penn State President Graham Spanier and Penn State have been under great scrutiny since former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged last weekend with 40 counts of sexual abuse of children. I repeat 40 counts of child sexual abuse.

Sandusky was arrested last Saturday on charges that he preyed on boys he met through The Second Mile, a charity he founded for at-risk youths. Two high-ranking Penn State administrators also face charges they lied about knowledge of the crimes to a grand jury.

It’s no mistake that child sexual abusers choose careers that deal with children. The Second Mile began as group foster home to help troubled boys.

The grand jury report Read the grand jury report is startling and portrays the actions of a typical child molester.

As a child advocate for over 20 years, it is appalling enough to read the grand jury report because our weakest ones have been egregiously abused, hurt and taken advantage of. Yet to see young adults take the side of Paterno and riot over his dismissal because football is more important – because Penn State will somehow not be able to go on without Paterno leaves one shaking their head in complete disbelief and anger – because where have we as a society gone wrong with teaching our young adults values and morals?

The behavior of the rioting Penn State students needs discussion, education and awareness. The silence of Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier needs criminal investigation. And the audacious acts of Jerry Sandusky need a trial that will convict him of being the child molester he is.

As far as college football, I don’t really know much about it or care to, but I am told there is quite a bit of money to made from this sport.

We’ve been dealing with corporate greed and now it’s come down to the greed of a football coach who made millions and who kept silent for a football team and a college and allowed young boys to be sexually abused.

What does that say about our society and how can we explain this to our child victims?

Ross Ellis
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Love Our Children USA

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Cyber Security Awareness: Are you?

By Christopher Burgess, Guest Blogger

This October marks the start of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) in the United States.  If you’re reading this piece you are on a social network and have a modicum of interest in your online security.  Throughout the month (as I have for the past few years) I will be publishing snack size tips that you may wish to share (family, friends, colleagues, or whomever) so that all have a leg-up on keeping their online activities enjoyable, but also safe and secure.

FACEBOOK:
Do you use Facebook?  With over 500 million subscribers perhaps the right question to ask is how many of your friends or companies aren’t using Facebook?  Do you have your privacy settings locked down?  Do you review what Facebook’s constant changing of your privacy capabilities (not all of which are detrimental, but many certainly expose your information to more persons than perhaps is wise or desired.   Take for example the newest change, that of “subscriber,” according to Facebook’s explanation, subscribers aren’t individuals you friend, but rather individuals who subscribe to view and read items you post.  And those individuals may have your best interests at heart or they may be acting from a purely malevolent perspective.  To put it in the bluntest of terms, if you have the “subscriber” option open in your Facebook settings, know that you do, because anyone with a Facebook account can then view, retain and compile your information.  If you do choose to open up subscribers to your Facebook account, and I do understand why many may wish to do so, ensure the information you are sharing is information you are comfortable being used in any manner imaginable from the negative extreme of stalking you, your family or your employees to the positive extreme of new business or connecting with long-lost friends and family.
In sum – keep an eye on the Facebook’s changes and how they can affect your privacy, safety and security.

Be safe, be secure,

Christopher

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