My Eassy on Child Abuse - Politics | PoFo

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By joe
Now as you all probably know....Me and my 'Children' topics dont go well together. I am a stron believer that all Children MUST be protected at ALL costs, no matter what the age, well the younger generation 14 downwards, so I wrote this :

When teachers reflect on the sea of faces that pass through their classrooms over the course of a career, they can know for sure that a proportion of the children who stared back had been abused.

When teachers reflect on the sea of faces that pass through their classrooms over the course of a career, they can know for sure that a proportion of the children who stared back had been abused.

Working out the numbers is the easy part: 6.6 children per 1000 are proved to have been abused or neglected in Victoria; the national figure is 4.4 per 1000. Or, if the result of surveys of adults who say they have been abused are projected back to childhood, the figures soar to about 25 per cent of girls and about 12 per cent of boys.

But how can a teacher tell, given the great ebb and flow of emotion, the daily dramas that enfold children's lives, which child is being hurt sexually, physically or emotionally? After all, even highly trained experts who deal with such trauma on a daily basis - child-protection officers and psychologists - can find it hard to spot an abused child.

The immediate answers to both questions are not all that heartening.

The problems predate 1994, when teachers joined police, doctors and nurses on the list of professions compelled to report suspected child abuse.

The mandatory reporting law had been passed in 1993 as a result of the shocking death of Daniel Valerio. In September, 1990, when Daniel was just two years and four months old, he was battered to death by his stepfather. The circumstances of the murder exposed deep flaws in how child abuse was being dealt with.

More than 104 bruises were found on Daniel's body and both his collarbones had been broken. A post-mortem found he died from internal injuries to the abdomen, similar to those suffered in a road traffic accident.

Daniel's stepfather, Paul Aiton, who was convicted of the boy's murder, admitted hitting Daniel two or three times to stop him crying. "I'd go through a brick to get him to stop crying," he said. Aiton, himself a victim of child abuse, was 30 at the time of the murder. He got 22 years' jail with a minimum of 18.

What shocked policy makers, though, was the fact that in the lead-up to his murder, Daniel had been seen by 21 professionals - including a number of doctors and, briefly, a teacher.

When Daniel and his mother visited the primary school that Daniel's older sister attended, a teacher noticed he was listless. She went up to him, touched him on the chin and asked: "What's the matter with you, mate?" The response was silence and some classic signs of abuse: "He just stared into space out the door. He didn't say a word. He didn't even acknowledge I was there or that I had touched him. He didn't close his eyes, he didn't move his face. He didn't do anything, nothing."

Five days later, Daniel Valerio was dead.

Apart from one anonymous call to the after-hours Child Protection Service, it seemed that no one had done anything much to protect the toddler.

Shocked policy makers concluded that if the voluntary system of reporting child abuse didn't work, then the law needed to force professions to take action, and so mandatory reporting was introduced.

Associate professor Chris Goddard, the director of Monash University's child abuse and family violence research unit, says the Daniel Valerio case illustrates society's deep denial of the very existence of child abuse.

When Daniel was taken to one doctor, with bruising around the eye, forehead and scalp, the doctor "ignored the obvious", Dr Goddard says, and ordered blood tests to check if he had some rare blood disorder.

Even after the wide publicity surrounding Daniel Valerio's death, not everyone could be convinced that abuse happens, even when they were told to their face by a young victim. This was the scenario in 1997 when mandatory reporting faced its first serious legal test after a school principal was charged with failing to report suspected child abuse.

A five-year-old prep pupil had told his teacher that his father "sucks my doodle" and "puts milk in my mouth". The principal, who can't be named for legal reasons, asked the teacher to keep the matter confidential and said she would seek advice. After interviewing the boy, she decided not to make a report because she concluded the boy had a "very big imagination" and a "loose mouth".

The teacher made an official report to child protection two weeks later, after the boy said abuse had started again. An investigation led to the father's conviction on 20 charges of incest and 23 charges of sexual penetration of a minor. He was sentenced to nine years' jail.

The case against the principal hinged on whether she had formed the requisite "belief" under mandatory reporting laws that the boy had been abused. She faced a maximum fine of $1000.

When the case was dismissed in Ringwood Magistrates' Court, there were immediate calls for the repeal of mandatory reporting.

But psychologist, social worker and executive director of the children's charity Australians Against Child Abuse, Joe Tucci, argues that the law needs to be strengthened and clarified rather than dumped.

For a start, the three professions that come into regular contact with children that are not compelled to report - social workers, child-care workers and youth workers - should be added to the list and the act ought to be amended so that the safety of children takes precedence over the preservation of the family unit.

Mr Tucci says that over the years the system has "moved closer to responding to parents' needs rather than responding to children's needs and supporting kids". As a result, the perceived risk to children has, in some cases, been seriously underestimated. "What happens then is you have a system that gives parents lots of chances to care for kids in situations where risk is quite high," he says.

The other problem is that the child protection system itself is in deep crisis. While teachers complain that they often get little or no feedback after making a report, child-protection workers complain that they are inundated with work.

Some country offices face a huge turnover of staff, sometimes up to 75 per cent in a year. Several WorkCover improvement notices have been served on the Department of Human Services for child-protection offices in Horsham, Bairnsdale, the Western Region and for the Central After Hours Child Protection Service.

Child-protection workers are struggling under an avalanche of reports - which surged from 15,182 in 1993 to more than 38,000 last year. Only 7743 cases were substantiated last year but just because a case is not substantiated, experts warn, abuse can still be happening, it just hasn't been proved. Usually there are no witnesses and, though child protection uses a balance of probabilities rather than reasonable doubt as a measure, the cases often come down to a child's word against an adult's. Sometimes children retract statements under such pressure.

Mandy Coulson, an industrial officer with Community and Public Sector Union, which represents child-protection workers, says protection officers have a community liaison and public education role they are often unable to perform. "When it comes down to a choice between going and protecting a child now or doing community liaison, they choose to go and protect the child," she says, "every day is full of crisis after crisis."

In a CPSU study sent to the Department of Human Services last year, many protection workers said they were suffering severe stress-related symptoms, including their hair falling out, self-harm incidents and heart attacks.

Ms Coulson says that 36-hour shifts, without a break, are also common and that in some ways the child-protection system mirrors the abuse it is designed to combat. For instance, protection workers are encouraged to hide excessive overtime, are made to feel guilty for not handing an unmanageable workload, and face regular threats and assaults from parents and child abusers.

Workers have faced down shotguns and have fallen asleep behind the wheel and driven off the road because they were so overworked, she says.

Ms Coulson says protection workers are making serious decisions in situations of extreme stress and fatigue. She welcomes the extra 60 child protection workers allocated in the last budget but says 160 more are needed.

"It's a very dangerous situation," she says. "Our members are doing everything they can to protect children and to protect themselves so they can keep doing their job. But there needs to be change, and it needs to be really soon.

"There'll be more child deaths but there'll also be more worker deaths. None of these things are what the Victorian community wants," she says.

All that is why, she says, teachers too often don't get the feedback they need regarding individual cases - and why, as Deakin University lecturer Louise Laskey says, teachers are losing faith in mandatory reporting. "When you look at notification figures from education, we see that in 1999 to 2000, teachers made around 4500 reports but only 1800 of those were investigated," Ms Laskey says. "So you've got fewer than 50 per cent being investigated and you have around half that being substantiated.

"If you look at those statistics alone, you have to question why we have a system that requires people to report but is only able to investigate half of those numbers reported."

Ms Laskey says mandatory reporting is a piecemeal effort, a policy response to the Daniel Valerio case, but a policy "introduced without concern for it being properly resourced".

In the first year of mandatory reporting, the Kennett government withdrew $7.4 million from child protection services, ignoring dire warnings about the consequences of such cuts from senior Family Court judge John Fogarty.

Ms Laskey says that to do the job effectively teachers need proper in-depth training, rather than the couple of hours they received when mandatory reporting was introduced.

The Australian Education Union says many teachers who have entered the system since 1994 have had no training in relation to mandatory reporting.

Ms Laskey says one long-term solution would be to create an in-depth, semester-length course that teachers studied in their pre-service degree, followed up with annual refresher courses.

Such action would lead to better quality reporting and perhaps take some of the pressure off the child protection service, she says.

The real knock-out blow to child abuse, though, could lie in early intervention, Ms Laskey says.

Preventing abuse also has wider social benefits. Child abuse contributes to a long list of problems including mental illness, emotional disturbance, delinquency, prostitution, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, domestic violence, drug abuse and violent crime.

The government wants to cut renotifications using part of the extra $60million it announced for child protection in the budget, she says. Strategies include long-term welfare and in-home support for families under stress to help them avoid entering or re-entering the child-protection system.

These strategies might eventually mean less pressure for child protection workers, but Monash University's Dr Chris Goddard says teachers need to take matters into their own hands. Through their union, "teachers should be clamouring for more education about child abuse", he says, and teachers can listen very carefully to what children say.

"Young people often approach subjects in very circular ways. A lot of teachers know these things but they're even more important when you're talking about child abuse."

Other advice includes not pretending to have all the answers or that you can solve all the problems and, especially, not to promise confidentiality when none can be given, he says.

Educators have serious concerns about how mandatory reporting operates in practice, including the fact that there is no formal student welfare structure within primary schools to deal with abuse, but a welfare coordinator at a large P-12 college says the law has made the teacher's task simpler because it has clarified what teachers should do.

Rather than getting in above their heads trying to broker complex solutions with fractured families, teachers now hand the role straight to those trained for it, child protection workers.

Although it is common for teachers to agonise about making abuse reports, Mick Butler, president of the Welfare Teachers Association, says teachers need to be confident that they are absolutely doing the right thing.

"Teachers worry that all that happens is a child is taken out of home and put into foster care," he says. "My response is maybe that isn't the ideal situation, but it might be better than the kid remaining where they were."

Even if the outcome of a report found no abuse, Mr Butler says, teachers should still be commended for reporting, "because they did express their concern. And isn't it good that the outcome was negative?"
By 'Cesca
Children MUST be protected at ALL costs, no matter what the age, well the younger generation 14 downward :

I will disagree with you at his stage. I believe that all children under 16 years should be protected. I'd even go so far as to say all children under 18 years, but that would be much more of a fight to uphold.

I feel strongly about this issue and of paedophilia. It happens to be one of my rant subjects. >:

More emphasis should be placed on parental responsibilities and teaching children what is involved with being apparent and what is not. Plus placing a person for children who may find that they are being abused to go to. Sex education should be more enlightening to show when sex is not appropriate. Ie Incestuous, paedophilia More knowledge on such things must surely break the abuse cycles?

Certainly a more child friendly court system for these victims of abuse to should be implemented.
By 'Cesca
Regarding foster homes, the abuse can also re occur their. As has been reported fairly regularly.

Even down to foster homes being brought to trial several years down the road for sexual abuse of those put in their care.

More information is needed, and more help for those that are suffering.
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By joe
how would you stop child abuse ?

My Umm English teacher told me the other day that little childen (9 or 10 ) dont know that they're being raped - is that right? I mean if this is the right way to say it...
By 'Cesca
Yes they do know at that age. The Psychological damage is also there along with the internal damage.

How would I stop abuse of children. If I could answer that,And I wish I could find an effective solutions I really do. Then I would be actively out their stopping it. More in the way of knowledge letting children know what is accepted behaviour and not would be a strong starting point.
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By Yeddi
perhaps, but it is later on that the troubles arise, once they learn of that fact. A friend of mine recently went through that, and has since changed personality completely, and shut off all contact when i mentioned to her that fact. I'm considered quite a threat or something. Rumour has it that i'm hated. Intersting.
By 'Cesca
New-Audacity wrote:My Umm English teacher told me the other day that little childen (9 or 10 ) dont know that they're being raped - is that right? I mean if this is the right way to say it...

I'd certainly question your English teacher aobut that type of answer.
By 'Cesca
Yeddi wrote:perhaps, but it is later on that the troubles arise, once they learn of that fact. A friend of mine recently went through that, and has since changed personality completely, and shut off all contact when i mentioned to her that fact. I'm considered quite a threat or something. Rumour has it that i'm hated. Interesting.

You are quite correct Yeddi. There have been reports in the Psychological field that past traumatic events re-surface in adulthood.

One such report called for the ethics to be tightened up over false memory implantations by unscrupulous Psychologists et al.

It is believed by some that your experience during the period leading to adulthood, shapes your adult behaviours.
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By Demosthenes
Sure-fire way way of ending the threat of sexual predators: Execution!!!

There are a few other threads discussing this subject floating around here.

Education alone will not stop sexual predators. It may help some potential victoms avoid the abuse but it won't stop the predators from seeking prey.

How to stop the one's who maybe arn't full blown pedophiles? Now there's a question worth asking. Once they become pedophiles society no longer has a use for them. Better off for themselves, the children, and others that you just finish them off like you would a horse with a broken leg.

Before they commit these most heinous of crimes, however, some are able to recognize what evil thoughts are running through their minds and can with help prevent themselves from becoming a full blown pedophile. More emphasis should be put into finding ways to develop a more concrete sysytem to indentify those will turn out to be pedophiles so we can prevent it.
By 'Cesca
Though that may be a drastic measure. It could also be open to be abused and innocent persons could fall foul of the death penalties.

Educating is a start, it should help victims come forth and report abuse. A fairer justice system wold be another step for the victims.

The danger is paedophilia could be become acceptable to society. I have a topic I know of that explains this I'll post it up when I find it, It certainly was an eye opener, and turned my stomach at the prospect.
By 'Cesca
I read an article sent to me, a few weeks ago, and it has been playing on my mind..

It was an article on the changes in sexual desire/practice/norms/traditions over the centuries and the rise in paedophilia.

It alleges that man always needs an illicit sexual practice for fulfillment and that there is a direct link (psychologically) between sexual desire and power/sense of power.
ie the more powerful the man, the more sex he needs and the more 'illicit' sexual experience he needs..

Hundreds of years ago a wife was for procreation only--so a man turned to a mistress or a master for pleasure ie. oral sex, anal sex etc. These behaviours were seen as wrong and deliquent then..So sense of wrongness heightened the pleasure..

Through the centuries the tide turned and oral and anal sex became acceptable and not as illicit therefore not as pleasureable..

Bondage etc then became the chosen 'dark pleasure' This too has become acceptable.

Visiting prostitutes also doesn't hold the same stigma.

Oral/anal sex, bondage, threesomes etc etc have all become part of a healthy married/unmarried relationship and are accepted in society.

Does anyone else think this could be the cause of the rise of paedophilia
other sexual practices were frowned upon then (not many grant you among those societies) and are now acceptable..

Paedophilia doesn't shock anymore and I think that is the first step to acceptance..
I am, due to the nature of my career, hard to shock--I don't think anything another human being could do would shock me but even the average person just shrugs their shoulders now and goes "not again" as far as paedophilia is concerned..

I am not sure about the US but in Europe there are more organisations to support/help paedophiles than there are for their innocent victims..

They are offered more protection on their release than their victims could ever be offered and they are segregated in prison..

I do think society has become apathetic and has begun to accept. I never will

'Paedophilia doesn't shock anymore' It does and is still strongly wanted to be stepped out.

Doyou have a link to back up this claim'I am not sure about the US but in Europe there are more organisations to support/help paedophiles than there are for their innocent victims..' thanks.

Not at the moment No!!!
I know from my own personal experience though this to be true, both in the UK and Ireland (I spent many years working in forensic psychiatry and have worked with the abused and the abusers)

There are numerous news paper articles and TV documentaries that state the same facts that I have given..

There is also a very good article stating all this and lack of support for the victims by a forensic psychiatrist based at the sexual offenders at Peterhead prison.--I have it but will try to find it on-line and if I do post the link. If not will scan it..and e-mail you with it..

Just for the future I am a mine of useless info I am very good at retaining facts. I never always know where I got the facts because I read obsessively but only ever post them if I am 100% sure I am right. If this is a problem let me know. I won't post facts again

If anybody want to read the entire topic, Pm me I can provide it.
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