Tag Archives: Child Abuse

Fresh Demands for Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s Resignation Mount After Jeffrey Epstein Arrested for Child Sex Trafficking Charges

Acosta has long faced intense public criticism for helping Epstein secure a “sweetheart plea deal” while serving as Miami’s top federal prosecutor

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-7-2019

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta reached a deal with Jeffrey Epstein, an alleged serial child molester and associate of President Donald Trump’s, allowing Epstein to walk free. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

The arrest of financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein on federal child sex trafficking charges elicited fresh demands for the resignation of Trump Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who helped Epstein secure a “sweetheart plea deal” for previous allegations while serving as Miami’s top federal prosecutor over a decade ago.

Following news of Epstein’s arrest late Saturday, reporters, politicians, and other observers called on Acosta to immediately step down—bolstering demands that have mounted in recent months amid a legal challenge to Epstein’s deal filed by survivors. Continue reading

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Nationwide ‘Close the Camps’ Demonstrations Announced to Protest Horrific Conditions at Trump Detention Centers

“We need to fight for immigrant families and

stop Donald Trump’s racist policies, and we can only do it together.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-29-2019

As appalling details of the conditions at immigrant detention centers in the U.S. continue to pour in—with one doctor recently comparing them to “torture facilities“—a coalition of rights groups on Friday announced nationwide “Close the Camps” demonstrations for next week to protest the Trump administration’s treatment of migrant children.

“We’ve seen the images and heard the stories coming out of child detention centers,” said MoveOn.org, one of the groups helping to organize the events, which are set to take place Tuesday, July 2. Continue reading

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‘Shocking’ Report Reveals Thousands of Migrant Children Have Been Sexually Abused While in US Custody

“The horrifying conditions these children face is a human rights emergency that won’t be solved with a wall.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-26-2019

The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., is seen in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, obtained by Reuters June 25, 2018. (Photo: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Handout)

A House hearing on the Trump administration’s family separation policy on Tuesday revealed that thousands of children in U.S. custody over the past five years have been subjected to sexual abuse in migrant detention centers.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) released documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showing that more than 4,500 complaints of sexual abuse against minors were filed between 2014 and 2018. More than 1,300 complaints were referred to the Department of Justice. Continue reading

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In 19 states, it’s okay to hit kids with a wooden board


Why use corporal punishment? Jeno Ortiz, CC BY-NC-ND

Why use corporal punishment? Jeno Ortiz, CC BY-NC-ND

Terry sat in his middle school principal’s office knowing that in a few short minutes, he would be feeling the pain and humiliation of being paddled.

No parent, administrator or teacher should find this scenario acceptable. Yet, every school day, an estimated 838 students like Terry receive corporal punishment in American schools. Nineteen states still allow corporal punishment, despite research that clearly indicates such public humiliation is ineffective for changing student behavior and can, in fact, have long-term negative effects.

For a decade I have studied approaches that are effective for promoting appropriate student behavior. And as a teacher for a dozen years, I experienced personal reward as well as pride in my students, as they learned and used appropriate behaviors. I have not come across a single valid study that showed any positive effect of corporal punishment.

A form of child abuse

Corporal punishment is a method of responding to student misbehavior wherein an adult uses a wooden board to strike a child on the buttocks in order to inflict pain.

The harm done by corporal punishment is well-recognized by many school administrations across the US. Professional organizations across disciplines including the American Psychological Association, National Education Association, American Bar Association and National Association of School Nurses have called for ending corporal punishment.

In fact, the American Bar Association condemns the practice in the following words:

Institutional corporal punishment of children should be considered a form of child abuse that is contrary to current knowledge of human behavior and sound educational practices.

Yet, the use of corporal punishment continues.

In a recent study, my colleagues and I asked 27 principals from Florida Title I schools about their thoughts on using corporal punishment. Title I schools are those that may receive state funding due to “high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families.”

Through our other research, we found that schools with students from poor families use corporal punishment more often than schools in more affluent areas. So, we interviewed these principals individually for over an hour.

Many school principals believe in corporal punishment as a way of disciplining kids. USAG Vicenza, CC BY-NC

Many school principals believe in corporal punishment as a way of disciplining kids. USAG Vicenza, CC BY-NC

Sadly, despite all evidence to the contrary, many principals do believe that corporal punishment is effective for some students. Also, principals cite pressure from parents as a primary reason for using corporal punishment. Despite the science, the idea that corporal punishment is effective, “Because that’s how I was raised,” pervades the discussion.

However, given the research, perhaps a better view is, “I am ok despite corporal punishment and not because of corporal punishment.

More suspensions in schools with corporal punishment

The acceptance of corporal punishment can create an environment in which schools approach student misbehavior in a reactive and punitive manner.

In Florida, for example, schools in districts that allow corporal punishment enforce more suspensions and expulsions than schools districts that do not allow it.

Harsh punitive approaches to student behavior problems can result in student alienation from school. A host of problematic student behaviorsare related to such alienation, including disruptiveness, absenteeism, low achievement and social withdrawal.

Research shows that students who have a sense of being connected to school and teachers have lower rates of depression, social rejection and violence, as well as greater academic achievement.

The way forward

So, what can be done?

First, we need to provide information about the effects of corporal punishment to parents, teachers and administrators in a manner that is effective. The conversation must be redirected toward the science that shows corporal punishment has negative effects, in the same way that we use science to deter youth from smoking cigarettes. The harm that cigarettes have had on previous generations is acknowledged and shape our approach to youth today.

One would never consider promoting smoking to our children because we smoked as teenagers.

Second, the same needs to be done with legislators in all 19 states. They need to learn about the very real harm that use of corporal punishment can have on youth.

Third, we must acknowledge the importance of banning corporal punishment within a larger reform movement focusing on schools’ approach to student behavior. Nationally, male and African-American students are disproportionately punished, suspended and expelled. This trend is particularly pronounced in schools in the southern states that allow corporal punishment. A comprehensive plan requires consideration of these important facts.

As parents, teachers, administrators and concerned adults, we all want to see our children thrive in school and in society. It is time for us to acknowledge that corporal punishment is not an effective tool for our schools. As we do that, we also need to be careful that we do not replace corporal punishment with yet another form of reactive and ineffective approach.

About the Author:
Associate Professor of School of Special Education, School Psychology, & Early Childhood Studies, University of Florida.
Disclosure Statement:
Joseph Gagnon receives funding from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Published 10-20-15 by The Conversation under a Creative Commons Attribution Nonderivitives license.

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The NFL’s PSA is a “Hail Mary” Pass

On Sunday, February 1, Americans will spend millions of dollars and valuable time glued to television screens across the country to view the events at one of the nation’s cathedrals for athletes and sporting events; the Superbowl. The tradition of Superbowl Sunday takes control of all things commercial.

And then there are the commercials. Known as THE showcase for advertisers, the amount of money paid for the time segments of space during the game is matched only by the obscenity of the amount of money flowing to the teams that play the game. Continue reading

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Where Have All The Children Gone?

Glasnevin Cemetery is the final resting place for over 1.2 million of Ireland's dead. Today the area called the Angels Plot is the resting place for more than fifty thousand infants and children. Photo By William Murphy from Dublin, Ireland [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Glasnevin Cemetery is the final resting place for over 1.2 million of Ireland’s dead. Today the area called the Angels Plot is the resting place for more than fifty thousand infants and children. Photo By William Murphy from Dublin, Ireland [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ireland is known for hills of green and fields of flowers, children laughing and running gleefully in the glory of the lush countryside. So what happens when the greatest natural resource a country has is abused, both in life and in death? In the case of Ireland, it seems turning a blind eye and calloused cheek is the preferred option.

Over a span of 35 years, the Tuam, County Galway home for unwed mothers, established by the Catholic Church of Ireland, took in the most vulnerable of Ireland’s unsupported, unwed and uncared for pregnant women. Incest, rape and other horrid circumstances often were the event that meant being sent to “the home.” But what happened next remains shrouded in mystery and coverup, as truth fights to find the light of day.

Evidence shows 796 children, from newborns to a nine-year-old, died in a home run by the Bon Secours order of nuns in Tuam between 1925 and 1961. Historian Catherine Corless, who made the discovery, says death records from the home show the children died from malnutrition and infectious diseases, such as TB and measles. There are no burial records for the children, leading to conclusions and rumors that most were dumped in unmarked graves with little or no notification to families. Only children that had been baptized were allowed to be buried in cemeteries or consecrated ground. The stillborn, premature and unbaptized children of these women at the homes were not being buried in any proper way.

The Telegraph explains it best. “The Irish government has bowed to pressure to set up an official inquiry into deaths and abuse at homes for unmarried mothers after it found 4,000 infants had been buried in unmarked graves at institutions where morality rates ran as high as 50 per cent. The inquiry was announced with anger growing over official inaction in the face of revelations that infants had been buried in a mass grave behind a convent-run mother and baby home in Tuam, County Galway where 796 children died over a 30-year period. Enda Kenny, the prime minister, said unmarried mothers were treated as an “inferior sub-species” as he declared the investigation would revealed a shameful past.”

As if that is not appalling enough, there is also evidence that those children who did manage to survive at first were then subjected to medical vaccine experiments prior to any approval for human use. Salon reports “In a related story, GSK — formerly Wellcome — revealed…on Newstalk Radio that 298 children in 10 different care homes were involved in medical trials in the ’60s and ’70s that left “80 children ill after they were accidentally administered a vaccine intended for cattle.”

Ireland has a great challenge if this is to be sorted out in a way that is sensitive – not sensationalized – in order to bring peace to the families who have lost so much. Based on the track record of the Catholic Church in rectifying past crimes within its walls, we can only pray the Church is not allowed to participate in or influence the outcome of any and all investigations into this matter.

My reflection on this stems from confusion. The position that all life is sacred and therefore must be allowed birth is acceptable, until it is considered with the view of what happens once those children enter the world when their world is not prepared to accept them. Poverty and austerity means these children are fortunate if they have sufficient food, shelter and health care to flourish their first years. Provided they do, they are then challenged to fight for education that does not begin to equal that of their well-off peers. This does not seem exclusive to Ireland; we see abuses of vulnerable children in nearly every country on the planet, including the United Sates.

What Occupy World Writes believes is that it is time for the world to recognize that the Church is not above sin by the members it allows to hide behind its stained glass windows. We believe any accusation of crime against any church or religious body should be investigated as all other crimes, without any influence or limitations set by the very accused. We also call on the government of Ireland to pursue this investigation to its full completion and hold all parties fully accountable.

I am haunted by the children who have perished at the hands of those entrusted with their care. Images of Kurdish children, Gazan youth, Syrian infants, Nigerian teenagers, all the victims of politics they will never grow up to understand. I must ask you how a blind eye and silent voice can give compassion and understanding so that an end to the carnage can be found.


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