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Posts Tagged ‘Sexual abuse’

YMCA’s Take Child Protection Very Seriously

November 28, 2011 Comments off

YMCAs take child protection very seriously.  Their extensive policies and attention to safety regarding every program and service make them a leader in “state of the art” child protection policy.  They also know that this alone does not keep children safe in their communities.  They instead recognize the need for leadership at every level to be involved and engaged in protecting children from sexual abuse.  With the health and well being of children and families at the heart of their mission and a long history of tackling tough community issues, Y’s across the country are stepping up to convene leaders and engage the entire community in prevention.

Teaming up to support these local Y efforts, D2L and The Redwoods Group Foundation are providing tools, resources and funding assistance to help YMCAs operationalize wide spread community awareness and education.  Our vision is that Ys, serving as the natural conveners, bring together community leaders, other local child-serving organizations, and policy makers as partners in prevention.  This exciting collaboration is empowering communities with a strategy and a model for creating and sustaining positive change in the protection of children from child sexual abuse.

YMCAs are helping lead a national effort to build community initiatives that increase awareness of the problem of child sexual abuse and bring prevention to the local level.  A key to their success with such initiatives is their ability to bring together the right people and resources to facilitate change in communities nationwide.  Locally, they do this every day generating solutions to challenges facing their communities.

While community prevention initiatives across the country are having an impact, Y’s have the ability to exponentially increase participation in the effort.  Serving over 9 million children and 12 million adults in 10,000 communities they can be the most effective and efficient pathway to reducing child sexual abuse.  In addition, one of the Y’s focus area is social responsibility, and their emphasis on youth development makes them a natural partner to address this issue.  As former Y CEO, Ralph Yohe stated, “Y’s are uniquely position to take a leadership role in prevention as we are often at the heart of a community, we have a long history of tackling community issues, and bottom line, the protection and well being of children is part of our mission.”

Thanks to the impact YMCAs have on kids, families and communities—and the sheer number of communities they serve—this “Y movement” will lead the way in engaging the largest group of citizens yet in child protection!

YMCA Background

In early 2009, The Redwoods Group, a commercial specialty insurance group based in NC and one of the largest insurers for YMCAs, contacted Darkness to Light to explore synergies between the two organizations.  Redwoods felt that they could provide benefit to their clients by adding Stewards of Children prevention curriculum to their training offerings, believing that the empowering and emotional elements of the program would augment the policy and procedure training components that were also necessary.

Kevin Trapani, founder and CEO of Redwoods, had a bigger vision.  The Redwoods Group is a privately‐held, Certified B Corps that takes their responsibility for the safety of children at Y’s across the country very seriously.  Not only that, social responsibility is at the core of everything Redwoods believes so it wasn’t enough to just address child safety within the 4 walls of a Y.

A collaboration begins…In 2010, the social enterprise’s Foundation made a commitment to facilitate community‐based child sexual abuse prevention through YMCA’sOver the past three years, the Redwoods Group Foundation has dedicated significant time, energy, and financial capitol to protect children from the trauma of sexual abuse. Collaborating with Darkness to Light, a Stewards of Children “seed fund” was created to assist YMCAs in starting community initiatives.  The Foundation has two staff members working to bring YMCAs together to propel the effort to scale.  Their goal is to help YMCA’s engage community partners in child sexual abuse prevention and intervention.  Ultimately, they hope the effort will be expanded to all YMCAs.

Via d2l

Anny is a Steward’s of Children Authorized Facilitator and Prevention Specialist who trains adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse through Darkness to Light’s certification programs.  Please contact Anny to bring Prevent Now! community meetings your area and to arrange Steward’s of Children trainings.  You may contact her via email, anny@annyjacoby.com or 919-225-1421.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

What Can We Learn From Penn State?

November 27, 2011 Comments off
It’s unfortunate that it takes national headlines to get people talking about a problem that is all too prevalent in our society but we can take advantage of this opportunity to shine the light on the issue of child sexual abuse and recognize that we all have a responsibility to protect children.
  • We’ve learned that this issue is not about big universities, celebrity, or the Catholic Church.  It’s not about reputations, or legacies or any one institution.  This issue is about children.
  • We’ve learned that we have to step into the reality that there are people in our midst that would rob children of their innocence and they are people we know and trust.  They will go out of their way to appear above reproach and they will infiltrate our families and organizations where they can have easy access to children.
  • We’ve learned that it takes tremendous courage for children and adults that have been abused to come forward.  We must support and honor this courage and work together to ensure their story is not handed down to other innocent children.
  • We’ve learned that child safety is the job of an adult.  Teaching children how to keep themselves safe from abuse is important, but adults bear the burden of stepping up and speaking out when something doesn’t look or feel right with respect to the wellbeing of a child.  We’ve learned that it may or may not be our legal responsibility as mandated reporters depending on where we live but morally it is the right thing to do.  If you see something or suspect abuse, call the police.
  • We’ve learned that the ramifications of not acting responsibly are clear.  More abuse occurs, more children are harmed, fewer children get the help they so deserve.  To be silent bystanders is to be complicit in its occurrance and wake. To intervene is to ensure that a child is treated and supported, that they are healed and better protected from potential lifelong hardships of trauma.
  • We’ve learned that child sexual abuse is preventable.  We can learn the facts, we can acknowledge the reality, we can talk to others adults, we can ensure youth serving organizations have comprehensive child protection policy, and we can talk to our children.  Awareness and education is the answer.
  • The fight against child abuse cannot be the job of one agency; it has to be a collaborative effort.  It will take all of us to change culture–to one where engaged adults offer no place for a perpetrator to commit their heinous acts and no access to children.
  • We can be stuck in the shock and horror of what happened at Penn State staying focused on who knew what and when or we can pledge right now to stay focused on the things we can do today that better protect children.  Let Penn State serve as a wake-up call.  Will we stay vigilant or will we again become complacent when the smoke clears?

Ways to Get Involved

Via d2l.org

Anny is a Steward’s of Children Authorized Facilitator and Prevention Specialist who trains adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse through Darkness to Light’s certification programs.  Please contact Anny to bring Prevent Now! community meetings your area and to arrange Steward’s of Children trainings.  You may contact her via email, anny@annyjacoby.com or 919-225-1421.

Take care and stay safe.

Child Sexual Abuse Community Awareness Meetings Being Planned…

November 19, 2011 Comments off

The Darkness to Light’s child sexual abuse program(s) are trainings across the United States.

Have you taken a stance again CSA?  If not, why not?  Call or email me to plan Darkness to Light’s Child Sexual Abuse Community Meetings, Prevent Now! (45 mins) and/or “Stewards of Children”, two-and-a-half training sessions for adults.  Darkness to Lights program seeks “to empower adults through awarness and educational programs to PREVENT, RECOGNIZE AND REACT RESPONSIBLY to childhood sexual abuse. 

“The only public good thing that came out of the horrible Penn State situation is it’s brough major attention to Child Sexual Abuse.”  Take a stance, NOW!

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Sandusky case triggers pain well beyond campus…

November 16, 2011 1 comment

As adults, victims suffer nightmares, anger, anxiety from childhood abuse.

By Kari Huus, Reporter msnbc.com

As the Penn State sex abuse scandal unfolds — ghastly detail by detail — on front pages, the airwaves and Twitter accounts, the news can be especially devastating for one group in particular: former victims of sexual abuse.

“Another night of triggers and flashbacks,” writes a forum member on MaleSurvivor.org, a website devoted to healing male victims of sexual abuse. “… I felt him all over me and my arms are scratched as I try to get the feeling of his hands off me. … I think all the (Penn State) news set the triggers off, and now I am like a zombie, trying to recover and move forward today.”

“I never met Jerry Sandusky, but feel I know him all too well,” writes another member of the forum, referring to the university’s former defensive coordinator who stands accused of sexually molesting at least eight young boys. “I dealt with my own ‘Jerry’ when I was 12 or 13. … Now that he is sated and I am long forgotten, I’m still picking up the pieces.”

“This whole thing is devastating me. These boys are lost in the details … just as most of us here were,” the member added.

Psychologists say that any sex abuse victim — man or woman — may find that news of the Penn State case sparks painful memories. But the way this case is unfolding strikes an especially deep chord with men.

“It can be very triggering of either their own memories — they may get flashbacks — or they may get angry again,” said Richard Gartner, a psychologist and psychoanalyst in New York, and spokesman for Malesurvivor.org. Some men may have to limit their news consumption, and maybe avoid watching football to avoid a panic attack or bout of depression, he said.

“It is re-traumatizing for them — more so to the extent that they believe that this is being handled wrong … and ignoring the needs of the victims.”

Different experience for boys
Sexual abuse has a different impact on boys than on girls, and they deal with it differently because of socialization, experts say.

“Men aren’t supposed to be victims. Men are supposed to be strong,” said Jim Hopper, clinical instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. “A man says I’m not a real man, because I let someone do this to me. I should have been tougher. Even after years of therapy they say this.”

Girls who are abused by men are psychologically damaged, to be sure, experts say, but boys abused by men often come to question their sexual identity and orientation.

“If they were sexually abused by a man, there’s this whole stigma — does that mean I’m gay, or did he do it to me because I look gay?” says Hopper.

Another difference: Boys who forced into sexual acts may have an erection — a physiological response which makes them all the more confused and ashamed of the encounter, Gartner says.

The women’s movement helped bring sexual assault of females into the public eye — and led to tougher penalties against attackers, more policy aimed at prevention and better access to care for victims. The focus on sexual abuse of boys came nearly 20 years later, when hundreds of childhood victims went public with stories of abuse by Catholic priests, according to Gartner.

Shame, silence, secrecy
Still, the shame and stigma makes it less common for boys to report abuse and seek help than girls, studies show.

“Men tend to come into treatment much later in life,” said Gartner. “Usually they are in their 30s, 40s or 50s — occasionally in their 70s — never having spoken about this.”

Their reluctance to talk about abuse is partly to blame for the perception that sexual abuse of boys is rare, Gartner said.

Research shows that about one in six boys are sexually abused before they are 16 years old, according to Hopper, a founding board member of the nonprofit organization OneInSix, which aims to help men deal with abuse they experienced as children.

The number for girls is one in four. The statistics do not include verbal harassment or other forms of non-physical sexual abuse, such as forcing a child to watch a sexual act.

Reports of sexual abuse by boys are still more likely to be dismissed, researchers say, which can intensify the victim’s pain and difficulty later in life.

“Boys who are sexually abused are mostly disbelieved, or it is minimized,” said Gartner. “They’re told, ‘just get over it’.”

“They learn that nobody’s safe,” said Hopper. “That’s really devastating. … that people who were supposed to protect me are not going to help me, they are blaming me!”

That perception by a child can lead to a wide array of problems as they grow older, including depression, anxiety, emotional numbing, substance abuse, and difficulty forming healthy relationships.

PTSD in high gear
Robert Brown, 51, who is now open about his story, was repeatedly sexually assaulted over the course of seven years when he was a child. He says the perpetrators were older boys who were favored because they were top athletes in his small New Hampshire town, while his plight was ignored by adults.

Brown did not acknowledge the problem to anyone until four years ago, when he was blindsided by a severe bout of post-traumatic stress.

Now he is a child protection activist, and shares his story on the MaleSurvivor.org forum, many of whom keep their abuse secret.

“In my lifetime and in my time with all other survivors that I know, the Penn State case is the most earth-shattering one for us to face,” Brown said in an interview.

“Probably because of the authority abused and the trust abused by the sports program and by Jerry Sandusky. It gets worse when we see that it’s underprivileged kids being so badly abused as if they are throwaway people,” he added.

“We identify very, very strongly with these boys. And we identify with the poor handling of this. To think there are 15-year-old cases that have never been dealt with,” Brown said. “It kicks off the (post-traumatic stress) into high gear — nightmares, flashbacks, extreme depression. It’s been some of the worst few days of my life emotionally.”

Gartner said that while the Penn State case has clearly caused pain and anguish for men struggling with the aftermath of abuse, it does demonstrate that perceptions have changed since the 1980s, when he started treating sexually abused men.

“Before the (Catholic) church scandal, even in professional meetings, people rolled their eyes, feeling that (sexual abuse of boys) happened rarely,” said Gartner. “Now, nobody seems to be saying it doesn’t happen. It does give people courage to come forward and disclose and get help, and that’s positive.”

Take care and STAY SAFE!

 

Penn State Tradegy by Erin Merryn

November 14, 2011 2 comments

By now we all have heard about Penn State. All you need to do is turn on the television and whether you are watching the news or sports they are talking about it.

Jerry Sandusky doesn’t have many free days left before he is locked away for the rest of his life. He is a perfect example of why we need Erin’s Law in every state. Adults in charge witnessed children being molested by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and while they reported it they did not take it to the police which they should have reported immediately when they saw it happen. No ifs, ands, buts, about it. They witnessed a horrific act take place or were told about these horrific acts being done to children and they turned a blind eye.

The Board of Trustees did exactly what needed to be done and that was firing the President of the University and head coach Joe Paterno. Joe started off doing the right thing by taking it to the President but when the President did not go to police with the matter this is when it was Joe Paterno’s moral duty to report it to police. Instead more children’s innocence would be stolen all in the sake of protecting the Universities reputation. A school’s image is more important in the mind of a University President then innocent children who fell into the hands of a very dangerous sick individual who used his authority to groom and rape children. Reports have said Sandusky gave the children he abused many gifts. Often sexual predators use gifts as a way to silence children on top of threats. Several adults over a fifteen year time period were aware of Jerry Sandusky’s actions yet Jerry continued to be around children and abusing several more.

If these children had learned in school the same way they are educated on tornado drills, bus drills, fire drills, DARE, Stranger Danger, Internet Safety, Bully Intervention, etc. on safe touch, unsafe touch, safe secrets, unsafe secrets, how to get away and tell today then these children would have had the courage to speak up and keep telling an adult until someone put an end to their horror. Instead they were never educated because we fail to educate kids on sexual abuse which is why I went after Erin’s law. The law that would have empowered these children with the power to use their voice and tell someone. So many more children could have been saved from the hands of Jerry Sandusky had they been educated. Parents would have been educated through Erin’s law on what to talk about with their kids and the warning signs to look for in a child that has been abused. One parent whose child was abused spoke openly without her identity being revealed and she shared how her son’s behavior changed, he began acting out, showed lots of anger, and did not want to be around Sandusky. She went to the school guidance counselor about it and the guidance counselor brushed it off saying it is a phase he is going through. Had this mother been educated on the biggest silent epidemic in this world, that being sexual abuse of children, then she would have known to talk to her son and her son would have known to talk and not keep these secrets.

I would advise any parent never to let your kids stay the night with their coach. Invites to overnights by a coach, youth group leader, etc. is a red flag right there. That should be a strict boundary in every household. I don’t care how well you think you know the person. Is the risk really worth it knowing your child could fall hands to a predator you never imagined would do such a thing. It is time for the world to take off their blinders and wake up. What has happened at Penn State as I have been saying for years is happening in our own backyards. Just take a look in your own community. These sex offenders  live in your communities and you don’t even know it because many have not been caught. Not until we educate children through Erin’s Law in schools will more children break their silence. My law will prevent what happened at Penn State from ever happening again because children won’t spend years in silence because they will be educated to know this is wrong and not to keep it a secret. Children will be turning these sexual predators in the first time it happens because they will be getting the other end of the message. The first message is to stay silent, this is our secret, don’t tell anyone, I will hurt you, your family, no one will believe you, etc. The message that is missing throughout society is the educational piece. Don’t keep this a secret, tell someone, we will believe you, keep telling until someone takes action, who are safe people in your life you can tell if this happened to you, etc.” Sexual predators don’t just take children’s innocence they take their voice when they are being abused. We have to empower children to use their voice and not fall into the trap of silence.

Penn State needs to use what happened in their community and take action against this silent epidemic. They now have the reputation that won’t be going away. This scandal will be one talked about decades from now so they now have the power to make change happen in society. Addressing the silence around sexual abuse and demanding change. Being a voice for the 39 million survivors that exist in America alone. Urging their lawmakers and Governor to pass Erin’s Law in their state.

I turned the painful events of sexual abuse and rape in my childhood into putting a face and voice on this silent epidemic in my two books Stolen Innocence and Living For Today, passing Erin’s Law in Illinois and Missouri and eventually will get it passed in all 50 states, and flying the country speaking before thousands of people the past 7 1/2 years to shatter the silence, stigma, and shame around sexual abuse. The same way I turned the tragic events in my life into triumph the same is possible for the reputation of Penn State. They can do something positive about this unlike the riots that broke out this week. They can raise awareness and become a campus that is a face and voice on child sexual abuse for educational institutes around this country and world.

With an estimated 39 million survivors of sexual abuse in America 3 million of those are children right now living in our country. That 3 million could fill 46 national football stadiums. Imagine that for a moment 46 national football stadiums of children that have been sexually abused. Joe Paterno was Penn State head football coach for 46 years.  For every year he was head coach the entire football stadium could be the 3 million children in America who were sexually abused. These children are real and the life long challenges they face because of sexual abuse can be life altering. Shame and pain that you could never imagine if you have never been abused. These children often grow up to be adults many carrying their silence into adulthood because the shame is too great. Because of the silence around sexual abuse they often feel so alone in this world. Alone in a world where a past comes back to haunt them in nightmares and flashbacks. Pulling them right back into reliving the trauma they suffered. Many survivors of sexual abuse as children will spend years in therapy trying to come to terms with what happened and learn how to go on living a life and not be defined by this.

I was interviewed by a Penn State writer for the college paper today for a story that will run in the next day or two. As I tried to explain to her that I wanted her to get across to her study body is the fact that this isn’t about college football. We are talking about innocent children who were raped at the hands of a very sick individual who preyed on them while they were doing something they loved, playing football. I would not be surprised if several of these children turned away from ever playing football again after what happened because of the painful reminder it brings back. I spoke back in April at a child abuse conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania not very far at all from Penn State. I had just come from speaking the day before at a New Jersey child abuse conference and drove two hours into Pennsylvania in my rental car. I was driving into a town that was known for being chocolate capital of the country. The light posts in the downtown were Hershey kisses, they have chocolate businesses every where and the biggest attraction is chocolate world where children go for school field trips and parents take kids. If you like chocolate you were in the right town and you would think it would be hard to pass through this town without stopping for chocolate. Well as I explained in my speech I don’t eat chocolate. I actually hate it. I won’t eat chocolate cake, brownies, frosting, ice cream, etc. How is it possible to hate chocolate? Well if you have read my books I explain clearly in them why I don’t eat chocolate you see I use to love chocolate as a kid. It took one night celebrating my grandfather’s birthday with all my other relatives in 1998 for me to find myself locked in a dark bedroom with a cousin on top of me, molesting me, begging him to let me go, hearing the sounds of happy birthday being sung downstairs to my grandfather, and eventually being told by my cousin to go get cake with him. I sat at a table in the kitchen in silence with a chocolate piece on cake and my cousin taking a seat right across from me with his piece of cake and just smiling at me with that grin I will never be able to erase from my mind. I felt my stomach turn and with the rich taste of chocolate in my mouth  and I just wanted to throw up. He often gave me something called a Star Crunch after abusing me at his house. Star Crunch was chocolate coated with caramel and rice crispy. Anytime I put any form of chocolate in my mouth it became triggering and the rich taste of it would immediately bring me back to memories of abuse. I have tested myself and have learned the only way chocolate doesn’t do that to me is chocolate with peanut butter in it. Here is one example how someone even like myself that is so outspoken on sexual abuse can also continue to be affected by actions of someone who abused me.

Penn State is a national tragedy and many lives have been hurt. It is time to raise up and tackle this issue that needs to be addressed in every state, educated in every school, every home, and survivors need to know they have nothing to be ashamed of. I have no doubt that more boys will come forward and that number of 8 will get higher. If you know someone or are someone that has been abused and never told anyone or did tell someone and nothing was done then tell someone today. You have nothing to be ashamed of and you could be helping others come forward and find their voice. You find a new sense of peace finding your voice.

God Bless the survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky. Justice will come I promise!

PENN STATE be an example for others, start to educate, raise awareness, go after Erin’s Law. The country is watching. Make us proud.

About Erin Merryn

Erin Merryn is the author of Stolen Innocence and Living for Today,  memoirs about incest and rape.  She graduated in May 2009 with a Master’s degree in Social Work from Aurora University. A leading participant in Take Back the Night, her goal is to raise awareness of abuse in order to end the stigma and silence. Since 2004 she has been traveling across America giving inspirational and motivational speeches at national conferences, community events, Children’s Advocacy Centers, colleges, and high schools. She has appeared on Oprah, Good Morning America and Montel Williams.  Her writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, Daily Herald, and Teen Voices, among others. Erin spends her time between the suburbs of Chicago and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Visit Erin at www.erinmerryn.net.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

New TSA Screenings Represent a Threat For Survivors of Sexual Assault

November 23, 2010 1 comment

FlyWithDignity.org

For survivors of sexual assault, new TSA screenings represent a threat.  The new pat-downs and body scans can trigger “flash backs” of an assault and traumatize males, females and children recovering from a previous assault/attack.  The new TSA policies and procedures do not even give consideration to the millions of victims and survivors who travel.  This outrages me beyond words which I am sure you have gathered by now.

There is no evidence that those in charge of these decisions even gave a thought to victimization and the effect that these procedures will have or had.  Again, I understand and respect the absolute need for safety but the catch 22 is that there is no guarantee that if an individual agrees to the scan that they will not end up being patted down anyway and groped.  Hence, you are damned if you do and you are damned if you don’t.

For women and men who have already been sexually assaulted, the new screening rules—or just the threat of these rules—present a very real danger. They can be triggering events, setting off a post traumatic-stress reaction. “I started crying. It was so intimate, so horrible. I feel like I was being raped,” an anonymous rape survivor has reported.  Another rape survivor had a panic attack as an agent began touching her leg.

“After a sexual assault, it seems that many survivors have difficulty having their bodies touched by other people,” says Shannon Lambert, founder of the Pandora Project, a nonprofit organization that provides support and information to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. This fear of contact even extends to partners and, often, medical professionals. “A lot of survivors do not want to be in positions where they’re vulnerable. They put up defenses so that they can be in control of their body. In cases like this, it seems like some of that control is going away.”

If that sense of control is violated, it can lead to more than hurt feelings. There’s a physical reaction associated with a triggering incident, and the response can vary from person to person. “It could lead to a person shutting down and becoming noncommunicative, it could result in a person becoming emotionally upset, it could trigger flashbacks, not just the thoughts and feelings they experienced, but perhaps other sensory experiences,” says Jennifer Marsh, director of the National Sexual Assault Hotline for the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network(RAINN).

TSA employees are clearly not trained properly as to how to perform a pat-down WITHOUT humiliating a traveler.  The experiences that are coming forth are heart-breaking and someone needs to get a grip on the TSA workers – the pat-downs are NO JOKE!  We are seeing over and over that TSA employees have no compassion what-so-ever as being demonstrated on a daily basis.

Passengers who decline the scan are subject to a pat-down to achieve that same goal. Again, even if you agree to go through the scan there is no guarantee that you will not be required to have to have a pat-down either.  It’s a pat-down that many travelers say may be more thorough, but is also more invasive and humiliating than previous security frisks. “It was a horrifying experience. I was touched in my private parts, in my genital area, without consent and without warning,” says Erin Chase, an Ohio woman who flies several times a month. (TSA says that all airline officials should tell passengers what’s going to happen prior to a pat-down.)

I will leave you with this thought: “It is acceptable and encouraged that a TSA government official can do something to an American citizen that US military personnel cannot do to a member of the Taliban.”

Things that make you raise an eyebrow, eh?  Hmmmmmm………

Take care and STAY SAFE!

TSA: PRIVACY vs SECURITY?

November 22, 2010 Comments off

More and more victims (females, males and children of all ages) of TSA procedures will and are coming forward as they are realizing that they have been victimized.  It is encouraged that all victims of the TSA to report and file appropriate charges accordingly.  I do have a distinct problem and issue with any media minimizing victimization that any individual may encounter with the TSA procedures now in place.

I completely understand the need to protect the United States from terrorism in our friendly skies but I do have a problem with the invasive, intrusive, ill-mannered reports that we are receiving from those traveling and dealing with TSA employees working in our airports.

We have all read and heard over the weekend how this invasion of privacy has been minimized by our media and even our President.  As far as I am concerned neither have concern for our privacy, compassion to others nor remorse because “they are just doing their jobs”.  Well, they are doing much more than their “J-O-B”.  I don’t give a flying flip about the projected percentage of travelers that “will not” be affected by these procedures or what airports have the scanners or don’t; I care about the individuals WHO ARE SUBJECTED to these procedures.  These individuals are the true victims of assault and it’s legal – go figure!  Not one government official will endure these procedures.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put down TSA pat-downs on Sunday, calling it an “offensive” security measure she wouldn’t want to experience herself.

“Everybody is trying to do the right thing,” Clinton said on CBS‘ “Face The Nation.” “I understand how difficult it is, and how offensive it must be for the people who are going through it.”

Asked if she would be willing to submit to an airport frisk, Clinton laughed and admitted, “Not if I could avoid it. No, I mean who would?”

According to every state in our country — and also under federal law – it is illegal for an individual to grab, grope or touch our bodies without the explicit permission from the person being… touched.  There is no choice, either we get scanned (your naked picture being displayed for TSA employees to view OR get a pat-down).

The detrimental effects of re-victimization is not to be discarded, shrugged off or ignored.  Unless you have experienced an assault and you were a victim and have transitioned into a Survivor…you have no clue or idea of the helplessness one feels.  Anyone that has been victimized will now be re-victimized by our government and TSA workers.

TSA and President Obama continues to refer to “the Christmas underwear bomber”, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route.  I would like to remind everyone that he boarded in Amsterdam and flew to Detroit, Michigan.  He didn’t board the plane in the United States. The most recent scare of packages found in cargo originated outside of the United States.  I pray that our government and TSA are making a sincere attempt to prevent flights coming into the USA as secure as they are making domestic and outgoing international flights from within.

Cathy Bossi, a cancer survivor flight attendant forced to remove her prosthetic breast during a pat-down.  Talk about stripping an individual of dignity.

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) –  A Charlotte-area flight attendant and cancer survivor contacted WBTV after she says she was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down.

Cathy Bossi lives in south Charlotte and has been a flight attendant for the past 32 years, working the past 28 for U.S. Airways.

In early August Bossie was walking through security when she says she was asked to go through the new full body-scanners at Concourse “D” at Charlotte Douglas International.

She reluctantly agreed.  As a 3-year breast cancer survivor she says she didn’t want the added radiation through her body.  But, Bossi says she did agree.

“The TSA Agent told me to put my I.D. on my back,” she said.  “When I got out of there she said because my I.D. was on my back, I had to go to a personal screening area.”

She says two female Charlotte T.S.A. agents took her to a private room and began what she calls an aggressive pat down.  She says they stopped when they got around to feeling her right breast… the one where she’d had surgery.

“She put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’.  And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that’.”

Cathy was asked to show her prosthetic breast, removing it from her bra.

“I did not take the name of the person at the time because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me.  I’m a flight attendant.  I was just trying to get to work.”

Since then, Cathy has contacted the Legislative Affairs Team, a group through the flight attendant union.  She says she wants to see a crackdown on these personal pat downs.

“There are blowers and there are dogs out there that can sniff out bombs,” she says.  “There’s no reason to have somebody’s hands touching your body parts.”

A T.S.A. representative says agents aren’t supposed to remove any prosthetics, but are allowed to ask to see and touch any passenger’s prosthetic.

T.S.A. says it will review this matter.

In the end……

the choice is to fly or not to fly.  I’ve taken my shoes off, adapted to rules and regulations about carry-on items (even had items thrown out because they were slightly over the size (begged them to take them home because of the items worth), walked through the metal detectors, had the wands used on me; however, personally I will not subject myself to an invasion of my privacy by going through a body scanner nor allow anyone to touch me WITHOUT MY PERMISSION.  You can’t even fight back other than to…….NOT FLY.

One last thought…..is anyone focusing or talking about security on our other means of transportation (Amtrak, buses and tunnels that have traffic backup)?

Take care and STAY SAFE!

 

TSA Groping and Body Scan Sex Assaults Must Stop Now!

November 20, 2010 Comments off

Friday, 19 November 2010 19:00 Vicki Polin

VICKI POLIN: I believe everyone needs to refuse pat downs at airports and find other ways of traveling until our government stops allowing our citizens to be sexually assaulted by TSA workers. This week, several men and women contacted my office, describing situations that would be legally defined as sexual assault.  The perpetrators of these assaults were agents of the United States government.

The victims of these sex crimes were traveling for work and for pleasure.  Some described symptoms of of rape trauma syndrome.

Over the last few years, most of us have been sitting back, watching our civil rights disappear as part of homeland security’s efforts to combat terrorism.

But this week, on the brink of the busy holiday travel season, our government went too far: It is now urging TSA professionals to take pornographic pictures and to commit sexual assaults against our friends and neighbors.

What they don’t realize is that one of every four individuals who travel in airports are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Some were raped as adults.  Does our government not care that their actions are traumatizing those people?

According to every state in our country — and also under federal law —  it is illegal for an individual to grab, grope or touch our bodies without the explicit permission from the person being touched.

It is also a sexual assault if the individual being touched grants permission under duress.

These are crimes that often mandate a prison sentence — yet, over the last few days, our government is promoting the sexual assault of its citizens, all in the guise of homeland security, by mandating “enhanced” pat-downs.

If we are not allowed to walk down the streets naked, why is it OK for our government to have strangers frisk us or see through our clothing? What ever happened to our right to privacy?

The next thing you know, they‘ll demand that recording devices (both audio and visual) be placed in our homes, as they did in the former Soviet Union.

How long will we, the citizens of what is supposed to be a “free” country, keep allowing our government to take away our civil rights?

After living in Israel, and seeing firsthand the media hype of terrorism there, the truth is that you are more likely to be hit by a car than by a terrorist.

My body and my personhood are private, and as a citizen of the United States, I should have the right to choose who touches my body and or sees my naked. I’d rather have our government utilize racial profiling prior to flying than allowing TSA personnel to undress and fondle me.

And what about those with children? Do you send your youngster through the radiation of a full body scan just to keep someone’s hands off him or her?

Of those who have been sexually assaulted by the TSA, I wonder: How many are eligible for the Crime Victims Compensation Act, to cover the cost of therapy due the fact they were victims of a sex crime? Funding for the Crime Victims Compensation Act’s comes — you guessed it: the federal government.

A friend in law enforcement recently told me authorities actually discussed an exemption for Muslim women. In fact, many of us who have traveled to the Middle East will joke that when terrorists take vacations with their families, they fly on El Al – the Israeli airline.

That’s because of El Al’s reputation of being able to protect its customers from terrorism. And they don’t need naked body scanners to do it.

The folks at Homeland Security would do well to take some lessons there.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Several passengers are organizing a “National Opt-Out Day” on Nov. 24, one of the busiest travel days of the year. An online petition also is being circulated, to be sent to President Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and all members of Congress.)


Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC is the founder and director of The Awareness Center, which is the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Assault.  She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with over 25 years of experience working in the sexual trauma field.

 

Toss Up: DNA Damage, Body Scans Leaked or Full-Body Grope by TSA, both Invasion of Privacy!

November 16, 2010 Comments off

Click here to find out more!

It’s difficult to catalog all of the myriad controversies besieging the Transportation Security Administration this week, but the biggest seems to be the new policy forcing select passengers to choose between an open-palm, very invasive pat-down or a full-body scan that produces a very detailed image of your most private regions. There’s also the 35,000 full-body-scan images that some officials in Florida kept despite rules requiring the images be immediately deleted, the threatened $11,000 lawsuit against a man who refused to have his groin patted down, the insistence on applying both the basically-nude scans and the invasive pat-downs to children, and the call for boycotting TSA body-scans by the 11,000-strong pilots union. In other words, it’s bad.

  • Leaked Images Belie Our Implicit Pact with TSA Gizmodo’s Joel Johnson writes, “At the heart of the controversy over ‘body scanners’ is a promise: The images of our naked bodies will never be public.” But the Florida marshals who saved 35,000 of those images, suggesting that promise may be a lie. “That we can see these images today almost guarantees that others will be seeing similar images in the future. If you’re lucky, it might even be a picture of you or your family.”

Besides health risks, there is the issue of privacy rights. When a government agent looks beneath your clothing with this machine, you are actually being strip searched. A recent article in the San Diego Entertainer on August 31, 2010 stated that “the scans are detailed enough to identify a person’s gender… to identify a passenger’s surgery scars, or to discern whether a woman is on her menstrual cycle or not.”

  • TSA Screener Accosting 3 Year Old Child at Security Checkpoint: I’m not saying that children who fly shouldn’t be subject to security screening, but do they really need to be treated like this?  Ed Morrissey put it best, I think: “If we’re mugging random three-year-olds to provide security to air travel, I’d say we need to rethink our approach.”  This little girl firmly tells the TSA employee “STOP TOUCHING ME!” Children are not exempt from being searched (see video).  If the child goes through the metal detector twice and the alarm is set off twice, they will be searched.  Prepare you child for this trauma if you absolutely must fly.
  • Are These Scanners Really Safe? Liberal blogger John Aravosis finds reason in the leaked body-scan images to wonder about the scanners’ potential health impact. “I did notice something weird. Why does the scanner seem to be scanning people who aren’t even in it?  Note how the device is recording the image of people standing in line to get into the scanner in the photos below. They’re not in the scanner, but it’s picking them up. It even picked up the security guy with his wand. … I’m sure there’s no radiation leakage from a device that can pick you up from ten feet away.”

“Backscatter X-ray uses ionizing radiation, a known cumulative health hazard, to produce images of passengers’ bodies. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with defective DNA repair mechanisms are considered to be especially susceptible to the type of DNA damage caused by ionizing radiation. Also at high risk are those who have had, or currently have, skin cancer. Ionizing radiation’s effects are cumulative, meaning that each time you are exposed you are adding to your risk of developing cancer. Since the dosage of radiation from the backscatter X-ray machines is absorbed almost entirely by the skin and tissue directly under the skin, averaging the dose over the whole body gives an inaccurate picture of the actual harm. In their letter of concern, the UCSF faculty members noted that ‘the dose to the skin could be dangerously high.’ The eyes are particularly susceptible to the effects of radiation, and as one study found allowing the eyes to be exposed to radiation can lead to an increased incidence of cataracts.”

  • TSA Backlash Reaches Congress, National Groups Wired’s Kim Zetter writes, “a growing movement among pilot associations and traveler rights groups suggests the TSA is under increasing pressure to reconsider [its policies]. Several groups have called for a National Opt-Out day on Nov. 24, traditionally the busiest travel day of the year, to protest the TSA’s attempt to force passengers to undergo invasive scans or face an intrusive pat-down. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is also holding a hearing on Wednesday to discuss TSA oversight. Privacy groups such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center are seeking a court order to halt the use of invasive scanners, saying the scanners are illegal and violate passenger privacy.”

However, if you opt out of the body scan, you are subjected to an intrusive full-body grope. These pat downs are rigorous and include the TSA using their palms to touch your genitals in a manner that could feel like sexual assault. If you feel that you or your child were inappropriately touched during the enhanced pat down, call for a law enforcement officer.

  • This Isn’t TSA’s Fault:   The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, leading the charge against TSA practices perhaps more than any other journalist, takes the broad view. “Yes, it’s true — it’s not the TSA’s fault, all of this airport security craziness. The TSA is a government bureaucracy within a larger government bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security, and both organizations have as their mission the protection of American citizens from terrorism. They are going to do whatever they believe it will take, and is legal, to keep Americans safe. That is their bureaucratic imperative. But it is the mission of the President, and of the Congress, to supervise and monitor these bureaucracies, to hold them back when their mission comes into conflict with other missions, such as the protection of the privacy of American citizens.”
  • Is Flying Still Worth It? Outside the Beltway’s Steven Tyler wonders, “The more I hear and read about the options being presented to air travelers:  allow a full body scan that shows all the intimate details of one’s anatomy or allowing a stranger in a uniform to grope my nether regions, the angrier it makes me, to be honest.  Thankfully I usually only fly maybe once or twice a year.  Quite frankly it is all enough to make me rethink whether flying at all is worth it.”
  • This Is Not Good Counterterrorism: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg discussed these practices on The Colbert Report, noting, “If you’re fighting terrorism at the airport gate, it’s too late.” In other words, formal counterterrorism agencies from the FBI to the CIA and beyond are going to be much more effective at detecting and stopping a terrorist plot than these TSA procedures.

Contents of posts from Examiner.com and TheAtlanticWire.com

Naked Pictures or Federally Mandated Molestation

November 5, 2010 1 comment

Naked Pictures or Federally Mandated Molestation

A fellow blogger, Tracie Nall and I had mental telepathy yesterday – within seconds I posted a question on Facebook and she posted a blog about the this new travel topic that is blowing the minds of the majority of airline travelers.

Thank you Tracie for bringing such important information to our followers and readers.

Next week my seven year old daughter, Katarina, and I will be traveling to Arizona to visit family.  It is a trip that we are both very excited about, there will be many special memories made while we are there. We both love to fly. In fact for a lot of years I thought about one day becoming a flight attendant. 

Katarina and I will go to Arizona next week.

We might even just stay in Arizona.

That is not because of all the family fun we will be having. It is because of the AIT Full Body Scanners that the Transportation Security Administration is going to be using as primary security for Sky Harbor International Airport when it is time for us to return to Florida.

What is the deal with these scanners?

There are questions about the safety of the scanners, but that is not what I am concerned with today. Today I want to talk about the invasion of privacy.

I’m sure we all remember the TSA worker in Miami who was made fun of by a supervisor about the size of his penis, after going through an AIT scanner.

Earlier in the year, the UK said that children under the age of 18 must be exempted from going through the scanners because the images created would violate child pornography laws. In March that decision was reversed, because the government decided that “to exclude children risked undermining the security measures”. This decision was made even though the security minister admitted that the scanners are only 50-60% effective and a week prior a security guard at Heathrow Airport was caught staring at images of a female colleague in a body scanner. Their reasons for scanning minors did not address the problem of the illegal images that are being created in the process or the violation that is taking place.

I have spent most of my day looking into this situation, finding out what our rights are where body scanners are concerned. I have been calling airports, airlines, the TSA, and researching online.

I know that TSA employees have to pass a background check before being hired. But as TSA officials said when asked about a TSA employee who was arrested for the statutory rape of a 14 year old girl, “Unfortunately these checks do not predict future behavior”.

I understand that the person actually viewing the pictures is in a separate room and does not know the identity of the person pictured. This does not offer me any comfort. Often when perverts buy images of child pornography, they are not in the same room as the child being pictured and do not know the identity of the child. Does that make child pornography okay? Of course not. It is also not okay for a TSA employee to view images of my child or me where our naked bodies are visible. I will not consent to that.

I was told that we can legally opt out of walking through the scanners, and instead be patted down. When I asked for further information about what a pat down would consist of, people where hesitant to answer. One security employee at Sky Harbor told me that they are not allowed to discuss the pat down procedure over the phone. He said that I would have to “ask for it at the airport and see what happens”.

That did not make me feel very good about the pat down procedure. The big news on the pat downs is that they have recently changed the way they are conducted. Some of the new procedures are covered in this video from ABC15 in Phoenix:

While the video shows snippets of pat downs happening, and discusses that breasts will be touched, it does not discuss what else will be touched. 

After speaking with four different TSA employees on the phone today, I finally got one to be honest with me about what exactly the pat down would include. She told me, “They will touch you with an open palm. They will touch your breasts and feel completely around them. They will touch your butt.  They will run their hands all the way up your inner thigh and touch your crotch area.”

I asked if that would apply to my seven year old daughter as well, and she answered affirmatively.

Let me make this very clear.
The choice is:
Allow the TSA to take images of your body where you will essentially be naked. Images of your children’s body that in any other setting would be considered criminal.
or
Allow a TSA agent to pat down your body in such a way that they will fondle your breasts and touch your crotch. An act that if preformed on your child in any other setting would be considered sexual abuse.
Essentially, the choice is:
You can give up naked pictures of yourself
or
allow the federally mandated molestation.

These are your only choices when using an airport that has the AIT Full Body Scanners as the primary security.

After explaining the new pat down procedure to me, the TSA employee said, ” you do not want your child to have to go through one of these pat downs. They are extremely invasive and upsetting”. She didn’t really have to tell me that, because I already knew from the description that there was no way I would allow anyone to touch my child in this inappropriate way.

I realized that we will not ever fly out of Sky Harbor International Airport again. This started my search for an airport that did not yet have these scanners in use. When I spoke with a different TSA employee about an hour later to ask questions about the airport in Tuscon, she wanted to know why I was trying to find an airport that did not use the scanners. When I explained to her about the pat down procedures being unacceptable, she told me that the agent I spoke to earlier should not have told me that. That they do not touch anyone’s crotch at any time during a pat down.

Then I found an article from CNN. It details the experience of a CNN employee, Rosemary Fitzpatrick, with the new security pat down procedures. She clearly says in the article that the screener briefly touched her crotch. She also says, “I felt helpless, I felt violated, and I felt humiliated”.

Michael Roberts, a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines, has refused to go through the scanner or be patted down. He probably won’t be able to keep his job, because not going through security means no flying.

I understand the need for security. I do not complain when they make me take off my shoes, or when they do not allow me to bring large containers of liquid on the plane. I do not complain when they rifle though my  suitcases. I wait in line and put my belongings through the x-ray machine and walk through the metal detectors. If a TSA employee wants to pull me out of line and hand search my carry-on, I smile and say okay.

I will not smile and say okay to inappropriate pictures of me or my minor child.
I will not smile and say okay to inappropriate touching of me or my minor child.
I will not be bullied by the TSA. No one has the right to touch me or view my naked body.

You might think that I am secretly a conspiracy theorist or that I am overreacting. That is your choice.

It is my choice to not have my freedom stripped away and my body violated by strangers. It is my choice to drive three hours to the airport in Tuscon to be able to take what will probably be my last trip on an airplane to return home. As the scanners get installed in more and more airports, the choices for molestation-free flight will become less and less.

Benjamin Frankin is often quoted to say, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserves neither liberty or safety.”  I think that applies here.

What do you think? Would you go through an AIT Full Body Scanner? Would you put your child through one? What about the new Pat Down Procedures? Is that something that you would allow yourself or your child to be subjected to?

You can read more from Tracie at: From Tracie
Thank you so much Tracie for sharing with us.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Anny