Showing posts from 2012

In Today's News: "Warren County [NJ] has a 'secret problem' with child abuse, official says"

This article, published in Lehigh Valley Live, highlights the efforts of officials and organizations in Warren County, NJ to prevent child sexual abuse.  Warren County is one of three counties in New Jersey to adopt the Enough Abuse Campaign (Referred to here as the "Enough Abuse" Program). 

Rush Russell, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse - New Jersey makes an important point when he points out that there aren't many child sexual abuse prevention programs designed to highlight adult responsibility - it is a different mindset where the responsibility for preventing sexually abusive behaviors is not solely that of the children targeted by abusers. Rather, our program gives parents and other 'stakeholder' adults education on this issue and training on steps they can take - from specific messages and talking points for their kids to recognizing warning signs in abusers and victims.

Warren County has 'secret problem' with child abuse, official saysBy To…

PRESS RELEASE // Statute of Limitations (SOL) Reform Before Year-End Deadline

December 13, 2012 -- 12 AM EST MassKids, 14 Beacon Street, Suite 706, Boston
Contact: Jetta Bernier, Executive Director 617-742-8555 ext.2 617-827-5218 (cell)

Infant/toddler Sex Abuse Case Prompts Advocates to Press for Statute of Limitations (SOL) Reform Before Year-End Deadline
Push for Expansion of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Campaign
December 13, 2012, BOSTON, MA – Child advocates today urged legislators to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of a bill that would reform the state’s current Statute of Limitations in cases of child sexual abuse. “The public’s response to the sexual abuse of 13 infants and toddlers by Level 1 sex offender John Burbine has been very strong” said Jetta Bernier, director of MassKids, a statewide non-profit child abuse prevention group. “People are upset and want solutions to prevent these heinous crimes from happening. One way the public can channel this outrage is to insist that the legislature move the …

Watch this News Story: How can parents educate themselves...

On everyone who comes into contact with their child. Watch this interview by Fox 25 News of MassKids Executive Director Jetta Bernier about important information that parents need to know about protecting their children from child sexual abuse.
Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

In Today's News: "Medical Society Offers Free Brochures on Violence Prevention"

Friday, December 07, 2012

WALTHAM, Mass. — Physicians of the Massachusetts Medical Society have produced a series of 10 brochures to help parents identify and deal with a range of topics on youth violence, including bullying, dating and street violence, violence in the media, and child sexual abuse.(emphasis ours)

They are available free to parents, educators, youth counselors, or others who work with children and youth.

Originated by Dr. Robert D. Sege and developed by the Medical Society's Committee on Violence Intervention and Prevention, the current publications are updated versions of a previous series and contain information from a variety of sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and Massachusetts Citizens for Children. They are written by experts in the field of youth violence.

Dr. Elliot Pittel, chairman of the society's Committee on Violence Intervention and Prevention and a psychiatrist at The Home for Little Wanderers in Boston, called attention to the…

Watch this News Story: Wakefield Sex Abuse Scandal - What Parents Need to Know

Check out this video with Pathways for Children Executive Director Sue Todd in a discussion about the Wakefield sex abuse scandal and also tips on making sure your child is safe with their caretaker 
Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

In Today's News: "After Wakefield arrests, parents weigh child care risks"

Parents ask: How can we really know?By Martine Powers
Globe Staff /  December 7, 2012
The Boston Globe
To view the original article with accompanying video go to's website here
Christina Kirkwood, a ­Woburn mother of two, has ­every confidence in her child care provider. The day care, run out of the home of a Woburn family, passes all her tests: The caretakers are licensed. They came with great references. One is an official with the local Fire Department.
Still, she says, hearing allegations about a Wakefield child care provider was painful.
“It rattles me,” she said. “It bothers me a lot that this would happen.”
After news spread about the arrest of the Wakefield child caretaker on charges of a disturbing series of sexual ­assaults, parents and child advo­cates said the case highlights the challenges of guarding against dangerous child care providers.
Child advocates said the ­alleged incidents should remind parents of the measures they can take to evaluate individuals …

Watch this News Story: "Mass. child care provider reacts to fears after case"

Watch this NECN interview of Sue Todd, Spokesperson for the Enough Abuse Campaign North Shore and Executive Director of Pathways for Children.  She discusses the Wakefield sex abuse case and some of the things that all parents need to know about finding safe child care. WATCH HERE

(video will open in new window)

In Today's News: "Specter of predators puts parents in constant vigil"

By Beth Teitell, Globe Staff
The Boston Globe
December 4, 2012

Pollyanna Santos doesn’t let her 6-year-old son play at a friend’s house unless she knows all of the adults who live in the home — and those who might be visiting. “You don’t know what can happen in the next room,” said Santos, a waitress from East Boston.

In Braintree, Debbie Currie feels anxious when she leaves her 7-year-old daughter at gymnastics class. “There are 20 other kids in there, and we live in a nice town, but you just never know,” said Currie, a customer service supervisor for Comcast.

Bernice Ferrara, a retired MBTA bus driver from Brockton, will not let her 15-month-old granddaughter sit on Santa’s lap because she doesn’t know the man behind the beard. “I don’t want to feel that way,” she said. “But I do.”

After years of revelations about sexual predators lurking in some of our most high-profile institutions, including recent accusations against Elmo’s puppeteer, it has come to this: Parents and caregivers …

In Today's News: Facebook's 'Pedophiles are people' page under attack

‘Pedophiles are people’ page puts Facebook under attack By Marie Szaniszlo
Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A children’s advocacy group yesterday denounced Facebook for refusing to take down a controversial page featuring a disturbing photo of a young girl being followed down an alley by a man, with the caption “Pedophiles are people too.”

The page’s administrator has added “(Controversial Humor)” to the caption since the page was first reported in yesterday’s New York Post. But apart from the 25 people who had “liked” the photo by early last night, few people found it amusing.

“We should not be giving people like this an audience and a platform,” said Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children. “We cannot normalize this behavior. It is too devastating to children.”

In an email yesterday, a Facebook spokesman said pages or groups devoted to jokes, “even disgusting and distasteful ones,” do not violate the social network’s policies.…

In Today's News: Man Files Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against Harvard

Man accuses Harvard of brushing aside sexual abuse claims By Peter Schworm, GLOBE STAFF
July 12, 2012
Original article here

Four years ago, the memories came rushing back, an avalanche of horrifying images that shattered the life Stephen Embry had known.

He doubted them at first, but came to realize what he knew as the truth. He had been sexually abused as a boy.

“Suddenly, something snapped, and everything came back,” he said. “I wished it never had. It was like a reel, playing over and over.”

On Wednesday, Embry filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against Harvard University, contending he was repeatedly molested by a swimming coach at the campus from 1969 to 1972. The alleged abuse began when Embry, now 55, was barely 12.

Embry, along with his lawyer, Carmen Durso, who often represents victims of sexual abuse, also asserts that Harvard misled him about the statute of limitations on abuse claims, and failed to disclose a previous claim brought in 1996 against the university and the swimming…

In Today's News: Tennis Hall of Fame pivots, investigates Bob Hewitt

Tennis Hall of Fame pivots, investigates Bob Hewitt Alleged Abuse Victims Hail MoveBy Bob Hohler, GLOBE STAFF     
JULY 03, 2012
Original article here

The International Tennis Hall of Fame, reversing course after months of inaction, is investigating allegations that Bob Hewitt, one of the greatest doubles players in the history of the sport, sexually abused nearly a dozen girls he coached in South Africa and the United States from the 1970s to 1990s, according to several of the alleged victims. The Hall of Fame launched the inquiry after drawing criticism throughout the tennis community for dropping its plan last year to investigate the scandal. The organization has hired a Boston law firm — Hinckley, Allen & Snyder — to conduct the investigation and present its findings before the hall’s board of directors meet later this month in Newport, R.I. The law firm was commissioned “to submit a confidential report to the executive committee to assist in deciding whether to sus…

Read this story from the New York Times: Church Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse Suits

Original article found here

Church Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse SuitsBy Laurie Goodstein and Erik Eckholm Published: June 14, 2012

While the first criminal trial of a Roman Catholic church official accused of covering up child sexual abuse has drawn national attention to Philadelphia, the church has been quietly engaged in equally consequential battles over abuse, not in courtrooms but in state legislatures around the country.

The fights concern proposals to loosen statutes of limitations, which impose deadlines on when victims can bring civil suits or prosecutors can press charges. These time limits, set state by state, have held down the number of criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits against all kinds of people accused of child abuse — not just clergy members, but also teachers, youth counselors and family members accused of incest.

Victims and their advocates in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York are pushing legislators to lengthen the limits or abolish them a…

Gaming panel head is pressed to reveal terms of settlement

Group asks about 2007 abuse claim against McGee The Boston Globe
By Peter Schworm
Globe Staff / May 9, 2012
Original article here

A leading children’s advocacy group Tuesday called on the new acting director of the state’s gambling commission to disclose the terms of a child sexual abuse settlement, joining critics who have demanded a closer look at the allegations. The Massachusetts Citizens for Children said the gambling commission should press Carl Stanley McGee to provide details of the confidential civil settlement he reached with the teenage boy who accused him of sexual assault in 2007.

Groups blast hiring of McGee on casino commission

Cape Cod Times
By George Brennan,
May 09, 2012
Original article here

Members of the five-person Massachusetts Gaming Commission  respond to a reporter's question during a news conference in  Boston in March. On May 1, the commission voted unanimously  to hire Stan McGee as interim executive director. -The Associated Press

BOSTON — Advocates for child sex abuse victims are criticizing a Massachusetts Gaming Commission decision to hire Stan McGee as interim executive director without fully vetting allegations of a 2007 assault.

McGee, 43, was accused of, but never officially charged with, sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy at a Florida resort in 2007. He reached a confidential agreement to settle a lawsuit with the boy's family in 2011.

At a press conference held in the conference room at Massachusetts Citizens for Children, also known as MassKids, Executive Director Jetta Bernier called on McGee to waive the lawsuit's confidentiality agreement and p…

MCC Appearence on NECN Broadside: Failure to Vet?

MCC Executive Director Jetta Bernier and Board Member Carmen Durso Appear on NECN program to discuss Stanley McGee WATCH VIDEO (NECN) - It's the latest controversy to brew in the Bay State, but it's roots go back to 2008.

That's when Stanley McGee was accused of assaulting a then 15-year-old boy in the steam room of a Florida resort.

Earlier in 2012, McGee was hired to be the executive director of the Mass. Gaming Commission.

Commission Chair Steve Crosby said the commission felt comfortable hiring McGee because Florida prosecutors determined there was no evidence to corroborate the sexual assault allegation.

That answer isn't good enough for these Broadside guests: Attorney Carmen Durso represents child sex abuse victims, and Jetta Bernier advocated for child protection as director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children.

Watch the video for more.

MassKids Gets $80K to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

April 13, 2012 — Massachusetts Citizens for Children, also known as Mass Kids, a Boston-based nonprofit that advocates for the welfare of children, announced that it recently received an $80,000 grant from the Ms. Foundation for Women to fund a campaign that aims to end child sexual abuse.

Massachusetts Citizens for Children (MCC) is the lead agency for the Enough Abuse Campaign, an effort that helps communities build local coalitions to prevent child sexual abuse and provides tools and training to educate parents, youth, and a wide range of professionals about prevention strategies.

MCC Executive Director Jetta Bernier said, “This latest grant will help the campaign move closer to its goal, that by 2015 every city and town in Massachusetts will be actively engaged in preventing child sexual abuse in their homes and communities."

The campaign, which launched in 2002, operates in Gloucester/Cape Ann, Orange/Athol, Newton/Waltham, Greater Springfield, Lowell, and in several wester…

MCC Responds to Sex Offender Advocate Group

The March 30th Letter writer Paul Shannon (“Voice of reason muffled over child abuse bill”) wrongly depicted support for repeal of the Statute of Limitations in cases of child sexual abuse as “madness” and its supporters as operating under “mob mentality.”  Under the guise of supporting “evidence-based” policies and opposing hysteria around sex offenders, Mr. Shannon concocts a false and fear-mongering scenario in which repeal, he says, would result in police taking a person accused of a 40-year-old child sex crime into custody “without any significant corroborating evidence.”  The fact is that repeal of the criminal Statute of Limitations would have no retroactive impact on past crimes. After the bill’s passage, only future victims would be able to file charges against their abusers without having to do so before an arbitrary time clock ran out. Readers should know that Mr. Shannon’s interest in opposing SOL repeal stems from his long history of defending child sexual abusers. An ed…

Project Self-Sufficiency helps launch 'Enough Abuse' effort to prevent child sexual abuse

published: April 1, 2012
in the Warren Reporter

Legislators, social service organizations, municipal officials and educators convened in Newton on Friday to begin a local effort to combat child sexual assault. Sussex County nonprofit agency Project Self-Sufficiency has been chosen, along with only two other nonprofit organizations in the state of New Jersey, to take part in a ground-breaking effort to end child sexual abuse in partnership with Prevent Child Abuse – New Jersey. The agency will be joined by PEI Kids, located in Mercer County, and Wynona’s House, headquartered in Newark, as the first organizations in New Jersey to replicate the Enough Abuse Campaign throughout their communities.

The initiative aims to educate teens and adults about the nature and scope of child sexual abuse, and provide the tools necessary to protect children. For example, studies continue to show that many parents believe the major risk of child sexual abuse involves strangers, when in fact, up to 90% o…

Constitutional Lawyer Marci Hamilton reacts to latest developments on the MA Statute of Limitations fight:

An Historic Turning Point for Reforming Statutes of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse:
News From Massachusetts, and More Verdict - Legal Analysis and Commentary from Jurista March 23, 2012
Marci A. Hamilton

Legions of victims of child sex abuse will tell you that when they were finally ready to talk to a prosecutor or a lawyer, the criminal and/or civil statutes of limitations (SOLs) had already expired.  Across the United States, one victim after another has been surprised by these cruel and arbitrary legal deadlines.

For decades, states have been adjusting their child sex abuse SOLs in response to fresh stories of horror.  At one time, states measured the SOL from the date of the abuse, giving victims only a few years in which to sue.  Then, they set age 18 as the moment when the clock started ticking.  Now, we have a true 50-state experiment, with a wide variety of approaches among the states.

There is one common theme, however:  States are constantly working to extend their chi…