Castleton University covers the Rutland WALK

Rutland hosts child abuse walk

By Duncan Campbell

On September 28, 2019

The Saturday morning sun shines bright over Main Street Park in Rutland. The grassy quadrangle serves as neutral ground between the calmness of the townhouse-strewn neighborhood and the bustle of U.S. Route 7.

There, a crowd of over 100 people wearing blue and pink T-shirts intermingles around the gazebo, while a small speaker blasts Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood. Many bring their infants and toddlers, who chase each other around, play with moon sand and get their faces painted with pastel crayons; while parents and volunteers conversate and consume coffee and donuts. After some opening remarks from Mayors David Allaire (R) and Lucas Herring (I) of Rutland City and Barre respectively, the crowd marches down West Street holding picket signs that say, “Prevent Child Abuse,” and “Nurture Every Child!”

The city of Rutland hosted Prevent Child Abuse Vermont’s annual “Walk for Children.” Going on its 29th year of existence, the walk promotes the awareness and prevention of child abuse in communities around the state.

Ed Bride, deputy director of PCAVT, said that there is always an aura surrounding something like this. Overall, he said that the atmosphere was positive, and all participants respected and supported each other in a mutual concern for an important issue.

“Everybody’s in it for prevention, and we’re all working together for the same goal,” Bride said.

Founded in 1976 in Montpelier, PCAVT’s mission is to promote healthy relationships within families, schools and communities, according to their website. They collaborate with organizations including schools, childcare centers, correctional facilities and domestic violence shelters, and provide programs to educate parents and other adults about facilitating a child’s well-being.

Additionally, the organization refers people to the Visiting Nurses Association of Vermont and Department of Health for home visits. They also publish The Vermont Parent’s Home Companion and Resource Directory; which is given to new parents at the time of the birth or adoption of their child.

“It’s not hard to get support,” said Executive Director Linda Johnson.

One significant program that is provided is training to prevent Abusive Head Trauma, or Shaken Baby Syndrome. Ann Shangraw, manager and trainer for the program, said this type of abuse is different from others because it is mostly caused by lack of experience rather than intent. She explained that adults who are less experienced with childcare and development are more likely to cause harm because they do not know what to do when an infant cries, and they snap.

“It’s really that stress. So, we’re all at risk if we don’t have good stress management skills,” Shangraw said.

The walk itself began at Main Street Park and headed down West Street, before looping past Merchants Row and onto Center Street. Participants moved up the hill and back to the park, where they ate hot dogs and mingled. Prizes were given to teams who raised the most money, and staff members raffled off prizes for participants, including gift cards, PCAVT tote bags and a propane grill.

The most prominent group at the walk consisted of members standing in solidarity for Harper Rose Briar; a 6-month-old Pittsford girl who died in January from diphenhydramine intoxication after her caregiver gave her an overdose of Benadryl. Briar’s mother, Marissa, said an event like this touches her family's hearts because it allows them to tell her daughter’s story and to inform others of the dangers surrounding medication and newborn children.

“It’s really important for us to spread awareness (and) to make sure that it doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Briar said.

Referring to sexual abuse, Johnson mentioned the difficulties concerning victims and their ability to speak up. She said most children are reluctant for fear of betraying a parent or someone close to them and are easily manipulated into silence with threats and gifts. Additionally, she said that due the non-violent nature of most cases, victims are left with figuring out how to feel.

“Many survivors talk about the betrayal of their bodies, so it leads to more confusion,” Johnson said.

At around 11:30 a.m., the crowd dispersed and PCAVT staff members and volunteers packed up. Johnson added that one of the biggest takeaways from this event is that it is an adult’s responsibility to protect children. She said it is important that every citizen pays attention to every child that they know and is aware of the fragility of the next generation.

“It’s just like at the airport,” Johnson said. “If you see something, say something.”

Rutland WALK FOR CHILDREN a success

David Allaire, Mayor, Rutland

We are all out here to support the Walk for Children Campaign, which is an annual event to raise awareness and to address the unfortunate event of incidents of child abuse in our state and our community and our country. This is a beautiful day. Lots of people are out here to support the event, and it’s a great way to get together and talk about some of the issues that are happening.

Lucas Herring, Mayor, Barre

Well, I was invited down. Usually I participate in Montpelier and this year I came down to meet with David Allaire and to make sure that we could walk with this part of today’s event.

Linda Johnson, Montpelier

Today is our annual Walk for Children in Rutland to benefit the programs of Prevent Child Abuse Vermont because we work with so many children and families, and teachers and child care providers to prevent child abuse. ... The Healthy Relationships program is one, ages 3 up through eighth grade. There’s the Care for Kids program from pre-school up through second grade, We Care Elementary, 3rd through sixth (grade) and the Safety program for seventh and eighth grade. It’s a sexual-abuse prevention program that is in pre-schools, Headstarts, all the way up through eighth grade. And it’s both a victims and victimization program because a third of all child-sexual abuse is actually committed by youth, so preventing, preventing, preventing before it even happens or starts to happen — that is our purpose.

We also do family-support programs. We do nurturing parenting programs and Circle of Parents support groups across the state. We’re very active in Rutland with all of our programs, nurturing programs and circles, and the healthy relationships project in schools and child care centers, and child sexual abuse prevention training for child care providers, and we also do shaken baby syndrome prevention. We’re in the hospital birthing center and we’re in the high schools. We try to get to folks before they’re taking care of infants and really alert them to how to properly care for a crying baby and how to make sure that we’re sleeping safely with our children. So baby’s not in the bed but near the bed. Just grownups in the bed, and grownups are responsible for protecting children. Kids cannot protect themselves.

Clayton Potter, Rutland

I’m walking my 10 miles a day because I had broken ankles 24 months ago, both of them.

RH: And how are you doing with that?

CP: Walking 10 miles a day!

RH: I see you’re carrying a sign there. Would you hold it up so we can see what it says? (Reading the sign) “Never, Never! Shake a Baby! Never!”

CP: I was abusive when I was young. I mean, I got abused, so — You never shake a baby. I never shook my two daughters their whole life and they’re perfectly great. I love them very much. And I love my grandson.

Ed Bride, Barre

The Walk for Children is an annual walk to raise awareness and funds for the children in Vermont. We’re a statewide organization, and we serve about 16,000 people a year. We have family-type programs. We do child sexual abuse prevention programs, and shaken baby syndrome prevention programs.

Reprinted from the Rutland Herald


PCAA President Comments on NY Times Article

October 4, 2019

To thrive, children require relationships and contexts that support their healthy development in safe, consistent, and age-appropriate ways. Daily headlines remind us that all too many children, at the hands of those responsible for their care—be it family, friends, coaches, and/or faith leaders—have their rights violated through acts of violence. A recent series of articles in the New York Times highlighted the enormity of the problem of child sexual abuse victimization. Last year alone, 45 million images and videos of child sexual abuse were identified online, double the number from the previous year. Despite having done this work for decades, statistics like this continue to unsettle me. We have such a long way to go in our prevention efforts because we know that for every existing image there are multiple other children and youth being victimized in similar ways. 

Of course the mass distribution of child victimization content must stop! The New York Times series highlights many unanswered questions; for instance, how do we cut off the supply of these images? Perhaps more importantly, though, is how do we curb the demand for child sexual abuse and its many forms of memorialization? If we know one thing, it is that we cannot regulate or prosecute our way out of this problem. We in the child maltreatment prevention field are responsible for keeping the conversation and efforts focused on primary prevention. We all have a role to play in preventing child abuse and neglect before it occurs, and we must partner with law enforcement, technology companies, and other newer partners to prioritize the work of primary prevention to assure a safer, healthier world for all children.  


Dr. Melissa Merrick

President & CEO

Letter to Congress From the Child Welfare Community Regarding Treatment of Children at the Border

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi The Honorable Kevin McCarthy

Speaker Minority Leader

U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable Charles Schumer

Republican Leader Democratic Leader

U.S. Senate U.S. Senate

Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

August 21, 2019

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader McConnell, and Leader Schumer:

The undersigned organizations, which are committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect and the

well-being of children, write to express our grave concern with the ongoing treatment of children at the

United States border. As child welfare advocates with expertise in the impact of trauma on children, we

are deeply alarmed by the reports of government-sanctioned conditions and separations, which knowingly

expose children to emotional abuse and physical injury and draw clear comparisons to child abuse. We

urge Congress and the Administration to immediately end these abusive acts toward children.

Despite an official end to the Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy, recent reports have made clear that

the federal government continues to separate children from parents and other caregivers with whom they

arrive, including aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. Reports have also made clear that the standard

of risk needed to justify a child’s separation from a caregiver is often not being met; therefore, the

government’s actions are decidedly not in the best interest of the child and causing serious emotional

harm. These ongoing separations are unjustified, unlawful, and deeply detrimental to children’s wellbeing.

Separation, detention, cages, deplorable physical and hygiene conditions, bullying and intimidation by

guards, and being held in enormous institutional facilities reflect traumatic practices in direct conflict with

what science tells us about healthy child development. Traumatic experiences, toxic stress, and prolonged

exposure to unsafe conditions, like those children are experiencing in ICE and CBP custody, have lifelong

consequences for children. The U.S. government must stop intentionally subjecting children to these

experiences, separating children from parents and caregivers, and holding them in conditions of

confinement that violate state child abuse statutes across the country.

It is unconscionable that the federal government would sanction conditions of confinement for children

that can be equated to child abuse as part of any policy. For both U.S.-born children and immigrant

children, the government has a responsibility to ensure safety and prevent an unreasonable risk of

harm. The current policies at the border do not meet this minimal standard.

We urge the Administration take swift action to ensure children are never detained for more than 72 hours

in CBP facilities and to ensure that all CBP facilities that temporarily house children provide safe

conditions that do not expose children to an unreasonable risk of physical or mental harm. We also call on

the U.S. Congress to take swift action if the Administration will not. The members of this Coalition are

ready and eager to join with the Administration and the U.S. Congress to consider how to best achieve

this goal.


Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children

American Psychological Association

Boys Town

Buffett Early Childhood Fund

Center for the Study of Social Policy

Child Welfare League of America

Children’s Advocacy Institute

Children's Defense Fund

Children's Law Center

Committee for Children

DC Alliance of Youth Advocates

Educare Learning Network

Family Focused Treatment Association

First Five Years Fund

First Focus on Children

Foster America

International Social Service, USA

Juvenile Law Center

MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership

National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

National Association of Social Workers

National Center for Youth Law

National Child Abuse Coalition

National Children's Alliance

National Family Support Network

National Foster Parent Association

National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect

National Network for Youth

National Nurse-Led Care Consortium

National Respite Coalition

National Youth Advocate Program, Inc.

Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies

North American Council on Adoptable Children

Ounce of Prevention Fund

Parents Anonymous Inc

Prevent Child Abuse America

Ray Helfer Society


The Washington Children's Foundation

Voice for Adoption

Within Our Reach

Youth Villages

Zero to Three


Alaska’s Children Trust


Child and Family Resources, Inc.

Human Services Consultants, LLC


A Greater Hope


Alternative Family Services

Aviva Family & Children's Service

California Alliance of Child and Family Services

California Family Resource Association

Children Now

Cope Family Center

Family Care Network, Inc.

Five Acres

Futuro Infantil Hispano, FFA


Legal Services for Children

Safe & Sound

Saving Innocence

Temple Beth El

The Village Family Services


Illuminate Colorado


Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut

Children's Community Programs of Connecticut


Children & Families First


Florida’s Children First

Southern Legal Counsel, Inc.



Hillside, Inc.


Families First Counseling Services


Idaho Children's Trust Fund/Prevent Child Abuse Idaho


Alternative Schools Network

Children's Home & Aid

DuPage Early Childhood Collaboration

Erikson Institute

EverThrive Illinois

Illinois Action for Children

Illinois Collaboration on Youth


One Hope United

Peoria County Bright Futures

SEIU Healthcare

The Center for Youth and Family Solutions

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago


Family Service Society, Inc.

Prevent Child Abuse Indiana

The Phoenix Institute

The Villages


Children's Alliance of Kansas

EmberHope Youthville

FosterAdopt Connect

Kansas Appleseed


Kingsley House


Ascentria Care Alliance

Children's League of Massachusetts

Children's Trust, Inc.


Massachusetts Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

North American Family Institute

Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps


Center for Adoption Support and Education

Maryland Essentials for Childhood

Maryland State Council on Child Abuse & Neglect

Prevent Child Abuse Maryland/The Family Tree

Prince George’s County DSS

Prince George's Child Resource Center

Sweet Sorrel


Maine Children's Trust

Volunteers of America Northern New England


Bethany Christian Services

Catholic Social Services of the Upper Peninsula

Child Advocacy Program

Child and Family Charities

Child and Family Services Northeast Michigan

Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan

D.A. Blodgett-St. John's

Family & Children Services

Family Builders Network

Fostering Futures

Hope Network Behavioral Health Services

Livingston County Catholic Charities

Methodist Children's Home Society

Michigan Children's Trust Fund

Michigan Federation for Children and Families

Ruth Ellis Center, Inc.

Spaulding for Children

Starr Commonwealth

Teaching Family Homes of Upper Michigan

Wedgwood Christian Services

West Michigan Partnership for Children


Ampersand Families


Minnesota Communities Caring for Children, Home of Prevent Child Abuse MN

West Central Initiative


FosterAdopt Connect

Missouri Coalition of Children's Agencies


Prevent Child Abuse Montana


Nebraska Children and Families Foundation

Voices for Children in Nebraska

New Jersey

Advocates for Children of New Jersey

Cornerstone Family Programs

Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless

New Dover United Methodist Church

New Jersey Alliance for Children Youth and Families

Partnering for Prevention, LLC

Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey

Visions and Pathways

Zion Lutheran Church

New Mexico

All Faiths Children's Advocacy Center

The City of Albuquerque


Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada

New York

Catholic Guardian Services

Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (NYS)

Family and Children's Association

Family Service Society, Inc.

Ibero American Action League

Prevent Child Abuse New York

The Children's Village

United Neighborhood Houses

North Carolina

The Together Facing the Challenge Program

Child Care Services Association

NC Child

Thompson Child and Family Focus


Adoption Network Cleveland


Policy & Performance Consultants, Inc.


Child & Family Advocacy Clinic

Children First for Oregon

Children's Institute


Hacienda CDC

Old Mill Center for Children and Families

Parenting Now!

Pearl Buck Center

Prevent Child Abuse Oregon

Yachats Youth & Family Activities Program, Inc.



Delta Community Supports

Family Services of Montgomery County

Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice & Research

Harborcreek Youth Services

Jewish Family and Children Services

Outreach Center for Community Resources

Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services

Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance

Philadelphia Nurse-Family Partnership

Pinebrook Family Answers

Pressley Ridge

Union City Family Support Center

Puerto Rico

Proyecto Nacer, Inc.

Rhode Island

Adoption Rhode Island

Child & Family

Community Care Alliance

Foster Forward

Rhode Island Coalition for Children and Families

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT


Omni Visions, Inc.


DFW Foster Parent Association

Ella Austin Community Center


Sequel Youth and Family Services


Texas Pediatric Society, Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics


Braley & Thompson and Kids in Focus

City of Richmond, Department of Social Services

Families Forward/Prevent Child Abuse Virginia

Lutheran Family Services of Virginia


Prevent Child Abuse Vermont


Children's Home Society of Washington

Community and Family Services Foundation

HopeSparks Family Services

Partners for Our Children

Washington Association for Children and Families

West Virginia

TEAM for West Virginia Children / Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia

West Virginia Child Care Association


The Social Development Commission

Wisconsin Association of Family & Children's Agencies

Wisconsin Early Childhood Association

Vermont Catholic church releases list of accused priests

(Reprinted from the Times Argus)

Top of Form

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On Thursday, the Catholic Church's Diocese of Burlington published a report listing the names of priests who, since 1950, have had a “credible and substantiated” allegation of sexual abuse of a minor made against them. There are about 40 names on the list.

According to a posting on the diocese's website, all but one of the alleged acts took place more than 20 years ago. None of the priests are still active and most are dead.

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, of the Burlington diocese, said until Thursday, “the scope of all of this has been our 'family secret.'”

“We often talk about the church as a family, as a community of faith in which we are brothers and sisters in our love for God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are supposed to be a people of love, a place of hope, and a community of healing. But that is not always the case. This is especially true with the significant number of cases involving the sexual and physical abuse of children by clergy, not just here in Vermont, but in the entire Church. These 'sins of the past' continue to haunt us,” Coyne wrote.

Coyne wrote about what he had done to bring the information to the public and what he plans for the future.

“In addition to confronting the sins of the past, we must remain vigilant in ensuring these sins do not occur in the future. I have listened to the stories of victims of clergy sexual abuse and will continue to do so. They need to hear over and over again that we believe them. They also need to know that we are doing everything we humanly can to make sure this does not happen again,” Coyne wrote.

Link to VPR story:


New York Child Victims Act window opens Wednesday 8/14/19!!

Excerpt from “Justice Denied” on Ohio’s History with SOL Reform

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church is no different from any other determined legislative player – if it cannot win on its own merits, dirty tricks will do.  Survivors of clergy abuse spent two solid years of their lives talking to Ohio legislators, attending hearing, and holding rallies to make the point that child sex abuse survivors deserve SOL reform and window legislation.  It was one of the most impressive grassroots movements I have ever witnessed.  The Senate passed the bill unanimously.  But the bishops held the upper hand, and late in the night the window bill will supposed to finally pass in the Ohio House, the bishops succeeded in making the bill disappear.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) were early proponents of SOL reform beyond California and fought hard in Ohio to get a window passed.  The proposed law extended the SOL for all current and future childhood sexual abuse claims, and, like California’s law, opened a one-year window during which the SOL did not apply.  The proposed law also mandated that clergy, like others who come into contact with children in their jobs, must report childhood sexual abuse.

In the Ohio Senate, the stars aligned for SNAP perfectly.  An Ohio resident and firefighter, Tony Comes, recently had been the subject of an Academy Award-nominated HBO documentary, Twist of Faith (2004).  I was there the day the Senate passed the window legislation unanimously – March 16, 2005.  Mr. Comes spoke, and senators spoke movingly, as did several current Catholic priests (including Father Mark Schmeider of Cincinnati, Father Steven Stanberry of Toledo, and Father Gary Hayes of Paducah, Kentucky), who themselves had been abused as children by clergy.  Survivors filled every available seat, wearing lanyards with pictures of themselves as children.  Survivors clapped and cried; it was deceptively easy to believe that the bill would sail through the House as well.  That did not happen.

In the House, the opposition began in earnest.  I suppose no one will ever know the actual motives of the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, John Willamowski (R-Lima).  He had one meeting after another with the survivors, telling them he was on their side, but then he also held meetings with those in opposition, which included the Catholic Conference of Ohio and Bishop Frederick Campbell of Columbus, who promoted the dioceses’ contemporary actions, “including the removal of 25 priests from ministry in Cleveland alone; mandatory criminal background checks on new employees seeking to work with children; child-abuse awareness training for diocesan workers; and creation of independent councils to investigate abuse.”  Campbell’s testimony also revealed that financial concerns, such as the loss of insurance coverage, were playing a role in the Catholic Church’s attack on the legislation.

The Ohio Catholic Conference also pushed an argument that the window was unconstitutional under the Ohio Constitution.  Then Willamowski gathered everyone – pro and con – around a large conference table in the House for a series of meetings.  I attended a few of the meetings to explain why the bill was constitutional.  Willamowski’s theory appeared to be that there was a middle ground only he could find if he just forced the two sides to meet often enough. 

SNAP pushed for a public hearing and got one on Nov. 10, 2005.  One panel addressed the hierarchy’s argument that the window legislation was unconstitutional.  I testified in favor of the bill while Professor Christopher Fairman, of Ohio State University School of Law and Timothy Luckhaupt, the Ohio Catholic Conference lobbyist, argued against the one-year window for three main reasons, none of which have proven to be true, though they were enough to defeat the window in Ohio:

 It’s unfair.  Going back 35 years means applying what we know today about pedophiles to a time when more people believed they could be treated and returned to the ministry.  It’s unconstitutional. And even if some people disagree, lawmakers should wait to see what the Ohio Supreme Court does with two pending cases involving people who sued the Catholic Church after the statute of limitations ran out.  It’s unnecessary.  The Catholic Church has taken a number of steps to prevent future sex abuse, including sex-abuse awareness training, and many dioceses have published the names of priests found to have committed to sex abuse. 

Days after the hearing on whether the window was constitutional, on Nov. 22, 2005, there was a second hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee where approximately 115 survivors and supporters were in attendance.  For almost twelve hours, with only a forty-five-minute lunch break, the committee heard testimony from forty-one individuals, out of sixty-seven who were prepared to testify.  One survivor stated that he was sexually molested by this Cincinnati Catholic high school principal the day after his father died of cancer.  The courageous and outspoken Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton revealed that he himself had been molested and stated his unequivocal support for a one-year window: “First of all, I am here because there is still the strong likelihood that some perpetrators have not yet been brought to account.  That is why I support the one-year civil window.  I do believe that the abusers need to be exposed. I also believe that this can only be assured if the possibility exists to bring these matters into a civil court of law.  By doing this we will increase, as far as humanly possible, the protection from becoming victims of sexual abuse that all children have a right to.”

Survivors were hopeful.  However, the night the window bill was supposed to pass on the floor of the Ohio House, the Republicans went into caucus and reappeared with a substitute bill.  The window had disappeared and was replaced with the bishops’ choice, which guaranteed survivors would not be compensated.  Local newspapers noted that the substitute bill had removed the “looking back” provision of a one-year window.  In its place now is a worthless and probably unconstitutional civil registry of sex offenders.  The substitute bill would allow an offender’s name to be placed on the registry after a judicial determination that a victim had been sexually abused, even if the offended has never been criminally charged.  The offended would then have to report an address and employer.  The survivor would only be able to collect legal fees.  Barbara Blaine, a survivor of clergy abuse in Ohio, and president of SNAP, stated that “this registry is a shallow, empty promise that will provide no measure of protection for children or justice for survivors.”  She was right of course.

Statistics on Statutes of Limitation (SOL) for Child Sex Abuse

There are two paths to justice for children who have been sexually abused: criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of child sex abuse victims cannot prosecute or file civil lawsuits because they missed the arbitrary procedural deadline—the statute of limitations (“SOLs”)—for their claims.

Most victims miss the statute of limitations because of the disclosure delay that is common among child sex abuse victims.

Statistically, 1/3 of the victims of child sex abuse discloseas children and another 1/3 never disclose. Studies show that the average age to disclose is 52, with the median age 48.

The reasons for delay are specific to each individual, but often involve disabilities that result from the trauma (e.g., depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and alcoholism). The institutional sex abuse  scandals have  revealed callous disregard for the welfare of children.

Short statutes of limitation block justice for the victims and simultaneously protect the perpetrators and institutions.

There are  two groups of sex abuse victims to consider:

(1) the victims whose claims have expired and

(2) the children currently being abused.

Thirty-eight states including the District of Columbia, or 75%, have amended their child sex abuse statutes of limitation since January 2002. Yet, with all of the activity in the states since 2002, no state has reached the pinnacle of SOL reform, which is to simply eliminate the civil and criminal SOLs backwards and forwards. 

The future of statutes of limitation

This movement  has been very active across the United States since January 2002, when the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team first disclosed institution-based sex abuse in a trusted institution, the Boston Archdiocese. The movement has been mobilized by the appearance in the public square of victims of child sex abuse who were previously invisible to the public. 

With 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys sexually abused, the United States is home to millions of victims, and most, even today, have not disclosed the abuse to the public. While the opposition to victims’ access to justice remains strong from certain corners, it is apparent that with the #MeToo movement and a steady stream of victims coming forward, lawmakers are likely to continue to focus on SOL reform. The pace of change, based on these child sex abuse statistics, is unlikely to slow down anytime soon. 

The next frontier for CHILD USA is to study what happens when statutes of limitations are reformed and the actual effects on justice and the victims.


  • Window = a law that eliminates the civil SOL for all victims, even if the SOL has expired

  • Retroactive = applicable to acts that occurred before the date of enactment of the law

  • Civil Elimination = elimination of civil SOL; goes into effect according to the terms of the statute (can be retroactive or only prospective)

  • Civil Extension = extension of civil SOL by a set number of years

  • Criminal Elimination = elimination of SOL for crimes; starts running on the date the law goes into effect

  • Criminal Extension = extension of the SOL for crimes by a set number of years; starts running on the date the law goes into effect


New Jersey Extends Statute of Limitations, Allows Sex Abuse Victims Much More Time to Sue

Group the passed the Statue of Limitations reform in New Jersey, May 13, 2019

New York’s CVA:

Church abuse scandal: Man campaigns for statute of limitation reform


Critic of clergy abuse compensation program: ‘It’s a virtual black hole’ – The Buffalo News

"Administrators of a Diocese of Buffalo program to compensate childhood victims of clergy sex abuse will consider whether the diocese had "prior notice" of an alleged abuser's conduct as they determine how much money the victims should get.But it's unclear if diocesan officials are under any obligation to hand over personnel files that show whether the diocese knew a priest was prone to abuse.That's one of the compensation program's major shortcomings, according to lawyers for some of the victims.People who make claims of abuse with the diocese aren't told what information, if any, the diocese provides to program administrators."It's a virtual black hole of a protocol," said J. Michael Reck, an attorney who represents more than 30 clients who filed claims with the Buffalo compensation program."

J. TOKASZ | AUGUST 12, 2018

Hovland: Iowa's laws on child sexual abuse, endangerment need to change

A bright light needs to be shed on child sexual abuse/endangerment laws in Iowa, mainly plea deals and how they are handed out so freely.


Backing civil statute of limitations reform would be the best way bishops could help child sexual abuse victims [opinion]

"Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg held a press conference Wednesday to apologize for the sexual abuse of children by priests and others in the church over decades. The Harrisburg diocese also released a list of 71 clergy members and seminarians alleged to have sexually abused children since 1947.  LNP reported Friday that the list included the late Monsignor Francis Joseph Taylor, who served as Lancaster Catholic High School’s principal from 1958 to 1975, and the late Rev. Thomas Ronald Haney, who was the assistant to the principal at LCHS from 1961 to 1964 and directed the school’s athletic program. According to LNP records, Haney previously had served three years as assistant pastor at St. Anne Catholic Church in Lancaster; later in his life, he was known to many local Catholics as the executive editor of The Catholic Witness, the diocesan newspaper, and as a spokesman for the diocese."

B. SHAHAN | AUGUST 5, 2018

Vermont Leads The Way: Beyond 'Good' Vs. 'Bad' Touch: 4 Lessons To Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

Beyond 'Good' Vs. 'Bad' Touch: 4 Lessons To Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

July 20, 20198:00 AM ET

Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday

Tennessee Watson


Trina Dalziel/Getty Images/Ikon Images

More than 58,000 children were sexually abused in the U.S. in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Many states are trying to curb those numbers — 20 now require sexual abuse prevention education by law. In 2009, Vermont became one of the first.

K-12 schools in Vermont are required to provide sexual violence prevention to all students. Schools must also provide information to parents. Additionally, all schools and childcare facilities are required to train teachers and adult employees.

Vermont is a testing ground for states like Wyoming, which is one of nine other states that allow or recommend this type of education, but don't require it.

Jody Sanborn, the prevention specialist for the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, wants all Wyoming communities to work to keep kids safe from sexual abuse. But she says Wyoming isn't there yet.

"Wyoming is at a stage of what we call denial or resistance that the issue even exists in the first place," Sanborn says.

Eventually, she'd like to see something in place to guarantee schools are teaching prevention statewide. But she knows Wyoming's strong culture of local control makes that hard.

In Vermont, it's up to local school boards to pick the curriculum they'd like to use.


California Lawmakers Consider How To Regulate Home Schools After Abuse Discovery


How Schools Can Reduce Sexual Violence

Linda Johnson, the executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, strongly encourages schools to adopt the evidence-based model that her organization has been using since the 1990s. It's a series of age-appropriate lessons designed to help protect little kids from sexual abuse.

That may sound like a scary topic, but this curriculum takes a positive approach by focusing on healthy relationships: How to pay attention to your feelings, knowing about your body and your boundaries, and, if something doesn't feel right, knowing you can ask for help.

Joy Kitchell, who runs a child advocacy center in Bennington, Vt., teaches the curriculum distributed by Johnson's organization. Kitchell worked as a teacher and a principal for years before turning her focus entirely to sexual abuse prevention.

She says parents feel more at ease knowing that their kids aren't explicitly talking about sex or sexual violence.

Still, she says, it's up to adults to know the signs and symptoms of abuse — and teach behaviors that could prevent it.

What can parents and teachers do to keep their kids safe? Kitchell and Johnson offer some key lessons geared toward sexual abuse prevention.

The lessons also address sexual abuse between kids. Johnson says talking about these things early might keep kids from doing harm as they get older.

Teach kids to pay attention to their feelings

Around 90 percent of child sexual abusers are someone the child knows, according to the Crimes Against Children Research Center.

Kitchell says that makes it even harder for kids to understand that something bad is happening.

"A person who is grooming a child to be their victim, they are going to do it in such a way that it's not going to be painful. It's going to be confusing," she says.

That's an important departure from teaching "good" versus "bad" touch.

"If a child is taught that it's good touch or bad touch, and it's not a bad touch but it's confusing, then they might not understand that it's OK to go to a trusted adult and figure that out," Kitchell says.

Let kids know they can talk to trusted grown-ups

Linda Johnson of Prevent Child Abuse Vermont says teaching children they can tell other grown-ups any time they're confused means they don't have to decide for themselves if the touch is good or bad.

And there's an important difference between teaching a kid they should tell versus teaching a kid they can tell, she says.

"We don't want to add guilt and sense of responsibility to children who have been victimized," she says.

Learning 'no' means no

One recurring theme in the curricula is the meaning of no. "That is the foundation of consent," Johnson says.

When one kid isn't willing to share with another kid, grown-ups often jump in to force them to share. But Johnson teaches adults to take a different approach. She says it's important to remind kids that hearing "no" is part of life.

"We can teach this to 2-year-olds, and then again at 3 and 4 and 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, until — there they are in that situation in the car and one wants to and one doesn't want to," Johnson says. "And they have to be able to accept 'no' for an answer."

Start the conversation at home

When working with preschoolers and younger elementary schoolers, Kitchell uses picture books to help start conversations about boundaries and consent.

She also uses anatomically correct dolls to help kids learn the names of their body parts. She says these are things parents can also do at home.

Among the many books she uses are:

How Are You Peeling? by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers

Hands Off, Harry! by Rosemary Wells

Uncle Willy's Tickles: A Child's Right to Say No by Marcie Aboff

All By Myself by Mercer Mayer

The New Baby by Mercer Mayer

The Bare Naked Book by Kathy Stinson and Heather Collins

Vermont Requires Child Sexual Abuse Prevention. Could Wyoming, Too?

Last year, Wyoming enacted legislation authorizing school districts to teach child sexual abuse prevention. Schools have a unique power to stop sexual abuse because kids spend so much time there. But the bill is not a mandate. It merely says school districts may do prevention work.

Jody Sanborn dreams about the day when all Wyoming communities work to keep kids safe from sexual abuse. But the prevention specialist for the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault said Wyoming isn't there yet.

"Wyoming is at a stage of what we call denial or resistance that the issue even exists in the first place," said Sanborn.

National statistics estimate 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience sexual abuse before age 18. Both adults and other kids are perpetrators, and Wyoming is no exception.

"For the most part, there's a lot of education and basic knowledge and awareness that has to happen before communities are willing to accept that there is something they can do about it," said Sanborn.

Eventually, she'd like to see something in place to guarantee schools are doing prevention statewide. But she knows Wyoming's strong culture of local control makes that hard.

Vermont State Senator Richard Sears said his state faced something similar. Vermont has a population of around 600,000 with remote towns like Wyoming but on a much smaller scale.

"The last thing anybody wants to do is tell the local school board you shall do this and you shall do that," said Sears. "But I think the state also understood that we had a big problem."

Vermont was forced to confront its problems because of a tragedy. In 2008, a 12-year girl named Brooke Bennett was raped and murdered by her uncle, a known sex offender. That's when this bucolic state known for its close-knit communities was left tormented by the question: How could this happen here?

In the year that followed, Senator Sears and a group of lawmakers set out to prevent it from happening again. They started by hosting public hearings across the state.

"We heard from people and communities," said Sears. "What did they want, and what did they expect?"

The lawmakers gathered a diverse set of solutions, and in 2009, Vermont became the first state to implement comprehensive legislation to address child sexual abuse. That bill-commonly referred to as Act One- includes a requirement that prevention education happens in pre-school through 12th grade.

For Linda Johnson, that was a big win.

"I've never seen anything quite like it in my life. And I'm 72 at this point, " said Johnson.

For the last 33 years, she's been the executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Vermont. After Act One passed, her organization stepped in to help schools get on board with the new mandate.

"It's not rocket science, but it is science. And you have to really do it well," said Johnson.

Vermont's law requires that prevention education happens, but it's up to local school boards to pick the curriculum they'd like to use. Johnson strongly encourages schools to adopt the evidence-based model that's been developed by her organization. It's called the Healthy Relationships Project.

"While many programs insist that children tell, tell, tell," said Johnson, "we talk about telling as an option."

Johnson said there's an important difference between teaching a kid they should tell versus teaching a kid that they can tell.

"We don't want to add guilt and sense of responsibility to children who have been victimized," said Johnson.

The curriculum teaches kids to pay attention to their own boundaries and how they can turn to adults for help. But another big piece of the curriculum is teaching kids to hear and accept "no" from their peers.

"That is the foundation of consent," said Johnson. "And we can teach this to two-year-olds and then again at three and four and five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, until there they are in that situation in the car and one wants to and one doesn't want to. And they have to be able to accept no for an answer."

Those lessons start simple for little kids and get more complex as they get older.

Two-hours south of Johnson's office in Vermont's state capital Montpelier, preschoolers in Bennington are working with the program.

Joy Kitchell sits on the floor with a group of 3 and 4-year-olds and reads a book about feelings. It's the first lesson out of six, and it lays the foundation that it's important to pay attention to how you feel.

She asks them to make their happy face and sad face and sleepy face and mad face. Then she prompts them to think about feeling mixed up or confused. She tells them when that happens they can ask an adult for help. She then reassures them that if they talk to one adult and they still feel confused, that's ok. They can go to another adult they trust.

Kitchell is the executive director of the Bennington County Child Advocacy Center and a Healthy Relationships Project trainer. Before taking this job, she spent 16 years as a teacher and 9 years as a principal.

"Because I saw firsthand as a teacher I had a lot of great tools and a great skill set, but I wasn't helping the kids who were the most traumatized in my classroom because I didn't recognize it," said Kitchell.

That realization inspired her to start providing training to educators in her area.

It's estimated that in Vermont about two-thirds of schools are using the curriculum. The rest use something else, and some still aren't doing anything at all.

Kitchell said it's sad to think there isn't child abuse prevention happening everywhere in the United States.

"Why would you not want your kid safe?" said Kitchell. "I just can't imagine not wanting to make things better for your kids."

Kitchell said she's grateful to live in Vermont.


child sexual abuse

child abuse prevention

Healthy Relationship Project

Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

sexual abuse

Prevent Child Abuse America President

Dear Colleagues,

Today, my first day at Prevent Child Abuse America, marks the beginning of a new chapter in my professional life—one that’s accompanied by great excitement, as well as deliberate reflection and anticipation. As the nation’s oldest nonprofit committed to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect, PCA America enjoys a rich history and is widely recognized for its passionate, dedicated staff and a diverse and influential network of collaborators and partners nationwide. Indeed, I have had the good fortune to visit and witness firsthand the extraordinary work happening at many PCA state chapters and Healthy Families America sites. I look forward to continuing to explore how, together, we can create and sustain the conditions for strong, thriving families and communities and ensure all children grow up in safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments.

Is this a daunting task? Yes. Children continue to be separated from their parents at alarming rates in the child welfare system and at our borders, corporal punishment is still allowed in public schools in more than a dozen states, and newspaper headlines persistently remind us of the startling prevalence of child sexual abuse in youth serving organizations, houses of worship, and in homes. 

Is it an insurmountable task? Absolutely not! The good news is we already possess many of the tools and strategies needed to effectively prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring in the first place—and we continue to build the evidence base for innovative and novel solutions every day. Collaboratively, we can meaningfully impact the lives of children, families, and entire communities through comprehensive approaches, including:

·     Expanding home visiting to the millions of families who could benefit from it;

·     Building political will for efforts that strengthen household financial security, thereby reducing parental stress and depression; and

·     Shifting norms from blaming parents to supporting them and equipping them with techniques that engender positive relationships. 

Of course this will require cultivating and nurturing cross-sector partnerships with businesses, philanthropies, the media, and others. It will require integrating the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect into other efforts to address important health issues of the day, such as opioid overdose and suicide. And it will require a public health approach to prevention—one in which we don’t only call for trauma-informed services and responses, but also trauma-informed systems and contexts. In so doing, we can assure brighter futures for our children and their children, too. 

Thank you for the hard and important work you do each day, which both amazes and humbles me. Mostly, though, your efforts inspire me to relentlessly pursue stronger collaborations and partnerships so that even more children can grow up to be healthy, happy, and prosperous for generations to come.

I’m ready, PCA America is ready…let’s get to work! 

With warm regards, 

Dr. Melissa Merrick

President & CEO