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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Does Drinking and Physical Abuse Go Hand In Hand?



Research has shown that nearly 75 million people worldwide drink alcohol excessively. According to Livestrong.com, there are more than a million children who are victims of child abuse and are living in a household with a drinker. Typically alcohol has played a part of an approximate 9 out of 10 of these child abuse cases.

Physical abuse is not caused by alcohol but rather by the choices and actions the abuser engages in while under the influence. Acts of physical abuse can vary from burns to cuts and bruises, in severe cases, neglect, rape and other forms of sexual abuse. Alcohol use and physical abuse can both be described as learned behavior, which is why there is a higher chance of an abused child growing up to also be physically abusive. In certain situations the abuser simply does not know any other way to act, other than what they have experienced in their own childhood or adolescent years.

When a parent is heavily intoxicated, they are obviously not paying attention to their children. It's no surprise for this reason many children go unfed, which can lead to severe malnutrition, lack of proper rest due to fear of being abused, and some cases no medical attention is sought after if the child is seriously hurt. The affect of abuse branches out way beyond home life and can affect a child's attitude, performance in school and the development of important social skills such as trust, communication and respect.

As a young child develops, they will pick up on behaviors displayed by their parents. If the parent figure in their life is abusive while drinking, the child may begin to associate drinking with violence, or associating abuse with anger or a way to control others when they are upset with something. A child may grow up thinking the best way to control their own children is to also abuse them.

It's important to remember that not all heavy alcohol users will turn physically violent or abusive. The two do not always go hand in hand, but it is extremely important for the children to be removed from hostile situations such as this where they can feel safe and protected rather than punished and alone.

If a parent is ready to get help for alcohol use, there are some non treatment programs that have been proven to be more effective than 12 step programs. The main difference with non treatment programs is that the person will tackle their learned behaviors and how to display self control rather than just trying to deal with an existing "disease." There are ways for people to overcome alcohol permanently without ongoing support meetings or rehab visits.

For children who are abused it is very important for them to also get help through loving family members and possibly the right child psychologist. Not all children will grow up to be abusers themselves, especially if they learn how to deal with emotions, fear and anxieties at an early age. The best way to ensure this is to expose them to a loving environment where aggressive behavior and derogative language is avoided, parents discipline in a productive manner and the child is shown unconditional love.

If you or someone you know is a victim of child abuse, contact your local child welfare agency. A list of toll-free numbers is available at www.childwelfare.gov. For an emergency, however, call 911 or your local law enforcement agency right away.

Of Course, preventative measures are just as important too. For a thorough introductory guide to preventing child abuse, take a look at Darkness to Light’s “7 Steps to Protecting Our Children.” Some of the steps are as simple as talking to your child and making a plan.

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Guest Post: Written by Melissa for Saint Jude Retreats, which is an alternative to traditional alcohol rehab. As well as writing for St. Jude’s, Melissa also enjoys writing about topics that include health and relationships.

Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Case Update: Suspect in LA Girl's Abduction Captured in Mexico

Summers is a suspect in connection with the abduction of a
10-year-old girl who vanished from her San Fernando Valley
home and was abandoned hours later in front of a hospital.
The FBI says Mexican police have captured Summers.
(Photo Credit: Los Angeles Police Department)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A fugitive charged with abducting and sexually assaulting a 10-year-old Los Angeles girl was returned to the U.S. Wednesday after being arrested in a Mexican village where he'd checked himself into a rehabilitation facility under a fake name, authorities said.

Tobias Summers, 30, was being brought to Los Angeles to face 37 felony charges, including numerous sexual assault counts, FBI Special Agent in Charge Tim Delaney told a press conference.

Summers was a fugitive for nearly a month. Police Chief Charlie Beck credited a $25,000 FBI reward that was highly publicized south of the border for a phone tip late Tuesday that led to Summers' arrest Wednesday morning.

"Anybody in this city who thinks they can commit that kind of crime and remain free after doing so ... we'll hunt you, we'll find you, you cannot hide," Beck said.

Mexican authorities acted on the tip received by the FBI and tracked Summers to a drug and alcohol treatment facility in a tiny village on the coast between Tijuana and Ensenada, according to Alfredo Arenas, international liaison for the Baja California state police.

Summers checked into the facility under a false name, but police identified him from a Superman logo tattooed on his chest, Arenas said. He was arrested without struggle.

"He was pretty scared," Arenas said. "We had him in custody very fast."

The victim's parents discovered she was missing from her bedroom in her Northridge home in the early morning hours of March 27. She was found about 12 hours later wandering near a Starbucks several miles away.

Authorities soon arrested Daniel Martinez, 29, as a suspected accomplice and later revealed that Summers had been spotted in a video recording as he crossed the border into Mexico at Tecate, east of San Diego.

Authorities believe Summers broke into the girl's home planning to burglarize it but instead abducted her at knifepoint. They believe Martinez was waiting outside in a car the two used to flee with the girl.

Martinez soon abandoned the car and vanished, police have said, while Summers took the girl to a vacant home where he assaulted her. FBI Special Agent Scott Garriola wrote in an affidavit that the girl was taken to several locations and raped.

While he was a fugitive, Summers was charged by Los Angeles County prosecutors with kidnapping, burglary and nearly three dozen counts of sexual assault.

Summers was described as a transient with a criminal record including convictions for burglary and grand theft. Detectives identified him as a suspect based on evidence at a crime scene, the victim's descriptions and others.

Four days after the abduction, LAPD detectives were told that Summers may be in the San Diego area. In an interview with a friend of Summers, detectives learned he had been thinking of going to Tijuana, Mexico.

Video showed Summers crossing the border into Tecate, Mexico, three days after the abduction.
"This entry into Mexico occurred within several hours of Summers being identified in the media as the person responsible for the kidnapping," a federal complaint stated.

On Wednesday, the FBI website showed pictures of Summers and his tattoos with the word "captured" across the bottom of each photo.

Mexican authorities distributed "wanted" posters with Summers' picture and put police in the cities of Tecate, Ensenada and Rosarito Beach on alert.

Summers has a criminal record dating to 2002 that includes arrests for robbery, battery and grand theft auto.

Court records show Martinez has been convicted of burglary and grand theft. He has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and burglary.
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Associated Press writers Christopher Weber and Shaya Tayefe Mohajer contributed to this report.
Source: Yahoo! News
Edited & Posted by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International 

How to Make Your Neighborhood a Safe Place for Kids




Years ago, our neighborhood was our sanctuary and our neighbors were our support system. Kids treated the block as their playground, and parents had peace of mind knowing they were safe. Times have changed, but families still desire one thing: to live somewhere safe.

Dare to Dream

What do you envision your neighborhood as? A greener, cleaner oasis where kids can freely play or a lively community where small businesses thrive? Whatever your goal, work toward reaching it, no matter how far you'll have to go. Get others involved to build momentum and provide inspiration. Change starts at the local level— others may be willing to help but are just waiting for someone to take charge. Acknowledging that work needs to be done is the first step in making your neighborhood safer for kids.

Slow Down & Take a Walk

We rush to work, rush home, rush to the store and don't stop rushing long enough to enjoy what we already have. Slow down and try to see your neighborhood as you would if you were there for the first time. Appreciate the good. Note what could be improved. Get to know your neighbors and keep an eye out for each other. Take an evening walk around the block once a week to increase your chances of meeting your neighbors. You'll get to know their habits, and what (and who) is normal in your neighborhood and what's not.

This is also a good time to have your children show you their local hang out spots, routes to school/park/store, and any houses they are weary of (not that that proves anything, but we’ve all seen Tom Hanks in “The Burbs”). As you walk the neighborhood together, reinforce your family rules and provide your supportive feedback on what your child shares. This is your opportunity to continue the ongoing conversation about your child’s safety. 

Instigate a Neighborhood Watch

One of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs in the country, the Neighborhood Watch program sponsored by the National Sheriffs' Association, helps communities get organized in order to reduce opportunities for crimes. That can range from investing in security systems to installing more street lamps. According to SecurityCompanies.com, many monitoring packages include sensors used to detect fire, freezing, flood and carbon monoxide leaks, among criminal break-ins or attacks. Talk to your police department about starting a Neighborhood Watch program on your street. Pass out fliers and host an event at your home to bring awareness and talk about ideas.

For a successful Neighborhood Watch program, the National Crime Prevention Council suggests that residents:
  • Ask people who seldom leave their homes to be window watchers
  • Sponsor a clean-up day to remedy problems that contribute to crime, such as abandoned cars or overgrown vacant lots
  • Share facts from police reports about crime in your neighborhood in a newsletter or at a monthly meeting
  • Work with local businesses to create jobs for youth, clean up littered streets and repair rundown storefronts

Parents are responsible for keeping their children safe, though neighbors can contribute. The NCPC suggests that parents:
  • Know where their children are
  • Get to know the neighborhood kids and their kids' friends
  • Help children memorize important numbers
  • Choose a safe house where children can go if they are in trouble
  • Set limits about safe and unsafe parts of town

Beautify

Do what you can to beautify your neighborhood. Pick up trash, offer to mow your neighbor's lawn or clean the brush off an empty lot to help improve the appearance of your neighborhood. Plant flower beds or hang flower baskets from lamp posts to brighten the area. Colorful flowers can indicate a visible positive change and bring hope and motivation to others. They give the message that someone must be looking after the place and it is no longer the unsafe, unloved, add-your-own-adjective place it used to be.

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Did you know CQI staff is available to make presentations in the Silicon Valley (CA)? Our subject matter experts will present to schools, parent groups, companies, civic and non-profit groups, profession and faith-based organizations about Online and Personal Safety. Contact us at info@childquest.org with the subject line “PRESENTATION"  

By Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

Monday, April 22, 2013

12 Tips for Parents of Latchkey Kids



For many households, after-school childcare is not feasible for a variety of reasons. In fact, the 2010 U.S. census reveals that, at one time or another during the week, up to one third of all school age children go back to an empty home after classes end. If your child is one of the five to seven million latchkey kids in America, there are some things you can do to make the experience less stressful for both you and your child. Preparing for time spent home alone is of vital importance, while setting and enforcing a set of predetermined rules is critical for your child’s safety and your peace of mind.

1.       Apprise Yourself of the Laws in Your AreaLaws governing the age when a child canlegally be left home alone vary from state to state. Before deciding to leave your child alone after school, it’s imperative that you check to see if your child is of legal age to do so. There are also laws determining the age a child needs to be before he is allowed to care for other children, as well as how long he’s legally allowed to be without adult supervision. It’s crucial for you to be aware of these laws if you are planning on your children being home alone.
2.       Make Sure Your Child is Emotionally Mature Enough to Look After Himself – How your child accepts being a latchkey kid depends largely upon his temperament and age. Younger children just don’t have the ability to handle difficult decisions that may arise during your absence, and even older ones who aren’t quite as mature as their peers can struggle to deal with life as a latchkey kid. Know your child’s capabilities before you ask him to assume such a heavy load of responsibility.
3.       Prepare Your ChildKids will handle the situation differently on an individuallevel, depending on their particular temperament and skill level. You can prepare your child for this new step towards independence by fostering a sense of maturity and helping him learn the skills he’ll need.  Praise your child for a task done well and offer feedback regarding things he could have done differently when he makes mistakes. This instills a sense of confidence in the child and helps him learn through firsthand experience.
4.       Get Your Child Involved in the Rule-Making Process – Many parents will create a long list of rules for kids to obey, and then wonder why they have so much trouble getting the kids to follow them. If you sit down with your kids and enlist their help in making the rules, you may find that those rules carry more weight due to the child’s sense of ownership. Often, kids will come up with rules that you would never even think of, so be sure that you’re not neglecting his opinion when you draw up a game plan.
5.       Discuss Home Safety Issues – Talk with your child about safety around the house and quiz him on the ways he would handle a series of hypothetical emergencies to ascertain just how much he knows about dealing with scary situations. There are certain things they should know without a moment’s pause, like how to dial 911, where the first aid kit is kept and where to find the list of emergency phone numbers if it is not already programmed into the phone.
6.       Never Assume Your Child “Knows Better” – Revisit rules on a regular basis, and check in with your child to determine how things are going with the latchkey arrangement regularly while he’s alone. Caring for himself is a large responsibility for a kid, so don’t assume that they know better than to make mistakes that seem obvious to you. This is especially true for younger children who have little experience looking after themselves. If your child does something wrong, find out why the disobedience occurred and  be sure to address the issue in a manner that will get your point across without being overly harsh. Sometimes, kids really do have a good reason for making what seems to be a bad decision. It’s important that, despite a serious transgression, she still feels she can come to you with anything.
7.       Get to Know Your Neighbors – If you don’t already know your neighbors, now is the time to get to know them. Ideally, you will develop a relationship with the neighbors long before you need them to watch out for your child. Find neighbors with whom you can build trust and feel comfortable with as backup check points for your child. You are not asking them to babysit, but you are enlisting their help should a serious emergency arise.
8.       Lock the Door – Impress upon your children the importance of locking the door behind them and not answering it under any circumstance unless they hear otherwise from you. Kids alone at home can be easy targets for predators, and you never know who may be watching.
9.       Check In – Open lines of communication are essential to the success of a latchkey arrangement. Have the kids check in with you upon arriving home. Everyone knows what to expect when the schedule is set. This also means that you will need to check in with the kids if your schedule should change even slightly. Stopping at the grocery store could cause a panic if your kids can’t reach you by phone, especially if you’re later than they expect. Just as you want them to keep you aware of any changes in their schedule, you need to do the same with them.
10.   Set Up Parental Controls – Parents need to be aware of online predators, especially if their children will be spending large chunks of unsupervised time at home in the afternoon. Set up rules governing computer use in your absence and make sure that all possible parental control settings are activated. You may want to limit online activity to homework until you get home, but it’s still wise to make sure that there are at least some filtering options in place if kids can access a computer while they’re not being supervised.
11.   Research Community Programs – If your area has community programs, such as Boys and Girls Clubs or community recreational programs, consider making use of these programs. Many times the programs are free or low cost. This will give your child something constructive to do and she won’t need to spend so much time alone in the afternoons until you return in the evening.
12.   Look In to Extracurricular Activities – Some schools will offer programs for latchkey kids for a few hours before or after school that can take up a bit of time, keeping them safe and supervised for a bit longer during the day. Enrolling your child in such a program is particularly helpful for younger kids who may be ready for short stints at home each afternoon, but aren’t quite prepared to spend several hours alone.


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Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International