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Thursday, October 31, 2013

San Jose Public Library Schedule: Free Child I.D. Kits

www.childquest.org
One of the most important tools for law enforcement to use in the recovery of a missing child is an up-to-date photograph along with descriptive information. A Child ID Kit is a simple yet effective tool in helping families maintain a current photograph of and descriptive information about their children. 

Child Quest International (CQI) will be at the following locations to provide FREE Child I.D. Kits* that include photo identification, digital fingerprints and safety tips.  

3/12/2013 - Tully Library @ 12:30AM

3/19/2013 - Alum Rock Library @ 5:30PM

3/26/2013 - Vinland Library @ 12PM

3/28/2013 - Joyce Ellington Library @ 11:30AM

4/17/2013 - East Branch Library @ 4:30PM

4/18/2013 - Edenvale Library @11:30PM

4/23/2013 - King Library @ 11AM

4/25/2013 - Willow Glen Library @ 11AM

9/12/2013 - Santa Teresa Library @ 11AM

9/19/2013 - Cambrain Library @ 11AM


9/21/2013 - Hillview Library @ 2PM


9/24/2013 - King Library @ 11:15AM


9/25/2013 - Bascom Library @ 4:30PM


9/30/2013 - Biblioteca Library @ 3PM


10/4/2013 - Alamden Library @ 11:30AM

10/8/2013 - Educational Park Library @ 7PM


10/31/2013 - Seven Trees Library (Halloween Special) @ 3PM


11/12/2013 - Alum Rock Library @ 5:30PM 


11/19/2013 - Tully Library @ 3PM

CQI encourages all families of school age children to obtain a Child I.D. Kit for each child in your family.

Photo Identification (I.D.)

Families should have current photographs of their children. These photographs can often be obtained free-of-charge or for a nominal fee from a number of sources. The photograph should be a full-face shot in color, and capture the way children really look (school pictures are GREAT!).

Photographs should be taken at least every six months and kept in a safe and readily accessible place (CQI will take your child’s photo, with your permission, at the listed events above).

In addition to the photograph, parents and guardians should also have a written description of their children.

Digital Fingerprints

Fingerprints are used for identification. They should be recorded on a paper stock that will be usable for loading in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center, if your child should become missing.

Documentation

All documents are for YOU TO KEEP. All personal information is permanently deleted from our computer after each child is fingerprinted. 

We recommend you store your photo I.D. and digital fingerprints in a safe and secure place (i.e. with other important documents).

Keeping Hope Alive

It is CQI’s hope that through open communication and education, parents will never need to use this resource. But as we always say, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Child ID Kit registration form is avlable here for faster service: English | Spanish


*All services are on a first-come, first-served bases while supplies last. CQI does not store any personal information on fingerprint device. All personal information is permanently deleted from computer after each child is fingerprinted. Schedules are subject to change. Additional dates may be added as they become available.
Updated 11/10/2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Look Inside the Harsh Reality of Missing Children: Not All Missing Children Are Victims of Stranger Abduction

The statistics are well publicized: 2,000 children are reported missing every day in this country; nearly 800,000 children disappear for at least a brief period of time every year; one in four girls and one in eight boys will be sexually exploited or abused before reaching adulthood.

Child Quest International (CQI) knows that the vast majority of those missing have been taken by a non-custodial parent, have run away, or have been thrown out of their homes. The number of children kidnapped by others is far smaller, though absolutely devastating in every case.

Many of these children fall through the cracks of the "system" since they often do not reach the media due to their circumstances. Also, many feel that since they choose to leave or with a parent, what harm could they really be in? Let us assure you, family abductions and "runaways" or "throwaways" are very much victims too. 

The Facts About Family Abduction:
  1. Each year, over 203,000 children (compared to 115 "Stranger Abductions" in a one year period) in the U.S. are abducted by a family member, usually a parent.
  2. The biggest motive for family abduction is revenge against another parent, not the child's safety.
  3. More than half of abducting parents have a history of violent behavior, a criminal record, or a substance abuse problem.
  4. Children abducted by family members often suffer severe lifelong emotional and psychological damage.
  5. To break emotional ties with the left-behind parent, and perpetuate their own control, some family abductors will coach a child into "disclosing" abuse by the other parent. Abducted children are often told that the other parent is dead or did not really love them.
  6. As the child quickly adapts to a fugitive's lifestyle, deception becomes a part of life. They are taught to fear those they should trust, such as police, doctors, teachers, and counselors.
  7. Abducted children are often given new identities. This can have profound and sometimes crippling psychological impact during the critical developmental stages of childhood. In extreme cases, the child's sexual identity is covered up to avoid detection.
  8. In extreme cases, the abducting parent leaves the child with strangers at an underground "safe house" where health, safety and other basic needs are extremely compromised; while in others, children are so badly mistreated by their abductors that they desperately want their abductor to leave them. In rare family abduction cases, children are murdered by their abductor.
Sadly, children taken by parents are at risk. Parental kidnapping has often been viewed as a domestic issue of little concern to anyone else. But parents who abduct their own children are often acting out of desperation, attempting to wreak revenge and pain on the spouse left behind.

These children are uprooted from their routine with family, friends, school and church, and often live a life on the run with assumed names. They often do not receive proper medical attention or education. In essence, they lose half their heritage and most of their past. Parental kidnapping is a crime, a felony in almost every state. 

The Motivation & Risk Factors Associated With Runaways:
  1. 47% of runaway / homeless youth indicated that conflict between them and their parent or guardian was a major problem.
  2. 80% of runaway and homeless girls reported having ever been sexually or physically abused. 34% of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported sexual abuse before leaving home and forty-three percent of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported physical abuse before leaving home.
  3. Childhood abuse increases youths' risk for later victimization on the street. Physical abuse is associated with elevated risk of assaults for runaway and homeless youth, while sexual abuse is associated with higher risk of rape for runaway and homeless youth.
  4. 32% of runaway and homeless youth have attempted suicide at some point in their lives.
  5. 7% of youth in runaway and homeless youth shelters and 14% of youth on the street had traded sex for money, food, shelter, or drugs in the last twelve months when surveyed in 1995 (a number that has only increased with the prevalence of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children). 
More than 1.6 million youth run away in a year. Nearly a third of the children who flee or are kicked out of their homes each year engage in sex for food, drugs or a place to stay, according to a variety of studies published in academic and public health journals.  But this kind of dangerous barter system can quickly escalate into more formalized prostitution, when money changes hands. And then, child welfare workers and police officials say, it becomes extremely difficult to help runaways escape the streets. Many become more entangled in abusive relationships, and the law begins to view them more as teenage criminals than under-age victims.


What We Are Asking:

Please join Child Quest (CQI) in protecting children by supporting our services. Become a sponsor and a faithful supporter and together we can make a difference in the lives of children who need our help. We provide FREE investigative and recovery services to families of missing children in addition to emotional support and referrals in the devastating event a child goes missing. 

Why We Are Asking:

Your involvement is vital to our success. CQI does more than make flyers, we provide comprehensive case management for searching families that includes investigation services, website services and support, as well as reunification coordination and emotional support.

With your help, we can continue to reunite loved ones and protect even more children. 

CQI Background:

Child Quest is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the prevention and recovery of missing, abused, and exploited children. At CQI, we pride ourselves on “Keeping Hope Alive” for all missing children and the left-behind families. We work diligently with families and law enforcement alike to locate missing children using various investigation techniques focused on information dissemination and case management. Child Quest NEVER CHARGES A FEE to searching families or law enforcement.

Since our inception in June of 1990, Child Quest has assisted in the recovery of over 3,000 individuals. CQI focuses on two vital aspects of child safety. First is search and recovery. We are recognized by local and national law enforcement agencies as an important element in the search and recovery effort, and the support we provide to left-behind families is KEEPING HOPE ALIVE.

More information on missing children available on our websites www.childquest.org. Our join us on Facebook or Twitter to join the conversation about child safety issues.

Writer & Editor: Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International.

Talking to Children About Death When Tragedy Strikes: 5 Tips to Facilitate Conversation


video


Sometimes children must deal with death and violence before they are ready. When there is a senseless act of violence, like a school shooting, even many adults have difficulty processing the news. Young kids often have difficulty grasping the idea that death is permanent, especially when other children or their friends die. Carefully explaining bad or tragic news to children helps them cope effectively and develop age-appropriate ways to process their grief.

Use Literal Terms

Young children haven’t developed the ability to think abstractly, making it difficult for them to understand complicated concepts. Although you may think the words “passed on” or “lost” are gentler, the Child Center and Adult Services recommends using the terms “death” or “dying” instead.

Euphemisms are especially difficult for children under the age of six to understand, so your youngster may think that a friend “went to sleep” means that she’ll wake up someday. Although it may seem blunt, being clear (but not graphic) in your terminology helps kids understand scary news.

Don't Do It Alone

Talking to a child about a violent death may be over your head. Seeking professional help may benefit you and your child when dealing with a tragedy like a school shooting or bombing such as the Boston Marathon. Since January 2013, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, 4,500 people have been trained in children's mental health treatment and aid, according to an infographic by securitydegreehub.com. A professional can help your child work through their feelings and questions and help the communication flow between you and your child.

Let Your Belief System Guide You

Many children are naturally curious about death and the afterlife, although the concept of heaven is likely too abstract for children under age 5. Use child-friendly terms to convey your family’s beliefs about the existence of God. For example, ask your daughter what she thinks heaven is like. This reassures her that those who died are safe and happy after death. If your family isn’t religious, consider a nature-based explanation of what happens after death. Explain that our bodies become part of the earth when we die, helping new trees and flowers grow.

Simple explanations about what happens after death satisfy children more than complicated theological discussions. The National Institute of Health suggests explaining to your child that different people have different beliefs about death. This gives your child the space to form their own conclusions about death and the afterlife.

Anticipate Questions About Your Own Death

It’s natural for a child to move the discussion of death to his parents or himself. Use age-appropriate reassurances, but be sure to avoid making promises you can’t keep. An older child may be ready for explanations about financial or funeral plans. Whichever aspect you use to address questions about your own death, be sure to use this opportunity to explain why you use safety precautions. Explain why it's important to lock doors, be safe at school, don't talk to strangers and tell an adult if they don't think something is right.

Avoid Assumptions About Your Child’s Reaction

When talking about a loved one’s death, it’s important to anticipate a range of reactions. Perhaps your child will simply accept your explanation and not talk about it for another six weeks. Other children may cry for several days straight. Continually check in with your child about how he’s reacting to the news. Talking about death isn’t just one conversation. Ideally, it’s a lifelong dialogue that includes feelings about death, fears and anxieties and memories of the person who died.

Written & Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International
Video Credit: YouTube

Friday, October 25, 2013

Smartphone tips to help your children have a safe Halloween

Halloween Safety Tips Sheet - Click HERE

With most people carrying smartphones today, it’s become easier than ever for parents to keep tabs on their little goblins. Wireless phones today provide more than just the ability to call and check in on your children’s location. Child Quest International wants parents to be aware of other ways they can use their wireless device, and their child’s, to have a safe and enjoyable Halloween.

• First, pre-program ICE – In Case of Emergency – numbers into your child’s speed dial on their cell phone, such as your number, a neighbor, and the police station. Make sure your child knows how to use their device in case of an emergency, such as dialing 911 and providing their location, landmarks, etc. to the 911 operator.

• Make sure your child’s cell phone is fully charged before they leave the house.

• Use the alarm clock on your child’s device to give them periodic reminders to text or call home along their route or to remind them when it’s time to head home. Make sure the volume on the device is at its highest so the child can hear it in a crowd.

• Create a wireless “Trick-or-Treat” patrol for your neighborhood. Have various parents stationed along your community’s trick-or-treat route and have them text one another when they kids have reached certain points and are heading home. The patrol is a great way for adults to monitor Halloween activities in their neighborhood as well.

Additionally, with a multitude of safety apps available at your fingertips today, peace-of-mind is just a download or click away. For example:

• Download a free FLASHLIGHT app, like the iHandy Flashlight app so your child’s device can be used for easy navigation.

• Download the RedPanic Button app to your child’s device for extra peace-of-mind. The free version of this app allows trick-or-treaters the option to press the Red Panic Button to automatically send out a text message with their exact coordinates on Google Maps to family members. Panic can also be shared on Facebook or Twitter.

• Track your trick-or-treater with a location-based service, like FamilyMap, which lets you track the location of your child’s device on an interactive map from your smartphone, PC or tablet. 

• The Life360 tracking app is free and allows family members to alert one another when they’ve arrived at a destination. It also allows family members to follow each other’s movements with minute-by-minute updates and real-time check-ins with the tap of a button. The app also lets you view safety points and threats that may be nearby.

• The free FBI Child ID app lets parents store their children's photos plus other identification (height, weight, hair and eye color, age) for quick access if a child ever goes missing. The information is stored on wireless device only until parents need to send it to authorities. Notable features include safety tips, checklists for what to do if something happens to your child, and shortcuts to dial 911 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Parents also have the ability to email info immediately to law enforcement agencies if the unthinkable occurs. 

• The Sex Offenders Search app which will show you if there are any registered sex offenders living along your child’s trick-or-treat route. Simply activate your smartphone's GPS and connect to the National Sex Offender Registry to locate registered sex offenders and predators in the area. You can search by name, address, and zip code, and results will be displayed on an interactive map. Click on a location for more details, such as pictures, names, addresses, and a list of offenses. The app cost $1.99.

This story was written by Kelly Starling: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2013/oct/24/smartphone-tips-to-help-your-children-have-a-safe-/

Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

Monday, October 7, 2013

After Bad Press and Confusion, Justice Department Restores Federal Amber Alert Website

www.amberalert.gov has been restored as of 10/07/2013

After being taken down, officially because of the government shutdown, the federal website dealing with alerts about abducted children – AmberAlert.gov – was restored Monday morning.

"The Amber Alert system was never interrupted, but to eliminate any confusion, the informational site maintained by the Justice Department has been restored,” according to Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon.

The website for the Office of Justice Programs, which hosts Amber Alert information, has been "shut down" due to funding issues, said a senior Justice Department official.

The official also made the point that the website is informational only, detailing the department's role in providing training to states on how to have an Amber Alert system, and that the alerts themselves were not affected. Amber Alerts are issued jurisdictionally, by county or state, the official said, adding that the Amber Alert system, which consists largely of press notifications, highways signs, and tweets, is functional and not affected by the shutdown.

The AmberAlert.gov website links to that of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“The Office of Justice Programs had the funds to run through Friday,” October 4, after which it “furloughed all of employees. So since they couldn’t staff and monitor those websites, they were put behind a firewall so as to keep from hacking or security issues,” said Fallon.

If there isn’t a Justice Department employee working to monitor the sites, Fallon said, “it’s a cyber-security risk for sites to be posted but not maintained or supervised.”

“We had to bring in a furloughed employee to re-open the site,” Fallon said, adding that it’s “unclear if we will have the funds to monitor” the site.

The decision was made, a senior Justice Department official said, because there was a “public safety worry because of incorrect reporting that the program itself was down,” as opposed to just the federal website.

Amber stands for “America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.” The program was named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman who in 1996 was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas. Her case remains unsolved.

Source: CNN

Child Abuse and the Net, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave”



The internet is by and large a wonderful invention which has paved the way for progress in many different fields, but the Internet can also be used to break the law and harm our children. 

In a recent article published on Sky News’s website, it has been revealed that children as young as eight have been targeted by pedophiles online, and are being driven to self harm and even suicide, as a result.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre estimates that in the past two years, 424 children world-wide have been blackmailed online in this way. And whilst it may not be immediately obvious why, CEOP suggests that ease of access through the English language is a key factor, as is the perception that Western countries like England are more liberal as a society, and thus making children even more approachable.

"The offenders target English-speaking countries in particular and those that have a culture whereby children, young people, have ready access to the Internet, smart phones and other technology that will allow perpetrators to contact them," warns CEOP Deputy Chief Executive Andy Baker.

Internationally, seven children have already committed suicide and seven seriously self-harmed after having experienced being targeted by pedophiles and other child predators on the internet.

Child predators on the web typically trap children by creating false identities, often pretending to be children themselves, luring them into conversation and then persuading them to share inappropriate images or videos of themselves. Once they’ve shared that content, children are then blackmailed with an awful ultimatum: send more images of a sexual nature, or the original images or videos will be sent to your friends and family. Some pedophiles have even incited children to harm themselves and record the act for their viewing pleasure. 

But why are children such easy targets? John Carr, a UK government adviser on online child safety, believes that children online are especially vulnerable because they are looking for friendship and that child abusers using the internet are skilled manipulators. The combination can have devastating consequences. In the past, internet service providers and tech companies have been quick to absolve themselves of any responsibility for addressing this growing epidemic, but recently, corporations like Google and Microsoft have started to realize they will have to join the battle to safeguard children against abuse online, or face increased pressure from government and parents, who know they cannot fight this kind of abuse alone.

In a partial bid to protect children from this kind of experience when they are surfing the web, software giant Microsoft has recently created the first ever online warning system together with search engine Bing, which activates whenever anyone searches the internet for child abuse images. As well as warning users that child abuse images are illegal, a link for a counseling website will come up, to help those who are addicted to looking at such images. It’s a limited offering, clearly impaired by its inability to remove the illegal images in the first place, but it’s a start, and no doubt the technology will be able to locate some of the users searching for this kind of material, which one would hope might lead to convictions.

Google too, is doing its part. In a pledge to help fight child pornography online, it has donated $5million in a bid to find ways of protecting children and removing harmful images accessed on the web. The money will be given in the form of grants to organizations working on child protection schemes and in June of this year, leading internet companies traveled to Westminster in London, to debate what else could be done to make the internet a safer place for children.

But Google haven’t stopped there. Largely due to mounting pressure from governments, including recently, Britain, with Prime Minister David Cameron calling on internet companies to take more action against child abuse imagery, Google has been tagging offensive images and indexing them with a unique code since 2008. Google now hopes to collect these images and create a large database, to help companies, police and charities to collaborate in an effort to detect and remove illegal content and to punish those responsible.

In 2011 alone, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), an organization headquartered in the US, said it had received reports of 17.3 million images and videos of suspected child abuse. There are indications that this is a significant increase from 2007 figures, a worrying sign that this kind of abuse is still on the rise.

Internet Service Providers too, are being pressured into responding to this phenomenon: by 2014, ISPs operating in the UK will have to have introduced default pornography filters with internet users able to opt-out, if they wish. Mobile network operators like Talk Talk, have already starting using filters, but have come under criticism for doing so, as the filter often blocks legitimate websites. The technology then, is not perfect. But again, it’s a start.

One view is that multi-agency collaborations are paving the way forward. On the 24th of September, Fox 11 News reported that thanks to an operation in Northeast and Central Wisconsin targeted child sex predators in Operation Black Veil II, using undercover agents posing as children on Craigslist. 16 arrests were made.

And software companies are now working together to offer protection against kids accidentally coming across illegal images and even monitoring children’s activity too. Parental control software like Net Nanny is designed to do this, but parents remain cautious about monitoring their children’s activities in this way. Where should parents draw the line, and how far can they go before their actions amount to spying?

Google “Spying on your children online” and a host of links pop up, all offering ways in which you can monitor your child’s activities. But are parents right to do this? In a world where dangers online do exist, finding a balance, between keeping our children safe, keeping their trust, and yet allowing them to grow up, is a tough call. But it is a balance every parent must strike if we hope to shepherd the next generation safely through into adulthood. And a collaboration among governments, software companies and internet providers must, undoubtedly, include parents.

Written by Natasha Phillips: Website | Twitter
Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International