Child Abuse



Children and the Law, Textbook •  Marci Hamilton & Martin Gardner (Carolina Academic Press, Fall 2017)

Professor Marci Hamilton joins Professor Martin Gardner in this new edition of Children and the Law, which has been comprehensively updated. Hamilton is one of the leading legal academics in the United States on issues involving child sex abuse in many contexts. She brings her expertise to this new edition with cutting-edge materials on the epidemic of child sex abuse in institutions and the family and the legal developments that have followed. This edition continues to focus on the foundation of children’s rights in Supreme Court cases, and to be an accessible and readable textbook for undergraduate, law, and graduate students.  


The barriers to a national inquiry into child sexual abuse in the United States

The International Journal, Child Abuse & Neglect, 74, 107-110 (2017)   •   Professor Marci A. Hamilton
OCTOBER 9, 2017
There is an often-overlooked but critical factor at the center of institutional child sexual abuse that must be acknowledged and addressed: adults tend to place the interest of institutions and other adults above the protection of children. As the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has shown, this phenomenon is evident across institutional settings and any institutional reform aimed at improving child safety must therefore guard against this tendency if it is to be effective in protecting children. In the United States there are also other barriers to dealing with child sexual abuse in institutional contexts. State gov- ernment responses to the challenges of child sexual abuse have varied. However, the federal governmsent has been silent on the problem of religious institutional sexual abuse. This com- mentary considers how the politics of religious liberty in the United States inhibits action by protecting institutions that cover up child sexual abuse. 


The International Journal, Child Abuse & Neglect   •   Volume 74, Pages 1–114 (December 2017)

Edited by Katie Wright, Shurlee Swain, Kathleen McPhillips

This collection contains the following articles related to child abuse and neglect:  The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual AbuseRemaking collective knowledge: An analysis of the complex and multiple effects of inquiries into historical institutional child abuseToward a more comprehensive analysis of the role of organizational culture in child sexual abuse in institutional contexts; The impacts of institutional child sexual abuse: A rapid review of the evidenceThe characteristics of reports to the police of child sexual abuse and the likelihood of cases proceeding to prosecution after delays in reportingJudges’ delivery of ground rules to child witnesses in Australian courtsChildren and young people's views on institutional safety: It's not just because we're little; Optimising implementation of reforms to better prevent and respond to child sexual abuse in institutions: Insights from public health, regulatory theory, and Australia’s Royal Commission; The impact of Australia’s Royal Commission on child- and youth-serving organizations; The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Roman Catholic ChurchThe barriers to a national inquiry into child sexual abuse in the United StatesGetting evidence into action to tackle institutional child abuse.  


Spotlight and the Shadow of Sex Abuse: An annual CAS panel shed some light on how movies illuminate social issues.

April 16, 2016 •  Nick Joyner

“Can you imagine being a child in the Catholic church and having a priest pay attention to you?,” commented Dr. Steven J. Berkowitz, halfway through his talk about sex abuse and childhood trauma at the 2016 Levin Family Dean’s Forum.  A yearly celebration of liberal arts in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Forum this past Wednesday discussed “How Hollywood is Spotlighting Social Change,” and brought together a panel of social scientists and a writer and actor who worked on this year’s Best Picture–winning Spotlight


Child Sexual Abuse, Disclosure, Delay, and Denial; Margaret Ellen Pipe et al., eds.-- see Chapter 2, pp. 11-39: Disclosure of Child Sexual Abuse: A Review of the Contemporary Empirical Literature

Kamala London, et al. 

 Although it is widely acknowledged that the sexual assault of children is a major societal concern, it is not known how many children in the United States are victims of sexual abuse (Ceci &  Friedman, 2000). There are two major reasons for this lack of data. First, current estimates of the incidence of child sexual abuse (CSA) do not reflect the number of unreported cases or the number of cases reported to agencies other than Child Protective Services (e.g., sheriff's offices or professionals such as mental health diversion programs). Second, the diagnosis of CSA is often difficult because definitive medical or physical evidence is lacking or inconclusive in the vast majority of cases . . . 


Child sexual abuse in religiously affiliated and secular institutions: a retrospective descriptive analysis of data provided by victims in a government-sponsored reappraisal program in Germany.

BMC Public Health • Published March 27, 2014 • Volume 14, Issue ; Pages 282 •Spröber N1, Schneider T, Rassenhofer M, Seitz A, Liebhardt H, König L, Fegert JM

"The disclosure of widespread sexual abuse committed by professional educators and clergymen in institutions in Germany ignited a national political debate, in which special attention was paid to church-run institutions. We wanted to find out whether the nature of the abuse and its effect on victims differed depending on whether the abuse had been experienced in religiously affiliated versus secular institutions."

 

We Failed Our Children For Too Long: The Case for SOL Reform

The Advocate, Fall 2017 •  Marci Hamilton

Once upon a time there was a wall of ignorance and secrecy constructed around child sex abuse. The twenty- rst century is the rst century in which we have successfully broken through that wall only to discover a horrifying sight: millions of adults who were sexually abused as children have been living in the darkness of shame, intimidation, and humiliation. Sure, we had heard of “incest” and “sex abuse” but they were sporadic, individual accounts and the media declined to cover the issue for fear of o ending readers. The result: there was no pattern in front of us . . . .

God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty

Cambridge University Press (2014) •   Professor Marci A. Hamilton

Clergy sex abuse, polygamy, children dying from faith healing, companies that refuse to do business with same-sex couples, and residential neighborhoods forced to host homeless shelters - what do all of these have in common? They are all examples of religious believers harming others and demanding religious liberty regardless of the harm. This book unmasks those responsible, explains how this new set of rights is not derived from the First Amendment and argues for a return to common-sense religious liberty. In straightforward, readable prose, God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty sets the record straight about the United States' move toward extreme religious liberty. More than half of this thoroughly revised second edition is new content, featuring a new introduction and epilogue and contemporary stories. All Americans need to read this Pulitzer-nominated, before they or their friends and family are harmed by religious believers exercising their newfound rights.


Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children 

Cambridge University Press (2008; paperback with new preface, 2012) •   Professor Marci A. Hamilton   

Recent events such as the clergy abuse scandal in the Catholic Church have brought the once-taboo subject of childhood sexual abuse to the forefront. But despite increasing awareness of the problem, the United States has not succeeded in establishing effective means of deterring and preventing it, leaving the children of today and tomorrow vulnerable. Hamilton proposes a comprehensive yet simple solution: eliminate the arbitrary statutes of limitation for childhood sexual abuse so that survivors past and present can get into court. Removing this merely procedural barrier permits the millions of survivors to make public the identities of their perpetrators and to receive justice and much-deserved compensation. Standing in the way, however, are formidable opponents such as the insurance industry and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. In Justice Denied, Hamilton predicts a coming civil rights movement for children and explains why it is in the interest of all Americans to allow victims of childhood sexual abuse this chance to seek justice when they are ready.


The Lasting Damage of Child Abuse

The Huffington Post   •   Scott Mendelson, M.D.
NOVEMBER 28, 2016
Abused children may grow up to be adults prone to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other disorders. They are more prone to suicide. However, in recent years we have learned that abuse does more than wound self-esteem and break the spirit. It can damage the very substance of the brain . . . 


Rabbis With a Conscience Make History

Verdict   •   Marci A. Hamilton
APRIL 28, 2016
So far in the 21 century, U.S. religious leaders are best known for negative positions like their demands for a "free exercise right" to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals, a 1st Amendment right to discriminate against their own ministers, a right of secular employers to deprive women . . . 


The 12 Punch the Catholic Bishops Have Delivered to Clergy Sex Abuse Victims

Verdict   •   Marci A. Hamilton & Steven Berkowitz
MARCH 29, 2016
Spotlight is a motion picture with a purpose: to deliver the truth of how every adult that could have halted the sex abuse by Catholic priests in the Boston Archdiocese did not. Children were betrayed by priests, bishops, parents, lawyers, journalists, and the buddy culture of men in power.


Why the Victims of Bill Cosby Are My Heroes

Verdict   •   Marci A. Hamilton
OCTOBER 15, 2015
Dozens of women have now come forth in the public square to point a finger at Bill Cosby for drugging and raping them. Their stories are consistent, consistent, consistent, and but for the statutes of limitations (SOLs), he would be facing jail in a series of states.


Poll of New York State Voters in Target State Senate Districts!

September 2013 

This poll of New Yorkers, conducted by FrederickPolls, contains wide-ranging information about voter opinions regarding lawsuit access for victims of child abuse.  In addition to access to justice for victims, the poll breaks down perceived voter impact of various types of reform.   


Telling Interviewers About Sexual Abuse: Predictors of Child Disclosure at Forensic Interviews

Vol. 14 Child Maltreatment Number 1   •   Tonya Lippert, Theodore P. Cross, Lisa Jones and Wendy Walsh

FEBRUARY 2009 

This study aims to identify characteristics that predict full disclosure by victims of sexual abuse during a forensic interview. Data came from agency files for 987 cases of sexual abuse between December 2001 and December 2003 from Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) and comparison communities within four U.S. states. Cases of children fully disclosing abuse when interviewed were compared to cases of children believed to be victims who gave no or partial disclosures. The likelihood of disclosure increased when victims were girls, a primary caregiver was supportive, and a child’s disclosure instigated the investigation. The likelihood of disclosure was higher for children who were older at abuse onset and at forensic interview (each age variable having an independent effect). Communities differed on disclosure rate, with no difference associated with having a CAC. Findings suggest factors deserving consideration prior to a forensic interview, including organizational and community factors affecting disclosure rates.


Pathways to Poly-Victimization

Vol. 14 Child Maltreatment, Number 4  •  David Finkelhor, Richard Ormrod, Heather Turner, Melissa Holt

NOVEMBER, 2009

Some children, whom we have labeled poly-victims, experience very high levels of victimizations of different types. This article finds support for a conceptual model suggesting that there may be four distinct pathways to becoming such a polyvictim: (a) residing in a dangerous community, (b) living in a dangerous family, (c) having a chaotic, multiproblem family environment, or (d) having emotional problems that increase risk behavior, engender antagonism, and compromise the capacity to protect oneself. It uses three waves of the Developmental Victimization Survey, a nationally representative sample of children aged 2–17 years. All four hypothesized pathways showed significant independent association with polyvictim onset. For the younger children, the symptom score representing emotional problems was the only significant predictor. For the older children, the other three pathway variables were significant predictors—dangerous communities, dangerous families, and problem families—but not symptom score. Poly-victimization onset was also disproportionately likely to occur in the year prior to children’s 7th and 15th birthday, corresponding roughly to the entry into elementary school and high school. The identification of such pathways and the ages of high onset should help practitioners design programs for preventing vulnerable children from becoming poly-victims.


Exploring the disclosure of child sexual abuse with alleged victims and their parents

31 Child Abuse & Neglect 111–123  •  Irit Hershkowitz, Omer Lanes, Michael E. Lamb

February 20, 2007

Objective: The goal of the present studywas to examine howchildren disclosed sexual abuse by alleged perpetrators who were not family members.

Methodology: Thirty alleged victims of sexual abuse and their parents were interviewed. The children were interviewed using the NICHD Investigative Interview Protocol by six experienced youth investigators. The same principles were followed when the parents were asked to describe in detail what had happened since the abusive incidents. The statements made by the children and parents were then content analyzed. Major characteristics of the children’s and parents’ reported behaviors were identified by two independent raters. 

Findings: More than half (53%) of the children delayed disclosure for between 1 week and 2 years, fewer than half first disclosed to their parents, and over 40% did not disclose spontaneously but did so only after they were prompted; 50% of the children reported feeling afraid or ashamed of their parents’ responses, and their parents indeed tended to blame the children or act angrily. The disclosure process varied depending on the children’s ages, the severity and frequency of abuse, the parents’ expected reactions, the suspects’ identities, and the strategies they had used to foster secrecy.

Conclusions: The children’s willingness to disclose abuse to their parents promptly and spontaneously decreased when they expected negative reactions, especially when the abuse was more serious. A strong correlation between predicted and actual parental reactions suggested that the children anticipated their parents’ likely reactions very well.


Grooming and Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Contexts

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Sydney, Australia   •   Professor Patrick O'Leary, Emma Koh, and Andrew Dare
MARCH 10, 2017
Recent efforts to clarify definitions of grooming in research reflect an increased awareness of the diverse range of settings in which grooming may occur, as well as the diverse range of targets and purposes of grooming techniques...


Lessons Learned from my Advocacy & the “Plywood” Model

Kol v'Oz Global Summit on Child Sexual Abuse at the United Jewish Association (UJA) in New York, NY   •   Christopher Anderson
FEBRUARY 11, 2017


Study on Sexual Violence and Advocacy

Guila Benchimol, Doctoral Candidate – Sociological Criminology, University of Guelph
JANUARY 29, 2017
A researcher at the University of Guelph is conducting a study examining how some victims or survivors of sexual violence, including child sexual abuse and sexual assault, become anti-sexual violence advocates or activists. See the attached study poster for information on how to participate.


‘Like Walking Through a Hailstorm’: Discrimination against LGBT Youth in US Schools

Human Rights Watch
DECEMBER 22, 2016
Outside the home, schools are the primary vehicles for educating, socializing, and providing services to young people in the US. Schools can be difficult environments for students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but they are often especially unwelcoming for LGBT youth.


‘I Will Never Know the Person Who I Could Have Become’: Perceived Changes in Self-Identity Among Adult Survivors of Clergy-Perpetrated Sex Abuse

Journal of Interpersonal Violence   •   Scott D. Easton, PhD, ACSW, LMSW; Danielle M. Leone-Sheehan, MSN, RN; and Patrick J. O’Leary, PhD
DECEMBER 22, 2016
Clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse (CPSA) during childhood represents a tragic betrayal of trust that inflicts damage on the survivor, the family, and the parish community. Survivors often report CPSA has a disturbing impact on their self-identity.


Link between child abuse and alcoholism. 

SOL Reform   •   Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D.
NOVEMBER 28, 2016
A study reported in June 2013 edition of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research provides valuable insight into the relationship of childhood abuse and later alcohol abuse.


The Rules Against Scandal and What They Mean for the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses

Maryland Law Review   •   Marci A. Hamilton
NOVEMBER 28, 2016
Theorizing about religious liberty and the Constitution tends to operate in a sphere divorced from fact. Cases are couched in the following terms: A sincere religious believer is pitted against an impersonal, domineering, and/or insensitive government.


The “Licentiousness” in Religious Organizations and Why It Is Not Protected Under Religious Liberty Constitutional Provisions

William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal   •   Marci A. Hamilton
NOVEMBER 28, 2016
There is no doubt that the sexual abuse of children occurs within religious organizations and that these organizations too often operate to perpetuate cycles of

abuse. There was a time when such a statement was counter-intuitive, but it is now merely a statement of fact.


The Waterloo for the so-called church autonomy theory: Widespread clergy abuse and institutional cover-up

Cardozo Law Review   •   Marci A. Hamilton
NOVEMBER 28, 2016
The catastrophe of childhood sexual abuse by clergy in the U.S. was caused by multiple social forces that came together to put children at risk. The phenomenon is nondenominational, with cases involving the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Jehovah’s Witness