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Promoting a Safe and Healthy Environment by Collaboration By Thomas F. Sullivan, Regional Administrator Administration for Children and Families Denver,

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Presentation on theme: "Promoting a Safe and Healthy Environment by Collaboration By Thomas F. Sullivan, Regional Administrator Administration for Children and Families Denver,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Promoting a Safe and Healthy Environment by Collaboration By Thomas F. Sullivan, Regional Administrator Administration for Children and Families Denver, CO

2 Child sexual abuse and child suicide flourish in an environment characterized by high rates of unemployment and poverty, significant levels of drug and alcohol use and abuse, widespread violence, little or inadequate law enforcement creating an environment which appears to treat most child sexual abuse as a minor offense. Child sexual abuse and child suicide flourish in an environment characterized by high rates of unemployment and poverty, significant levels of drug and alcohol use and abuse, widespread violence, little or inadequate law enforcement creating an environment which appears to treat most child sexual abuse as a minor offense.2

3 “ I realized that my siblings and I were the only kids from our generation in our community who had not been sexually abused as kids ” This startling statement was made to me during a conversation several years ago by a young lady who was born on a Reservation and had grown up there, married and now was raising her own children on the same Reservation. Subsequently, I heard similar comments from several other men and women from all across Indian County. “ I realized that my siblings and I were the only kids from our generation in our community who had not been sexually abused as kids ” This startling statement was made to me during a conversation several years ago by a young lady who was born on a Reservation and had grown up there, married and now was raising her own children on the same Reservation. Subsequently, I heard similar comments from several other men and women from all across Indian County.3

4 “ Amnesty International ’ s interviews with survivors, activists and support workers across the USA suggest that available statistics greatly underestimate the severity of the problem. In the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, for example, many of the women who agreed to be interviewed could not think of any Native women within their community who had not been subject to sexual violence. ” Source Amnesty International ’ s report, Maze of Injustice, the Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA, published in 2007 on page 2. “ Amnesty International ’ s interviews with survivors, activists and support workers across the USA suggest that available statistics greatly underestimate the severity of the problem. In the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, for example, many of the women who agreed to be interviewed could not think of any Native women within their community who had not been subject to sexual violence. ” Source Amnesty International ’ s report, Maze of Injustice, the Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA, published in 2007 on page 2.4

5 During the past 16 years the Child Protective Services (CPS) unit staff from one of our Reservations has been investigating every reported case of child sexual abuse, using rigorous standards and has confirmed on average, two cases of child sexual abuse or statutory rape per week for every week during those 16 years. All of these confirmed cases have been referred for criminal investigation and criminal prosecution to the resident FBI agents and the US Attorney. During the past 16 years the Child Protective Services (CPS) unit staff from one of our Reservations has been investigating every reported case of child sexual abuse, using rigorous standards and has confirmed on average, two cases of child sexual abuse or statutory rape per week for every week during those 16 years. All of these confirmed cases have been referred for criminal investigation and criminal prosecution to the resident FBI agents and the US Attorney.5

6 The US Attorney and FBI agents assigned to the Reservation referred to on the previous slide between 2001 and 2009 criminally investigated and prosecuted very few of the cases referred to them by the CPS Unit staff. The US Attorney and FBI agents assigned to the Reservation referred to on the previous slide between 2001 and 2009 criminally investigated and prosecuted very few of the cases referred to them by the CPS Unit staff.6

7 Is this why so much of Indian County is known as “ The Land Where Rapists Walk Free ”, the title of Marianne Pearl ’ s devastating report from a South Dakota reservation in the July 1, 2008 issue of Glamour magazine? Is this why so much of Indian County is known as “ The Land Where Rapists Walk Free ”, the title of Marianne Pearl ’ s devastating report from a South Dakota reservation in the July 1, 2008 issue of Glamour magazine?7

8 The Justice Department found that one in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. In many cases, on rural reservations like Standing Rock, NPR found that there weren ’ t enough police to investigate sexual assaults, and few of the cases were prosecuted. The Justice Department found that one in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. In many cases, on rural reservations like Standing Rock, NPR found that there weren ’ t enough police to investigate sexual assaults, and few of the cases were prosecuted. The Women ’ s shelter director on a Region 8 Reservation can attest firsthand to the lack of police response. When her daughter ’ s boyfriend, a non-native, broke her daughter ’ s nose, her daughter filed a report and attached statements and photos from the doctors. But when she called special investigators the next morning, an officer told her that her injury was not considered a broken bone, but broken cartilage and that the case would not be prosecuted. “ This is a lawless land where people are making up their own laws because there ’ s no justice being done ”, the Director said. 8 The Women ’ s shelter director on a Region 8 Reservation can attest firsthand to the lack of police response. When her daughter ’ s boyfriend, a non-native, broke her daughter ’ s nose, her daughter filed a report and attached statements and photos from the doctors. But when she called special investigators the next morning, an officer told her that her injury was not considered a broken bone, but broken cartilage and that the case would not be prosecuted. “ This is a lawless land where people are making up their own laws because there ’ s no justice being done ”, the Director said. 8

9 When sexual predators are not prosecuted, as appears unfortunately to be the rule rather than the exception in Indian County, they stand no chance of being convicted. Thus they are not required to register on either the state or Tribal Registry of Sexual Offenders. If they move off of that Reservation to another community where they are not known and apply for a job in a Head Start Center, day care center or school, apply to be a foster parent or adoptive parent, where they are required to submit to and pass a background check, they will pass with flying colors. All of us with young children or grandchildren should be especially concerned about the implications for us all when law enforcement refuses to prosecute child sexual abuse cases in Indian County. When sexual predators are not prosecuted, as appears unfortunately to be the rule rather than the exception in Indian County, they stand no chance of being convicted. Thus they are not required to register on either the state or Tribal Registry of Sexual Offenders. If they move off of that Reservation to another community where they are not known and apply for a job in a Head Start Center, day care center or school, apply to be a foster parent or adoptive parent, where they are required to submit to and pass a background check, they will pass with flying colors. All of us with young children or grandchildren should be especially concerned about the implications for us all when law enforcement refuses to prosecute child sexual abuse cases in Indian County. 9

10 Later in the Amnesty International report, “ One support worker told Amnesty International that of her 77 active cases of sexual and domestic violence involving Native women, only three women had reported their cases to the police ”. Later in the Amnesty International report, “ One support worker told Amnesty International that of her 77 active cases of sexual and domestic violence involving Native women, only three women had reported their cases to the police ”.10

11 At 14, Bonnie, a Cherokee Indian, needed a ride home. She grew up near the small city of Talequah, on the eastern side of Oklahoma. A woman she knew from town offered her a ride, instructing Bonnie to wait at her house. The woman ’ s husband was home, drinking with four of his friends. “ I was in the other room, and they came in and threw me on the bed. “ Bonnie said. “ And they all held me down. ” Bonnie never reported the rape. She says she had been told many times by her mother and other relatives that nobody was going to take a case involving an Indian girl getting raped. “ I just didn ’ t figure anyone would believe me – a child against five white men, “ Bonnie said. (NPR Reporter Laura Sullivan in a report dated July 26, 2007) At 14, Bonnie, a Cherokee Indian, needed a ride home. She grew up near the small city of Talequah, on the eastern side of Oklahoma. A woman she knew from town offered her a ride, instructing Bonnie to wait at her house. The woman ’ s husband was home, drinking with four of his friends. “ I was in the other room, and they came in and threw me on the bed. “ Bonnie said. “ And they all held me down. ” Bonnie never reported the rape. She says she had been told many times by her mother and other relatives that nobody was going to take a case involving an Indian girl getting raped. “ I just didn ’ t figure anyone would believe me – a child against five white men, “ Bonnie said. (NPR Reporter Laura Sullivan in a report dated July 26, 2007)11

12 Tribal child welfare, child protective services staff and mental health staff who are attempting to fulfill their responsibilities with integrity have been subjected to significant threats to their well-being and physical safety by sexual predators, their families or their defenders. This has included threats against their continued employment by Tribal Council members, tires being slashed on numerous occasions, dogs being killed on several occasions, windows of their vehicle being shot out when the vehicle was parked overnight. In response to these threats some have been forced to move from their home Reservations, some have sought and obtained ‘ conceal carry ’ permits, one has placed loaded guns within easy reach all around her home so that she is never far from a loaded weapon no matter where she may be and one former child welfare director had to go to the local emergency room with panic attacks at least monthly while in that position. 12 Tribal child welfare, child protective services staff and mental health staff who are attempting to fulfill their responsibilities with integrity have been subjected to significant threats to their well-being and physical safety by sexual predators, their families or their defenders. This has included threats against their continued employment by Tribal Council members, tires being slashed on numerous occasions, dogs being killed on several occasions, windows of their vehicle being shot out when the vehicle was parked overnight. In response to these threats some have been forced to move from their home Reservations, some have sought and obtained ‘ conceal carry ’ permits, one has placed loaded guns within easy reach all around her home so that she is never far from a loaded weapon no matter where she may be and one former child welfare director had to go to the local emergency room with panic attacks at least monthly while in that position. 12

13 A psychologist with extensive experience in counseling clients in Indian County recently wrote, “ It is unusual for me to work with a man or woman, a boy or girl, who has not had their trust betrayed sexually by a person they ought to have been able to trust. It is a ‘ big elephant ’ in our front room and a factor in some of the hopelessness/helplessness/rage many of our young express in their choice of hanging as a problem solver ”. A psychologist with extensive experience in counseling clients in Indian County recently wrote, “ It is unusual for me to work with a man or woman, a boy or girl, who has not had their trust betrayed sexually by a person they ought to have been able to trust. It is a ‘ big elephant ’ in our front room and a factor in some of the hopelessness/helplessness/rage many of our young express in their choice of hanging as a problem solver ”

14 Only 35% of those children from the reservation where there have been on average two confirmed case of child sexual abuse for every week during the last 16 years are receiving rehabilitative services they need to help them overcome the trauma of their sexual assault. Research indicates that children who are sexually assaulted and who do not receive rehabilitative services to help them overcome the trauma of their sexual assault are more likely to think about, threaten or attempt to commit suicide, become drug or alcohol dependent, become a sexual predator themselves or engage in other dysfunctional behavior as adults. Only 35% of those children from the reservation where there have been on average two confirmed case of child sexual abuse for every week during the last 16 years are receiving rehabilitative services they need to help them overcome the trauma of their sexual assault. Research indicates that children who are sexually assaulted and who do not receive rehabilitative services to help them overcome the trauma of their sexual assault are more likely to think about, threaten or attempt to commit suicide, become drug or alcohol dependent, become a sexual predator themselves or engage in other dysfunctional behavior as adults.14

15 Native American writer, Tim Giago, speaks passionately about the abuse so many Native children suffered in the Boarding Homes. “ When I speak about the time my eight year old sister, along with dozens of Lakota girls the same age was raped at the mission school by a pedophile, I often get choked up, but I continue because I want people to know the horrible damage done to Indian children by the boarding schools over the more than 100 years they existed. I want people to know we were beaten with leather straps, shorn of our hair, and used as child slave-laborers at these boarding schools. My younger sister told me about her abuse on her deathbed and I, along with her three children, finally understood why she had become a violent, alcoholic woman for so much of her life. She died angry at the world and all alone. Many of the problems of alcoholism and drug abuse now prevalent in Indian Country can be traced back to the physical, emotional and sexual abuse suffered at the hands of our keepers in the BIA and mission boarding schools. ” 15 Native American writer, Tim Giago, speaks passionately about the abuse so many Native children suffered in the Boarding Homes. “ When I speak about the time my eight year old sister, along with dozens of Lakota girls the same age was raped at the mission school by a pedophile, I often get choked up, but I continue because I want people to know the horrible damage done to Indian children by the boarding schools over the more than 100 years they existed. I want people to know we were beaten with leather straps, shorn of our hair, and used as child slave-laborers at these boarding schools. My younger sister told me about her abuse on her deathbed and I, along with her three children, finally understood why she had become a violent, alcoholic woman for so much of her life. She died angry at the world and all alone. Many of the problems of alcoholism and drug abuse now prevalent in Indian Country can be traced back to the physical, emotional and sexual abuse suffered at the hands of our keepers in the BIA and mission boarding schools. ” 15

16 Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan at a 2007 hearing called the increase in rapes, murder, gang shootings and brazen crimes on reservations in recent years “ unbelievable ”. We must find a way to stop it ”, Dorgan said, as Tribal leaders testified to the committee about their frustrations with the Bureau of Indian Affairs police and Justice Department. Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan at a 2007 hearing called the increase in rapes, murder, gang shootings and brazen crimes on reservations in recent years “ unbelievable ”. We must find a way to stop it ”, Dorgan said, as Tribal leaders testified to the committee about their frustrations with the Bureau of Indian Affairs police and Justice Department.16

17 A recent National Institute of Justice report shows that 64% of Native children had witnessed abuse against their mothers by age 3. Youth ages 12-18, of sexually abused mothers showed more depression and had more behavioral problems than children of mothers who had not been sexually assaulted. A recent National Institute of Justice report shows that 64% of Native children had witnessed abuse against their mothers by age 3. Youth ages 12-18, of sexually abused mothers showed more depression and had more behavioral problems than children of mothers who had not been sexually assaulted

18 “ Seeing your parent hit is terribly traumatic for a child ” says Doug Goldsmith, Executive Director of the Children ’ s Center in Salt Lake City. Yet the psychological needs of children who witness domestic violence often go overlooked, making it more likely they will become future victims and perpetrators. Goldsmith called the cycle of abuse an “ absolutely negative chain that is perpetuated by bad things happening to little, tiny children ”. “ Seeing your parent hit is terribly traumatic for a child ” says Doug Goldsmith, Executive Director of the Children ’ s Center in Salt Lake City. Yet the psychological needs of children who witness domestic violence often go overlooked, making it more likely they will become future victims and perpetrators. Goldsmith called the cycle of abuse an “ absolutely negative chain that is perpetuated by bad things happening to little, tiny children ”

19 In a January 2007 Senate statement: Senator Dorgan noted there are fewer than 90 doctors for every 100,000 Indians compared to 230 for every 100,000 people nationwide. Senator Dorgan went on to say that the Indian Health Service expenditure for each American Indian in 2005 was $2,130 compared to $3,900 for federal prisoners. In a January 2007 Senate statement: Senator Dorgan noted there are fewer than 90 doctors for every 100,000 Indians compared to 230 for every 100,000 people nationwide. Senator Dorgan went on to say that the Indian Health Service expenditure for each American Indian in 2005 was $2,130 compared to $3,900 for federal prisoners.19

20 Child abuse and neglect are preventable. Each year in the United States almost a million children are confirmed as victims of child maltreatment. Remember these are only the cases which get reported. It is claimed that child sexual abuse is one of the most under-reported crimes in this nation. The cost implications of such data are staggering. These costs are being paid daily in every community in Indian Country as the confirmed cases of child sexual mount and the bodies of child suicide victims pile up. Child abuse and neglect are preventable. Each year in the United States almost a million children are confirmed as victims of child maltreatment. Remember these are only the cases which get reported. It is claimed that child sexual abuse is one of the most under-reported crimes in this nation. The cost implications of such data are staggering. These costs are being paid daily in every community in Indian Country as the confirmed cases of child sexual mount and the bodies of child suicide victims pile up

21 According to a report released in 2007 on the Total Estimated Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States by the Pew Charitable Trust. According to this report children who have been abused or neglected are more likely to experience adverse outcomes throughout their life span in the following areas: According to a report released in 2007 on the Total Estimated Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States by the Pew Charitable Trust. According to this report children who have been abused or neglected are more likely to experience adverse outcomes throughout their life span in the following areas: 21 21

22 1.) “ Poor physical health (e.g. chronic fatigue, altered immune functions, hypertension, sexually transmitted diseases, obesity); 2.)Poor emotional and mental health (e.g. depression, anxiety, eating disorder, suicidal thoughts and attempts, post-traumatic stress disorder); 3.)Social difficulties (e.g. insecure attachments with caregivers, which may lead to difficulties in developing trusting relationships with peers and adults later in life); 4.)Cognitive dysfunction (e.g. deficits in attention, abstract reasoning, language development, and problem solving skills, which ultimately affect academic achievement and school performance. 5.)High risk health behaviors (e.g. a higher number of lifetime sexual partners, younger age at first voluntary intercourse, teen pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse); and 6.)Behavioral problems (e.g. aggression, juvenile delinquency, adult criminality, abusive or violent behavior). ” 22

23 Toxic Sequelae of Childhood Sexual Abuse Editorial in the October, 2009 American Journal of Psychiatry. The proportion of suicide attempts linked to childhood sexual abuse was 27.8% for women and 6.9% for men. This means that in the absence of childhood sexual abuse the rate of suicide attempts during a lifetime would drop by 28% for women and 7% men. Toxic Sequelae of Childhood Sexual Abuse Editorial in the October, 2009 American Journal of Psychiatry. The proportion of suicide attempts linked to childhood sexual abuse was 27.8% for women and 6.9% for men. This means that in the absence of childhood sexual abuse the rate of suicide attempts during a lifetime would drop by 28% for women and 7% men

24 Usually a single caseworker supervises anywhere from individuals, if they comply with federal standards. In Indian County a single caseworker usually supervises individuals and on one Reservation in Region 8 the ratio is one caseworker to 100 individuals. The professionals filling these caseworkers slots in Indian County are doing heroic work, frequently putting their own health and, sometimes, their lives at risk. If we are serious about resolving the twin epidemics of child sexual abuse and child suicide, we must begin to get law enforcement at all levels (local, tribal, state and federal) more effectively involved in the protection of these professionals to stop the attempted criminal intimidations and we must begin to reduce these ratios to the level that would be demanded anywhere outside of Indian County – one caseworker for every individuals. Usually a single caseworker supervises anywhere from individuals, if they comply with federal standards. In Indian County a single caseworker usually supervises individuals and on one Reservation in Region 8 the ratio is one caseworker to 100 individuals. The professionals filling these caseworkers slots in Indian County are doing heroic work, frequently putting their own health and, sometimes, their lives at risk. If we are serious about resolving the twin epidemics of child sexual abuse and child suicide, we must begin to get law enforcement at all levels (local, tribal, state and federal) more effectively involved in the protection of these professionals to stop the attempted criminal intimidations and we must begin to reduce these ratios to the level that would be demanded anywhere outside of Indian County – one caseworker for every individuals

25 On one small North Dakota Reservation two years ago two thirds of their Tribal Council were themselves child sexual predators or had immediate family members who were. On this Reservation the person who played Santa Claus at the Tribal children ’ s Christmas party was a convicted sexual predator who had completed his prison sentence and had returned to the Reservation. Since all employment opportunities are controlled by the Tribe and since if one complains or takes action which is considered to be complaining, the complainant runs the risk of losing their job. Those who are tempted to complain remain silent so they can retain their jobs, feed their families and pay their bills. 25 On one small North Dakota Reservation two years ago two thirds of their Tribal Council were themselves child sexual predators or had immediate family members who were. On this Reservation the person who played Santa Claus at the Tribal children ’ s Christmas party was a convicted sexual predator who had completed his prison sentence and had returned to the Reservation. Since all employment opportunities are controlled by the Tribe and since if one complains or takes action which is considered to be complaining, the complainant runs the risk of losing their job. Those who are tempted to complain remain silent so they can retain their jobs, feed their families and pay their bills. 25

26 Every Region 8 Reservation has a shortage of qualified foster families and homes; a shortage of inpatient placements of those youth who are in crisis who now must be transported several hours across a state, sometime in severe weather, by limited staff to the nearest qualified facility; a shortage of qualified counselors who can minimize the need for inpatient placements by recognizing and working with children/families moving towards crisis so that the situations can be defused before it ever gets to that stage as well as a shortage of advanced computer systems linked with each other, with the Tribal Court, with the ICWA staff and with the state. These shortages can no longer be allowed to persist. Every Region 8 Reservation has a shortage of qualified foster families and homes; a shortage of inpatient placements of those youth who are in crisis who now must be transported several hours across a state, sometime in severe weather, by limited staff to the nearest qualified facility; a shortage of qualified counselors who can minimize the need for inpatient placements by recognizing and working with children/families moving towards crisis so that the situations can be defused before it ever gets to that stage as well as a shortage of advanced computer systems linked with each other, with the Tribal Court, with the ICWA staff and with the state. These shortages can no longer be allowed to persist

27 Clearly, all of this demonstrates we are not doing a very good job of promoting a safe and healthy environment. Some might even look at all of this and say that we are dealing with an emergency a major emergency in Indian county. In an earlier day in 1940 a British Prime Minister was confronted with a comparable disaster with the threatened annihilation of British forces on small piece of land on the French coast – Dunkirk. His response was to call on every man, woman and child who had a boat, to cross the English Channel and bring back the British Forces. They did. Some in luxurious cabin cruisers; some in small fishing boats; and even some in just row boats. The British forces were rescued to fight again. Can our response to this emergency be any less? Every available resource must be marshaled to stop the child sexual abuse, the suicides and all of the attendant dysfunction. 27 Clearly, all of this demonstrates we are not doing a very good job of promoting a safe and healthy environment. Some might even look at all of this and say that we are dealing with an emergency a major emergency in Indian county. In an earlier day in 1940 a British Prime Minister was confronted with a comparable disaster with the threatened annihilation of British forces on small piece of land on the French coast – Dunkirk. His response was to call on every man, woman and child who had a boat, to cross the English Channel and bring back the British Forces. They did. Some in luxurious cabin cruisers; some in small fishing boats; and even some in just row boats. The British forces were rescued to fight again. Can our response to this emergency be any less? Every available resource must be marshaled to stop the child sexual abuse, the suicides and all of the attendant dysfunction. 27

28 As the British Prime Minister did in 1940 when the German forces were threatening to annihilate the British forces at Dunkirk we must bring every resource to bear. These include: As the British Prime Minister did in 1940 when the German forces were threatening to annihilate the British forces at Dunkirk we must bring every resource to bear. These include: A.) Department of Justice, that office responsible for the US Attorneys as well as program staff from the office of Juvenile Justice. B.) Bureau of Indian Affairs, that part responsible for law enforcement on Reservations and the Indian Child Welfare Act C.) Department of Education, that part responsible for elementary and secondary education. D.) Department of Labor, that part responsible for economic development and job training programs. E.) Department of Commerce, that part responsible for economic development programs. 28

29 F.) Department of Housing and Urban Development, that part responsible for public on Reservations. G.) Department of Agriculture, the Food and Nutrition Service and that part of USDA with responsibility for Rural Telemedicine grants. H.) Environmental Protection Agency. I.) Tribal Leaders or Tribal Program Directors J.) State Governor ’ s Liaisons to Tribes. K.) Tribal Child Welfare Directors. F.) Department of Housing and Urban Development, that part responsible for public on Reservations. G.) Department of Agriculture, the Food and Nutrition Service and that part of USDA with responsibility for Rural Telemedicine grants. H.) Environmental Protection Agency. I.) Tribal Leaders or Tribal Program Directors J.) State Governor ’ s Liaisons to Tribes. K.) Tribal Child Welfare Directors. All of these agencies must work collaboratively with each other but more importantly with Tribal leadership as well as states, counties, and local communities. 29 All of these agencies must work collaboratively with each other but more importantly with Tribal leadership as well as states, counties, and local communities. 29


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