May 2011 | Issue 9 | print friendly version | send to a friend

The Safe Haven updates you every month on safety issues confronting communities, including child abuse, cyberbullying, financial elder abuse, and more. Through awareness and education, we can work together to help the vulnerable—kids, tweens, teens, and elders—stay safe.

kids/tweens

School Nurses Key to Recognizing Bullying

School nurses may be effective at recognizing bullying, new research shows. Bullied kids and those identified as bullies tend to go to the nurse more often than other students for illness, injury, or other complaints without clear medical cause, such as stomach aches. While some visits to the nurse are directly linked to bullying injuries, other visits may be due to illness related to immune systems compromised by the long-term psychological stress brought on by bullying. Especially at a young age, bullies themselves may also experience the same effects as victims due to social shunning from other kids. Enlisting school nurses could be "another way of trying to keep a gauge of what's happening among the students in school," said the study's lead author.

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Dangerous Play

A law passed in 2009 required the New York Health Department to put together a list of supposedly risky recreational activities so that previously exempt recreational programs will now have to register as a summer camp and provide medical staff. Freeze tag, kickball, and dodgeball are now considered dangerous activities, along with archery, scuba diving and horseback riding. Opponents to the law point out that it may "cripple small recreational programs, forcing them to pay a $200 fee to register as a summer camp and provide medical staff." Others say that keeping kids moving is safer than playing video games in a sedentary lifestyle. "You could develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome," one mother said. "And when [kids] eat, eat and eat, they get diabetes. That's dangerous." Officials say that there will be flexibility in how the law is implemented and that having a medical emergency plan may substitute for hiring medical staff.

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teens

Bisexual Student Expelled From School

Calvary Christian School in Sacramento expelled a bisexual 15-year-old girl after a teacher read her online profile revealing an intimate relationship with another girl. The student was told “that’s not accepted here” and “you’re kicked out.” The student's mother called the school’s action “totally discrimination.” However, the California Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that private schools are not obligated to follow California’s civil rights laws. According to administrators, the school relies “on the Bible as their final authority” prohibiting homosexual students. School officials asked the expelled student if there were other bisexual students at the school. “Well, let me tell you there is. I know that for a fact,” she said.

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Cheerleader Must Pay for "Frivolous" Lawsuit

A two-year long dispute over a cheerleader's right to free speech has finally ended in a controversial ruling. A 16-year-old cheerleader alleged that she had been raped at a house party by a student athlete, who later pled guilty to misdemeanor assault. He received two years of probation, community service, a fine and was required to take anger-management classes. The charge of rape was dropped, leaving him free to return to school and take up his place on the basketball team. Four months later at a basketball game, the cheerleader participated in leading cheers for the team but refused to cheer for her assailant by name. The school superintendent expelled her from the squad. The young woman sued the school district for violating her right to free speech but twice lost, each court affirming that a cheerleader voluntarily agrees to act as a "mouthpiece" for the school and, therefore, forfeits her rights to free speech. A federal appeals court upheld the decisions and announced that she must also reimburse the school district $45,000 for filing a "frivolous" lawsuit. The family's lawyer said that the ruling indicates that students may be penalized for refusing to follow "insensitive and unreasonable directions.”

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Social Climate Affects Suicide Attempt Rate

A study involving nearly 32,000 high school students found that suicide attempts by both gay and straight kids are more prevalent in politically conservative areas. The study relied on teens' self-reporting suicide attempts within the previous year. LGBT teens living in the most conservative counties are 20 percent more likely to have attempted suicide than those in the most liberal counties. Similarly, straight teens were 9 percent more likely to attempt suicide in conservative counties than in liberal counties. Funding for the study came from the National Institutes for Health and a center for gay research at the Fenway Institute, an independent Harvard-affiliated health care and research center. The study author said that the results show that "environments that are good for gay youth are also healthy for heterosexual youth."

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e-safety

Grave Bullying Consequences for Preteens

After posting sexually explicit messages and photos on another girl’s Facebook page, two Washington preteen girls aged 11 and 12 have been charged with cyberstalking and first-degree computer trespassing. Prosecutors say that after accessing the target's Facebook profile, the two girls uploaded explicit pictures, including one of a woman with enhanced anatomy, and sent out solicitations for sex. If convicted as charged, the sentence for the girls could be up to 30 days in juvenile detention. This case is unusual because of the girls’ young age. The 11-year-old girl is scheduled for a mental capacity hearing later this month to determine whether she understood that her actions were wrong. State law presumes that children 8 to 11 cannot be charged with a crime.

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Teachers Need Training on Cybersafety

A survey conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance and sponsored by Microsoft found that 81 percent of the nation's school administrators say they are doing a good job teaching children about online safety. Yet, 36 percent of teachers receive no training on the issue, according to the study. "Virtually all young people are using online Internet technology in some way, shape or form, but we still see a lack of cohesion and disconnect in schools about what they should be doing," said the executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. "In the 21st century, these topics are as important as reading, writing and math."

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elders

Caregiver Woes

A new study shows that being a caregiver for a sick or aging relative has serious consequences for health and wealth:

  • 86% of caregivers have taken time off from work, quit their jobs, reduced their hours or taken leaves of absence.

  • 25% of caregivers suffer from depression.

  • 52% were caring for a parent and 36% for a spouse.

  • More than 33% of caregivers have high blood pressure and more than 50% have sleep problems.

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    Murderer With a Past Prompts New Ordinance

    Diane Warrick was sentenced earlier this month for the murder of Mary Jane Scanlon, a 70-year old paralyzed woman living in Northern California. Scanlon hired Warrick as her caretaker after Warrick responded to Scanlon’s job posting on Craigslist. What Scanlon never knew was that Warrick had been convicted in 1999 for taking hostages in a two-and-a-half hour siege at the Napa State Hospital pharmacy where she held several hostages and shot at police with a semi-automatic handgun. She was finally shot by a highway patrol officer and charged with multiple counts of kidnapping.

    Two years later, a jury found Warrick not guilty by reason of insanity. She was ordered confined in the state hospital system for a maximum of 58 years to life, but three and a half years later hospital officials recommended her release because she had “regained her sanity.” District Attorney Lieberstein, who objected to Warrick’s release, was the driving force behind the first-of-its-kind local law that requires anyone seeking employment as a caregiver to clear a background check. Home care has been “one of the fastest-growing industries for parolees,” according to Lieberstein.

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    legal lookout

    Admission to Child Abuse Not Confidential

    The Supreme Court of Connecticut recently decided that a child molester cannot prevent a priest and a counselor from testifying that he admitted fondling the victim. During a meeting with his priest and the child's mother, and later with a counselor, the defendant admitted that he molested his 14-year-old stepdaughter. Based on the testimony of his priest and counselor, the defendant was found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to 20 years in jail. On appeal, the defendant argued that anything he told the priest and counselor in confidence could not be used against him, but the Supreme Court disagreed. The child’s mother was present when he talked to the priest, and his counselor was required by law to report child abuse. Under these circumstances the defendant could not prevent either one of them from testifying against him.

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    Legislative Updates

    New Hampshire's Senate voted unanimously to reject changes to the state's anti-bullying law which would have limited school responsibility to deal with off-campus incidents.

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    New Jersey just passed the toughest anti-bullying law in the country. It requires school administrators and teachers to complete anti-bullying training. School districts must have a school safety team, district anti-bullying coordinator, and an anti-bullying specialist at each school. The law also covers verbal and physical abuse as well as cyberbullying and issues that happen off school premises.

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    North Dakota’s governor recently signed two child protection laws: one requires K-12 teachers and students to receive anti-bullying instruction, and the other requires all schools with athletic activities to adopt a concussion management program.

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    The Oregon House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to update Oregon’s mandatory reporting law for child pornography, adding “Photographic Image Processors” and “Computer Technicians” to the list of mandatory reporters, and requiring them to report evidence of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct that they discover in their work.

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    Texas’ anti-bullying bill cleared the House by a vote of 94-41 and now goes to the Senate. The bill updates the definition of bullying to include cyberbullying and mandates a bullying policy at every school.

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    Adult Courses

    Recognize & Report Child Abuse

    Recognize & Report Mistreatment of Vulnerable Adults

    Recognize & Report Elder Financial Abuse

    Volunteer Diversity: Skills for Collaboration

    Inquiry v. Investigation

    Eliminating Bullying

    Cyberbullying

    Cyberspace: Risks and Solutions

    Detecting Predators

    Sexual Exploitation of Adults

    Pastoral Services - Visiting Vulnerable Adults

    Adult Member Comments

    “I have a degree in social work and have worked within the social services field, mainly in domestic violence cases, for about 15 years. I have always wondered about the training provided to coaches and I am walking away knowing that they are offered an appropriate training when it comes to working with kids.”

    "I liked taking the class on line rather than going to a workshop. The on line course used concrete examples, facts were straight forward and it kept my attention more than listening to someone speak. It was a good course."

    “I was surprised at the level of intelligence, clarity and sensitivity of this training. The quiz sections were very helpful in the training.”

    "I have been through several trainings on this subject from previous schools and jobs. This one was the best. To the point, lots of good info."

    Student Courses

    Teen Safety Overview

    Bullying, Not Cool

    Be Safe, Stay Safe

    Block the Bully

    Cyber Safety

    Dating Abuse

    Safety Smarts for Kids

    Student Member Comments

    “I thought it was a great video and I learned a lot from it!”

    "I think that this taught me a lot of things about bullying! It helped me SO much!"

    “This was a good course for people who are or will get bullied. Good job!”

    "Was good to see the real life examples"

    "I really enjoyed doing this course because of the real-world example"

    A Shared Responsibility

    Shield the Vulnerable is dedicated to raising awareness of abuse and neglect, and providing training and resources to help protect the most vulnerable members of our communities.

    IN THIS ISSUE

    KIDS/TWEENS

    - School Nurses Key to Recognizing Bullying
    - Dangerous Play

    TEENS

    - Bisexual Student Expelled From School

    - Cheerleader Pays for “Frivolous” Lawsuit

    - Social Climate Affects Suicide Attempt Rate

    e-SAFETY

    - Grave Bullying Consequences for Preteens
    - Teachers Need Training on Cybersafety

    ELDERS

    - Caregiver Woes

    - Murderer With Past Prompts New Ordinance

    LEGAL LOOKOUT

    - Admission to Child Abuse Not Confidential
    - Legislative Updates

    quiz corner Know the numbers on caregivers in the US
    • 29 percent of the U.S. population provides care for a family member or friend during any given year.
    • 66 percent of family caregivers are women.
    • 47 percent of working caregivers indicate an increase in expenses that has caused them to use up all or most of their savings.

    To read more facts about caregivers, visit the National Family Caregivers Association website:

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